Felt Gifts for Baby Showers

For starters, please forgive the image-heavy post and the shameless self-promotion over the last few weeks. I’m going to blame it all on my sister-in-law Beth. She phoned me a few weeks ago to ask if I had any ideas for shower gifts. Five friends were holding baby showers in the coming weeks and she needed ideas.  With a little help, I was able to brainstorm a slew of ideas from my own archives, as well as some new ideas:

Felt Bead Necklace – beads slide along a wax-coated cotton cord so mother and child can play at feeding time

Felt Balls – solid felt balls when they are fully felted actually bounce!

Felt Boxes – for toys, socks and more

Soft plushy made from recycled felt – try stuffing the toy with dried lavender

Felt-covered Journal – for the hours you spend just sitting quietly, it is nice to have a few journals scattered about so you can capture the memories before they fade away

Felt Mobile – imagine all the different dangles you could hang from twigs, bamboo, chopsticks, skewers or a bent clothes hanger

Felt Booties or Slippers

Felt Sleep Sack – either for an older sibling, or for a tiny baby

All of my items are either currently available in my etsy shop, or can be created as a custom order within one week’s notice.

Here are some of my favorites from etsy:

The neatest baby toy I’ve seen in a while is a Magnet Caterpillar, made by a Dutch woman on etsy. Large felted balls are created around strong magnets. Love it!

The tattoo artwork on this breastfeeding pin-up girl t-shirt is fantastic.

Silk or wool baby Waldorf pilot caps knit with love by Shelleycaskey.

There never seemed to be enough clean nursing pads in my drawer during my son’s first year. This great shop makes colorful nursing pads with great fabrics. If you prefer something neutral in color, why not hemp nursing pads?

Though I haven’t purchased a baby carrier on Etsy, so I can vouch for any of the sellers as I can for the lovely artists I listed above, there are lots of choices.

If you want even more ideas, check out the Etsy Gift Guide – Baby. Phew! That is a lot of shopping!

Felt Journal Cover v2.0

Here’s the second version of my felt journal cover with a modified lining:

Instead of cutting a large buttonhole for the cover, I sewed a second layer of fabric over the lining to create a pocket. This does a better job of lying flat when closed and looks more finished than my previous method.

I hesitated to leave the edges of the flat felt wavy, but one of my students encouraged me, describing the edges as organic. My husband thinks they look ‘girly’. I think they lend the piece authenticity; there is no way this cover was cut out of wool felt bought by the roll at the fabric store. I’m particularly enamored with the quilted texture of the felt after I applied the machine stitching. This rough leaf motif was used to create hundreds of little leaves for my mobile.

This cover is now available in my etsy shop.

Felt Journal Cover

A student recently asked if I had ever made a felt journal cover. Though I’ve seen several versions in various felt books, I’d never tried one. When I picked up Warm Fuzzies last week and saw the journal project, I knew the time had come to make one for myself.

This illustration by Jane Dyer in Sophie’s Masterpiece was the inspiration for the design needlefelted on the cover. After the design was finished, I threw the flat felt into the wash with some sweaters I was fulling.

The journal is lined with a piece of woven wool fabric upcycled from a shirt picked up at a clothing swap. The journal slides into two large buttonholes on either side of the spine.

The next time I make this cover, I’ll modify the lining as it bunches a little when the cover is closed. I love the way this seller on etsy finished the inside and created the cover pocket. Unfortunately, I didn’t do any market research before beginning my project, so this first iteration is truly my own as I’m not really sure how Betz finished hers (my library copy of Warm Fuzzies has been returned, and my purchased copy has not arrived in the mail).

The journal cover is listed in my etsy shop with a blank spiral-bound journal I bought at an art store. However, I have big plans to make my own journals using recycled hardcover children’s books and signatures sewn by hand. We’ll see. There are other projects with priority in the crafty queue, but it is on my mental list and all the materials have been purchased. Perhaps by putting it on record in my blog, I’ll be motivated to make them sooner than later.

Incidentally, Sophie’s Masterpiece has been one of my favorite books since my daughter Sophie received it as a birthday present in her first year (thank you Aunt Michelle!). I still have a hard time reading the whole thing without crying. The character Sophie was the inspiration behind my business name and the spider I asked Geninne to draw for my mascot. There was something about the spunky spider wearing mismatched tights that captured my imagination.

