April Crafts: Felt Flower Pins and Japanese Juggling Fruit
Spring is playing games with us in Toronto—warm weather one minute, then snow, then rain, then sunshine. Anticipating and enjoying spring weather and spring flowers are some of the joys of living here. At the same time, so many of us are thinking of Japan and other places that face heart-wrenching changes. Here are two crafts to do with children that follow those threads.
Felt Flower Pins
What you need:
• woolen felt circles
• embroidery floss
• seed beads
• pin—broach pin or safety pin
• equipment—scissors, pinking shears (optional), beading needle, embroidery needle, circle template (optional)
1. Look for inspiration in actual spring flowers, books about flowers, and/or what colours of felt you already have or that appeal to you in the school store. The photo shows 5 sample felt flower pins, 1 of which was inspired by the iris.
2. Cut 3 or more circles of felt in different sizes. In the examples, the largest circle is 2 inches in diameter and was made using a circle template. Choose embroidery floss to complement the colours.
3. Choose seed beads to complement your felt circles and to represent the centre of the flower (the stigma, stamens, etc.).
4. Plan your flower by stacking the circles, deciding if you would like any embroidery detail, shaping the petals with scissors more if you wish, etc.
5. On the smallest circle, use the beading needle and 1-2 strands of embroidery floss to sew the beads at the centre. (Beading needles are often fine and flexible. It’s easier to sew the beads to only one layer of felt before sewing the rest of the circles to the first layer and the pin.)
6. With the embroider needle and 3 strands of floss, carefully sew the smallest circle to the other circles and add any extra embroidery details.
7. Sew the pin back to the completed felt flower.
Variation: attach the felt flower to a hair tie or hair clip or barbecue skewer (to “plant” in an indoor pot plant). Or make two matching felt flowers and attach them to shoes.
Japanese Juggling Fruit—Otedama
This craft is one version suggested in Craft magazine, volume 6 (a wonderful magazine that once was available in print and now appears online at http://craftzine.com/). According to Craft magazine, “otedama” refers to juggling games that date back to 9th century Japan. Otedama juggling balls were especially popular after World War II when toys were scarce in Japan. The juggling balls can be simple round shapes or made to look like owls, dogs, goldfish, apples, oranges, etc. Otedama juggling balls were traditionally made with scraps of silk from making kimonos but cotton cloth can now be used. The sample is made in raw silk to look like a peach. Make any number you wish: 1 can serve alone for bean bag games and 3 is an ideal start for juggling. Making these juggling balls might be one way to learn about Japanese culture, traditions, artists and craftspeople donating for relief efforts (e.g., Songs for Japan on itunes, http://craftingforcourage.blogspot.com/), other ways to give, and/or new craft skills—as well as creating a new toy for your family.
What you need:
• one piece of fabric (quilting cotton or silk) 4 inches by 7 ¼ inches per juggling ball
• filling—either short-grain rice or adzuki beans (less than ½ cup per juggling ball)
• woolen felt, green
• embroidery floss—green
• equipment: scissors, sewing needle, sewing machine (optional), sewing pins
1. For one juggling ball, fold the fabric scrap in half (right side to right side) so that it measures 4 x 3 5/8 x 4 x 3 5/8 inches. The folded edge (4 inches long) will be one side.
2. By hand or using a sewing machine, use a ¼-inch seam allowance and short stitches to sew the other 4-inch side closed. (Short stitches are needed to make sure the filling stays in.)
3. Turn the fabric right side out. The result will look like a short tube.
4. With your fingers, turn in a ¼ inch hem and hold with pins.
5. Thread a needle and knot with a big knot at the end. Using a running (gathering) stitch, sew all around the hem.
6. Pull the running stitch as tightly as possible so that the gather is tucked inside the bottom of the tube. Sew the gathered edges with 3-4 stitches so that the bottom stays closed. Then tie of the stitches. The result will look like an open sack.
7. Fill the tube of cloth with filling (rice or beans) to about ¾ inches below the top.
8. Carefully, repeat #4 and #5 on the remaining edge of fabric. Then pull the thread tight, close with 3-4 stitches, and tie off.
9. Cut out a small leaf of woolen felt and decorate with embroidery floss.
10. Sew the leaf firmly to the top of the juggling ball to cover the top seam and so that it will not fall off while being juggled.
Variation: If you’d like to try your hand at more otedama styles, see Otedama styles