Tag Archives: toys

Why I love Felt Toys – lets hear it for handmade!

6 Mar
Homemade, handmade toys

This handmade stuffed dog (or is it a bear) has been in my family for generations.

After the sixth or seventh time my daughter turned to me and said ‘We gotta get that!’ while watching cartoons this morning I had enough and suggested we head to the play kitchen.  Spending the next hour or so playing with her large collection of felt food I realized what a respite homemade toys really are.  In a world dominated by advertising where children are viewed as simple marketing opportunities, handmade toys don’t ask you to collect the whole set or sing along to their jazzy theme songs, all they ask is that you use some imagination and leave the batteries behind.

I feel comforted in knowing that my grandchildren will not have to ask “what’s that?” when they play with the wool felt carrots I have created as they will with the Teletubbies, Sponge Bobs, and Dora the Explorers.  Don’t get me wrong these toys have their place but not every toy needs to have a logo or Television programs’ name slapped on its side.

In a world of mass machine production where our childrens’ toys are made thousands of miles away in foreign countries by unknown people under unknown conditions with unknown materials there is something wonderful about a handmade toy.  A link to the past and a promise for the future.  Well make playthings with lasting value that transcend fads and corporate marketing schemes.

Handmade toys have a unique character and story that can’t be said of mass-produced hunks of plastic.  Each detail is a choice lovingly made, each stitch an act of love.  I can’t promise that my daughter will treasure or even keep her handmade toys forever but I can be certain that looking at pictures of her childhood she will have a story to tell about the toys her mama made her.
These toys don’t come with stories they create them, they quietly sit back and let your child be the star of playtime, they don’t suggest you memorize all their names, instead they become part of lifelong memories.
I just thought I would share a little of my rumination with you in hopes that you all feel the same.
Lets hear it for handmade!

Margaux napping with the felt toy her older brother made years ago...a slug.

You Asked for it!

26 Feb

          

         We get at least 5 or 6 emails a week asking about patterns and we are proud to say we listened!

We are beyond thrilled to announce the first of what we hope will be many new patterns available for instant download ( or paper via the mail, if your a traditionalist) at our webstore www.americanfeltandcraft.com. The Easter Collection,  will allow you to make all your favorite Easter treats including, a chocolate bunny, Easter eggs, marshmallow bunnies, Chocolate egg, and adorable marshmallow chicks.

Our patterns are the same quality you have come to expect from our blog with over 30 full color step by step pictures and easy to understand templates. Don’t worry we will still continue to provide  free felt food, as well as other felt crafting templates on the blog!

 Because we are so excited our new Easter Collection downloadable pattern will be on sale until March 8th 2010 so snatch it at a discounted price and be ready for the big bunny arrives this year!

HOP TO IT!

 

Candy canes, no waiting!

10 Dec

There will be a wait! You know the drill you go to a crowded mall at some point in December and there it is… the Santa line and whether it’s 9am or 9pm the line is mindbogglingly long. You can hear the other parents curse under their breath at the time of the wait and grumble when Santa needs a 10 minute break . Which is shocking only because unless you have a newborn in tow you should know Santa sitting is an all day event.

Kids whine, need to pee, need to eat, mess up their hair and inevitably want to reach out and ruin small parts of the carefully coiffed Santa land your local mall has worked so hard to put together. And at the end of it all what do you have to show for an entire day spent in line other than a bad $30 5×7 and aching feet…a candy cane of course! At least thats the way it used to be…I know, I know I am aging myself here but now they give out cardboard reindeer hats, or small plastic bouncy balls, but to me candy canes always remind me of a long day waiting for Santa. These felt candy canes are amazingly simple and in the time it takes to wait for Santa you could make 40 or 50 of them.  Besides being an adorable addition to your felt food collection they also look stunning on a Christmas tree!

 

To make 3 You will need:

1 sheet white wool blend felt *

1 sheet lipstick or key lime colored felt (or really any color we have 130 to choose from)

White thread, colored thread to match the color of stripes

A dowel or pencil to help stuff the cane.

Stuffing.

