So as luck would have it, I stumbled across a few tutorials online for DIY-ing fabric letters using scraps, and I spent the weekend whipping up a set for William. (Original tutorials here and here.)
These are pretty easy to make, but I will warn you - they are tedious. It's a great mindless sewing project if you're looking for something thoughtful, educational, colorful, and resourceful. These would be excellent birthday or Christmas gifts for any 1-3 year old!
So here's what you'll need in order to make them:
Scissors, pencil/pen/marker, sewing machine, 26 fabric scraps (you'll need 4x4 pieces for each side of the letters), batting or bunting (26-4x4 pieces), stencil letters (found here - you can print them out on cardstock for free!)
And you'll also need magnets. One of the tutorials I used recommended the circular magnets, but the other tutorial said get the strip magnets because they're cheaper. I opted for these found in the craft section and just cut little pieces out:
HOWEVER, if I was doing this again, I would definitely spring for the circular heavy-duty magnets. Some of my letters required me redoing them and adding in several magnet strips because one little strip didn't prove strong enough on a few of them. (*This was more of an issue on the thicker fabric scraps that I used, so it might not be an issue if you're using pretty thin fabric)
After you've cut your fabric scraps into 4x4 pieces (remember, you'll need one 4x4 piece for the front, and one 4x4 piece for the back of the letters), cut your batting/bunting into 4x4 pieces, and printed and cut out your alphabet letters, you're ready to begin!
Start by laying everything out, just the way you want it. This will help you get an idea of how the letters will look all together.
Basically, you'll create a "sandwich" of sorts - batting in the middle and fabric on the outside. You'll lay 1 piece of fabric down (right side out), a piece of bunting/batting on top, and another piece of fabric (right side out) on top of the batting. Then put your alphabet stencil letter on top. Just like so...
Now you need to trace each alphabet letter onto the top piece of fabric. I used a fine point Sharpie for this, but you'll want to make sure your fabrics aren't the type that a marker will bleed on, so you could also use a pencil, pen, chalk, etc....whatever works best for you!Once the letters are traced, simply place the magnets inside your "sandwich" (you'll place the magnet in between the batting and fabric on the OPPOSITE side of the traced letter so that it will be on the BACK of your final cut out letter).
The adhesive magnetic sheets were great for this part because they stuck to the batting and I didn't have to worry about the magnet slipping out while I sewed them, but again - they aren't the heaviest when it comes to "magnetizing" so several of my letters required more than 1 strip. Just keep that tip in mind if you do decide to buy the adhesive ones!
After your magnet is in place, you can place a few pins in the fabric to keep everything together.
Then you're ready to sew!
You'll start sewing the outside of the letters first, sewing right on top of your traced lines.
If your letters have any "holes" in the center (A, B, D, O, P, Q, R), you'll want to sew the outsides first, THEN cut out the holes in the center and then sew around the hole to reinforce everything. This is the part that was a little tricky because the holes are so small. I found it worked best to create a "starter hole" - I made it using one of Nathan's box cutters - and then cut out from there.
Then you simply cut off any excess, and put them on the fridge for your little ones to enjoy! :)
I love how colorful they are!