Friday, July 22, 2016

I Took A Field Trip To Benzie Design's New Brick And Mortar Felt Store.

Field Trips To Shops That Sell Felt Are My Favorite!

I geek out over felt and sometimes fabric like other women do over shoes or clothes. So when Benzie Design, who I ordered online from for about 2 years now, opened an actual walk in and touch everything store. I was in heaven and quickly made plans to go as soon as I could.

Tuesday my daughter and I took a field trip out to Plainfield, Illinois to check out Benzie Design's new shop. Although they have been open for a few weeks Tuesday July 19th was their Grand Opening. I had planned on going for the grand opening for weeks, but unexpectedly found myself in the ER on Saturday and then in the hospital until Monday night and thought I really wouldn't be able to go. But I pushed though it all determined to go and I did. I looked like hell and I was exhausted but nothing keeps me from felty goodness!

I live about 40 minutes away from Plainfield. It's close enough to take a trip once in a while,  but not close enough to drop in whenever I need felt, so my plan was to do some stock up shopping.

Plainfield is about an hour from Chicago and about 40 minutes from the South Suburbs of Flossmoor, Homewood, Olympia Fields, Matteson, Country Club Hills, Tinley Park, etc.

I don't drive on the highway anymore because I suffer from severe anxiety, but my daughter was kind enough to drive me there knowing how over the top excited I get about felt.

Benzie Design Is Located In A Really Cute Downtown Area Of Plainfield, Illinois.

Benzie Design is in a row of cute little shops right across from a little public park with a splash pad. There is also a decent Mexican Restaurant on the corner.

Getting there was really easy and I was so excited to get inside and and look around.

Renae Bradley, the owner of Benzie Design greeted and welcomed us. I told her I was a newsletter subscriber and a member of her Facebook Group and she remembered some of my art and patterns I posted there. We had a nice little chat as she showed me around her cute shop.

Benzie Design Is A Well Laid Out Shop.

As an artist I'm a very visual person and I was so excited to see all the bright colorful felt and other items in the shop displayed in such a logical and fun way. The shop's products are organized in ways that make it easy to find what you want.

My daughter who says she isn't crafty at all, was quite taken with the felt flowers. She's getting married next year and I've been trying to get her to consider a felt flower bouquet. She really did like these and may now be considering felt flowers.

I thought it was so fun that you could mix and match a felt flower bouquet of already made flowers. I wish I had done that, but I will next trip.

My Favorite Display In The Shop Was This One.

 All the colorful felt pom poms in the glass candy jars reminded me of a candy shop and the poms here came in 3 different sizes and so many awesome colors.

Below that the shelves hold 10 sheet collections all tied and ready to entice you with their luscious colors. Then further down there were 1/2 yard and 1 yard cuts of beautiful, wonderful felt. I had colors in mind that I needed but there was so much more that I wanted!

My Second Favorite Display Was This One.

 This hutch was packed full of happy felt goodness. It had 12" x 18" felt sheets, wool roving, kits, books and some client work for sale. Oh and I believe there were some more felt pom poms in the 3 three drawers.

 There was also a "Guess how many pom poms are in this jar" contest too. My daughter and I went back and forth until we agreed on a number and entered the contest.

 To the right of this hutch there was a display of client felt art: pendants, dolls, hoop art and a feather mobile. I'm sure I'm missing some, but you'll have to stop in and see for yourself.

Of Course There Were Bolts Of Felt All Stacked Up And Calling My Name.

I seriously wanted to buy yards of felt in every color, but my budget was yelling "Oh no you don't!" So I didn't, but I will be back to buy more.

Take a look at this lovely ombre chandelier made from felt that is hanging from the ceiling. It is a real showpiece

On the table there was a diy set up to make your own felt pinwheels. If I wasn't so overwhelmed by all the felt I totally would have made one.

You Can't Have A Grand Opening Without Cupcakes!