* Attempting to use acrylic felt will result in your stitches tearing

Step 1:

Cut 2 candy cane shapes from the white felt using the template below:

 

Step 2:

Sew along sides only using white thread and a whip stitch  (shown here in purple for clarity.) You’ll want to leave both ends open for stuffing. The trick to making your cane look 3D is stuffing very tightly.

Step three:

Stuff  when you are satisfied with the look of your felt candy cane tuck cane tip inward and sew up.

Stop by the Store

Step 4:

Cut your stripe color from desired color of wool blend felt. Stripes should measure around 12″ long x 1/2 ” wide, if using 9″x 12″ squares of felt you will find these very easy to cut to the right dimensions. Wrap around your candy cane a few times until you get the spacing a look you want. Pin into place if needed.

Step 5: Using matching thread color sew stripe into place. And enjoy your candy cane while remembering all those long-suffering mall parents!

Happy Holidays!

Andie & Sheila

Felt Food 101 – Lesson 4 Putting it all together

16 Jun

felt food how to fall veggies

This is part 4 of our how to make felt food series, I’m Andie a felt food addict and co-owner of American Felt and Craft. Please stop into our store sometime and take a look around. And as always if you have any questions I am just an email away and I’m happy to share my knowledge and a few of my favorite patterns with you!

Felt Food 101 – Lesson 4 Putting it all together:

Putting it all together

There are many ways to connect to pieces of felt, each has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Here I will discuss machine and hand stitching, stitches to use and gluing, you can also needle felt, felt food but I will touch on needle felting in another post.

constructionscissors

Sewing felt

Machine sewing vs. Hand Sewing

Some shapes and forms can really only be done with an old fashion needle and thread. Machine sewing is an option, for some pieces but you’ll need to remember to enlarge your pieces since the machine sewn version will be about 3/4 size.  If you are concerned about all the fuzzies getting into your machine you can avoid this by putting a piece of paper under the seam line and one over it. I recommend regular scrap copy paper I have heard others use newsprint but I would be afraid of marking up my felt with inky fingers. You may also want to use the paper method if you have trouble holding your felt in place on the machine because it is acrylic since synthetics tend to slide. Also keep in mind that removing a seam from machine sewn felt can be extremely difficult if  not impossible.  I recommend simply cutting the seam out. Machine sewn pieces are also more likely to be flatter and you will require the use of  more felt since the seams will diminish a sewn pieces’ size. With hand sewn pieces what you see is pretty much what you get there are usually very few surprises since you can easily see problems as soon as they arise and removing your stitching is very simple. Personally I believe that hand sewing is by far the best method for making felt food unless your making a lot of the same item.

Hand sewing stitches

When hand sewing it’s interesting to note that suprisingly  few stitches are used in felt food construction here is a basic walk through and illustration thanks to our friends at The Popcorn Tree .

overcast

 Overcast Stitch/ Whip Stitch

(note: overcast stitch and the whip stitch are in fact the same stitch however whip stitching is done on two pieces of fabric to join them and overcast stitching is done on only one piece to prevent fraying. Most people use the terms interchangeably and we’re suckers for peer pressure so we’ll use the terms interchangeably too!)

  Without a doubt this is the stitch I use most often when making felt food. It easily joins to pieces together without losing any fabric to seams and lays remarkably flat. Best of all with a matching thread it almost disappears into the finished piece.

Whip/ overcast stitching is very forgiving since the seam does have a bit more adjust-ability than other stitches. A word of caution; placing stitches too far apart on an item you intend to stuff will cause stuffing to fall out. The stitches should be about 1/16″ apart to prevent this. Many people will pull too tightly on the thread when sewing this way. There is no need to use more thread tension when stitching this way, pulling thread too firmly will not help avoid gaps and will create a rounded seam, or lip which may effect your finished piece.

  running stitch 

  Running Stitch

This is the basic in out stitch taught to most of us as children and is used for connecting pieces which need to remain very firm and rigid. Sewing this way also helps when you want to prop of your piece since when turned inside out the pieces will not lay flat. Other than it’s simplicity the running stitches big advantage is how easily it can be removed. Ideally you want each stitch to be about 1/4″  in length or smaller.

 

gatheringGathering and Basting Stitches.

