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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Make your own pretty spring brooches with wool felt (and your kids!).

When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to get us little seasonal pins from Avon, with solid perfume hidden in the back. I still have several Easter ones in my jewelry box (probably the most valuable things in there, too!), minus the perfume.
Looking for a Sunday afternoon craft on a rare Sunday off, Rowan and I got sucked into Pinterest and as usual, spent more time looking for an activity than doing it. I hate that!

I limited our possibilities to those for which I had the supplies and which did not involve glue or paint. I just couldn't do messy and now that my daughter is old enough to really develop some skills, I can hide my loathing for sticky hands (sensory issue for me) behind the virtue of teaching her new skills. Sneaky mom.

Which lead us to making spring /Easter pins to wear on our clothing, or, in Rowan's case, to pin onto an elastic or hairband.

* wool felt** in small amounts
* sharp scissors, pinking shears if desired
* embroidery floss and sharp needles
* small amount of wool or other stuffing (optional)
* beads, ribbon or any other embellishments
* paper and pencil, and/or printer, sharpie or other dark marker
* straight pins
* locking bar pins
made a prim style bunny and Rowan, obsessed with all things chicken (she is getting birds this spring), chose a hen.

To make a little template for your pins, choose an image (or draw freehand-- would be neat for a child to create their own shapes!) and draw or trace it.  Google search is great -- use the 'images' tab and look up 'bunny outline', for example, for lots of simple line drawings (I searched 'primitive rabbit' and found a simple template offered for crafting). Searching 'silhouette' and 'template' are helpful, too. You can further narrow your search by size and so on, using the google search tools above the search bar. Be mindful of copyright, especially if looking to sell your creations!

You can print your image and trace with Sharpie for cutting out cleanly.
I drew freehand from various images we liked, with Rowan carefully determining the look of her chicken (see those eraser marks on the image above?!).  As I wanted Rowan to get a feel for cutting out a pattern and building her pin's layers, I marked the pieces and let her do the cutting as indicated by the marks on the pattern.
Use straight pins as needed for cutting out.
We took a few moments to puzzle out the sewing order for the pieces (great sequencing and logic work for kids... And me!).

As we were making two layers for the body of each pin, I started Rowan off with a knot in the tail 
  thread so she could concentrate on making accurate and even stitches. The knot would be hidden inside.  We then sewed down any details on the front piece of felt, generally using a simple running stitch.  

I finished my bunny front to back with a blanket stitch (personal preference) and used a teeny bit of wool stuffing in its belly and haunch. Finally, I stitched on a locking bar pin.
Rowan did very well with her surface details.  She had a little more trouble keeping the front and back pieces lined up while stitching (even with them pinned -- see my note at the bottom about wool felt), so in the end I had to do some fancy trimming to even it all out.  For another time I would cut out her edges with pinking shears to help guide her stitching and lining up.
Once her chicken was stuffed and pinned we introduced our critters to one another and took their pictures! 
Pretty darn sweet! 
This simple process could be used for all sorts of shapes and would make great teacher or grandparent gifts.
Total Time: 60 - 90 minutes
Costs will vary.

**OK, the scoop on the felt. I am a felt snob. Through and through. I wrote THIS article a while ago about my findings in relation to wool vs. acrylic (including eco- variants) felt. I have good reason for my snobbery.  That said, I guard my felt like Gollum with the One Ring. So when Rowan insisted in using the piece of yellow FUO (felt of unknown origin) I didn't fight too hard. I really should have.

The FUO slipped and tore, it sent fuzz through with every stitch, making a fuzzy mess on the front of her pin. When she tried to keep her edges together, it separated and became too thin to hold her stitches. I had to do a lot of fussing and trimming to clean it up.  If she had worked with wool felt, much of this frustration would have simply not existed. And when kids are learning a new skill, they need to be able to move forward with confidence and success... The FUO very nearly undid that for her (as an easily frustrated perfectionist kind of gal).

Like investing in a few quality toys as tools for play (kinderwerk --the work of childhood), good crafting supplies make a difference in creating skilled and confident handiworkers.

So share the good stuff!
Gollum. ♥♥


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