Oh “deery” my! Woodland Felt Animal Masks and Tutorial

Oh deery my indeed!  This little woodland creature couldn’t get any cuter.  And this blog post couldn’t come any later.  We are in solid birthday mode around here and this post features what I created for LAST year’s birthday party.  I’m not ashamed.  Besides I think these adorable masks were worth the wait.deermask

The theme for the Missus’ birthday was “Woodland Animals” (this year she continues the animal theme only this year it is “party animals”…you can see the difference).  We had planned to take the kids to the park to play, drink apple cider and have cake.  The weather thought that was a bad idea and so we transformed our living room into…a living room that now allowed woodland animals to play in it.

foxesandowlsandbearsohmyInstead of sending our creature friends home with bags of candy, I embroidered and sewed these adorable felt masks to give to each guest.  The fox is my favourite.  When I finished the first fox mask I had the most incredible crafter high!  We kept the animals local and added some skunks, bears, owls, deer and a chipmunk to the mix.

bearmask

It all started with this prototype.  The bear.  I based it on this paper mask that I bought at Michael’s.

paper bear maskI simply traced the outline onto some freezer paper, ironed that onto some felt and away we went.  Oh, and I altered the shape of the eyes from oval to round.  Don’t do that.  The result is still cute (see below) but….

felt bear mask

But the kids…they can’t see that well when they are like that.

bear mask

Fun to wear but hard to attack.  So oval eye holes it was from then on…

So here is what you’re gonna need to make a cute creature yourself:

Supplies:

  • A template.  Get one like the one above or free hand your own.  There are also many template available for free online (google “felt masks”…you’ll see).
  • Heat n’ Bond.  I purchased mine at Fabricland:

heat n' bond

  • Freezer Paper.  I couldn’t find any in Canada at the time (although I’ve heard others have had luck).  This may be one item I am willing to cross boarder shop for and I buy a few rolls at a time when I’m in the states.

freezer paper

  • Sharp scissors
  • A marker for tracing the pattern onto the freezer paper and heat n’ bond
  • Some embroidery thread in a variety of colours (it is really up to you)
  • 1/2 inch elastic
  • Felt in various colours (grey, black and beige for the racoon)
  • A sewing machine with a needle that can handle layers of felt
  • Thread for sewing machine
  • An iron and an ironing board

Now, let’s get started!

howtomakeafeltanimalmask

1. First make a template.  I traced the bear mask onto a piece of paper with marker.  Then I modified it free-hand to make the different animals.  Below is the start of the racoon mask:IMG_9182

freezer paper2.  Now that you have your new mask design just the way you want it, it is time to get out your freezer paper.  Lay it over your paper animal and trace.  For a racoon you need to trace and cut out a few separate pieces:  (1. and 2.)  the outside shape of the mask (3.)  the racoon mask (4.)the snout (5. and 6.) two triangle shapes for inside the ears and (7.) the nose.

IMG_91873.  Lay the two mask outlines onto a piece of felt with the shiny side of the freezer paper down.  Use your iron to set them in place.IMG_91884.  With the freezer paper now “stuck” to the felt, cut out both pieces.  Peel the freezer paper off the felt and set aside (you can reuse this several times for other masks).  Set the felt aside as well.

IMG_91985.  Next lay the freezer paper cut outs for the racoon mask, the ear triangles and the nose on to the black felt, iron and cut them out.  Peel the freezer paper off and set pieces aside.

IMG_91926.  Repeat the process with the snout piece and a beige scrap of felt.

IMG_92417.  Next take out your Heat N’ Bond.  Lay it over your original paper design and trace out all of the same pieces that you did with the freezer paper.  The Heat N’ Bond is similar to freezer paper in that it has a shiny side.  Lay the shiny side down onto the corresponding piece of felt and iron.  IMG_9202When you peel the Heat N’ Bond off you will see the shiny bit has transferred to the felt (sorry only good pic of this is from the fox mask in the making):

IMG_92608.  Now you can start ironing your pieces into place on one of the grey pieces of felt.  I placed the racoon mask on first, shiny side down and ironed it in place.  Then the snout, the nose and the ears.  I placed the nose midway down the snout instead of up near the mask to give it a 3D effect.

