This felt board folio is a great quiet time toy for young children. Read on for how to make one!
The other day my mother mentioned that the felt board my daughter played with at her house was SO much nicer than the one I had when I was a child. Which made me laugh because the felt board she made for me when I kid was far from deluxe.
First off, it was flannel – because she had some flannel in her scrap bin. And it wasn’t so much a board as a piece of cardboard tucked inside a flannel pillowcase-like sleeve, not even sewn shut. She had cut various shapes from her fabric and the whole thing stored in a cardboard stationery box. And yet, simple as it was, I spent hours building little scenes from fabric scraps on that flannel board!
I’ve got a tutorial showing how you can make a felt board folio that is, like, a million steps up from that flannel board set I played with as a child.
The folio design makes it easy to take the felt board with you. Tuck it into a busy bag for quiet play during church or on road trips.
There’s a small clear vinyl zip pouch attached that holds all your felt shapes. And instead of cardboard to stiffen the felt board, we’re using plastic canvas which doesn’t crease when bent the way cardboard does.
The pattern includes a template to cut a variety of geometric shapes. They’re the same basic shapes as were in a set of wooden block tiles that my daughter had as a child. Hexagons, triangles, squares. The sizes were just right so the pieces could fit together. She could use them to build all kinds of patterns and designs. I thought it would be fun to repeat those same shapes in the felt board.
Use them to build pretty designs…
Or use to create educational games to help with pattern recognition.
Or skip the geometric shapes and just cut shapes that suit your child’s interests.
Want to make one? Here’s how to make a felt board folio:
Cover fabric – 1 piece 12” tall x 18” wide
Fusible fleece – 1 piece 11” tall x 17” wide
Felt – 1 piece 12” tall x 18” wide
Snap tab fabric – scrap
Fusible interfacing – scrap
Zipper pouch fabric – 1 piece 10” tall x 15” wide, 1 piece 10” tall x 2” wide, and 2 pieces 4” tall x 1 ¼” wide.
Clear vinyl – 1 piece 10” tall x 6” wide
Zipper – 1 nylon coil zipper at least 10” long
Plastic snap – 1 set (socket & stud)
If you’re using a directional print, pay attention to direction of the print while you’re cutting and sewing. On the first one I made, I ended up with upside down butterflies on the zip pouch. They’ll mostly be covered with felt shapes so it’s not a deal breaker, but had I paid better attention I could have avoided that.
Make the Cover
Fuse the fusible fleece to the back of the cover fabric.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions to set the socket side of the snap on the right side of the cover fabric, centered vertically and 2 ¾” from right edge.
Make the Snap Tab
Fuse the fusible interfacing to the back of the two snap tab pieces.
Place the snap tab pieces RST. Sew around the two long sides and the curve, leaving the short side open.
Clip curves, turn right side out.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions to set the stud side of the snap where indicated on the pattern.
Place the snap tab on the left edge of the cover RST (smooth side of the snap facing down), centered vertically and raw edges aligned. Baste in place with ¼” seam allowance.
Make zipper tabs
Fold each zipper tab piece in half the short way and press.
Fold the short edges under 3/8” and press.
Pull the zipper down about 2”. Wrap the tab around the top (unzipped) end of the zipper and stitch in place close to the folded edge. Use clips to hold everything in place while you sew.
Mark the zipper 9” from the sewn edge of the zipper tab. Cut the zipper 1” past the mark. Sew the second zipper tab around the end, just as you did for the first zipper tab.
Make the zip pouch
Press 2”x 10” strip of fabric in half lengthwise, then press the raw edges to the middle.
Wrap the strip around one of the long edges of the clear vinyl piece. Clip in place. DO NOT USE PINS; they will puncture your vinyl. Sew in place close to the folded edge of the fabric strip.
Sew the fabric-bound edge of the vinyl to the zipper: Place the fabric edge of the vinyl piece over the left side of the zipper, with the fabric edge close to the zipper teeth. The zipper will be longer than the vinyl so center it lengthwise. Stitch close to the zipper teeth using a zipper foot.
Fold the 10” x 15” zip pouch fabric piece in half (the short way) so it measures 10” x 7.5”.
Sew the folded edge to the right side of the zipper tape. Center lengthwise and stitch close to the zipper teeth.
Cut the ends of the zipper tabs off even with the vinyl and fabric pieces.
Now we need to sew the side seams but we want the seam allowance between the two layers of cotton. (The bottom of the pouch will be sewn into another seam, so no need to close it up yet.) To do this, flip the fabric pieces around so the vinyl is sandwiched between them and the wrong sides of the fabric are facing out.
Sew down each side with a ½” seam allowance. Start your seam at the folded (zipper) end and sew down to the open end. That way if there’s any fabric creep or the layers don’t match up perfectly you can square it all off at the bottom.
Turn right side out. Finger press the edges to help the vinyl lay flat.
Top stitch down the edges of the vinyl close to the edge. A Teflon coated presser foot is helpful for this step. If you don’t have one, put some masking tape on the bottom of your presser foot to keep it from sticking to the vinyl as you sew.
Assemble the folio
Baste zip pouch to the felt piece with a ¼” seam allowance RST, centered vertically along right edge of the felt, with raw edges of the pouch lined up with the edge of the felt.
Pin/clip cover piece over felt piece RST. USE CLIPS ON THE SIDE WHERE YOU BASTED THE VINYL POUCH. PINS WILL PUNCTURE YOUR VINYL.
Sew around all 4 sides with a ½” seam allowance, leaving 4” open to turn.
Clip corners. Turn right side out.
Insert one of the plastic canvas pieces through the hole and work it to end farthest from your hole. You’ll need to roll it up to get it through the hole. It’ll be a tight fit as you work the canvas down the inside of the folio.
Sew a line down the center of the folio to hold the plastic canvas in place.
Insert the second piece of plastic canvas so it fills the other side of the folio.
Sew the turning hole closed with a ladder stitch.
Cut felt shapes
This last step is actually the most fun – cutting the felt shapes for the felt board!
My pattern includes templates to cut some basic geometric shapes. I sized the shapes so they work well together. The square is the same width as the rectangle and the sides on the hexagon and the triangle. This makes it easy to combine them to make neat designs.
Don’t limit yourself to just the geometric shapes. You can cut any kind of shapes you like. If your child likes cars, cut some car shapes and some wheels.
You're done!! Your Felt Board Folio is ready for hours of imaginative play!!