There was an adorable cupcake and lemonade stand. Honestly, those cupcakes were delicious! I'm an absolute sucker for a good cupcake. I had 2. My daughter only had one and regretted she didn't take another one. There were cups of lemonade too but we had a long drive back so decided not to have any.

And finally even more awesome felt and a smiling Renae and her assistant Courtnye.

I Did Something So Stupid!

I was so overwhelmed by all the felty goodness, getting to touch the felt and physically match colors that I paid for my felt and left...without taking any photos!!!!!

We were walking back to the car when I realized I came all this way and now I couldn't write a blog post about the trip. So I asked my daughter if she'd be embarrassed if we went back in and asked if I could take photos. She said, of course not we came all this way lets do everything you wanted to do. Have I mentioned how much I love my daughter?! She's so awesome!

Renae was very accommodating and even took a photo with me. 


So I Know You Want To See My Felt Haul From Benzie Designs.

I seriously could have spent hundreds of dollars in Benzie Design, but I only did a small stock up of some colors I've been wanting. I usually buy felt by the yard but am running out of storage space in my studio, so I bought smaller amounts this time.

I was given a sweet freebie of 2 note cards with felt heart accents. I just love little things like that, although I tend to keep them rather then send them to anyone.

I bought 6 1/2 yard sheets of the colors I use most in my poly felt since I'm transitioning over to wool blend felt.

Benzie has so many awesome color collections! There were so many color collections that I loved I had a really hard time picking just 2. Glitter and Glass is the top one and has a lovely vintage Christmas vibe. The bottom one I think is Mermaid Lagoon and I just loved the color combo.

 I also picked up some 12" x 18" felt sheets of fun underwater type greens and a Caucasian flesh tone felt.

I got one last fun freebie since I'm a newsletter subscriber. A super cute and colorful garland kit. I'm going to make this and hang it in my studio.

I really enjoyed the field trip to Benzie Design and will go again soon. I wish Renae much luck with her brick and mortar business venture!

If you are in the Chicagoland area and use felt in your art, craft with felt and just love felt I encourage you to take the time and make the trip to Benzie Design.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I Started My Own Felt Craft Lovers Facebook Group And I Want To Tell You All About It!

I searched high and low for a Facebook Group for Felt Lovers and I couldn't find one. How can that be possible I thought to myself? Well I took matters into my own hands and made my own Facebook Group. Yep, that's right! 

An awesome Facebook Group for Felt Crafters! Keep reading and find out more about this great group.

I created my own Felt Lovers Facebook Group.

This group is not just for people who purchase my patterns, it's for anyone who loves crafting with felt. I don't care whose pattern you are using for your project. Just pop in and share what you've got going on! 

I deliberately named it Felt Craft Lovers to include everyone. I could have made a group just for my business and my own felt crafts but I decided to make this felt lovers group for ALL felt lovers.

I promise I'll never try to sell you anything, or allow anyone else to do so! This group is for fun and learning and showing what you are doing.

I have mad love for felt crafts of all kinds.

I'm know there a lot of fellow crafters out there who feel the same way I do! Below are some of the things you can expect from this group:

  • Learn tips and tricks
  • Ask for help
  • Show off your crafty skills
  • Ask questions of fellow crafty peeps
  • Find felt resources
  • Find good patterns
  • Find and share new felt products
  • And more!

 Please tell all your crafty friends and share on social media too!


I'm looking for like-minded crafty people to join this group.

Wouldn't you like a special felt craft group to share your crafty love with? I know I do! My family just rolls their eyes when I start talking felt and crafts. I'm looking for some like-minded folks to craft along with.

Come get support while you work through a project, share your challenges and successes, learn new ideas and share your love of felt with like-minded people.

Who are you to start a felt group anyway? 

Well I'm a soft sculpture artist and a felt craft pattern designer. I've been making plush characters, dolls, ornaments and art from felt since 2008. I know my felt and I have a lot of felt experience that I'd love to share with you.

I'm very approachable and really nice and I love to help people. Helping people is my favorite! Everyone in the group is nice too!

