let’s start this sew-along off with an original design and free pattern, shall we? i first saw the idea for a marble maze here and thought it was brilliant. i couldn’t wait to try it out and as soon as i had a few moments to myself in the sewing room, i put together three felt mazes, experimenting with different maze patterns and shapes. excitedly, i showed them to the happy toddler when he woke up and he … didn’t get it. (“take-a out, mama! take-a out!”) he wanted to play with the marble and did not understand the subtleties of pushing this invisible marble around inside a felt pouch. so, first modification–make the marble visible. i considered plastic, but thought it might stick to the marble too much and make it hard to push through the maze, so instead i dug through my stash for some sheer fabric. one of the shapes i’d experimented with had been a circle and i liked the way it turned out, so i played around with that shape and it began looking like a snail and thus this pattern idea was born. here are the instructions to make this page:
you will need:
9×9 blue felt
9×12 background felt (will also be the color of the snail’s shell)
scraps of green and brown felt (for snail and “grass”)
8x8ish sheer fabric (you might want to trace the circle and stitchlines from the pattern onto the sheer fabric before you begin, but then you’ll have to more carefully match up the circle on the sheer fabric and the circle on the blue felt .)
how to make this page:
1. draw the circle on your blue fabric with a washable pen (oops! i forgot to wash mine out in the photo above!) or a sliver of soap. the circle should be towards the top left corner, with plenty of margin so you don’t have to worry about the security of the stitching once the page is complete. stack the blue felt on top of your sheer fabric and background felt in the order shown in the photo. you might want to consider cutting your 9×9 and 9×12 pieces of felt slightly larger and then trimming them back down to size after your whole page is constructed. the felt tends to shift a bit during sewing.
2. sew the circle and sew around the entire perimeter of the 9×9 square leaving a gap to push your marble through (between the sheer fabric and the background felt!), then sewing up the gap after the marble is inside.
4. measure the distance between the bottom edge of your snail and the bottom of the 9×9 sheet. cut a strip of green that is that tall by 9″ wide. piece two pieces together if you need to. sew that strip across the bottom of the page (or just let your snail float and leave this step off).
5. very carefully, make a slit through your blue felt that does not go through the sheer fabric. once you’ve made that slit, slide a pair of sharp scissors in and cut close to your stitchline all the way around the circle. this is the most nerve-wracking step, but if you go slowly you’ll be fine. if you’re really concerned about accidentally slicing the sheer fabric, do this step before sewing on the snail or the grass so that if you mess up, it’s easier to rip out and try again.
6. for very young quiet book recipients, you can stop sewing at this point. just moving the marble under the sheer fabric will be an interesting tactile experience and the marble will move more easily than it will once a “maze” has been sewn in.
7. if you’ve already traced the stitchlines from the pattern, great! sew them in, making sure to backstitch both ends of the open circles. if you haven’t traced the lines, you can either a) eyeball it, b) find circular objects that are close in size to the circles on the pattern (the inner circle is a large thread spool) or c) use a sewing machine attachment that will indicate up to 1.5″ away. be sure to check that your marble will fit through that size channel. i’m not certain what size my marble is (normal to smallish?) but it could squeeze through a 1″ channel, and slide fairly easily through 1.25″ or 1.5″ channels.
8. trim loose threads and play with the maze to make sure your marble moves freely through the entire thing.
and that’s it! i hope you’ve enjoyed my tutorial. if you make a snail marble maze, i’d love to see your pictures in the flickr group!