Tired of spending money on plastic toys that look the same as everyone else’s kids’ toys? Here’s the solution: Make your own toys.
Today’s blog is by my friend Holly at Field Notes from an Evolutionary Psychologist. Not only is she a creative genius (she quilts, sews, makes plantable paper, and decorates fantastically), she’s also a well-educated, highly qualified psychologist. With a Ph.D. in primate social behaviour, Holly writes thought-provoking, intelligent blogs comparing the behaviour of primates to that of humans, often using her 1-year-old daughter as an example. She also regularly posts blogs on the projects she’s working on at the time, and in her spare time lists new products on her Etsy page. If you’re looking for another mom blog to follow, I highly recommend Field Notes.
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Magnetic Felt Food – ‘Peelable’ Cantaloupe Slice
Ha! Here is my stroke of felt food genius – a piece of cantaloupe with rind that can be sliced off. The peel is held to the fruit by magnets that are completely concealed. I use the tiny but super strong neodymium ones. They are also lightweight. (Okay, in all honesty, it was Mr. Field Notes who suggested a fruit slice with removable peel. He’s smart, too. It’s just that usually he takes my good ideas and makes them even better, not the other way around. But the funky crust and cantaloupe part was all mine, neener neener. (We’re not competitive with each other at all, the Mr. and I……)). Yeah, so enough about us — onto the cantaloupe.
So, this project is one you can do yourself – choosing either the easy route (not peelable, no magnets) or the harder one. I’ve included a pattern down at the end.
felt in the following colors: light orange, lime/neon green, tan
thread: brown, tan and orange/yellow
It really helps if you can use a sewing machine to make the criss-cross brown stitches for the outer peel. It would be a big pain to hand embroider, but could be done. I get the felt in 8×11 inch sheets for 20 cents each at my local JoAnn’s. I found really small, thin neodymium magnets for sale on etsy and used those for this project.
You can click on the pattern below and save it to print out and use to cut your own felt pieces. If you don’t want to make a hidden magnet one that peels, you won’t need the wider strip in orange, just the one in tan and the narrower one in orange. You can also use velcro instead of magnets.
I hid the magnets completely by sewing them in place between two pieces of felt, cut slightly narrower than the outer layers they hid behind. Basically, I sewed a little basket/nest of thread around them to hold them in place – at the top, middle, and bottom of the peel and the bottom of the fruit slice.
The hardest part is making sure the three magnets in the peel meet up just right with the three in the fruit. Even when they are oriented to attract each other, if they are a smidge out of alignment, they won’t hold the peel and fruit together neatly. I used the force of the magnets to guide me.
I made an interior panel to hide the magnets in the peel by sewing three magnets inside little nests of thread in three places (top, middle and bottom) between two pieces of felt that I cut slightly narrower than the outer pieces of the peel that you actually see (the green and tan). Then I sewed this in between the green and tan piece. Next I made the interior panel for the magnets that are hidden in the fruit. I laid one of the interior orange strips for the fruit on top of the lime green side of the finished peel. I laid a magnet on top of that close to wherever the magnet was in the peel. If you get close, it will just slide into place, attracted by the magnetic force. Then I put the other interior piece of orange on top of it and picked up the magnet with the two pieces of orange felt around it and then fixed the magnet into place by sewing a network of thread all around it. I repeated this for the other two magnets in the peel.
I’ve admired a lot of felt food for sale on etsy and have never seen anything like this before, so I think I have something unique here. There are loads of other possibilities with this general style and technique, too. Watermelons, oranges, apples — just about any peelable fruit. Cool! And, more fun for a little one =D
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Here are some more examples of Holly’s amazing work:
Turkey Sandwich (for more photos, click here)