Dress up time isn't just for kids - animals can play dress up too! From whimsical summer outfits to cozy fall sweaters, this felt dress up tutorial is guaranteed to give your kids endless entertainment while they pick outfits for this adorable group of Kitty, Bunny, and Bear. In this week's Benzie Design Maker Team tutorial, Hillary from Wee Wonderfuls shows us how to make and embellish everything you need for an imagination-igniting craft that's fun for the whole family!
One of wool felt’s magic tricks is that it sticks to itself! This makes it perfect for play mats with scenes or dress up dolls. My kids and I did a lot of this when they were little and it’s a great project to try if you’re out of ideas during the pandemic. One reason I really enjoyed it is that we could do it together, with the kids cutting out the basic shapes from felt and me going overboard with embellishment. There are a lot of levels of detail you can bring to this project. If you’ve got an older kid, you can get out the beads and sequins. If you have fun tiny fabric prints you'd like to use, you can sew fabric to the front of the clothing pieces and the felt back will still work its sticky magic. Keeping it simple is great too and for Kitty, Bunny and Bear's outfits I wanted to just use felt and floss. I love all the details I was able to get in them!
Skill Level: Kid friendly, beginner, with some intermediate embellishments
Midnight Wool Blend Felt, one sheet of 12x18, and matching floss
Cinnamon Wool Blend Felt, one sheet of 9x12 for the Bear, and matching floss
Silver Wool Blend Felt, one sheet of 9x12 for the Kitty, and matching floss
Peony Wool Blend Felt, one sheet of 9x12 for the Bunny, and matching floss
Black DMC Embroidery Floss, Number 310
Pieces of assorted wool felt and matching and coordinating floss in any colors you like for outfits (buy a Benzie scrap bag if you don't have scraps!)
15" long 1/4" wide dowel
PDF Pattern Sheets (Click to download)
Make the Play Mat and Attach the Animals
First cut the background Midnight blue wool felt to 13” wide x 12” tall.
Now cut out the animal pattern pieces from the paper PDF sheets as templates. Pin them to the felt and cut around them, or trace templates and cut. Using the face printed on the pieces as a guide, embroider the faces using 2 strands of black floss. Use a backstitch to outline eyes and nose and a satin stitch to fill them in. Use a backstitch for the whiskers. Following the markings on the pattern piece and using a matching color floss, sew accents around the ears. For kitty, sew stripes on her forehead with a backstitch.
Pin the animals to your background and sew in place around the edges using 3 strands of matching floss and a whipstitch. I overlapped their hands because they're buddies.
Make Some Cute Clothes
Now the fun begins! Cut out the pattern pieces for the outfits you'd like to make. Pin the templates to the felt and cut around them. If little helpers don’t want to use pins, trace around the template with a pen and then have them cut on the line. You can always trim off any pen that is still showing.
The embellishments I added are marked on the pattern pieces but you could do anything that sings to you. Grey lines are where I used the backstitch for accent, like the seams on Bunny’s pink top.
The dashed lines and cross hatches are for when I used the running stitch for decoration or texture, like Bunny’s “plaid” pants.
Some outfits have separate details, like collars or pockets that can be appliquéd with a whipstitch.
If you know more fancy embroidery stitches they can be used for great effects. I used french knots for the flowers and lazy daisies for the fisherman's sweater knit cables.
There are a few pattern pieces with dotted lines indicating where you’ll want to cut through the felt, like on the marshmallows so the stick can go through and on Kitty’s tennis skirt.
Each outfit set comes with two or more accessories. Once you get started adding accessories your outfits may not stop!
Your felt play mat can be finished in a number of different ways. It can be affixed to an adhesive sticky board to be played with on a table or the floor. You could glue it to the lid of a cardboard gift box and use the box to store all your outfits. If you’ve decided on names for your animals you can embroider them on the mat under each friend.
I had a dowel on hand so decided to finish it as a wall hanging. For this method fold over the top 1" of the mat and hand sew the edge to the mat with a whipstitch, creating a casing to slip a 15" long by 1/4" wide dowel into.
I hope you find this as irresistibly fun as I do. The outfit possibilities are endless with this project. And it’s always fun to keep adding on to their wardrobes. Planning a trip to the beach? You’ll need new swimsuits and beach balls. Weather turning colder? You’ll need hats and mittens. And don’t forget the accessories! Kids will love cutting out and creating little worlds for their new friends.
Thanks to Hillary from Wee Wonderfuls for designing and writing this tutorial that's sure to be fun for the whole family! You can follow her on Instagram @wee_wonderfuls, and stay tuned for more Benzie Design Maker Team tutorials from Hillary and the rest of the Team each week!