Friday, November 16, 2012

The Making of a Flannel Friday Post

I get tons of emails asking for help getting involved with Flannel Friday (YAY! Keep them coming!), but since I'm a visual learner, I thought I'd show you step-by-step what goes into one of my Flannel Friday posts. This is my process, but I'm sure the other bloggers involved have (probably better) other ways of doing theirs.  This is the behind-the-scenes version of today's Flannel Friday post "Nobody Likes Me."

Let's get started! First we need an idea. Ideas can come from anywhere, but I was reminded of this summer camp singalong classic from the 2013 summer reading manual when I received it months ago. Instantly I knew I had to flannelize it. I had a vision of a black silhouette face and fun colored worms. 

Step 1: Create a pattern. Some patterns I can draw (on paper or in Microsoft Paint). Human faces are beyond my drawing skills. So the first place I turned to was Open Clip Art. I searched "silhouette" and Score! Someone had posted a plain man's face in silhouette. I also searched "worm" and that was a little trickier. Most of the worm images also included apples or other icons that I'd have to edit out to use. I thought it would be easier to use this earthworm and stretch and distort him into the appropriate size for templates. I copied my worm and silhouette images and pasted them into Microsoft Publisher* (where I make all my patterns). At this point, my project looked like this: 


Next, I cropped and resized the head until I got it exactly how I wanted it. I like to make the main piece in a flannel as big as possible so everyone can see. You also get the best yield out of pre-cut felt sheets that way (slightly smaller than a normal sheet of paper). 

Next, I added a second page to start creating my worms. I was able to distort the original worm into several different worms by stretching the image's corners. Here's what they looked like at that point (the original worm was the top one): 


At this point, I was happy with how the pattern was looking, so it was time to print it out and test it. 

Step 2: Test the pattern. After printing my pattern, I cut it out. Then I picked a new sheet of black for the face and bright scraps for my worms, like so:  



I taped each template piece to the felt. I like to use lots of tape loops on the back to minimize the possibility of the pieces shifting for the best cuts. On smaller cuts, such as the worms, I place the tape like this: 


I get the best results when I cut the trickiest parts of the piece first, before it begins to shift from the tape being cut through. In the case of the worm, that would be the tail and with the silhouette, the face itself. Another tip when trying to cut a straight line (not relevant with this template), is to keep your scissors on the table instead of picking them up to cut. I learned that tidbit from a sewing book and it has changed my life. 

Then I grabbed my fabric scissors and cut out the pieces. The mouth is a little small on the template, so I just cut a little triangle into it, so it would be wider. After all, the whole song is about eating worms, so you're going to want to see the mouth! 

Here's what the head looked like when done: 

And here's the worms and the head together: 


Now I knew that the templates worked. So I could move on to the next step. 

Step 3: Decoration. I wasn't sure at the beginning how much decorating I wanted to do, but the worms didn't look finished just yet. So I had got to bust out the puffy paint! I dabbed some on to the worm faces to make eyes. After that dried, I used a permanent marker to finish the eyes and draw on a smile:



Now my pieces were done, but since this was for a Flannel Friday post I still had a few more steps to make. 

Step 4: Take photos and write the blog post. Self-explanatory, I hope. I use all Google products** because they integrate so nicely. The blog itself is written and hosted by Blogger. Photos are uploaded to Picasa, then edited in Creative Kit (also the step where I write "So Tomorrow" on the photos as a watermark). 

Step 5: Create and upload the template PDF. When last we saw the template, it was sitting around in Microsoft Publisher as a regular .pub file. It's easy enough to save it as a PDF, like so: 

Once it's a PDF, I was able to upload it to my Google Drive account. Here's how to do that: 

Click upload button on top left and choose Files from the menu: 


Find the file to be uploaded and click upload:


Click Change (to edit sharing settings):

Change to "Anyone with the link": 


And click save! Then I copy the link and go back to my blog post to put it in.

Step 6: Schedule the post! I tend to write several Flannel Friday posts in advance and then schedule them to post automatically. (This post was written in October!)  I aim to post Flannel Fridays every other week and tend to write them in batches of 2 or 3 a day. I try to be about a month ahead of schedule. I write down the dates my post will be going up in my desk calendar, so I remember to watch for the round-up link to submit my posts.

That's it! PHEW! 

*Why Publisher and not Word? Mostly because I find it much easier to get the image exactly where I want it on the page in Publisher. But Word would work too if I didn't have access to Publisher. 

**I like to use all Google products so I only have to remember one username and password, but I am going to be in serious trouble if they ever have a system-wide failure.

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