IMG_9204

IMG_9205

IMG_92069.  Next I used my sewing machine to sew around the mask, the ears and the snout securing them in place.  This is probably not necessary if you want to keep it simple.  It will add to the longevity of the mask though.

IMG_9207

9.  I used black embroidery thread to outline and hold the nose in place (three layers would be too thick for most sewing machines).  Then, using a running stitch,  I embroidered a line from the nose to the chin.  I think it adds a touch of whimsy to the masks.

snoutandnose

10.  Now, remember how I told you I did this project last year?  Yes, well, that means I don’t have a picture of the next step.  Sorry!  It is pretty simple though…take your elastic and cut a length that is sized to fit your child’s head.  Pin one end to the back of the mask on each side and sew into place:

clearracoonmask

11.  Once you have the elastic in place, set the whole piece aside.  Iron Heat N’ Bond onto the second grey piece of felt.  Peel it off.  Lay this piece of felt shiny side up on the ironing board.  Lay the top piece of the mask with the elastic attached on top.  Take care to ensure the elastic is not between the layers at all.  Iron until the two pieces are fused together.IMG_9238

irononracoonmask12.  The last step is to sew around the entire outline of the mask and your done!  Or if you’re like me, you’ve only just begun!  It was super fun “inventing” each animal mask and adding details here and there.

felt woodland animal masks

Have fun!

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Secret Agent Gal

As many of you know Lil’S is into “spy stuff”.  After making her this book as part of our handmade holiday exchange last year her love of spying has only increased.  This summer at the height this spy craze she asked to have a “spy birthday”.  Sure, I thought, that’ll be easy.  And it WAS!  About three months into our planning and gathering of ideas I stumbled upon some great blogs and did I mention Pinterest?  Oh my.

My advice?  Do a spy party at least once in your life.  We had a blast!  But first you need to start with an invitation…

This invite came from a grab bag of my ideas and those of other bloggers.  I want to give credit where credit is due of course so check out some of these great sites:  birthday party ideas (there is a whole list of links to blogs that have done a spy birthday party…have fun going down that rabbit hole!), creative party place,  WillowdayChicken Babies and Frugal Family TImes (I love that both Chicken Babies and Frugal Family Times freely share their ideas and their templates for passports and Agent ID cards – THANK YOU!!).

The invitation really set the tone for the party and there was much anticipation for those invited.  When the “recruits” arrived they saw this on the front steps:

And when they went around to the Milk Door they saw this:

And when they followed the instructions the door opened and they met this guy:

The password (which was written in code in the invitation and a cipher had been included for decoding purposes) was uttered and the recruit was taken inside for “processing” (boots and jackets put away : ).

Once everyone had arrived they were given a debriefing.  They discovered that 1. J and I were real spies and that we were running a spy agency out of our house 2. Dr. Evil had stolen the loot bags and they would need to use their newly acquired spy skills to solve the mystery.  So, first things first…

Each recruit was issued an ID card, a code name and a passport:

I used this template from Chicken Babies for the ID cards.  Instead of using photos we just fingerprinted the recruits with an ink pad.  They also wrote their Code Names on the cards.  To get their Code Name they pulled a colour out of one container and an animal out of another:

It made for some really neat names like Emerald Hawk and if you can believe it, the Pink Panther!!

Next they were issued Passports (thanks Frugal Family Times!):

As you can see each passport had a list of the training activities:  Bomb Diffusion, a Laser Course, Voice Modulation, Art of Disguise and Code Deciphering.  As each skill was acquired they received a check mark and handshake.

Bomb Diffusion was the first activity.  We blew up around 24 black balloons.  Two of them had clues from Dr. Evil inside.  The kids took turns popping the balloons until the clues were found (we cleverly made sure one was “discovered” at the midpoint and the second at the end).  Then they worked together to crack the code.  The teamwork was impressive!

Next up was the Laser Course.  We used painters tape and red yarn to “booby trap” the dining room.  The kids LOVED this game and they just kept taking turns over and over again well after the clue was retrieved!

Once the laser course was “disarmed” we took it down and had some snacks.  Before the party Lil’S had helped prepare “truth serum” labels for our drinks:

We played a game of “two truths and a lie” whilst eating.  Hilarity ensued.  It was even funnier when we tried speaking in various accents to pass our Voice Modulation test.

