Every single day my little girl makes sure her dollies take a nap at some stage. She will make beds anywhere, out of anything and the babies WILL take their compulsory nap. Napping is serious business in our house. It’s not uncommon for us to whisper in the living room because the dolls are sleeping!
Earlier the week my 4 year old daughter was setting up small worlds with her Playmobil while her brother and dollies were napping and all of a sudden she realised they really should be napping too. As she was looking around for items to use as blankets, she found my basket with felt scraps and decided that we should make them all some sleeping bags instead. Like, ALL of them.
So that’s how on an unusually hot summer day here in Wellington, we ended up staying inside, making mini felt sleeping bags. This is how dedicated to crafting and napping we are in this family!
Let me show you what we came up with:
Getting Started Making Mini Felt Sleeping Bags
The sleeping bags we made are for Playmobil and Lego people but if you’ve got other figurines at home in desperate need for a place to sleep: don’t worry, I’ll show you how to make your own patterns.
And for anyone feeling nervous about pattern making: relax, I’ll share all my patterns with you further down, you’re free to use or tweak them as you see fit. (Personal use only of course!)
Level of Difficulty
This is a simple project but you’ll be needing some basic sewing skills. I will add some links to YouTube tutorials so even absolute beginners should be fine.
Children can definitely help out and work alongside adults making their own patterns, cutting their own felt and having a go at sewing on a button or sewing sides together. Depending on your own child’s age, skill set, interest, and so on, you’re best suited to decide if and how you’ll want to involve your child(ren) in this activity.
Since I was working with my 4 year old daughter and starting from scratch, it took us an hour or two to finish a fairly small sleeping bag.
It’ll depend on whether you are using the patterns, making your own, the complexity of the embroidery with which you want to decorate the sleeping bag and whether or not children will be helping out and needing some guidance.
- needle (big eye for embroidery floss)
- embroidery floss
- buttons (I didn’t end up using them, but my daughter did and you might want to too)
Step by Step Guidelines for Making Mini Felt Sleeping Bags
The first thing to do is to choose a figurine. We started with a Lego Friends one.
Then take a piece of paper, place your figurine on there and fold the paper onto the figurine to try out the size. You might need to move your figurine around a bit until you think it’s a good fit.
Draw around your figurine how you think the sleeping bag should look. Never mind the awkward lines, it’ll sort itself out later.
Note that I’ve left a bit of space on the side to allow for stitching. You’ll only ‘lose’ space on the sides where two layers will be stitched together, not on top nor on the bottom.
Cut out your drawing. If you’re still a bit unsure of the size, better draw it a bit bigger to be safe. You can still cut off a bit of felt if you want it smaller, but not the other way around!
When you think you’ve got it: pin the paper onto the felt and cut it out.
Now is the time to decorate your mini felt sleeping bag. You can leave it as it is, add some buttons, embroider a little something or do whatever you want really. I really like embroidery and Miss Glitter wanted a flower, so we went with that.
I made a lazy daisy around a (rather untidy) french knot.
And here‘s a cute little YouTube video showing you the 5 most common embroidery stitches, just to help you get started.
Now it’s time to blanket stitch all the way around the sleeping bag. If you don’t know the blanket stitch or wouldn’t mind a little refresher: here‘s a YouTube tutorial.
All righty, let’s start. The image below shows you in which direction we’re going to stitch.
A few little tips:
– when you’re stitching, don’t pull the thread too hard or you’ll make holes in the felt
– if you’re having a hard time keeping your stitches consistent in distance from each other, you can mark them out with little dots in advance, the thread will cover the ink
We’re starting where the white star is. We make a knot in our floss and blanket stitch around the edge of the top layer only. (We want the sleeping bag to open!)
When we get to the end of that side we continue downwards, this is where we start stitching through both layers.
When we get to the bottom, we don’t stitch that bit but just pull our thread through.
Then we stitch our way back up, going through both layers until we get to the top bit, where it’s only just one layer. And then follow around the curve until we get where we’ve stitched before. Which is where we’ll secure our thread.
By that stage it should look a bit like this:
Sit back and enjoy your mini felt sleeping bags!
A Little Note about Making Handmade Toys with (and for) Children
I love to involve my daughter in my creative projects. It’s our quality time together, her and me, making something.
It wasn’t always like that, and I must admit we still have our moments. But now that she is a bit older (she’s almost 4,5) and has an actual interest in what I’m doing, it has become a lot easier.
