About Me

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Former preschool and kindergarten school psychologist turned stay at home mom and felt food designer. Mr. Felt Food & I are total foodies and our daughter Grace is becoming one, too!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Breakfast Cafe Set

I've been working hard for a few weeks, designing, designing & designing.  I just finished up this breakfast cafe set, just in time to send to the photographer this week.  The idea had come to me months ago but it wasn't until a psychologist asked for a custom order set for her waiting room that I really got inspired.

Grace loves cooking meals for me in her play kitchen--it's time momma got a menu to order from.  I talked with my friend Jenny of SweetApronzNCupcakes (http://www.etsy.com/shop/SweetApronzNCupcakes) and she's making waiter/waitress style aprons that will be a perfect accessory to this set.  She's working on them soon but if you need one earlier just contact her.

I love my menu.  Is it wrong to say that?  I love the bold lettering on the front & the back?  Well, that's fabric I printed actual pictures of my items onto.  There's a light cardboard sheet inserted in the center to help give the menu better stability.

It's great for beginning readers to associate the words with the pictures--even pre-readers will get excited feeling grown up ordering from the pictures.  I can add prices for those wanting to use the set to work on math skills as well.  I can also add a name like "Grace's breakfast cafe menu" or if someone comes up with an imaginative cafe name I can work with that, too!  I can even customize a menu & set for someone.

We've always taken Grace to restaurants twice a week to help her socialize and learn how to act in public (still working on that one from time to time, lol!).  I love that kids can use a menu like this at home to practice ordering their own meals and interacting with servers, etc.  

One side of the menu:  Yes, the letters & sun take
time to do but are soooo cute!
The other side:  that's actually printed FABRIC & not paper!
All foods shown are included in the set.
 The set will include 2 eggs, 2 slices bacon, one ham and cheese omelette, 2 sausage links, 2 pancakes with butter and syrup, 2 waffles with butter and syrup, and 2 slices of french toast with butter, syrup & strawberry.

Closer view of the menu. 
I try to keep an ala carte style shop, selling sets & individual items so you can choose what works best for your budget, your preferences, and your child's interests.  Here's a planned price list:
Bacon, Eggs, Pancakes--already in the shop!
2 sausage  $4
Ham & Cheese Omelette     $10
French Toast w/Strawberry, Syrup & Butter Pat  $10.50
Menu:  $15

Total Set:  $52 (save $10 off buying the pieces individually!!)

In the meantime, here's some closer pics of the foods I'll be adding to the shop soon!  They are also part of this set.

French Toast


Ham & Cheese Omelette w/Velcro Closure.
I will be adding 2 other styles of omelettes to the shop, too!
I'll be adding this set to the shop around late May.  I'll be sending it to the photographer for pictures on Saturday & she's awesome but will need a few weeks to get pics done for us. :)  If you need a set before then, just let me know & I'll be more than happy to whip one up.

Not into breakfast?  Don't worry!  I'll have lunch cafe, mexican, seafood and pizza shop sets coming in the near future as well.  I love making felt food because the options are ENDLESS!

Want to be a Felt Food Kids photographer?  FFK photographers get to keep all the food in exchange for sending me your awesome photos.  Please contact me if interested.

Contact me:  feltfoodkids@yahoo.com
Shop:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/FeltFoodKids

Thursday, April 21, 2011

FAQ: How Do You Design Felt Food?

Cinnamon raisin scone from the reject pile.

Creating Felt Food:  My Process

FAQ:  Where do you get your patterns?
I get asked a lot about how I come up with my felt food.  The answer is generally a lot of trial and error!  The easiest way to get started yourself is to buy patterns online.  They are great for helping you understand the fundamentals for constructing felt food.  Once you understand how things come together, it's much easier to start creating your own works of art.  However, you cannot sell items you make from those patterns so if you want to become a seller you need to become a felt food designer (aka make your own patterns).  The exception is umecrafts on etsy.  Umecrafts allows you to sell items made using her patterns.  You'll need to be patient with yourself when creating your own patterns as it is rare to get the first protoype perfect!

