Friday, February 21, 2014

Felt Board Figures with Interfacing

There are some beautiful felt pieces being made by Flannel Friday participants. I particularly love the style of those made by Jane of Piper Loves the Library.  (I would like to make pieces like that some day.) It is definitely worth it to make some high quality felt sets. Figures in felt have depth and dimension. When this is not practical, there are other options.

Although I used a felt board for fifteen years, I must confess that I never made a figure out of felt. Instead, I made them out of heavyweight interfacing. (When I used a flannel board, I was a department of one and did not have the time or patience to make felt pieces. My current library uses a magnet board so pieces are colored with marker and laminated.) Another option is to use milk filters. I have never used them but you can find out more about them from Anne's post. Andrea shows some chickadees she made using milk filters on her blog.

The interfacing method has advantages and disadvantages. Interfacing is easy to cut and all you need is a set of markers to provide a variety of colors. However it is not as thick as felt so you need a backing if you want to hide something behind a figure. Without a backing the other piece will show through. The biggest disadvantage is that it does not stick to itself like felt so you cannot put pieces on top of each other. (I would use a glue stick to add a small amount of glue when I needed to make pieces stick to each other.) What I like best about using interfacing is that it is easy to make pieces with details. Patterns show through even the heavyweight interfacing. Once you get the hang of it, you can make pieces quickly so I recommend this method if you are pressed for time.


Choose the correct kind of interfacing. Use heavyweight non-fusible or sew-in interfacing if it is available. If not, medium weight will work. Do not get fusible interfacing. It has glue on the back so it will not stick. Should you end up with some, draw on the shiny (glue) side so the piece will stick to the felt board. Lightweight interfacing is flimsy and does not stick to the felt board well. One yard of interfacing will produce numerous felt board figures.

One yard of medium weight interfacing with a felt piece and bonus cat (Pete's sister Ducky)
Photocopy your pattern if possible. I usually make a working copy to protect my original.
Interfacing over pattern - ready to be traced
Place the pattern under the interfacing for tracing. I usually cut out a piece slightly larger than the pattern piece. It is easier to work with that small piece then a large piece of fabric. If you are doing a set of figures, you can also trace them all on a larger piece and then cut each one to outline and color. I would do this to fit the figures close to each other so I would not waste fabric.
Trace the pattern. I trace with a pencil first and then I go over the pencil lines with a black marker. You can trace using a marker but definitely use a copy of your pattern for marker can bleed through.
Pattern is traced

Color your piece. I find that markers work best. Color in small spaces with black marker. This makes the piece sturdier and easier to cut out.

Optional: Outline your piece with black marker. I like the look of outlined pieces.
Piece is colored and outlined
Fill in small spaces
Cut out your piece.

Piece is cut out
Ducky shows how the pieces for Mole's New Hole look on a felt board
Storage tips: Place plain paper between pieces to keep the colors from bleeding onto other pieces. To be honest I seldom did this and it only happened a couple of times. Freshly colored pieces will bleed so make sure the pieces are completely dry before putting pieces with each other. I stored the pieces for each set in a manila envelope along with a copy of the story. Note on the envelope the number of pieces. I also keep a record of when and where I used the story on the front of the envelope.

These pieces will last a long time. I still have the first set I made using my own drawings for The Princess and the Pea which I made close to 20 years ago.

This week's Flannel Friday Round-Up is hosted by K Leigh of Storytime ABC'S.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014