Felt Baby Booties

Inspired by this tutorial on Carolineinkle’s blog, I decided to try a new method for making smaller booties. Though this method works well for larger sizes, it is difficult when you want something truly petite.

Before beginning, I needed to make a mold. I followed the instructions described by Mark Jenkins on TapeSculpture using a pair of size US2 (UK1/EU 17) saddle shoes. Take some time to explore his sculptures; you’ll impress everyone at the next dinner party when you describe how to make sculpture with plastic wrap and packing tape.

Once my mold was sliced open and I had extracted the tiny baby shoes, I stuffed it with felt scraps and taped it back together. Next time around, I would add a few extra layers of tape to prevent water penetrating the inner core (the little bubbles on the inside make me think this set will start sprouting a microculture soon).

Carolineinkle drafts small pieces of roving around her form, but I found it was hard to get the roving to stay in place, especially on a slick surface, so I drafted long pieces of roving which I wrapped around my form, much as I do for felted soaps. When the roving was fully felted, I marked my opening with tailor’s chalk and snipped an opening.

I felted the cut edges by hand for a few minutes; following their rinse, I dunked the slippers in a vinegar bath for a few minutes and then rinsed again.

Once they were dry, I needlefelted a motif on the toe. The mittens were my first attempt at creating a bootie using the Pat Sparks 2D resist method; they felted very quickly, leaving me with something too small to work as a bootie. The finished booties measure 4″ in length, equivalent to a size US 2 1/2 shoe (UK 1 1/2/EU 18).

These two cuties are now available in my etsy shop.

Little Crafter Curriculum

A friend asked me if I would put together a series of classes for some parents and children under four years. The Crafty Crow has been a terrific source of tried and true projects for families, as has Carrie at CarrieLogic, my unofficial craft aggregator (she who reads lots and piles up ideas).

  • Mom in Madison made nature notebooks with her boys.
  • PinkChalkStudios is covering light switchplates with fabric and mod-podge; taking this down a notch paper collages would make it easier for little fingers
  • Molly Chicken makes papier mache bowls with tissue paper
  • WriteMamaWrite collects natural materials to make textured impressions in sculpey
  • BloesemKids gives new life to fabric scraps with a landscape fabric collage
  • paint recycled t-shirts and fabric, then sew library bags, grocery bags, or child-sized treasure bags (to carry all the treasures children find when they are out)
  • whip-stitch small lavender sachets and pillows
  • make knotted dolls with recycled/painted fabric
  • nature prints on fabric/paper
  • whip-stitch piles of bean bags
  • baked buttons and beads with fimo or sculpey
  • stained-glass crayons

Reaching back into my own archives, I loved making collage boxes with stamps and mod-podge. How can you resist pretty colors stacked up and a shiny finish?

Fishy Sweater

My new favorite book: Warm Fuzzies by Betz White. I loved my library copy so much, I bought my own from her etsy shop.

This ranks at the top of my list for felting books, and maybe at the top for all craft books. Great ideas. Clear instructions. After reading it cover to cover, I immediately raced downstairs to start sewing.

Luckily, I have a decent stash of recycled felt, so I could get started right away. However, if you find yourself without any source of holey sweaters, or the local thrift store has been pillaged by faster crafters, try LassotheMoon’s etsy shop where she has listings for wool sweater scraps. Betz White also offers similar scrap bags, but her recent popularity means they are snapped up pretty quickly.

This fish was inspired by her bird ornament pattern. While I created my own shape, I followed her directions for creating the fins, which have a piece of fusible interfacing ironed between the two layers of felt to act as a stiffener.  Fashioning the eyes took a couple of tries, and some searching in google images for inspiration; in the end, I needlefelted on a piece of blue felt and then sewed the eye patch to the body.

Felt Sleep Sack

This started out as an experiment to see if I could take advantage of Arachne’s size to make large pieces of felt fabric more easily than I could create them by hand. I wanted to make a sleep sack, a slightly more functional baby gift than the standard blanket.

A friend with children much younger than mine, and who uses sleeps sacks regularly, burst my bubble when she said this was too small for a newborn. Measuring 20″ x 11″, I can now see what her eye was able to assess in an instant. Both of my babies measured 22″ at birth. Clearly, I need to start with a much larger piece of felt, but I’m not sure how much larger I can get with the current constraints of my workbench.