Since my items tend to be life sized, I often actually trace the real items themselves, cutting them up when needed to help me understand the shape.  My bread size & shape came from the loaf of bread I was using to make Grace's peanut butter and jelly sandwich that day.  I had already made several prototypes that morning, looked down at the sandwich I was making & a light bulb went off in my head.  We've bought foods like pop tarts & pineapples specifically so I could work on patterns.  At the grocery store, Mr. FFK will catch me staring at a package of English muffins.  "Trying to see how many carbs are in those?" he'll ask.  "Nope, just looking at the shape & colors" I'll answer.  

FAQ:  How long does it take you to make a pattern?
The longest I have ever obsessively worked on an item was four days.  Yep, it took four days & lots of prototypes before I finally got a food right.  Most times I can get an item the way I like it in 3 tries.  If I can't, I often set the idea aside and wait for better inspiration to hit.  I don't like to get too frustrated.  Generally it takes 4-5 hours to get a food from idea to a finished product that I'm happy with selling.

A look inside the reject bin.

FAQ:  What happens to the rejects?
The rejects are sent to the reject basket.  Either the stitching wasn't right, the design was a dud, the sizing was off, etc.  Grace often steals out of the reject basket, not that I mind!  Rejects that aren't close to completion go straight to the trash can.  I don't see a point in wasting time finishing an item that isn't even close.

FAQ:  How do you decide what to work on?
Well, part of the fun of this whole thing is doing what I want, right?!  I do have a master list of the 200 foods I have planned in the shop.  I'm currently working on the breakfast section so I can send the food to the photographers next week.  The list is about 40 foods long so I've been able to jump around to what I feel most inspired to make. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Team


     At awards shows, stars are always thanking those important members of their team who make it all possible.  Looking at these pics I took last week on our way out to lunch, it got me thinking about my people, my team.

     Pictured on the left is Grace, a 2 year old with WILD hair and a penchant for wearing glasses, hats or both.  She is unmatched in the area of product testing.  This girl knows what she likes.  Her nickname is Grace the Destroyer.  Thanks to her daddy's lineage, she has Viking in her blood line & it shows.  She can tear something apart in no time, making her the perfect product tester I know.
     Grace, I'd thank you for bringing me endless joy, countless ideas and allowing me to sew by bringing all your Little People to the table to join me, painting/coloring next to me, and taking naps from time to time.  Baby, Mommy is learning how to do your hair I promise.  Of course, if you'd stop helping me while I do it your hair might stand a better chance!

     Pictured on the right is my wonderful husband, Mr. Felt Food Kids.  He is my IT guy, my sounding board, sewing machine mechanic (Blue Bessey has been losing her foot a lot lately), my sanity when I get too focused on perfecting something.  When his eyes light up and he asks "You MADE that?" I know I've done good.  His experience with marketing and sales is so helpful when I'm waking up in the middle of the night to ask "do you think I should have used the other photo of those pancakes?"
     Mr. FFK, I'd thank you for being so patient, particularly with felt and thread everywhere, those 2 a.m. questions I seem to obsess over, and asking you to pick your favorite pop tart three days in a row.  You remind me to take breaks, enjoy the journey, and you share my joy with each sale or new fan.  Best of all, if you see 25 felt food pop tarts stacked on the table & no dinner ready when you get home, you just smile and ask me what you should work on to help me get dinner ready.  You're the best sous chef a gal could have, be it real food or felt play food.

     We are a family of foodies, people with a strong passion for creating food so it is no surprise that we're becoming a family creating felt food as well.  We perform "market research" at new cafes & pubs each week, coming up with ideas for more felt food (bangers & mash was this week's winning idea).  Thank you to all my fans for sharing in our passion, our joy, and excitement each week!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sushi Accenting Art

How awesome is this?  While my mind is always spinning with design ideas, I tend to think in one direction with my felt food: kid toys.  I love when I get contacted about using the food in other ways.

Recently, a psychologist filled her waiting room with breakfast cafe menus and a bunch of my felt food breakfast items so children waiting could play breakfast cafe.  What a cute idea!