I'm looking for felt crafters of all levels to join us and have fun!


So, does this all sound like something you'd like?

Then please do join the group and show what fun felt crafts you've got going or want to do or need support and encouragement to start. 

I look forward to seeing you in the group! Let's get our craft on people!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Making of A Felt Seahorse PDF Pattern Part 2

I hope you found something interesting in Part 1 of this series and will continue to do so in Part 2. Let's see, we left off at the seahorse pattern cut out of felt and waiting for details.


Making Decisions About The Seahorse Eyes.


My re-design of the seahorse had a very seahorse type of eye, bulgy and kind of weird looking. I really liked the realistic nature of it, well as realistic as a bright pink seahorse will ever be, lol. But then I decided that look didn't fit my style, so I went back to the large dark eye but made it round instead of oval-ish from the original pattern...see below.

Deciding On The Seahorse Details.


I liked the simple stitch detail of the original design above, but needed to clean it up and make it easy to do. The original was sort of a running stitch that I just did, I think. All of these sold so I don't have one to hold and look closely at, and this was a few years ago. My stitching technique is also so much better now, that I cringe a little looking at that photo.

I decided the easiest and nicest looking stitch for this detail would be the back stitch. I will have a stitch guide template for this that can be traced and used to help achieve nice even stitches.

I'm actually free handing my stitches here and am really liking the look of this detail.

After I added the detail to both sides, I simplified the detail by making one main line of stitching all the way down with shorter parallel lines crossing at even intervals. I really like the lighter colored tummy area in felt. I am going to leave the tummy area free of stitching, just don't think it needs any.

Then I added the white highlight to the eyes. This makes them "come alive".

Sewing all the way around and stuffing completes this re-design and making of the felt  seahorse prototype.

I have some small tweaks to make on this pattern and have at this point decided to make this pattern the original "plushie" size, because this size would be difficult for beginners and children to sew. In another post I'll show the size difference between the two.

Well I hope you found this short series about making a felt seahorse pattern interesting in any way and don't forget to check out the first post in this series.

I have another post about the making of a felt penguin pattern, that is more detailed on the terms and the physical making of a PDF pattern, that you might like too, which can be found here. 

If you want to know more about Sassy Packrat Studios, learn felt sewing tips, get special FREE access to my newest patterns, then become a subscriber member click here to join!

Friday, July 1, 2016

New Series: The Making of A Felt Seahorse PDF Pattern Part 1

Doing something a little different today. I get such good response when I show the process of making things that I decided to make it a regular feature.

In This Series, I'm Designing A Felt Seahorse Pattern.

So let's get started! I had an old pattern for a seahorse plush I used to make and sell many years ago. The design was simple, cute and people really loved them. 

When I was trying to decided what pattern to make next for my shop, I thought this would be a really good basic felt pattern that anyone, including children could sew.

 I could have taken this pattern and said o.k. I'm done and started to write it up, but I can never leave well enough alone, so I decided to make some changes to this design, basically update it.

Updating the Seahorse Pattern.

I dug through my computer files and found my original seahorse pattern. It was for my own use so the pattern is a little crudely done.

I was surprised to see that I had a back fin in this design, because at some point, I must have decided not to use it.

I sat and thought about what changes to make to this pattern to make it better and more user friendly. I also looked at photos of real seahorses and I looked at other felt and plush designs to see what I liked in their designs.

 Next I printed out the original pattern and drew on it the changes I wanted to make, scanned those changes into the computer and re-drew the seahorse. I use Adobe Illustrator to draw all my patterns.

I changed the snout/mouth a bit by enlarging and making it longer. I also changed the shape of the belly a bit and also the back of he tail, plus I added a fin to the seahorses back. Really tiny changes most people won't even see.

One thing I did like about some of the plush designs I saw was that the back fin was a different color than the body. In order to do that it needed to be a separate piece, so back to the computer I went.

 I also added a belly piece to give more color and dimension to the seahorse. And here are the pieces cut out to start prototyping.

