DIY & Crafts

Easter craft: Felt rabbits and garden play mat

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DIY & Crafts

Easter craft: Felt rabbits and garden play mat

How to sew felt rabbits
These rabbits can hop around the play mat, or one can be a little gift all by itself. If you do not have time to make both a rabbit and the mat, make a rabbit first, then make the mat to give at a later date.

Materials
• 5" x 5" piece wool felt
• Thread to match felt
• Black thread, for eyes
• Tan embroidery floss
• Hand-sewing needle
• 1 small handful polyfill stuffing

Instructions
1. Print the rabbit pattern pieces (click here to view pattern pieces), resize if necessary (main rabbit piece -- body and head -- should be about 5.2 cm/2 in high) and cut them out. Use them to cut 2 body pieces, 2 ears, 1 tail, and 1 base from the wool felt.

2. To make the body, place one of the cut body pieces over the other, lining up the edges. Using the matching thread, whipstitch up one side, over the curve, and down the other side, leaving the flat bottom open.

3. Place the sewn body on one of your fingers like a finger puppet. Drench the wool with warm water and squeeze out the excess moisture with a towel while the body is still on your finger. This will give it a more three-dimensional form and make the whipstitch seam less visible.

4. Remove the body from your finger and pack it tightly with stuffing (don't worry if the wool is slightly damp; it will finish drying as you work). Take the circle of wool for the base of the rabbit and place it over the bottom hole. Holding it in place, whipstitch around its circumference to close the hole.

5. To form the neck, make one big stitch from side seam to side seam, about one-third of the way down from the rounded top of the head. Draw the stitch in tightly, stitching over it a few times before you knot off your thread.

Page 1 of 4 - Learn how to sew on the eyes, ears, nose and tail of your felt rabbit on page 2

6. To make the eyes, thread the needle with black thread and knot the end. Insert your needle into the side of the face, about halfway between the neckline (created by the stitch in Step 5) and the top of the head. Pull it through to the other side of the face to mark the second eye. Stitch back and forth through the inside of the head, making two separate eyes. Keep the thread tight as you sew to cinch the head and create facial contours. When you are finished with the eyes, hide the end of your black thread by inserting the needle one last time into one of the eyes and pulling it out somewhere on the body. Trim the thread close to the body, then pull the wool out where the thread is visible to make it disappear back into the body.

7. To make the ears, pinch and fold the base of the ear piece in half with your fingers. Using matching thread, make a few whipstitches along the folded base to secure the fold and create a contoured ear base. Repeat for the other ear piece. Whipstitch the ear bases, one at a time, to the top of the rabbit's head and knot off your thread.

8. To form the nose, thread the needle with two strands of tan embroidery floss separated from the skein. In the centre of the face and slightly below the eyes, make a few tacking stitches on top of each other to form a nose. Hide the end of the thread in the same way as for the eyes.

9. To form the tail, make a running stitch around the circumference of the wool tail as close to the edge as possible, cinching the thread so that the round piece forms a small ball. If necessary, secure the ball in place by crossing several more stitches over the gathered opening. Stitch the gathered side of the tail onto the backside of the rabbit just above the base. Use several whipstitches around the ball to attach it to the body, then knot off your thread.

Page 2 of 4 -- Learn how to make a garden play mat on page 3

How to sew a garden play mat
This soft sculpture garden is the perfect gift for children who love their vegetables -- or maybe just their felt rabbits. The mat has a hole for the rabbit to tuck into, rows of sprouting green linen vegetables to hop through, and a moveable white picket fence. Ideally, the fabric in this project should have cut edges that you don't have to hem. I used a combination of wool felt for the grass and felted wool knit bouclé for the brown earth; you could also substitute Ultrasuede or even polar fleece for the felt.