This week, an amazing artist, Lucy Fagella, bought some of my sushi to accent her sushi plates for an upcoming show.  I love the plates but they aren't available in her shop just yet.  For more pics of these plates, check out Lucy Fagella Pottery's blog at http://lucyfagellapottery.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/sushi-plate-with-felt-sushi/sushi-plate-and-felt-sushi_lucia-pottery/.  If you scroll to the bottom, there's a great slideshow of her making pottery.  I was mesmerized--she is so talented!

You can check out her shop at Foodie Ceramics: http://www.etsy.com/shop/FoodieCeramics.  I am in love with her salt cellar & butter keepers.  As a total foodie household, I can't believe we don't have a salt cellar or butter keeper already.  I've added hers to my wish list!

As always, if you're looking for felt food sushi or other items, http://www.etsy.com/shop/FeltFoodKids.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

252 More Days

Well, it's only 252 more days until Christmas (less of course until the holiday shopping season begins).  I have so many ideas I want to implement & foods to stock in the shop before then!

It can be overwhelming and once my creative juices start flowing, I can have a hard time focusing on any task at hand.  Of course, my first priority is to be a good wife and mom (translation:  laundry done, house pretty clean, mommy plays toys with Grace often).  How do moms with online shops balance it all?

I'm learning a lot just by watching other moms balancing creating with day to day life.   Ashley, of Lil Blue Boo, is a true inspiration to me.  http://lilblueboo.blogspot.com/search/label/About%20Me  She's gorgeous & subsists on a breakfast of soda & fast food sandwich or donut every day so it'd be easy to hate her you'd think but she's so creative and friendly you can't help but love her!

She recently started a photography affiliate program with her shop.  She gives discounts on clothing to select photographers, etc. in exchange for awesome photos.  A few weeks later, as I was spending an hour trying to get a great photo of a felt food sandwich, then spending another hour trying to edit it so it would look better, it hit me.  I should get some pros to help!

Last week I put out the call asking for photographers to take awesome photos of my products in exchange for getting to keep them.  Two fabulous women answered the call:  Heather of Heather Ashley Photography (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Heather-Ashley-Photography/155482276581) and Abby of Lavish Photography (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lavish-Photography/200005516682013).  Both women take the most gorgeous pics and I can't wait to see their creativity in action.  If you are interested in becoming a Felt Food Kids photographer, please contact me at feltfoodkids@yahoo.com.

I gave myself a deadline of the last day in April to get boxes of food out to them.  I'm hoping to send out my entire breakfast line & my sandwich line, too. How on earth do I stay organized?

I looked to Lil Blue Boo:  she has clipboards!  Clipboards on the walls of lists to keep her organized.  So, I followed her lead & made a list for each photographer, taping them to closet doors.

Aren't these lists long?  I was overwhelmed at first but now I'm plodding ahead.

I'm trying to stockpile items a bit as I go.  My hutch started out like this:

Now it's quickly filling with pieces cut and ready to stitch.  I'll have to share a picture of that later. :)

As each item is completed, I'm placing them in labeled, zip lock bags, putting them into my shipping boxes at the top of the hutch (out of Grace's reach) and then crossing them off the list.

My current dilemma is waffles.  I don't want to copy other sellers but there are only so many ways to make eggs, bacon, waffles, etc.

Here's my round waffle.  I'm not a huge fan of them & am now working on a square waffle.  I figure I'll put both in the shop & see what sells.

Speaking of both, I'd better get back to work on those square waffles or I'll never have 2 options!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Snacks by Letter: Snacks Starting with the Letter C

Snacks for C Day or Week
Cucumber slices w/veggie dip 
Celery sticks with veggie dip or peanut butter
Carrot sticks with veggie dip or peanut butter
Cauliflower (raw with veggie dip)
Chips (baked tortilla) with salsa
Colby cheese
Chocolate pudding
Caramel dip with apple slices
Caesar salad wrap (wrap in whole grain tortilla)
Canape with fresh fruit
Cheese and crackers (whole grain)
Cheddar cheese
Cherry tomatoes
Chewy granola bar
Cinnamon sprinkled on natural, unsweetened applesauce
Citrus fruit
Cottage cheese (could be with fruit also)
Confetti Salsa with baked tortilla chips (corn, black beans & salsa)
Crackers (whole grain)
Circus animal crackers
Cream cheese on a bagel
Coffee Cake
Crepe filled with fresh fruit
Chex mix (Chex cereals, pretzels, cheerios, nuts, dried fruits, etc.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Productive Week