For now, it will make a dandy sleeping bag for my son’s favorite pal. My mother made this Waldorf doll for his first birthday. Not only did she make the doll without a pattern, but the outfit matches a full size version she crafted for his birthday. I’m amazed at her cleverness. This doll has lived through many adventures and hours of play. Now he has his own sleeping bag to keep him warm.

Handspun Stripe Sweater

Nothing thrills me like learning a new skill, like spinning for example. Spending the weekend at Madrona cozy with my drop spindle, falling deeper and deeper in love with the process and the yarn I was creating, some friends overheard me mutter: ‘I’m so over knitting’. Famous last words. What I didn’t realize at the time was that at some point, the spinner feels compelled to do something with the lovely yarn they have spun. It is pretty to admire on the mantle, but it is even nicer wrapped around the body.

The wrist warmers were a great way to see the fiber as knit fabric, but didn’t really satisfy my urge to see just how far my yarn would go. After browsing Ravelry a bit and trolling through my existing stash, I decided a striped cardigan would be the safest bet, as I could just substitute another color if I ran out. I pulled out six hanks of Bartlett Yarns Fisherman 3-ply and turned to the Random Stripe Generator to program the color sequence.

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Even if you don’t plan to knit, crochet, felt, collage or paint, this is a fun little tool. Don’t like the colors? Just refresh and you’ll get a new palette.

Pure and Simple Cardigan

My criteria in pattern selection was something easy so I could still socialize at the same time. I settled on the world’s simplest pattern series: Knitting Pure and Simple; this is the Neckdown Jacket (201). When I declared my love affair with knitting over, I think I was really saying I was done torturing myself with the never-ending race to master progressively more complicated pieces. Working on a simple piece does not qualify as back-sliding, in the same way as ditching my running routine, or swim practice. Incidentally, we’ve just started biking to school (which means four rides for me with the extra legs home). It is exciting to be out in the world as a family, each person motoring with their own steam.

April Felting Classes

In addition to teaching classes at Venue in Ballard, I’ll also be teaching at Space to Create for the next few months. As always, class registration is by phone with the studio.

Picture That in Felt!
Wednesday, April 16, 7:00-9:00 pm
Space to Create, 1414 NW 70th St, Seattle WA 98117 ~ 206.784.0401
Cost: $30 plus $10 materials fee
Class size is limited to 10 students.

Learn how to create pictures, write words and add surface embellishment to wool felt using a combination of wetfelting and needle felting techniques. All materials will be provided, including 3 oz of merino wool, bits of silk and plant fibers. Students should bring a sketch, painting, collage or photo they would like to recreate in felt.

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Felting 101 – Beads, Ropes and Flat Felt
Monday, April 21st, 11:00 am 1:00 pm
Venue – Ballard, 5408 22nd Ave NW, Seattle WA 98107 ~ 206.789.3335
Cost: $30 plus $10 materials fee
Class size is limited to 10 students.

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A hands-on introduction to basic wetfelting techniques. Topics covered include creating felt beads, ropes and flat felt. Each of these building blocks will be used in subsequent classes to create more complex constructions. Students will complete two projects during the class time such as a three-tier flower brooch, a felt box or a neck cozy. Materials provided include 3 oz. of merino wool roving, bubble wrap, and a square nylon fabric screen.

Felt Resists: Purses, Slippers and Bags
Tuesday, April 22, 7:00-9:00 pm
Space to Create, 1414 NW 70th St, Seattle WA 98117 ~ 206.784.0401
Cost: $30 plus $10 materials fee
Class size is limited to 10 students.

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Resists are used to create an air pocket in certain wet felted items such as vessels, purses, slippers and pouches. This is an intermediate technique that requires some understanding of how felt is created. All materials will be provided, including 3 oz of merino wool, bits of silk and plant fibers. Students will complete one project during class time, and have enough materials to create a second project at a later date.

Gnomes and Sheep

Next Tuesday, April 8th, I’ll be hosting the monthly Seattle API craft group at my house. Since we have a mixture of small and large hands, I’m going to prepare the materials for pipe cleaner sheep from Toymaking with Children by Freya Jaffke. This simple project involves wrapping roving around pipe cleaners bent into rough animal shapes.

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As time allows, we’ll also make some gnomes and fairies, with flower petal skirts and elven hats sewn from flat felt.

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This event is open to parents and children of all ages. There is no fee as my craft stash should have plenty of materials. If you would like to contribute to the endeavor, we will use pipe cleaners, roving, wooden beads and large-petal artificial flowers.

I hope to see you next week!