Thursday, February 19, 2009

Valentine Monsters, a little late

Due to unforeseen circumstances last week, I wasn't prepared to set up our traditional Valentine's Day Treasure Hunt until yesterday. Every year I write up a set of rhyming clues and send the kids on a hunt all through the house to find a small gift. They each have their own hunt, beginning at their places at the dining table, and I set up a trail that ideally takes them through the entire house. I try to coordinate it so that they are hunting in different rooms at different times. The whole thing takes some time to plan and set up, but I enjoy doing it, and the children love this tradition.

Some years I buy them some inexpensive little thing, but this year I made them each a little Valentine Monster. I had an idea in mind for these, and they turned out pretty much as I pictured them. I rarely work without a pattern (someone else's pattern, I might add!), but my idea was simple enough that I was able to make this up as I went along.

I wanted to experiment with felting. I read somewhere that the best crochet stitch for felting is half-double crochet, so, using Patons Classic Merino Wool yarn, I chained 17 and then did 15 hdc across until the piece was 4 inches long. The base of each ear is 5 stitches, and I shaped them by decreasing once on the inside portion of each row until it came to a point. I made two pieces, a front and a back, for each Valentine Monster.

To felt the pieces, I washed them in my washing machine twice with Woolite on hot with a cold rinse. Here is a rose-colored piece before felting, next to a red-colored piece after felting.

The eyes and mouths are made from acrylic felt. I use freezer paper anytime I want to cut shapes out of felt. This is probably a trick you are all very familiar with, but just in case you don't know how this works, I'll share how to do that.

Using Freezer Paper (which you find in your grocery store in the aluminum foil and plastic wrap section), draw or trace your shapes on the dull side of the paper. I free-hand drew the eyes and the mouths of the Valentine Monsters.

Then, with an iron set to medium heat, iron the paper, shiny side down, directly onto your felt. The freezer paper will stick right to the felt, allowing you to cut your shapes out with ease. When you are done cutting your shapes, the freezer paper peels right off the felt, leaving the felt in perfect condition. I love this method. Since the lines are drawn on the freezer paper, you don't have tell-tale trace lines around your cut-out felt pieces, and the paper also stiffens the felt just enough to make the shapes come out crisp and neat. Good, sharp, small scissors also help with that!
Here are my eye and mouth patterns, ironed to the felt, just prior to cutting.

I lightly glued the eye and mouth pieces to the front piece of the Monster, then stitched them down with perle cotton. I had heart-shaped buttons to sew on as accents, but you could just as easily cut a small heart (or any other shape) out of felt and applique that. I used a buttonhole stitch to stitch the front piece to the back piece, and stuffed each Monster before closing up completely.
These were a big hit. My kids love silly little things. Good thing, because I like making them!
edited: I actually used blanket stitch, not button hole stitch, to sew the fronts and backs together.


Tricia said...

These are so totally cute! Even more so knowing how much work went into them.

Anonymous said...

Oh, what a great treasure those little monsters are! I bet the kids loved the hunt. :D

Michele T. said...

These are great, I love them!

Anne said...

Oh, so cute!