These stitches are not used as often in felt food design but are very useful for making rounded or dome shapes. The only real difference between the gathering stitch and the running stitch is the tension in the thread. Gathering stitches are pulled tightly, the effect of this on felt is somewhat less impressive than it is on other fabrics due to the thickness of the felt. The gathering stitch and the basting stitch are also essentially the same but the basting stitch is most often temporary and since it will be  removed large stitches are not only acceptable but actually easier to work with.

backstitch

  The Back Stitch

Back stitch is most often used as an outlining stitch, and is often used to create text or outlines on a felt piece.  As the name suggests small stitches are made in a similar fashion to the running stitch but the needle returns to complete a stitch at the same time it creates a new one.

blanket

 

Blanket Stitch

The Blanket stitch can be called a more decorative version of the overcast/ whip stitch. The biggest advantage to blanket stitching is that because of the obvious top seam it is very distracting and uneven stitching is not as noticeable. The blanket stitch is used to create a decorative edge and will hold felt together in much the same way as overcast stitching. This stitch is not subtle and is made to be shown off.
This  stitch can be a problem since you will not only create a seam but a larger and more obvious one and the top line of the stitch holds the pieces a bit farther apart from each other than the whip stitch.

To create a blanket stictch  you will need to start the same way you did with the overcast but instead of creating a second overcast stitch place your needle under the first stitch on from right to left. Continue on this way, making an overcast stitch and ducking underneath it until your project is complete.

frenchknot

 French Knots

French knots are used to create seeds or dots on a piece, they take a bit of practice but look stunning when completed. The key to this method is to not pull the thread too tightly at the end. The knot should gently “sit” on top of the fabric.

satinSatin Stitching

Satin stitching is used to fill in an area with thread this is rarely used for felt food but in some rare cases it is used to create text or shapes that are too small to be made of felt. Satin stitching couldn’t be any easier. since it is basically one wide running stitch repeated over and over again. The trick to sewing with a satin stitch is to first outline your shape with a back stitch so that your edges remain smooth, simply satin stitch over your outline and viola!

sewingaknotSewing a knot

The holy grail of sewing! Most of us learned this in home ec. This knot is essential for sewing felt food since this know doesn’t require you to pull the thread and the knot is nearly invisible.

1. Begin by creating a loop where you intend to end your peice and pass your needle through that loop then pull thread through.

2. You should have a completed knot however this is not strong enough to hold long term.

3. Repeat step one on top of your original knot for added strength, many people pass the needle though the body of the knot and then create their second loop and then continue passing the needle though the loop and pulling. I personally do it this way and find it makes for a very tight knot.  

 fudgedesserts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluing felt

Really you want to glue it? Are you sure you wouldn’t rather just put a few stitches in it or easier still needle felt it? No. OK then here goes, it seems that the easiest way to hold pieces of felt together is to glue them. However this can be tricky since most thin or water based glues like Elmer’s will just absorb into the felt this is especially true if you are working with wool or a high wool blended felt because of the loft. I really recommend not gluing your felt unless you absolutely have no choice since this will make the felt harder and more difficult to drape or sew. If you must glue you should  avoid hot glue, since you will most likely have a noticeable ridge where the hot glue was laid down, and it can be a bit messy. Also when working with acrylics use of a high temp glue gun can be dangerous since acrylic is a plastic and will melt. In all instances I recommend using Beacon’s felt glue it will work on the thinnest acrylic without soaking through and I have seen it hold felt pom poms in place very nicely, it dries 100% clear and has no yucky fumes. It’s very similar to Elmer’s glue but thicker and not named Elmer’s. 🙂

If you are making something for a child I would recommend gluing and running a few stitches through for safety and if you are beading something for a child I would really recommend gluing since over time felts can shift making threads longer and making beads more easily broken off and swallowed. If you cannot find Beacon’s felt glue my second choice would be tacky glue, and my third choice would be quitting and having a glass of wine instead.

Unique glue situations (never thought you’d see those words together huh?)

