Friday, July 19, 2013

123... ABC {A Plush, magnetic alphabet crafty tutorial}

Now that summer school is done, and for the first summer in a few years I'm no longer working on my masters degree I have found myself with LOTS of crafty nesting time (see here just in in case you missed the announcement). While perusing Pinterest (yes, very productive use of time... I know) I saw this adorable magnet board with magnet letters on it: It was love at first sight.
DIY Magnet Board in kids room with fabric magnetic letters.
(click the image to view the original source)
I followed her link to check out the alphabet on Etsy but I just couldn't swallow spending $50 on it, adorable as it is.  So I determined I would make my own.  Now be warned.  I am a VERY amateur sewer (I don't even dare venture use the word "seamstress".  NO way!) And this project is not for the faint of heart, nor can it be done in a jiffy. Hopefully these instructions are of use to someone :)

lowercase alphabet block letter template (free PDF)
26 fabric scraps (~4x4in)
26 Batting squares (~4x4in)
26 Felt squares (~4x4in)
52 1/2 in. diameter magnets
1. Select your fabric scraps.
(I arranged mine by color for a rainbow-ish effect to help my baby girl learn the sequence of the alphabet as she visually sees the color scheme in order).
 2. Create or print your alphabet template on cardstock.
(I chose lowercase letters because as all you early-childhood teachers know MOST of the English language is represented with lowercase letters.  Simply learning to recognize the letters by name, while helpful, is a far cry from learning to read.  That is why I always begin by teaching the sounds of lowercase letters before names or introducing capital letters.)

 3. Cut out your template and lay each piece with it's corresponding fabric.
(I used an exacto for the center of the tricky ones).
 4. Cut the fabric, batting and felt into approximate rectangles/squares for each letter.  Layer them in that order. Make sure you have at least a 1/4in. edge of fabric, batting, and felt around each letter.
(I considered using the same fabric for the backs, but ultimately decided on black felt to make it easy for baby girl to recognize the front and back of the letters).
 5.  Now I know I'm breaking lots of true seamstress rules here... but I didn't bother to pin OR trace my template. I know, I know.  Shame shame on me! I simply used the letter template as a guide and stitched through the fabric, batting and felt, making sure they all stayed aligned, and making sure to backstitch as I went.  If you're not as inclined to wing-it as I was, then by all means pin and trace away! But wait!  Don't forget the magnets!  I almost did, a few times in fact.  Think carefully about where to place your magnets.  They must be balanced on opposite sides of the letter or somewhat centered, otherwise the weight of your letter may cause it to hang crooked.  I found it was easiest to DECIDE where to put my magnets before I started sewing, THEN sew the letter ALMOST all the way (without the magnet), and finally stick them in at the last moment, and then finish up the last few stitches.
6. For those fun letters with the holes (a,b,d,e,g,o,p,&q) sew the outside edges and place the magnets first, then sew the inside of the letter (this part can be tricky!) and then finally cut out the center once the whole thing is sewn.
7. Trim all the excess around the edges and another letter is done! With each completed letter I found myself feeling happy and triumphant. Hopefully you do too.  When they're done, hang them on you refrigerator, a magnet board or a filing cabinet and admire them to your heart's content.  Hooray!

PS - I just have to add that after completing my alphabet I COMPLETELY understand why these are around $50 on Etsy. If I were selling I would have to charge at least $100 to make it even remotely worth my time. So go make your own and have fun!  Let me know if you do, I would love to see pictures!


  1. There's no way I could pull this off. Yours are adorable.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  2. I think you've graduated from amateur seamstress to experienced with this project. Those are gorgeous, I almost wish my 15 year old was an infant again!

  3. I have nominated you and your blog for the Liebster Award! Come on over to my blog to see what you are to do next. Congratulations!
    Pauline at
    First Grade by the Sea

  4. Hi! I just found your blog- and let me tell you... you are NOT an amateur sewer- you ARE a seamstress! These are fabulous! I could never do it- but your little girl will adore them- and save them forever. I'd love you to stop over to my blog if you get a chance!
    Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together

  5. I love these! I guar made a set for my one year old and posted it on my blog, feel free to check it out! :)
    Also, what font did you use for the letters, I was thinking about doing some numbers to go with it and would want them to match. Thanks so much! (You can email me if that's easier, kmanndesigns (at) gmail (dot) com

  6. I'm hoping to make a couple of sets of these as gifts for my nieces and my friends' children. What thickness/strength of magnet did you use? The 1/2 inch diameter magnets I purchased are wider than the letter template and they seem very thick to fit inside the small space in the letters. Also, what foot did you use on your sewing machine? I'm having trouble making the tight turns with my regular foot (but I am definitely much less of a seamstress than you are!).

  7. I LOVE these! And so does my son but is there any change you have similar templates for upper case lettess? Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. For some reason when I try to print the template, it gets shifted and only the very tops of the letters appear at the edges of the paper.. Is there another way to obtain the template? I really love it and can't find any other lower case templates that don't have the "old-fashioned" 'a' - thanks!


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