I made this flannel board for our new playroom this weekend. Huck loves it! It is so easy and cheap and I bet kids who are old enough to use scissors would be able to help by making the felt shapes for it.
I had always seen them done with black backgrounds but as I was reading around the internet on flannel boards it seemed that lots of people thought light blue was more versatile. I had to agree and found this nice cloud-like light blue flannel at my fabric store that fit the bill.
I also made a simple drawstring bag for all the felt pieces. I even went the extra (extra crazy) step of lining it with satin so the felt pieces will come out easier. <eye roll> Don't ask me what I was thinking.
Click "Continue reading" below for a tutorial on how I made ours. You should be able to click on any of the small thumbnail photos and get a bigger picture if you need to see a little more detail.
**Wanted to add that I'm also thinking of doing a traveling flannel board. It would basically be a fabric envelope that closes with a zipper. A fun cotton print on one side and flannel on the other. Probably some interfacing to make it hold shape. And, okay, probably lined in satin. The felt pieces would be kept inside. Would be great for the car, especially road trips.. Anyway, might be a good idea for anyone not interested in doing a full board for the house. I'll post when (well, if) I get around to it.
Flannel Board Tutorial
Foam Board or Cardboard
1/2 yard of flannel
1/2 yard of batting
You can recycle cardboard for this project but, and this is crazy, we made a recycling run recently and I didn't have any. I used foam board. It comes in 30x20 pieces for about $4. I cut it in half, giving me two 15x20 pieces. If you have multiple kids, you might even want to go ahead and make two to cut down on those adorable screams of "Mine!"
You don't have to use the batting. None of the examples I saw online did, but I wanted the look and feel of a padded surface. I cut the batting to the exact size of the foam board and spray mounted it to the board. You could easily get away without mounting it or you could just tape it or glue the corners. I just thought it would be easier to work with that way.
I cut the flannel 2 inches wider than the board on all 4 sides.
I started with one long side. I turned the fabric under about a 1/2 inch then folded it onto the back of the foam board and stapled it at 3-4 inch intervals. Occasionally a staple would go all the way through the fabric on the front. When that happened I just pulled it out and restapled. You can also eliminate this step completely and use duct tape.
At the corners, I pulled the fabric over at the point, stapled it, then cut it across the get rid of the excess. That's called something but I'm not sure what. Mitering?
Once I had one long side and it's two corners done, I did the same on the opposite long side. But before I stapled, I pulled it taut and made sure there weren't any wrinkles on the front. Then I did those 2 corners, and then the 2 short sides, pulling taut and checking the front throughout the process.
Now you have a finished flannel board. You can frame it if want or put a picture mount on the back. I just sewed a loop of white ribbon on the back. I wanted it to be portable and able to hang it on a doorknob, dresser knob or hook.
Now you need some felt pieces for it. I just used scrap craft felt. I started with the big, brightly colored shapes in the very first photo. I felt like that would be most age appropriate for the kind of play a two-year-old would be doing on this.
Then I made a bunch of other shapes for creating pictures. They're all still shapes but there's a big variety--many different sizes and colors of every shape, plus arches, half-circles, long skinny pieces, clouds, trunks and tree tops, etc.
The two different sets of shapes are really all we're keeping in the bag and playing with right now.
But I'm also making a few story sets. Not sure how interested he'll be in these right now. So far I've done a Little Red Riding Hood set and have started on a Goldilocks and the Three Bears set.
If he's into us telling stories this way, or later if he doesn't like it right now, I have plans to do Peter Rabbit, Jack & the Beanstalk and Hansel & Gredel sets, too.
The great things about the sets is that you'll have most of what you need from the shapes--like tree pieces, houses, water, rectangles for beds, etc. And if you just make a variety of nekkid people you can change out the hair and clothes for the different stories. I used fabric paint and made different faces on each side.
Yes, I briefly considered making them anatomically correct. But even I'm not that good with a pair of scissors.
Hope you have fun with this project. We're loving ours.