If you only want to glue down a felt piece to hold it for stitching I recommend using a glue stick just make sure your glue stick is soft and be prepared for it to be all “felty” after use.  THIS WILL NOT HOLD LONG TERM! In fact in some cases it may not hold at all. This is dependent on the humidity, your felt and how lucky you are. After gluing you will need to remove the felty part from your glue stick to avoid it being transferred onto your next glue stick project and you should try to wait for it to dry before attempting to sew or your needle may get gooky from passing through the glue stuck? sticked? stucked?  felt.

Glues can also be used to accent a piece as in the case of American Felt and Craft’s Hot Fudge Glue.

Other Options

You can also Needle Felt pieces together however that’s a long and detailed post for another day.

Last week: Needles                                                                                             Next week : Felt Food 101 Stuff it

How to wash felt, wool felt foods, soft sculpture & toys.

23 Apr

felt food tomato how to wash felt food

Sooner or later you’re gonna have to clean that felt food. Here’s how to do it!

Felt Cherry Pie

While dry felt can withstand major abuse it becomes a whole different creature when wet and must be treated gently so here is a walk though, please remember use of soap will result in further felting your felt, I.E creating piling and fuzz. The following is written with wool and wool blend felt in mind but it is also useful for acrylic or eco-felt, (eco-spun & eco-fi) synthetic felts which although washable, have a tendency to tear at the seams when hand sewn.Please note that I am erring on the side of caution and your felt items are generally not all that delicate, a good quality felt will actually stand up to a lot of rubbing but better safe than sorry right?

Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning is the obvious way to go with 100% wool felt but a lot of dry cleaners won’t touch soft sculpture or basically anything that isn’t clothing you CANNOT use a product like dryel on felt the heat and moisture will continue to felt your piece, this would not be a good thing. The #1 thing to keep in mind is avoiding drastic temperature fluctuations on the felt.

Surface Wash

If your item is only slightly messy for example moist cookie crumbs, I would suggest letting them dry, before proceeding with your clean up, you may mash the mess into the wool mesh, say that 5 times fast!

The exception to this rule is a substance which you feel will stain. In that is the case proceed to hand wash. After felt is dry brush off the crumbs and gently wash the surface with a baby wipe.

sinkHand Wash

Lets say your felt food is really messy, for example your child dunked his felt cookie in his real milk. You can hand wash using the steps outlined below, I have used this method with great success Using these methods I have removed apple juice, wet candy cane, yogurt and cracker mush from my daughters felt food collection.

1. Brush as much of the dirt, dust or dried whatever off as you can while the item is STILL DRY. If whatever has gotten on your felt is in liquid form that’s OK to but please avoid rubbing it.

2. Fill a sink or basin with cool or cold water, no soap.

3. Place said item in water and wait until it soaked, gently squeeze the air out if it is a stuffed item

4. Gently press water out of felt without rubbing

5. Continue to squeeze like a sponge do not rub,  Repeat until spot is gone, you may soak the felt overnight if needed.

Air dry, felt may feel stiff at first but will regain its softness when played with for awhile.

lemons

Worse case scenario…

Got something really nasty on your felt, like boogers or pee? Luckily for you wool has antibacterial properties so it’s isn’t as germ laden as you think however you now need to remove whatever germs remain and any smell, try lemons. Lemons contain antibacterial and antiseptic properties on top of naturally removing odor. Cut lemons and squeeze into the water in your basin and proceed as outlined above.

But it’s winter in the middle of nowhere…

Your last best hope is Vinegar. Vinegar will  disinfectant and help destroy odor, the weird vinegar smell will fade with time , it dissolves grease too! So if you have a stuffie that’s gotten really grungie this is your method! Put in 1/2 part vinegar to 1 part water and wash as directed above be sure to lay it out to dry as soon as possible and do not use it to soak your item for longer than 10-15 minutes as it could in theory hurt your fabric although this has never been my experience. The bonus to this method is your dried felt will be surprisingly soft.

Drop me a comment or two and let me know how it all turned out and show me some love by checking out the store,

Happy Crafting- Andie

meatdinner

Please give credit where credit is due and be sure to link to my blog when using this info. Thanks, you’re the best!

For more on how to clean felt see our post on cleaning and storing felt fabric.

Wondering how to clean felt - wonder no more - step by step photos

How to Clean Felt – Step by Step 

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