Thursday, October 20, 2011

Little Bird Countdown Board

While it may not have been a big hit on SYTYC, I love my little bird countdown.  I made it for a little girl who just turned one this week, so I'll be doing a little counting down myself before she's ever old enough to use it.  I can't be the only one who plans out "big girl" rooms before she actually has a big girl...right?

Kids wait for birthdays, play dates - even garbage day.  It seems they are always asking when something is going to happen...over and over.  It's especially rough when they're young enough to remember something is coming, but too young to have an understanding of days, weeks, and months.

A countdown board is a helpful way to help kids understand how much longer they have to wait for something. 

And if you add a few other features, they can be quite versatile.

Let me show you how I made Little Bird:

1 - Pick your shape.  I used an image from my Silhouette art, but you can find one online or draw one yourself.  I originally picked an elephant.  I was going to have to make it a lot bigger to get his belly big enough for all those circles.  My bird only needed to be about 2 feet across.  I thought that would make a better lap board.

My husband cut two identical body shapes from hard board.
2 - Select your supplies.
fabric (enough to cover your shape)
zipper for pocket
embroidery floss
washers (from hardware store)
a few layers of batting to cover the shape of your board.
scrap fabric
scraps of fabric or felt to add embellishments.

Before starting to assemble your countdown board, you'll need to do a layer check.  Make sure the magnets you bought will "stick" to the washer through all the layers you plan to use. I used Darice "super strong" magnets that I bought from my local craft store.

3 - Make the number circles. I bought one size of washer for all my numbers (1-31).  I bought a few that were slightly smaller for the + - = math symbols.  I cut felt circles (2 for each) that were just bigger than the washer.  If you use a blanket stitch, like I did, you won't need to cut the felt much larger.

Sandwich your washers between two pieces of felt and sew them in.

I used freezer paper stenciling to paint on numbers.  I used the kind that puffs a little when you iron it.  It made them have such a nice, soft texture (Tulip brand "Velveteen" fabric paints).

I used matching colors of embroidery floss (3 strands) to sew them in.
4 - Make the body.  I wrapped the fabric around the board and decided on the placement for the zipper.  I won't pretend I know what I'm doing when it comes to zippers.  I am pretty happy with the way it turned out, but I think this tutorial is going to be a better source for help. 
Can't see much of the zipper?  Good.
I think using a smaller print made it easier for me to hide the fact that I cut a seam all the way down my fabric.
On the back, I sewed a rectangle of fabric for a pocket. 

Next I added a wing.
I decided to make 7 magnets across and 5 down on my bird.  I traced 35 circles with disappearing ink.
I used 6 strands of embroidery floss and some scrap fabric (cut into 35 small circles) for this next step.

Sandwich the magnet between the back of your fabric and the circle scrap.  Sew a running stitch all the way around your traced circle.  Repeat until you have all your circles.
Once you've sewn a few on, the magnets start to stick together.  That part's kind of a pain.
I think the camera battery died for the next few steps...

I cut a small black circle of felt and sewed it on for the eye.

I cut a few layers of batting the same size as my board pieces.  I only used two, but I think I should have done more.

I also cut a slit in my batting layer and shoved my pocket back behind it.  I thought it would keep my washers from sticking to my magnets from the inside of the pocket.  It did, but I don't know if it was necessary. 

Stretch your fabric around your board.  Hot glue as you go.
The back will look something like this.
I traced a few shapes onto paper and sewed a beak and a couple of feet.  I glued those to the back of the board as well.

For the second board, you'll want to attach whatever wall hanging device you choose.  I picked two drilled holes and some strong string.

Glue the two boards together and hide all that fabric. 

You're done!


Because her magnetic circles have been placed into seven columns, Little Bird has the possibility of becoming a calendar when her owner gets a bit older.

A few added math symbols let Little Bird be a fun way to practice some math facts.

Until then, we'll probably just flip over the numbers and match the colors.

1 comment:

  1. That is amazing-- so cute and clever. And so work intensive that after reading half of the tutorial I decided that I'm way too lazy :) So cool, though. Love it.