I really wanted to make something cute for Jax to play with this Valentine’s day. He loves checking the mail with me (and our post box!), and he loves putting things into other things. Simple pleasures, I guess! While I’ve already made him a mail box quiet book page, I wanted to make him something 3 dimensional that he can have for his playroom. As a bonus, it will help him learn about the process of writing and sending letters.
Big, big thank-yous to reader Jill, who gifted us with a roll of photo fabric. Thanks to her generosity, this project is so much more personal and special.
What I Used:
- The Pattern
- Wool blend felt from American Felt & Craft (in elephant [2 sheets], black, lipstick, white, fresh linen [you can use more white], pomegranate, bubble gum, purple haze, sparrow, pastry and pool party.)
- Plastic canvas (size 7ct)
- Photo fabric
- Colored hook & loop (in red, light blue, pink and lavender.)
- Red button
- Felt heart trim (mine was from Target’s dollar aisle)
- Daisy lace trim (used on a stamp)
- Assorted ribbon (mine was from Target’s dollar aisle)
- White mini ric rac
- Pinking Shears
Mailbox: I started but stitching the MAIL letters down to the outer layer of the mailbox top piece. I cut a piece of plastic canvas 1/4″ smaller all around than the felt, and sandwiched it between the two layers. I pinned it well, then sewed along the long edge by the L, pausing halfway to insert a folded piece of red hook (soft) Velcro.
I cut some plastic canvas 1/4″ smaller all around for the mailbox base, and layered it in between the felt pieces, pining them in place. I pinned the mailbox top on top of the mailbox base with a long edge of the base matched up to the MAIL edge of the top, and I sewed them together. I bent the top up to form a tunnel and sewed its short edge to the other long edge of the base. You may need to trim the inside layer of the mailbox top after pinning it, as it is the inside curve and is slightly smaller.
I cut two pieces of plastic canvas 1/4″ smaller around than the mailbox door/back pieces. I pinned them between the two sets of felt and sewed around the curved edges of one, catching a folded loop of red hook (hard) Velcro in the middle of one. I sewed the one without Velcro to the back of the mailbox all around. I sewed the door with Velcro to the front, laying inside the mailbox and sewing it along the bottom before pulling it out.
I cut some plastic canvas to go inside the mailbox flag, but you might be able to get away without it. I didn’t have the canvas go all the way down the post – I left room at the base so I could cut a small hole through the whole flag after sewing the layers together. I stitched around my tiny hole with a buttonhole stitch. You could perhaps use a tiny eyelet, but you really only want the hole big enough to sew a button though it. If it is too large, the flag will just flop down. After I sewed the edge of the hole, I very carefully sewed a button to the side of the mailbox, running the stitched through the hole in the flag to attach it. I took some red scrap ribbon and wound it between the mailbox and the button until the flag stopped flopping but could still move, then tied the ribbon in a tight knot and trimmed it to hide it.
Envelopes: I cut one piece of felt for each envelope. With the wrong side up, I folded the top part down and the bottom part up, and pinned to find the positions of my Velcro. With them unpinned, I stitched Velcro in place to close the envelopes and some loop Velcro on the front corners to hold stamps.
I used my machine to sew scraps of ribbon and ric rac on as the address, then refolded then and sewed along the sides and the edge where the top is folded down. I finished them with a little felt heart (cut from a trim I got at Target) to the envelope flap.
Heart Envelope: I decorated the front with ribbons and ric rac the same as the envelopes, and I added some Velcro for the stamp. I sewed on a little felt heart to look like a sticker. Then I sewed around the edge, leaving the top open.
Sugar Cookie: I sewed the pink icing down to the top cookie piece, the added a felt heart and some long stitches as sprinkles. Then I sewed the front and back together.
Letters: I did some prep work before creating the letters. Using my hand-me-down iPad 1 and the app iFontmaker, Jax and I made handwriting fonts. I used those to type out small Valentine messages in Photoshop (you could even use Word). I just chose a font I had for my husband’s letter. I asked Jax questions to figure out what to write on his letters, as he doesn’t understand Valentines yet. Then I had him draw me a picture (rainbows are the only thing he draws besides squiggles) in our Drawing Pad app, and I added that and some little photos.
I cut my photo fabric down to fit my 4×6 printer – the only one in the house that currently prints black ink (I’ve been printing pattern is pale gray for months!) It worked great, but I did get smudges of ink on the rainbows both times I tried printing it.
I cut out the printed fabric after peeling off the paper backing. I didn’t worry about the size except to make sure they fit in the envelopes. I zigzag stitched them to pieces of white felt.
Stamps: I didn’t follow a pattern for the stamps. I just sewed bits of felt and ribbon onto off-white felt (you could use white) then trimmed around the white edges with my pinking shears.
On the back sides, I sewed hook Velcro on. I sewed all the Velcro by hand in this project and it was the lamest part! My thumb was bruised the next day.
The set was a hit with Jax, though he is rather fond of pulling everything apart and just shoving all the pieces into the mailbox. We’ll play with it together so he can learn that letters go in the envelopes, stamps on the outside, then they get put in the mailbox.
And he is SO proud to see his name and the rainbow he drew!
I hope you enjoy making this set for your little one! It has a lot of options for really customizing it and making it your own. If you make one, I’d love to see it! Email me photos or post them to our Facebook page. As always, I’ll be posting updates every day or two to the FB page with photos of my current projects. Next up: a bug themed party favor before returning to the fire station project!
this is so fantastic and such a great way of getting the little man interested in writing/reading! you could do a whole post office unit with him- the post office will take you on a tour of the sorting area if you ask for a classroom so i bet they’d do it for a homeschool group too- and there are TONS of postman related books for little ones (i always did a post office unit around valentines day in my 3’s/4’s classroom when i was teaching before kids)
What a clever idea!! Such a cute project!! If I had any little ones, I would for sure make this play set!
Yay! I love it and have started my own for my own littles! Question – when you are describing what you did for the mailbox as far as sewing it together – you did that all by hand, correct? You didn’t use your sewing machine at all, right?
Thanks! I am trying desperately to get two sets done before Valentine’s day! Wish me luck!
Yes, I hand sewed the mailbox. I think it would be touch to get it into your machine! I used a blanket stitch.
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Stephanie, Is there a trick you use to cutting out the shapes so precisely? Everytime I try to cut small shapes out of felt, it’s a mangled mess..
Good scissors! I use Fiskars micro-tip scissors. Before I got those, I was sawing away at my felt with bruised hands. The cut very clean. But I also trim any fuzzies away from the edges after unpinning the pattern paper from it.
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Oh my goodness! I nanny two toddlers and they would LOVE this! (They’re constantly “writing” their mom and dad little notes) I’m definitely trying this out! Thanks so much for sharing this adorable project!
This is adorable!!! My daughter LOVES it , thank you so much for posting the pattern. I hope to see you do more three dimensional toys!!
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I found your adorable gumball machine ornament that I’m making for my family and today while reading on the American felt website, I looked up Valentine’s day and they linked to this tutorial. Thank you so much for your time in making the tutorial! It’s fantastic and I can’t wait to make this in time for Valentine’s day.
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you are amazing!!! I am in awe…
I have a new sewing machine I haven’t used (I’m going to wing it haha) and am so excited to start with this project for my Max
I’m as far as the felt pieces are cut for the circus train and I can’t wait to start on the mail – just sorted all my ribbons in preparation.
thank you so much – wish me luck!!!!!
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