Thursday, November 20, 2008

Finished Brenna's Present Part One

Here is the long entry that I have been promising. I made a felt board for my niece, Brenna, this year for her birthday. I hope that she gets a kick out of it. I had so much oddly relaxing fun making it. I did learn a few things along the way, mainly that I tend to go overboard with my projects and that crafting while on cold meds is not a good option for me.

So I got this idea from, well where else, the internet. After looking at several free design pages, I decided to strike out on my own. I got the letter and number templates from a wonderful book by Phyllis and Noel Fiarotta called A B C 1 2 3 Craft Book.

That book in and of itself was a gift for Brenna's younger sister Claudia last Christmas. I went and looked up letter sets for display boards, and cut that many of each letter. I did some as capital letters and others as lower case letters. I also cut out all the numbers and made a signs for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as well as the bar for under the problems.

To make this all easy on me, I copied the letters on paper first and then used that as a template to cut around on the felt. I used the smallest rotary cutter by Olfa. It worked really well for this. I could almost act like the cutter was a pencil and just draw around the templates.

After cutting out all the letters and numbers, I decided she needed shapes to play with as well. So I got out a set of plastic Tangograms, and used those as templates for geometric shapes. I cut them out of every color of the rainbow and also included black and white. Along with the triangles, square, and parallelograms, I also got out the new trusty circle cutter and made some circles.

I then ironed out my fabric. I chose a green frog fabric, so that this board can eventually be handed down from Brenna to Claudia and then the youngest Craig without care about being too girly. I cut the frog fabric into an 20 by 13 inch rectangle. I also cut the same size of blue felt out of the left over felt from last year's over purchase of felt.

I wanted to make pockets on the back for her to put the letters and shapes. I tried to figure out how big to make them. I was working on cold medicine at the time and was not thinking too straight. I was underestimating the pile of letters, numbers, and shapes that were amassed in a gigantic army waiting to be unleashed on the felt board. I ended up cutting four 6 by 8.5 inch rectangles to make into pockets. I also made a flap to snap closed on the pouch. Those were shaped like home base on a baseball field. They measured 5 by 2 by 4 inches. 5 being the flat edge and 4 being the triangle edges. I also wanted to line the insides and decided to keep with the blue and green theme, so I went into the fabric bins and found some great plain blue cotton fabric.

I then edged the sides of the pockets and the top edges of the flaps on the serger.

This is where things got a bit silly. I tried to set the snaps and was not thinking. I placed the snaps into both sides with out measuring. The next day when I got down to work a little more clear headed and less sick, I realized my mistake. The snaps ended up making the flaps a little over an inch too far from the pockets. I ended up getting more of the blue fabric out and adding an edging to the pockets. I really liked how they ended up turning out. I then sewed them to the back fabric.

I then decided that I did not want a flimsy board. This board needed some body to it. I decided to add some left over fun foam to the inside. I glued a blue and a green piece back to back with each other. This way I could make sure that they would not show through any of the fabric; I would place the blue side to the blue felt and the green side to the frog fabric.

I then sewed the blue and green together on three sides, then inserted the foam, then finished off the other side. I got some yellow quilt biding that was left over from the puppet theater project and edged the board in that. If you need to know how to place quilt binding onto something with the mitered corners, Heather Bailey has a great tutorial here. I then realized that the letters, numbers, and shapes had really gotten too large for the pockets I had made. I went on to make some pouches to hold them all. I figured that she can use the pouches for storage, and distribute some to the pockets when she is going to be mobile in the car or on a plane ride to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Here it is all finished.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Hopefully it gives you some ideas for your present making. If you love this idea but just don't have the time or inclination to make one, there are some sellers of this type of craft on Etsy.

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