Monday, January 21, 2013

Valentine Countdown Project and Tutorial

Valentine Countdown Project and Tutorial

This is the project I decided to make!

I've been busy working on this Valentine's Day Countdown for my daughter the past few days. It hangs on our front closet in our great room, and I am so happy with the way it came out! It's made out of felt and is by far my most ambitious sewing project to date. I did a combination of hand embroidery and some machine sewing because I wanted an eclectic artsy look to it. This is also the first time I've ever used fusible webbing, and I love that stuff. I may use it on every project from now on!

I knew I wanted a heart shape with pockets. The pockets would be small, too small to put much in. I decided that we'd put a little card in each pocket, each one with something that we love about our daughter right now. Something very specific, so it'd help us capture who she is right now.

One thing I wrote was, I love how you call band aides, "Ban-bans," and how you always put your hand up to your forehead every time you think you're hurt, and cry, "I need ban-ban, NOW! I really hurt Mama!" The last time it was because you dropped your doll Chloe down the stairs. I told you that Chloe was probably hurt, you were not.

Every day we'll take out the next card and read it to her. Kind of a time capsule of sorts, to remember the quirks, the songs she sings, the games she plays right now. The plan is to also make an ongoing mini scrapbook, so that each year I can compile the fourteen things onto one little page along with a picture of her from that year. I think it'll be fun looking back over the years at the different things we write down and it'll be a nice keepsake for her too.
This year the reading the little cards as the "prize" is probably a little more abstract than she's ready for. I'm still going to write down fourteen things but I also brainstormed a list of little gifts to give her too. I'm making some of them, such as yesterday's princess clutch; I post pictures and how to's of the projects leading up to Valentine's.

Making a Felt Hanging Valentine Countdown
Making a Countdown is a fairly easy project, but can be time consuming depending on the amount of hand stitching. This is a done in a weekend project and requires beginner to moderate skill levels. I am a very novice sewer and embroiderer so only a little experience is needed.

Materials: Felt by the yard in various colors, fabric scraps, embroidery thread in various colors, sewing needle, pins, disappearing ink pen, scissors, rotary cutter, ruler, cutting mat, fusible webbing, iron and ironing board, wooden dowel, assorted ribbon, assorted papers, newspaper for template

Optional Materials: Sewing machine, computer and computer fonts, die cut alphabet and die cut machine, hot glue gun/glue sticks or paint
Step 1: Cut a large heart template out of newspaper. Lay template down on top of felt. Trace with template a disappearing ink pen. Cut out two hearts.Step 2: Cut out fourteen square templates for the pockets. Each one should be the same size. Lay them down on felt heart until you like the arrangement. My paper squares were each 3X3 inches. Step 3: Using a few different colors of felt and the dimensions of your pocket template, cut out fourteen pockets. I ended up with fourteen 3X3 squares in three different shapes. (This is when I realized I had to change the color of the heart, the red squares blended in too much against the rose colored felt.) Lay pocket squares down on top of paper pocket templates until you like the arrangement. Take a picture and refer to it as needed.
Step 4: Cut out numbers 1-14 out of various pieces of felt and fabric. I hand drew some of my numbers, and also made templates using computer fonts. To do: type numbers into word processing program. Play around with sizes and fonts until you have some you like. Print out and cut around each number leaving a bit of a margin around the numeral. Pin to felt or fabric, cut out.
Step 5: Take the cut out numbers, lay on top of felt square pockets to check design. Put each number on top of a piece of fusible webbing. Press down so they stick to webbing. Cut out number. Lay on top of felt pocket square, fuse with iron. Fuse all numbers. I also fused two little love birds onto the number 2 pocket, a small heart onto 6 (this was later to cover a stitching error), and a fabric heart onto number 14.
Please note: these were the directions on the package of my fusible webbing, read and follow the directions for the fusible webbing you are using in case they vary.Step 6: Place the fabric pocket squares with fused on numbers back onto felt heart. Pin in place. Use a combination of embroidery stitches and machine stitches to attach each square.
Step 7: Pin heart with fabric pockets onto second felt heart. Cut pieces of felt into narrow strips. Fold in half and pin at the top of the heart by the curves to make hanging tabs. Use a straight stitch to stitch around hearts. I eyeballed the width, length, and positions of the strips for the tabs.
Optional Step: I have some Sizzix alphabets, and used one along with a universal die cutter by Accucut to cut letters out of felt backed with fusible webbing to spell out "happy valentine's day". I then fused the message to the top left side of the heart. The other side is blank for the pictures, but I am going to fuse our last name onto the upper right hand side. If you do not have access to a die cut system that cuts through felt, create your message using the same method as cutting out the numbers. The step can also be omitted, and top portions of heart left blank.
Step 8: Complete hanging Valentine Countdown by cutting a wooden dowel so that it is approximately as long as the widest part of the heart. I chose to cover it with fabric that matches some of the fused on numbers, but you could also paint it. Cover dowel with fabric by cutting fabric to length and attaching with hot glue.
Place dowel in hanging tabs, make bows out of wired ribbon. Attach them to front of hanging tabs with wire or thin ribbon. Tie additional ribbon around dowel by hanging tabs to make a ribbon hanger. The bows will hide where the ribbon is tied on.

Step 9: To make the cards that fit into each pocket, use paper scraps in coordinating colors and cut them to fit into your pockets, mine were 2X3 inches. Attach a piece of ribbon tied into a knot with mini glue dots to the top of each card.

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