I don't stress eat any more since I opened this etsy shop.  I stress sew & create.  Mr. Felt Food Kids' job may be moving us soon and we'll find out in the next few weeks to month.  Nothing I can do about it & we believe that God will put us where He wants us and yet I still wake at 2 a.m.  Unable to sleep, I've been getting up and getting to work.  Mr. FFK needs his sleep after all and that's hard to get with me tossing and turning.  Plus, it's calming to me to sew, sew, sew and sew I do!

Stack of bacon waiting for fat strips sewn on.

An army of bacon waiting for final seams and a final inspection.

Storing the eggs and bacon.  Just looking at this pic
makes me hungry!

There are plenty of times I'll work for a bit when Grace is awake.  What's my secret?  It's truly a secret ingredient that encourages  imaginative play and allows her to "work" right beside me.


Toss rice in a 9 x 13 container and let the kids go to work.
She started playing with just a spoon.

After awhile, she ran & got more utensils from the kitchen.

Then her little people came to play.  Soon there were about a dozen
warming their toes in the warm "sand" beach she created.

If you have carpeted floors, be sure to put down a vinyl tablecloth or
sheet to contain the mess a bit.  Be prepared to vacuum, too though.
While she worked, I got some packaging labels made.
I'm loving the rainbow of colors!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Peek Inside My Studio Part 2

Here's a look at the rest of my studio.  Someday I will move to a new, bigger place with custom storage and....ah....a girl can dream!

The dresser actually holds Grace's clothes but on top are all the important
"stay out of this Grace" items like spools of ribbon.  Those bins stacked on the
right are full of felt.  The bottom bin is the darkest colors, next bin is the lighter colors,
fabrics are stacked that don't fit in bins & the top bin holds larger sized scraps.

Another look at the bed/storage space for current projects.

By the doorway?  Boxes of projects I should finish someday .
The paper bag holds small felt scraps.
I don't want to waste any!

I am so grateful the closet has doors to hide the mess!
That pullout shoe organizer from Target really holds embroidery
floss, ziplock bags, modge podge, sewing baskets, etc.

Above the small stash of Grace's hanging clothes:  more boxes and bins!
This is long term storage for Christmas gifts I'm sewing as well
as craft supplies like cross stitching fabric, etc.

On the right side of the closet, drawers full of bias tape, seam binding,
ribbon, thread, everything I need to sew, sew, sew!

Stacked on them are folded stacks of fleece & clothes to upcycle.
The denim jackets are for an upcycle project & there are large lengths
of fleece on hangers to keep them out of the way.

Above that?  More storage with bins of more long term crafting
supplies, organized by type.

Finally, this small nightstand from my childhood is my
mailing station.  I keep my receipts for taxes in the shoebox and large
envelopes & boxes are to the right.

Thanks for looking through my mess that I call organized.  We may be moving soon & if so a large studio is at the top of our wish list.  I'll buy better storage when that happens but for now, I use boxes and dream!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Potato Toy Parts Storage Bag Tutorial with Free Pattern!

When I saw Skip to My Lou was doing a teacher appreciation theme this week I was inspired. Teacher appreciation week is May 2-6, with May 3rd as the actual official day.  Grace is only two so she doesn't have a teacher yet but as a child with a language disorder, she does have a speech therapist/speech teacher.

Sarah, our SLP, comes to the apartment once a week with a giant bag of toys. We have tons of toys here of course but there's something magical about toys coming from Sarah's bag. Even Mr. Potato Head, Grace's favorite, is more fun if it's from Sarah's bag.