One of the things I always do when I’m starting a little project and my daughter wants to help, is keeping her work and my work separate. Two people working on the same thing usually leads to frustration in our house. That doesn’t mean she can’t help me or I won’t help her, but we’re clear on who’s work is who’s.
I think my daughter is learning from this to respect someone else’s work and to be responsible for her own work. I think it gives her the freedom to explore the materials and techniques and to experiment with the design.
Since I’m busy working on my own project, I’m around, but not always involved (nor needed!), which has taught me to give her some space, figure things out for herself and respect her different way of thinking. (This has been an important thing for me to learn!)
Aside from the encouraging Miss Almost 4 1/5’s creative thinking, I think that she gained some kind of respect or understanding for the work people do along the way. At times she seems to better understand when I ask her to give me some time because I need to finish something and she most definitely takes more care of the play things we made together than toys that were bought.
So for us, this is an overall win! I must add that I still don’t work on projects with my 1,5 year old son in the room. And it might not work for you at all, but here’s to hoping it will!
Patterns for other Sizes of Figurines * Grab them here for FREE!
We made 7 mini felt sleeping bags for all of the Playmobil people (adult, child and baby) and all of the Lego people (Duplo adult and child, Lego and Lego Friends) that live in our home.
I’m very happy to share all the patterns we made with you!
Note that these patterns are only the patterns for the felt shapes, not for the embroidery. Feel free to copy any of our ideas though or make up your own!
Copyright: these patterns are free for personal use only. You are not allowed to copy them and hand them out for free to others nor are you allowed to sell them. In the unlikely event that you’ve got big plans for these little felt sleeping bags, please contact me.
DOWNLOAD HERE: LittleWorlds_felt-sleeping-bags-figurines_patterns
Just to make sure we’re talking about the same thing:
It’s needless to say that I love making things. For me this is a time during the day where I can focus on something else besides my family. Don’t get me wrong, I love them to bits, but all parents need their me-time. And for me, diving into some kind of creative project is my weekly exercise in mindfulness.
Let this Mom project be my shout out to all parents to remind you to take some time for yourself once in a while!
If you’re looking for some inspiration on what to make, these projects of ours have been quite popular:
- kids art work embroidery: turn your favourite drawing into a gorgeous keepsake!
- my 10 favourite (easy peasy) fabric flower tutorials
- how to make braided bookmarks you won’t lose
- and these adorable fairy hair clips for pretend play
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susen @Dabbling Momma says
great tutorial for these so pretty sleeping bags! Thanks for sharing at our Share Day!
Ann Maes says
Thanks so much Susen!
Abi Craig says
So fun – I love how you embellished each one. Hand projects like this are refreshing to see.
Ann Maes says
Thanks, I really do love a good hand project! So glad you like it.
Hi there – I’m enjoying your blog! Did you use wool felt? I had to order mine from Aussie – where did you get yours? Keep sharing – you are giving me fresh encouragement in this very lengthy mothering career!
Ann Maes says
Thanks! That is so nice to hear! The felt I’m using is a mix of wool and acrylic felt. I still have a nice stash of wool felt from when we lived in Melbourne. I haven’t really looked into it here in NZ and Spotlight only has a very limited range of felt. But I can ask around for you if you want, I have a few friends at Steiner schools, I’m sure they’ll know! Do pop on over to the facebook page and stay in touch, it’s nice to bounce ideas off each other. We all need some fresh encouragement on this journey from time to time!
I am already following on Facebook!!! I sensed a little Steineryness in your work and methods. You said you did embroidery at school. Did you attend a Steiner school? We’ve only found squeaky old acrylic felt at Spotlight – oh, and two colours of wool felt on the roll as opposed to squares. I made a lovely elephant from the wool felt. My very precious Winterwood felt is just for small projects!
Ann Maes says
I LOVE Steiner. The first time I walked into a Steiner playgroup I nearly fainted and didn’t want to go home :). Even though we didn’t continue the Steiner path and I never went to a Steiner school myself (I would have loved it no doubt!) I’m still in love with all things Steiner. I went to a regular Belgian public school, where we did learn a number of handwork skills in primary school and I remember them fondly! I’m afraid our Spotlight is a bit sad in the felt department too. Once I’ve gone through my supply, I’d probably look at ordering on line too. And please do share your projects on fb, I’d love to see! I’m always curious about what others are working on (as if my own “want-to-do” list isn’t long enough!)