After the snacks we moved on to the Art of Disguise which involved the kids dressing up in costume and sitting down to take a picture of themselves with Photobooth on the computer.  The pics were then emailed to the kids after the party.

Then Dr. Evil threw another wrench in our party!!  A bomb had dropped onto the cake and the kids had to try to blow it out before our cake was blown to smithereens!

After cake (which didn’t blow up because I guess all that huffing and puffing really did put out the spark heh, heh) we set to work decoding the rest of the messages.  All in all 5 secret clues from Dr. Evil were found.  It turns out the loot bags were hidden in plan sight all along!

And some spy gear to take home.  I love the Pop Rocks label “warning: explosives”.  I cannot for the life of me remember which website I saw that on – so sorry!

One of the parents stayed to help out which I was forever grateful for.  We (the adults) had a great time too.  Mrs. Iverson was the youngest guest and surprisingly she didn’t follow the dress code of all black.  She wore a glittering princess gown and a tiara.  We referred to her as “the socialite”.  And really doesn’t every Spy Party need a socialite on the guest list?

Most importantly, this Secret Agent had a fantastic time with her friends and some new spy gadgets to occupy her for a long, long time!

A sunshine birthday.

Ivy’s party was so much fun!  The girls were so excited from the moment they got up in the morning.  Scarlett drew Ivy some happy birthday wishes on the chalk board, they got dressed up and then undressed given how long they had to wait before the party started, then dressed again in something different, and on it went until our guests arrived.  Auntie T arrived with the fantastic Sunshine Cake.  Family and good friends arrived.  I had covered a few kid’s tables in paper and so the kids drew sunshine pictures on the paper and decorated their loot bags (that they would fill with the loot from the piñata later).  Some of the kids just played in the backroom while the adults enjoyed catching up with one another.

Then came the piñata…I was so nervous as I was making it.  Was it too thin?  How many layers was I supposed to put on anyways.  The internet was consulted again.  And again.  I read that three layers was minimum standard…phew!  That was all I had time for.  Terrified that it would collapse the moment it was suspended, I waited until the very last-minute to do so.  I shouldn’t have worried.  Look at the pictures!  13 children of various ages and abilities whacked, hit, and smashed that thing each taking three turns!  It fell.  We put it back up.  It was dented, dinged, cracks formed. But it would. not. break.  Darn it!  Everyone reassured me that it was the spongy bat the kids were using and not my piñata making skills. It was still fun to watch the kids have at ‘er and ripping it open and letting the contents fly was very satisfying I must say.  Oh, and I think it looked pretty darned pretty.  Don’t you think?

Then when the pulled pork, corn and black bean salad, veggie and fruit trays, cheese and crackers and of course the cake, were eaten. When the presents were all opened.  It was time to say good-bye.  We sent our guests off with loot bags full of piñata treats, sunshine play dough, and homemade acorn necklaces and hopefully some very happy memories.

 

Sunshine you can take home…

I think Ivy’s sunshine theme for her birthday is just the sweetest.  I mean, who wouldn’t want a little bit of sunshine on their birthday?  It is definitely a more creative idea than my go-to “fall themed” birthday plans (ie Hallowe’en, pumpkins, apples, coloured-leaves).

In fact I think a sunshine birthday is truly inspirational and wanted to find a way for our guests to take some sunshine goodness home with them.  I’ve always wanted to make homemade play dough but I’ve never taken the plunge.  It was actually a lot of fun to make and they do really look like little balls of sun!  I was inspired by this post at http://www.mommyfootprint.com.  You’ll find my tweaked recipe at the top of this post, by clicking here, or by looking in the sidebar on the right under “Tutorials”.  I found the picture in the post is quite small and hard to read but if you click on it it gets bigger and you no longer need the magnifying glass.

The recipe is super easy and can be whipped up in under 10 minutes with ingredients you’ll likely have on hand.  I think I’d like to try to colour it with turmeric or something next time to see what happens…maybe I’d mix the turmeric in with the dry ingredients? Hmmm.  Next time.

Nothing like sending guests home with a little something to brighten their day!