Happy Kitchen

I just finished a set of valances for my kitchen out of Melody Miller’s “Happy Dishes” print from her latest line for Kokka. As we are currently renting, I have very little control over the fact that my kitchen, with its dark countertops and horrid cement-hued-blah wall, is a bit drab. The cheery colorful dishes in this print are just what the doctor ordered.

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Felt Letters for Clementine’s Room

Yesterday I finished these felt letters for Clementine’s nursery. They had been sewn and stuffed months ago but I had this idea that they would all hang individually from the tension wire that holds up her curtains and then when I tried it and realized they would spin around and half of the letters would be backwards I gave up and for months there’s been a hanging “Cle” in her room with a backwards “e.” The solution ended up being a strand of clear thread which runs through the letters and is looped at the ends so it can hang from nails.  And now I’m so geeked about how cool this turned out that I look for excuses to wander into the nursery and stare at it.

I will freely admit that the idea for these letters was not mine. I saw similar letters featured in Small Magazine last year and now it is driving me nuts that I just wasted a half hour looking for the page I saw them on and can’t find it. Anyway they are from an etsy shop called MiCiMaLand that sells them in double cool Learn-to-Spell sets like this one.  At the time they also offered custom name sets ($2/letter if I remember correctly) but now it looks like they’ve stopped selling them and if I had had half a brain I would have just ordered a set from them instead of trying to make them myself.  I waffled about it for awhile but in the end the Dutch Girl in me just had to add it all up and decide that $20 for all TEN letters of Clementine’s name was too much to fork over and by gum I could just make those myself. Kicking myself now, thinking about how long it took to cut out each of those letters and then stitching and stuffing them by hand…did I mention there are TEN letters in her name? This is a classic example of the should-I-make-it-or-buy-it inner debate going awry. And if you are thinking $34 for a full set of hand-stitched letters is too much, you should think again.

If you have a child with a sensible short-lettered name, you might yet decide you want to make your own set.  For those of you who are still nodding, here’s a brief how-to.

HOW TO MAKE FELT LETTERS LIKE THESE:

1. Buy some nice brightly colored wool felt (here or here are nice, feel free to share your favorite sources in comments).  Acrylic does not look as nice but go ahead if you must.

2. Print out the name using a large font.  Block letters work well. Mine were Cooper font size 400 in Word.

3. Place a piece of felt over each printed letter and hold it up to a window so the light shines through.  Trace the letter onto the felt with disappearing ink or with a light pencil.

4. Cut letters. I put two layers of felt together and cut them out two at a time.

5. Whipstitch the two layers together around all the edges.  For letters that have holes in the middle (like e, b, d), stitch around the holes first, then do the outside of the letter.

You can see the stitches pretty clearly in the picture above. Uneven stitches add to the handmade charm of these letters (repeat after me).

6.  Leave a hole open so you can stuff the letters.  Don’t over-stuff them or the stitches will pull out.  Too much stuffing also makes them bend oddly…you don’t want that!

7.  Sew the letters shut.

8. Using clear quilting thread or fishing line, thread the letters together, tying the ends of the thread into loops for hanging.  Hang and enjoy!

And here are some other things I’ve made with felt for you to peruse should you feel so inclined:

The Easiest Robot Garland. Evar.

Some of you remember the Easiest Heart Garland. Evar. and this isn’t going to turn into a series or anything, but garlands are easy to make and fun so I had to share my very very easy peasy paper party garland. It isn’t made of felt like the heart one (but wouldn’t THAT be cute??) and therefore is less durable, but I find with birthday garlands that in fact each year you want to do something new, making the time invested in a felt birthday garland slightly less rewarding.  But don’t let me stop you.

Here’s how to make:
1.  Gather supplies: colored printer paper (mine came from IKEA if you’re looking for these colors), stapler, hole punch, scissors.  Each color you use gives 8 robots and about a yard of garland, so mix colors to make longer garlands or just use one color.

2.  Fold the paper in half three times to make eight sections (unfolded shown above, folded shown below).  The order of the folds is not important as long as you end up with eight equal sections.

3.  Sketch cutouts if needed.  The top corners will need rectangles, the bottom corners need “L”s and the bottom center needs a square.  Personally I think the less exact you are, the cuter they end up. Witness how wonkified they are in that first picture if you don’t believe me.

4.  Cut L’s on bottom corners through all layers with scissors

5.  Cut squares out of bottom center through all layers to make the legs

6.  Cut rectangles from top corners through all layers to make the head

7.  Open up your paper.  The robots will be connected by their arms, legs, or heads but not necessarily exactly like mine if you positioned your folds differently.  This doesn’t matter since you’re going to cut them all apart anyway. Now cut them all apart.

8.  Punch holes for eyes and control buttons

9.  Staple two robots at a time together horizontally by catching each arm with the staple or stapling them together vertically head to foot.

10. Optional: I tied loops of thread to the ends to make them easier to hang, but you could also tape them up or just rest them on curtain rods or fixtures.

Easy, peasy!

The Easiest Heart Garland. Evar.

When the going gets rough, you know it’s time for an easy craft.  Cue: felt.  And if there’s anything my elementary school education prepared me for, it’s cutting out hearts (and I know that may sound suspect coming from a high school teacher, but I don’t mean that as a diss).  It’s downright therapeutic.  Just fold the felt and go to town with the scissors, machine sew them together in one long string, and voila, heart garland!

Construction hint: I thought it would be easier to go pointed side first, but turns out I was wrong.  The presser foot does better with the top side of the heart than the point.

I had the idea for this after seeing these at Shim + Sons, but I feel this must have been done somewhere else before…maybe Martha (which, now that I have AdBlocker, is much much more enjoyable)?  I don’t know.  The felt came from Heather Bailey.  And I have to also mention: those lovely pieces of lenticular art above the mantel were Mr Rae and my Christmas gifts to eachother last year.  They are both from the Science Shows You How series by our friend, Detroit artist Chris Dean
If you’ve made a Valentine’s Day garland, please share!