One of the benefits of using wool and wool blend felt for your projects is the superior quality. Benzie Design's felt is made from high quality fibers that result in soft, strong, vibrant felt that is resistant to pilling and perfect for heirloom projects. Maker Team member KD of @lostvly is showcasing this quality in her latest project that gives an existing felt craft new life.
In my previous tutorial I illustrated how to make a Dinosaur Mobile and wrote about the impact of a handmade gift on expecting parents. If that idea spoke to you, let's take it to the next level. You can upcycle that mobile you made and turn it into a portable activity mat for the growing child! In this tutorial, I’ll show you just how to do that.
Skill Level: Intermediate
Time: 3-5 hours
Dino Mobile Pieces
Two 12 x 18" sheets of Ecru Wool Blend Felt
One 12 x 18" sheet of Cypress Wool Blend Felt
One 12 x 18" sheet of Sage Wool Blend Felt
One 9 x 12" sheet of Sage Wool Blend Felt
One 9 x 12" sheet of Icicle Wool Blend Felt
One 9 x 12" sheet of Silver Wool Blend Felt
One 9 x 12" sheet of Ash Pure Wool Felt
Scrap Felt, at least 8 x 4" (Sage shown)
DMC Embroidery Floss - 162, 415, and 935
Sulky Embroidery Thread - 630, 1071 and 1174
Two 2” pieces of Velcro
Pins or Clips
Disappearing Ink Pen
Dino Mat Template 1 (click to download)
Dino Mat Template 2 (click to download)
1. Get your Dino mobile and carefully detach all of the pieces from the mobile and then from the threads. In this tutorial you will need the dinosaurs, volcano, leaves and cloud felt shapes.
2. Download and print the Dino Mat Templates above. Using a disappearing ink pen, trace all of the pieces needed according to the template.
3. Once the pieces are cut, use the template to line up each piece on one of the Ecru felt sheets. Before I start stitching the pieces on, I like to use the disappearing ink pen to mark where I want all of the pieces to line up, specifically the mountains on the sky panel. If you go over your mark a few times, it will stay on the felt longer.
4. Begin stitching the landscape pieces on in this order: middle mountain, side mountains, grass, water and then foliage. Because you’ll be stitching around the edge later, there’s no need to stitch the bottom or sides of any of your pieces. (See photo for clarification.) Don’t forget to have fun with it! Feel free to add ridges in the mountains, little grass spurts, ripples in the water and play with the color of thread/length of stitches. I used DMC 415 for all of the mountains and made the grass and water pieces hang off the bottom edge a little before stitching them on so I could crinkle them up.
5. When stitching the foliage, I like to overlap and only sew down the middle to add texture to the mat. If you like texture, pull taut when stitching and the ends will poke up. Be sure to leave at least a 1/4" gap from the edge of your stitching to the edge of the sheet. Use my image as a guide, but don't be afraid switch it up or even create a bush out of your pieces.
6. Once you have finished, flip over your project and glue down any loose thread ends. I love to use Fabric Fusion. Wait 15-30 minutes for everything to dry before continuing.
7. While the front panel is drying, cut (4) 1 x 8" rectangles from the 9 x 12" Sage felt. Cut (2) 2" strips of Velcro and stitch them to the middle of two felt rectangles. Knot or glue the ends however you’d like. Once dry, place the other two felt rectangles on the back side and blanket stitch all the way around to create your handles.
8. Before attaching the handles to the mat, find the middle of the 12” side edges and measure 1 1/2" to the left and to the right. This is where to stitch each side of the handle. If it helps, iron the handles flat before pinning/gluing them 1/2" below the edge. Make sure both pieces of velcro are facing the same direction. For extra security, I hand stitched these pieces onto the Sage sheet after the glue dried, starting and ending the thread under the handle.
9. Pull out your front panel and flip it upside down. With the Ecru edge as your guide, trim any overhanging pieces. Use this time while your back (handled) felt sheet is drying to add any extras to the front.
10. Once all of your pieces are dry and ready, you can stack them on top of each other in this order: Sage (velcro facing up and soft velcro side on the left), Ecru and decorated Ecru on top.
11. Pin all the way around the border making sure your pieces line up as evenly as possible. This part is a little tricky because the felt can stretch as you work with it. Pinning or clipping will help keep everything smooth as you stitch around the edge.
12. With the decorated felt facing you, start a blanket stitch 1/4" away from the top left corner. Stitch counter clockwise. As you round the top left corner, only stitch through the Ecru sheets. Stitch through only the Ecru sheets until you reach the bottom left corner. As you round the bottom left corner, start stitching through all three sheets. Continue until you get to the handles.
13. Use a running stitch to cross over the handle strap and make sure your needle is on the bottom before you begin the blanket stitch again. Repeat across the second strap and continue the blanket stitch until you reach where you started and tie off your thread.
Your dinosuar play mat is ready for travel and adventure!
I firmly believe there’s no greater joy than repurposing an already loved item. Turning these pieces into a tactile experience for a child will only make them that more special.