Starting To Prototype The Seahorse Design.

I decided to reduce the size of the seahorse pattern to make the prototype. This will allow me to make several prototypes quicker too. I'm unsure what the final size will be, as large as the original or smaller pocket size, which seems to be the trend these days.

All the pieces are cut out using a really nice quality poly felt that I have drawers full of, but I can't get anymore. Love this stuff, so soft. When I shoot pics for the final pattern I'll use a wool blend felt, it's more durable and photographs better.

I'm really liking this size, 25% smaller than the original, but we'll see how it goes.

Come back for part 2 on the making of this felt seahorse pattern, for more behind the scenes of how it's done! PART 2 can be found here.

 If you want to know more about Sassy Packrat Studios, learn felt sewing tips, get special FREE access to my newest patterns, then become a subscriber member click here to join!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Worktable Wednesday: FREE 4th of July Printable

We don't do much on the 4th of July. My brother usually has a big BBQ and sometimes I go for a while and sometimes I don't. There's always lots of people there for the whole BBQ cookout thing but since my mom is a vegetarian and I'm a vegan, it's not as much fun as it used to be and honestly I'd rather stay home and chill with my dogs anyway.

We do have a fantastic view of fireworks from our patio, which we enjoy every year. It's a nice perk to our condo that we didn't even know about until our 2nd year living here. 

Are You Ready For Your FREEBIE? 

I will admit I was a bit behind on doing this, I literally sat down yesterday and put it all together from the design to the prototypes to the photos, but the printable I made for you is really nice and I think you will enjoy it.

I love making printables that can be used several different ways. After all that's more fun and useful, right? 

I'm showing 3 different ways to use this one freebie and I know there's a ton more.


O.k. so here is what you will need:

  • The 4th of July Printable PDF
  • A 3 inch round die punch or scissors
  • Tape 
  • 1/4 inch (6mm) ribbon or any kind of string or yarn
  • Lollypop sticks 
  • 90lb white card stock or any weight you have

 UPDATE: there was a problem with the link that is now fixed!


Download and print the 4th of July Printable, kind of a generic name but this is a down and dirty quick tutorial.

Olive photobombed me as I was taking pics by the patio door.

Use your 3 inch punch die or cut out the graphics with scissors.

I like the die because it's nice and precise. 

I'm not even sure what to call this? A straw holder? Holiday straw decor? Don't know but I thought it was cute. So lets make one! 

Gently soft fold the cut out graphic as shown. You don't want a big crease in the middle.

Using the scissors clip about 3/4 inch at the top and bottom as shown. I'm using scissors because I can't find my xacto knife.

Once the slits are cut slip the straw into the bottom slit as shown.

Then slide the straw thru the top slit as shown and you're done!

Guess what? Turns out this is the only straw in my entire house! I wanted to show a whole group together, but alas no.

Ready For The Next 4th Of July Idea?

Make those 4th of July cupcakes really stand out!

Take one of your graphics and a lollypop stick.

 Tape the stick to the back.

Now you've got a 4th of July cupcake topper. 

I also didn't have any cupcakes. Down and dirty crafting here you guys!

UPDATE: Found some mini cupcakes so I could take a photo for you guys.


Ready For The Last 4th Of July Idea?

 Who loves garlands? I do!

Cut out a bunch, bunch meaning how many you think you'll need.

Punch 2 holes sort of as shown. Doesn't have to be perfect! Tip: use a regular size hole punch if you are using the ribbon. It will work better and the graphics will lay flatter. I didn't and wish I had!

Thread ribbon through holes as shown and keep going until they are all threaded on. 

And ta da! A cute 4th of July garland!

And here is all 3 ideas together.

Isn't it weird how my studio pics are so yellow but my pics in the kitchen, that actually has yellow walls, is so bright and white? Maybe I should start shooting all my photos in the kitchen from now on, lol!

I hope you all have a Happy and Safe 4th of July and I hope you enjoy this 4th of July printable!


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