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Originating in the tropical regions of the Americas, sweet potatoes are a root vegetable enjoyed by many cultures around the globe. Both the skin and flesh of these tubers can be found in a wide combination of colors, including: beige, orange, purple, red, white, and yellow. They are typically planted in late spring and harvested between September to October once they are desired size. Though most people tend to use the names sweet potato and yam interchangeably, they are actually very different from one another. Lastly, did you know that the sweet potato is actually part of the morning glory (flower) family!?
This material list is a comprehensive collection of anything you may need to complete the project exactly how it’s shown. Feel free to use whatever you have on hand to make this project to your liking, as these are only suggestions. When I make felt food, I like to include as many realistic options as I can as an additional way to incorporate learning into dramatic play. For this reason, you’ll see a range of colors included in this tutorial.
Start by selecting whichever sweet potato variety you like, and cut out two (2) pieces of matching felt using it. You can accomplish this step using a printer and scissors or Cricut/Silhouette with heat-bonded felt, whichever method you’re more comfortable with. Use the link below to download both the printable .PDF and cuttable .SVG files. They have been sized appropriately, so scaling isn’t necessary unless you’d like a larger or smaller result.
|Sweet Potato Variety||Pattern||Felt Color|
Once you’ve pinned the two pieces together, move on to the next step.
You may choose to complete the next step by hand or using a sewing machine. If you intend to sew by hand, I highly recommend using a back stitch for increased durability. I made my first prototype completely by hand and can attest to the surprising strength you can achieve using this method, though it is MUCH more time consuming. (I think it took about a half hour to complete the seam edge of one potato!) Anyways, using either method, sew around the edges of the piece leaving about 1/8″ (3mm) seam, creating gap of about 1.25″ (3-4cm) where indicated on the pattern.
Turn the piece inside out through the hole left from sewing and stuff with your preferred filling. For this step, make sure to pack it rather dense to get the best results from the dimpling process. If you don’t add enough filling, the divots won’t be as defined, and the potato will look less realistic.
Using a ladder stitch, close off the opening used for filling and hide your thread tails.
Once you are done sealing the opening, give yourself a generous length of thread and pull your needle to the middle of it, doubling the thickness. Optionally, if using embroidery floss, consider using multiple strands (2-6). You’ll be creating the “eyes” in this step, and they need more durability due to the tension they’ll be under.
It’s time to create some dimples and give this sweet little potato some character! This step is pretty straightforward, but somehow difficult to describe, so I’ll try my best. I’ve included a series of photos in the slideshow below to help demonstrate the method used.
To start, insert the needle from one end through to the other side. Being careful not to reuse the exact same hole, push the needle in next to where the thread exited, coming out at your initial entry point. Pull the thread tight until the potato starts to divot and tie a knot with the thread tail to secure it in place. Now you may freely repeat this technique, going in, out, then back in next to the exit hole to create as many dimples as you’d like.
Because this is only a two piece pattern, it’s important to place the dimples on all sides to create the most depth; Otherwise it could appear much more flat and two-dimensional. There’s no specific placement required here, just do as many or as little as you feel appropriate for your piece. Also, remember to vary it up if you are making multiple potatoes, as there’s never two things in nature that are truly identical.
When you’re happy with how it looks, stick the needle through a dimple that was already created, pulling the thread through most of the way, leaving a small loop at the end. Push the needle back through to the other side, going through the loop you just left, and gently pulling it tight to secure it in place. Guide the needle back through the hole (again), coming out through the edge seam and tie a double-knot to finish.
Look your piece over for any stray ends that didn’t get tucked in yet, give it a few squishes to help redistribute any filling, and most importantly, enjoy!
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