Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ten Reasons it Felt Sew Good to Make My Own Play Food

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Crafting may not be for everyone, but I have discovered quite a few pleasant surprises during my foray into felt food making. Most of these apply to any handmade felt toy, but some are specific to felt food.  In case you needed some persuasion, here is my list, in no particular order, of reasons why you should grab a needle and start sewing!

Bonus 11. They’re Adorable-
This point is fairly self-explanatory, but worth mentioning, which is why it is Bonus 11. Spend a few minutes perusing felt toys on Etsy.com and you will be overwhelmed with cuteness! I personally prefer the look of hand sewn over machine stitched. Handmade items have an undeniable personality that is not easily replicated and certainly not found with mass produced toys.

10. It’s Easier Than You Think-
Thankfully, we live in the information age. If you want to learn anything about doing anything, Google can likely find a tutorial to help you.  A quick search of YouTube will reveal a myriad of sewing instructional videos, from beginner to advanced. Though I lament not living close enough to my grandma to have her teach me to sew, I found plenty of videos, some posted by other people’s grandmas, to offer an educational substitute.

9. It’s Economical-
                As any parent can tell you, toys are expensive.  Fortunately, felt toy materials are not. For the same $20 you might spend on a pre-made play food set, you can buy all the accouterments needed to make dozens of items out of felt. Stretching a dollar and getting more toys in the process wins in my book!

8. Hand Made Toys are Customizable-
What child doesn’t love a toy with their name on it? One joy in making your own toys is tailoring items specifically for your child. Using your toddler’s favorite colors in a project or a personalizing a lunch bag to hold their felt food are extra special touches that can be included when crafting with love.

7. It’s Ecological-
Unlike the plastic toys that overrun store shelves, felt play toys are ecological. Felt is made from a variety of materials, each with Earth friendly advantages. Eco-Felt is made out of recycled plastic bottles, giving new life to petroleum based trash. Wool felt is renewable, naturally antibacterial, and flame retardant.  It’s a good idea to look for wool sources that treat their sheep humanely. Bamboo felt is also available and comes from a sustainable source. I try to use wool blend felt I can acquire locally, reducing new materials needing to be trucked and shipped to me.

6. A Stocked Play Kitchen Provides Gender Neutral Imaginative Play-
Many parents today are breaking traditional rules about what types of toys their children play with. Gender neutral, Waldorf inspired toys are becoming increasingly popular, as is encouraging imaginative play.  A kitchen filled with hand sewn toys can provide hours of creative play, for both boys and girls. It is important for any child to know their way around a kitchen and cooking is no longer considered solely a woman’s domain. Not only is play cooking fun for either gender, it will continue to be fun for years to come. I know of very few toys that can captivate a one year old toddler and an elementary school aged child. 

5. Felt Food Encourages Healthy Eating Habits-
As felt food in particular is close to my heart, one aspect I love is the ability to encourage healthy eating habits. It can be tiring seeing conventional play sets with the same junk food over and over. But since you decided what foods to make for your child, you can load their kitchen full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other healthful options. The greater exposure our children have to healthy food, the easier it will be for them to identify and choose those foods later on.

4.  Making Toys Makes You Handy With Thread and Needle-
Most new mommies these days come from a generation that neither had a need to learn to sew nor a Home Economics class to teach the basics. Being familiar with a needle and thread is a “mommy tool” that can be very advantageous. From mending a pair of ripped pants to affixing Girl Scout patches to making costumes for the school play, sewing is a skill worth acquiring. Working your way around a sewing machine is great, too, but needle and thread are cheap and readily available. You never know when hand sewing skills might save you in a pinch!

3. Felt Toys Are Cuddly- 
I don’t know about your child, but my toddler is a thrower.  While wooden toys are cute and come from a renewable source, they are heavy and can cause damage when catapulted by a child. Felt toys are soft, squishy and lovable—and don’t hurt nearly as much if one comes your way unexpectedly.

2. Make Learning More Fun-
You also have the opportunity to make your toys more educational than a conventional toy would be. Making the number of “chocolate chips” correspond to the number on the back of a felt cookie turns it into a counting toy or adding a bell transforms a mute toy into a musical one. The possibilities are endless!  You can showcase your creativity while providing your child with a greater learning experience.  

1. It’s Heirloom-
My favorite reason to make felt toys—it warms your heart to see your child play with an item created just for them.  These are toys that are saved year after year, long after the teddy bears and wooden blocks are gone. Felt toys are as creative, unique and individual as you are and because they are made by hand with love, they are sure to find a long, happy life in your home.