Materials
• 15" x 18" piece dark green wool felt
• 9" x 11" piece brown wool felt
• 15-3/4" x 18-3/4" piece light green wool felt
• 6" x 6" piece green linen
• 40" piece buckram, at least 2-1/2" wide, cut into one 2" x 20" strip and two 1/4" x 40" strips (see Note)
• Thread to match felt and buckram
• Water-erasable marking pen
• Trimming scissors
• Circle template with 1" hole
• Rotary cutter and cutting mat
• Clear plastic ruler
• 1/2"-wide adhesive tape

Note: Buckram is a very stiff fabric that is used to stabilize the tops of curtains, among other things. It is available at most fabric stores and is sold by the yard from a roll. It comes in various widths and can be cut down if you are not able to find 2-1/2". It is heavily sized and its edges won't fray, so it works well for the fence. If it becomes wrinkled or misshapen with use, ironing it will bring it back to shape again.

Instructions
1. Lay the dark green felt flat on your work surface. Centre the brown felt on top of it and pin it in place. Stitch the brown piece to the green piece around the sides and as close to the edges as possible. Backstitch at the end of your stitch line.

2. Sew three horizontal stitch lines across the 11" length of the brown wool, 2-1/4" apart. This will become the rows for the linen vegetables.

3. Cut three 2"-wide strips of linen along the grain of the 6" x 6" piece. Start pulling threads from the 6" sides of each strip, fringing the linen 3/4" in on either side. Cut each strip across the 2" width into eight pieces of varying sizes. You now have 24 fringed linen pieces that will become the vegetables.

4. Line up the unfringed centre section of the linen pieces along the stitched line on the brown felt, randomly spacing eight linen pieces on each garden row. Using a very small stitch (#1 on most machines), stitch down the centre of the linen pieces, attaching them to the brown wool felt over the previous stitch lines. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each row.

Page 3 of 4 -- You're just a few steps away from completing your garden play mat. Find the remaining instructions on page 4

Set up your garden
5.
Using a pin to help you, fringe the linen pieces all the way down to the stitch line. Trim the first row so it is about 3/4" tall. For the second row, snip the fringe with the tip of your trimming scissors so they are all different lengths. For the third row, trim the fringe to stand about 1/8" tall.

6. Use the circle template and water-erasable pen to draw a 1" circle, about 1-1/2" in from the side edge and 3" from the bottom edge. Cut out the circle with the trimming scissors.

7. Lay the light green felt onto your work surface. Centre the garden right side up on top of the felt (the light green felt will be exposed slightly on all four sides), and pin the two layers together. Stitch around the edges with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Build your fence
8.
Make the fence: Using your rotary cutter, cut 80 2" x 1/4" pieces from the 2" x 20" buckram strip. These will become the fence posts.

9. On the cutting mat, lay down a piece of tape, sticky side up, the length of the mat. Place the tape about 1/2" above the ruled bottom line printed on the cutting mat. Tape both ends of the long tape piece to the cutting mat to hold it in place.

10. Lay the fence posts on the tape attached to your cutting mat, 1/4" apart and flush with the line on the mat or the ruler. The measurements on the edge of your mat will make it easy to evenly space the fence pieces. The tape should stick to the centre of all the posts so it won't get in the way when you are sewing the two buckram strips in place in Step 11.

When you get close to the end of the tape, remove the small tape pieces securing the fence to the mat, slide the fence almost completely off the board, and attach a new piece of tape to the first. Continue laying out the remaining posts until you have one long strip. When you're done placing all the posts, carefully remove the taped fence-post strip from the cutting board.

11. With the sticky side of the tape facing up, stitch one of the 1/4" buckram strips flush across the bottom ends of the fence posts. To form the cross brace of the fence, sew the remaining 1/4" strip 1/2" down from the tops of the posts. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each stitch line. Remove the tape and place the fence around the garden (you can roll it up with the mat when it's not in use).

Find 7 stylish Easter decor ideas here!

For another fun craft, learn how to make a cute crocheted duck.

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Excerpted from Last-Minute Fabric Gifts: 30 Hand-Sew, Machine-Sew and No-Sew Projects by Cynthia Treen with photographs by Karen Philippi. Text and illustrations copyright 2006 by Cynthia Treen. Photographs copyright 2006 by Karen Philippi. Excerpted with permission from Stewart, Tabori and Chang. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Easter craft: Felt rabbits and garden play mat

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