Thursday, August 9, 2012

Child's Name for the Wall: Stitched Foam Letters

7" Handmade Foam Letter
After we moved to our new home, I really wanted to decorate my girls' rooms in bright, fun colors!  I also knew as part of the design I wanted to incorporate their names in the wall decor.  While I love the classic wood letters, I never found a font that I really loved, and I wasn't up to cutting the letters out myself (at least not out of wood) and then painting them.  Most of the letters were also smaller than I wanted, but I didn't want to pay a lot of money for really large wood letters, either.

7" Handmade Foam Letter

I wanted easy, cost efficient (ie - cheap!), and fast.  What can I say?  I was excited to get something up on the wall!  Also unbreakable since my girls are young and playful.  So what did I decide?  Why not try foam!  It comes in a variety of thicknesses, sizes, colors, and even patterns.  It's easy to draw on, cut out, and layer.  It's also relatively cheap, especially if you buy a bulk package.

My choice of fonts!
First, I found the fonts I wanted and printed out the letters I would need for my names.  In my case, I needed V, I, A, N, P, E, L, & O.  (Can you guess my girls' names from that list????)  Test print one letter first to get the size you want.  I ended up using letters sized 440 or something thereabouts.  Then cut out the letters and trace onto the appropriate color foam!  I chose pinks, blues, and greens for one daughter and purples, yellows, and pinks for the other.  (Hint - use a pen over a marker.  Marker makes wide lines and leaves a mess behind on the foam that rubs off on other surfaces!)

 I chose to hang my letters up from ribbon and clear pins.

I wanted a letter in one color on top of a foam circle or square of another color.  Originally, I tried sticking the layers together with double sided foam tape, thinking the extra thickness would add depth to the letters.  Well, that was a dud.  Plus, the letters on top of the foam were kinda boring - they were going in the right direction, but I wanted something special!

 Some lovely stitching over foam!
I also thought about framing the letters on top of scrapbooking paper to hang them on the wall, but that is a lot of frames with breakable I decided to hang them from ribbons instead!  They are lightweight, unbreakable, and easy to move.

Some less than lovely stitching - if the machine fails to move the foam forward with the feeders, the stitching becomes cramped (blue on blue leaves) OR if you stitch with small stitches you can slice through the foam (pink on green stitching).
In order to make the letters a little more polished and give them the extra something special, I decided to sew the layers of  foam together.  Sewing foam you say?  Yes I say!  It's actually pretty easy and I haven't had any issues with my machine during or after.  (You can also sew paper for an interesting card or artwork - another thing to try is sewing without thread - it leaves a neat punched out pattern in the paper!)

Example of small/short stitches (top left) and long stitches (right).  Long stitches generally work better with foam!

I sewed the ribbon to the foam backs, then sewed the border and the background vine.  Next came the letter with the flowery vine and some straight stitching.  I suggest lengthening your stitches - especially for the straight stitch - in your machine.  Short stitches close together work like scissors on the foam - you end up pinching the foam in two with the thread and holes.  I suppose if you wanted punch out sheets of foam, this would work wonderfully to make the designs!  But for decorative stitching, not so much.....I lengthend my stitches as long as I could and it worked beautifully!  The pinching is reduced, so the stitch remains on top of the foam instead of sinking into it - makes for a more decorative look!

As with all crafts, try not to rush!  Sew slow to avoid making errors - foam is not as forgiving as fabric!
Here's one of my finished names!  The other one is still in the making, but I was so excited to share my success that I couldn't wait.  The letters aren't perfect by any means, and I'll probably redo a couple of them after more practice, but it looks great on the wall and adds some colorful whimsy!

A completed stitched foam name!

Happy Creating!