I always smile when Sarah brings out the toys, too. She keeps each one in a gallon zip lock baggie. A beat up, barely holding the pieces baggie. It's time for an upgrade, particularly for Mr. Potato Head. He's Grace's favorite and as such, he needs a home of his own. I think Sarah will appreciate this gift, too. It's something she can use every day, it's machine washable, and it's a heck of a lot cuter than those raggedy plastic baggies. Plus, she'll be able to find it in her bag faster--that bright green with white polkadot fabric really stands out!

Creating storage bags for toys is nothing new but I thought I'd share this idea for the teachers/therapists in your life who might need a bit of an upgrade & my take on the Mr. Potato Head storage bag.

Love the bag but hate to sew?  Contact me to custom order at http://www.facebook.com/FeltFoodKids

cute fabric for bag (mine is 11 inches x 28 inches)--bigger if you want to hold more than one
scrap of brown material for body
scraps for the other parts
wonder under (used in applique process)
ribbon or cording for the drawstring bag
pattern (see below)

1. Wash & dry all fabric you're going to use. You don't want it to shrink after you've worked so hard on the project!
Tip: I always wash & dry all my fabric when I come home from the store, then put it away. That way it's ready to use whenever inspiration strikes.

2. Cut out pattern pieces. Trace onto the smooth side of wonder under. I use pen but I've used pencil before, too. Just don't write on the bumpy side and don't cut the shapes out yet. Cut around the shapes, leaving a nice margin.

3. Following manufacturer instructions, iron wonder under to your fabrics. You know, brown for the body, white and black for the eyes, etc. I find it's best to then peel back a little of the paper backing off right away just to get it started, then I cut the shape out before pulling the paper backing off all the way.

Peeling backing off a little before I cut out the shape
so it's easier to peel off later.
4. Fold your bag fabric in half to help figure out where you're going to put your applique. We'll sew the applique on first then make the bag. My measurements are for a bag that will hold one potato head & pieces. If you need to hold more, just change the measurements to suit you. I actually put a potato head on the fabric to help size the bag. I centered mine toward the bottom of the bag because we'll need a little extra room at the top when making the bag.

At the top you can see I selected cording as the drawstring for this bag.
I got mine in the ribbon by the yard section of JoAnn's this week for less than $2.
5. Iron on the body first (iron the fabric for the bag first if yours looked as wrinkled as mine!). Make sure you have put the side with the wonder under down on your fabric & not facing up. The last thing you want is your fabric "glued" to your iron!

6. Stitch around the potato head. You can use a tight zigzag or applique stitch around the edge or straight stitch like I've done. The fabric will fray over time up to the stitching line but I think that it looks cute when that happens.

7.  Repeat the process.  I started with the nose, then eyes, etc.  I used a permanent black marker to draw the pupils since they are so small.

I've heard wonder under can hold without the stitching but I didn't want to risk it with as much use as this bag will get!

Instructions to Make the Bag:
1.  Fold fabric in half, right sides together.  Sew a seam down each side.  I used the edge of my foot as a guide.

2.  Make the casing for the drawstring/cord/ribbon.  There are several techniques to do this but I use the fold over 1/4 inch, then fold over again so the casing is plenty big for the cording and stitch a seam.  Be sure to leave an opening for the drawstring to go in!

Folding over about a quarter of an inch.

Folding over a second time to make casing big enough for my cording.

Leave an opening to push the drawstring through!  I left mine in the front center of the bag.
3.  Push the cord/ribbon you are using as a drawstring through the hole & around the bag.  This takes time & patience.  I always hate this part of bag making!  If you get the cord stuck in the seams on the side, sometimes it helps to just pull the cord back out and work it through in the other direction.

4.  Great job!  I chose to have the cord strings on the inside of the bag so they didn't get stuck on all the other items in the SLP's bag.  Feel free to do it the opposite way if you prefer.  I tied a knot in the ends of the cord so they couldn't slip back through.  Just turn the bag right side out & you are finished!

Ta da!
Ready for the pattern?  This is my first time attaching a pattern to a blog post & I did it in picture format.  You should be able to click on it & print.  Hopefully it works!  I included my pattern for ears.  I realized at the last minute that I didn't have a good "ear" color so skipped it for this bag.