Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fabric ABCs

I have four nieces. Three of them are my sister's girls and they were all born within a 3 week stretch from the end of January into the first part of February and they are 2 and turning 6 and 11!!! Wow! You go sis ;) Being that they are following Christmas at a pretty quick clip, I was not as prepared as I ought to have been...basically, the 2 year old is getting her gifts with the older two, that is, a couple of weeks after the fact, but hey, she's 2, she won't know the difference! I had my sis make a board on Pinterest where she could pin ideas for their birthday gifts as I'm continuing in the mode of homemade gifts using up my stash. Here's a tutorial for the main gift that I've made for the youngest niece...fabric ABC's!

First, gather up your materials: I used a vintage pillowcase, batting (which was actually a thrifted tree skirt meant to look like snow, but basically, its batting), threads (as many colors as you can handle), a contrast fabric, and letters printed out in a basic font. I used Arial Round, I think, at a font size of 290 and reduced my margins to under an inch so that I could fit 4-5 letters per sheet. And if you print them out on "recycled" printer paper (we have a stack that has something printed on one side, but that's blank on the other) then you'll only need about 6-7 sheets.

I'm using a piece of the bright pink fabric from the photo on the right (almost 3 yards at 40" wide for $1.25, thrifted). The thread comes from my grandmother's stash, and the vintage pillow case was thrifted a while back for $1.
I got busy with the seam ripper and dismantled the pillowcase so that it was just one large piece of fabric.

I then laid out the pink fabric, layered the batting on top, the pillowcase on top of that, and started pinning my letters in place. I made sure to arrange the letters so as to leave as little waste as possible, but all scraps just go into the scrap bag for later use.

Next, I straight stitched around the letters, essentially outlining them. Now, I did end up cutting each letter away from the next so that I could maneuver them around as I was stitching them up (so I had a stack of letters like the second photo). Then, I simply started peeling away the paper along each stitched line and curve. Take your time here, because you don't just want to start ripping things apart and pulling out your stitches at the same time.

Here's what they look like once the paper is removed. Not very impressive, though I used white thread and you could absolutely use a contrast color for this step. Then cut around each letter leaving a margin, mine is between an 1/8 and a 1/4 of an inch. Do this with all 26...this takes some time (just like sewing around each letter).

Here's where I used my contrasting threads. I set my machine to zigzag, adjusted the size to a smallish stitch and divided up the letters into 3 groups. You'd obviously do this however you like depending on if you use just one color of thread or more. Then get finishing all of those edges! Again, this takes time...but the result is so worth it, right?! I love these fun fabric letters and have already been commissioned to make a set for my son (btw, my son commissioned me for said job). :) 

Hopefully my niece will get lots of use out of these as she soaks up all kinds of information and enjoys just playing with them, as well. I think I'll take a few weeks before I dive into the next set for my son, shoulders hurt from leaning over my machine!

The good news is, tomorrow we'll have another birthday gift post, but this one required almost no sewing!!! (Only copious amounts of hot glue). I've given you a peek at it over on my FB page, but I'll break it down to materials and the step-by-step for ya with a link up to the original inspiration!


*Just want to mention, I wish I could link up to the blog where the inspiration for this came from, but it's apparently by invite only. And I have no idea how they went about making their set, so this is what I came up with from the final product photo. Oh, and they'd pinked their edges instead of zigzagging them, but then I don't have pinking shears and prefer to avoid any chance of fraying. And that's my official disclaimer ;)


  1. Thats a cracking idea.
    I devise and make tactile educational resources for visually impaired children, council emplyed, not doing it as an artistic living as it were, but using this idea would be useful for children with physical and sight difficulties too.
    Children without any sight and who dont have any visual memory of course wont get any benefit from the letters.
    But those with limited sight or limited mental and physical difficulties would find them great to use.
    And if you used eg a different textured fabric for the consonants, that too would give a new learning opportunity.
    But in any case these would be a fun and useful tactile activity in their own right.
    Love them!

    1. Would it make sense as well to have a certain texture to indicate the back of all of the letters? I'm totally interested :) Your work sounds fulfilling and creative! Thank you again for such a great comment, liniecat!

    2. Yes absolutely right.
      I always clip the top left corner off flash cards for example so the child can orientate the item they are holding.
      In this case a common texture on the back of each letter, say felt on the back and the cotton on the front would help a child know front from back for a start.
      If its a fabric item or too blummin thick to make a clean corner cut in it lol
      then some other method can be used, maybe the same kind of bead on the top part of each letter in this case.

    3. Makes total sense! I was thinking some sort of tag or like you said a bead, as well :) Cool! Thanks for responding on've got me so curious, and I see these types of things working for any children just learning their letters and needing to know which way is up! Great ideas :)

  2. Ooh these are lovely! I'm sure your nieces will appreciate them, and when they're older they will appreciate all the work you put into them too! I'm thinking now who I could make some for... thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you StarryA :) I appreciate it! I'd love to see them if you decide to!