Happy Felt Fooding!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)


  1. I just discovered your blog through this carnival (I read it every month and participate occasionally...when I get my act together enough to, lol) and I LOVE your blog. So adorable. I have just started attempting to sew felt food and having a blast with it. I am also working on felt finger puppets and so far they are turning out surprisingly well-if you're interested, I'll be sure to let you know when I post about them, and I'll definitely be back to your blog often. :)

  2. I make toys for my daughter too, when I'm inspired... I love the look on her face and when she tells me how gorgeous it is and how pretty it makes her room look... But I have to say mine are not nearly as pretty as yours here on these pics *ducks away in shame*

  3. ok and I'll be following you to get some inspiration :)

  4. These are super-cute! I'm nearly convinced, except for my significant stash of unfinished knitting projects. :)

  5. Your felt food is SO CUTE - and I love the idea of the counting cookies! My main felt projects have been for Montessori-based religious education. Felt is wonderful for that as well! Deb @ LivingMontessoriNow.com

  6. The other day I overheard my son asking my hubby about a hole in my hubby's shirt. In the next breath, my son patted my hubby's arm and reassured him, "don't worry papa, mama can fix it!" I love being handy with a needle, even if it's a skill I'm just learning! Thank you for sharing your list - we love our felt food :)

  7. I loved reading this post. I bought some felt a few months ago and have yet to make all the food I planned to. This has inspired me!

    I so agree with number 6 - my 2yo daughters friends are 7 & 8 years old (we live in a VERY small village!) and they all love playing with her oven and the pretend foods...and I agree with number 3 too, our wooden play foods are taking a bashing and just today I was wishing I had gotten my felt foods made already! And wonderful point number 5...we are vegan and it's really important for me to provide my kids with pretend foods that reflect the foods they eat.

    I've bookmarked this blog so I can link back up when I get my felt out but while I got some eco-felt - I still need ideas for good eco-friendly stuffing too. What do you use?

  8. Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments! This was my first time participating in the Carnival and I've greatly enjoyed checking out all the blogs and I'm still working my way through the list.

    Terri, I've been using Polyfil for my food so far, which is unfortunately a synthetic fiber. I looked for cotton and bamboo stuffing locally and couldn't find it. There doesn't seem to be much emphasis on "green" crafting near me. I have had my eye on this 100% wool stuffing from American Felt and Craft: http://stores.americanfeltandcraft.com/-strse-255/100-pct--wool-stuffing-bag/Detail.bok
    As another option, cut up felt scraps can be used for stuffing. I may do this, too, as my scrap bag is currently overflowing. Old stuffed animals can donate their bodies to sewing and their fluff can be used to give life to new toys, too.

  9. Thanks. I may have to go with the synthetic stuff too as there is NOWHERE to get any eco-crafting materials where I am...even had to order my felt online!

  10. Very cool! I'm interesting in making some felt toys after reading this! One question- are they washable?

  11. Hi Adrienne! Hand washing is probably the best bet for felt toys. You can submerge them in water, gently squeeze the water out, and air dry. A damp cloth can be used to spot clean but too much rubbing can cause felt to get fuzzy. If you are using felt made from acrylic or polyester, you can put them in a tied-off pillow case in cold water in the gentle cycle of a washing machine and air dry like you would do with other stuffed toys. This can cause wear at the stitches if the felt is thin, so just be sure to wash sparingly.

  12. This is so inspiring. I've been interested in getting some felt food — but seriously never thought of making my own, even though I can and do hand sew quite a bit! I even found some felt I had leftover from (wait for it…) junior high. Yes! I don't know why I kept it that long, but it must be fate at this point, right? :)

    I love your point that they don't hurt when they're thrown, because lately my son's been in a tossing mood. Glad I'm not the only one with a kid who has a good pitching arm!

  13. Lauren, if you still have felt from Jr High, it should definitely fulfill it's felty destiny and be made into toys for your son. If it has stayed with you this long, it deserves to see some daylight and love ;-)

  14. Ahh! I absolutely need to do this!! These are really really awesome and would make me so much happier than watching them gnaw on the plastic food they have.

  15. Wow, this is simply beautiful! Toys mean so much more making them from the heart! Plus this look amazing! I really like the activist ones. I might need to get some for myself!


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