Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fun With Felt: Travel Road Set

This post is the beginning of my "Fun With Felt" series.  I love making fun things with felt.  The nature of the fabric and crafts you make with it don't require perfection, and in fact imperfections only add to whimsical character of your creations.  Another plus for felt is how cheap it is!  I bought two packages of assorted colors of felt at Wal-Mart for $5-$6.  I just used whatever color of thread I had on hand.  So far with those two packs of felt I have made three little toys/gifts for the kids.  Not a bad bang for your buck!

This first post is about making a travel road set.

It folds flat to easily fit in a diaper bag.  Take it to church or on an airplane for a great quiet activity.  Just don't forget the cars and trains!

 I didn't do a good job of taking pictures through the whole process.  But it shouldn't be too hard to follow along.

1 - Choose two dark green pieces of felt.  Sew them together like the binding of a book (right sides together about 1/8-1/4" seam allowance).
2 - If you want to make your road set sturdy, cut out two pieces of poster board slightly smaller than the size of each "page".
3 - Cut out a road from the black felt.  Cut it in the shape you wish it to take on the felt.  Don't just try to cut a straight line and curve it to fit your needs.
4 - Sew each edge of the road to the green felt.  Don't worry about the unfinished edges (unless they are really large and need to be trimmed).  This is handmade and the felt makes the unfinished edge look cute.
5 - To make the bridge cut two straight pieces of brown felt slightly longer than the desired length of your bridge.  Remember you are going to make your bridge pop up, so cut it the desired length once in it's rounded shape.
6 - Sew three edges of your bridge together leaving one narrow end open.
 7 - Cut at least three strips of posterboard to fit inside the bridge, leaving about an inch of space the end.  You may want to cut more strips to get your bridge to the desired stiffness.  Insert the posterboard into the bridge.
8 - Sew the unclosed end of the bridge to a piece of velcro or attach it to a snap.  I used a snap, but I think velcro would work better with the felt.  Make sure that the bridge is now completely closed.
9 - Attach the opposite piece of velcro or snap where you want the bridge to attach on the green felt.  Sew the other end of the bridge to the green felt where you wish it to start.  Now you can detach the bridge to close the road set and put it back in place whenever it is in use.
10 - Cut out several very thin strips of dark brown felt and sew right down the middle to create the railroad tracks.  Sew the long pieces on first before attaching the cross-pieces.
11 - Take a brown paint-marker and draw the track onto your bridge.  (You could put the track onto your bridge before you sew it together, but this was just easier for me.)
12 - Add any other decorations to your set as you wish such as lakes, sand, town, etc.
13 - Choose a color for the "cover" and sew those two pieces of felt together just like you did thie two green pieces.  If you wish to attach pockets for cars and trains, do so now on the right side (not the side with the binding sticking out).
14 - Sew the cover to the gren felt right down the middle of the book to create the fold. 
15 - Place the posterboard pages between the green felt and cover on each side of the binding and sew around entire book.

You're done!  Hand it off to the little boy in your life the next time you need him to be quiet or hold still!