Today’s blog post comes from an exclusive Cloth Paper Scissors article on felting. What is felting, you ask? Editorial Director Jeannine Stein tells us: “Felting is the process of melding fibers together. Needle felting uses a barbed needle to mat fibers and fabrics together; by jabbing the needle repeatedly into the materials they begin to connect and meld. The same process can be done with special felting machines, which look like sewing machines, but use felting needles instead of regular sewing needles. Wet felting melds fibers together with hot water, soap, and agitation. To felt all-wool knitted garments and fabrics, wash them in very hot water; this agitates the fibers and causes them to tighten.”
The results? Beautifully textured fabric art, no matter what technique you use.
|Moonlight (felting project, 18×11.5) by Jackie Bowcutt|
Needle Felting Project by Jackie Bowcutt
While walking in a local field, looking for inspiration for the theme of “Change, Disintegration, Transform,” I came across a partly disintegrated rabbit’s skeleton. I was so moved by the fragile bones and intricate markings on the tiny skull that I carried it home and began to sketch and photograph my find. It became an on-going source of inspiration.
At the same time I was introduced to a felting machine, which opened up hours of experimentation. I discovered that small fragments of material, wool tops, fluff from the felting machine, and more, could all be used to make interesting surfaces. I will explain some of the techniques I have used in the decorative pieces shown here, and I encourage you to develop these ideas further as you work on your own art.
- Base fabric, soft, cut to size (I use acrylic felt, but you can also use handmade felt.)
- Muslin, cut slightly larger than the base fabric
- Padded surface (Layers of newspaper work well, or use a towel covered with plastic and then a drop cloth.)
- Source material: a sketchbook, photos, etc.
- Acrylic paint, black
- Sponge, small
- Stamp (Use polystyrene or fun foam to make a custom stamp or use a purchased stamp).
- Felting machine (I use a Baby Lock® Embellisher.)
- Sewing machine with free-motion capabilities
- Thread (I used black and white.)
- Scissors, fabric
- Acrylic felt, small pieces
- Sewing needle (I used a Chenille needle, Size 18⁄24.)
- Embroidery thread
- Yarn, wool
- Wool tops, a small amount
- Punch (I use a Japanese hole punch.)
- Embellishments (Optional; I used buttons.)
|Felting project: figure 1. Visit stitchworks-jackie.blogspot.com to see more of Jackie’s mixed-media art.|
1. Place the muslin on the padded surface. With your source image as your inspiration (figure 1), dab the black acrylic paint onto the stamp with the sponge and then print your design onto the muslin.
|Felting project: figure 2|
2. Place the muslin on the felt, and felt them together, working from the center outward, and then free-motion stitch around the printed shape. (figure 2)
[For more resources on felting projects, fabric art, and all things mixed media, visit the Interweave store today during this 50% off sale (some exclusions apply).]
Raise the Surface
Try any combination of the following techniques to create your own felted work of art.
1. Add texture. Felt within the shape from the back side of the work. This will add texture to the shape. Build up texture on the front (right side) of the work with snippets of muslin. (figure 2) Keep working on both the right and wrong sides of the piece to get the effect of shading.
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|Felting Project: figure 3|
2. Add fleece. Place small, cut pieces of fleece on the back side of the piece, felting them in place. Flip the piece over and free-motion stitch some circles on the front of the piece, over the area where the fleece was placed. Use high tension (7) initially and then gradually reducing the tension (2). The circles will pop up as you stitch. (figure 3)
|Felting project: figure 4|
3. Add felt circles. Cut circles of felt and place the circles on the wrong side of the piece. Felt the circles from the wrong side, and then free-motion stitch around the circles on the right side, (figure 4) using high tension initially and then gradually reducing the tension as previously described.
|Felting project: figure 5|
4. Use the fluff. Felt small circles of the fluff produced by the felting machine on to a piece of felt. Cut circles from the felt, slightly beyond the felted fluff, and free-motion stitch around the fluff in the center of the circle so that this area is raised up and surrounded by a collar of felt. Add running stitch by hand. (figure 5)
|Felting project: Figure 6|
5. Hand stitch. Do some hand stitching with the yarn. I used a knotted cable stitch. (figure 6)
Felting Tip: If the layers are hard to stitch into by hand, work mainly into the top layer.
6. Add more stitching. Felt, and then free-motion stitch over the hand stitching to knock it back. (figure 6) Use any stitches that will add texture.
|Felting project: figure 7|
7. Embellish. Cut some shapes out of the felt and punch holes in the felt with the Japanese hole punch. Stitch the felt shapes onto the piece and further decorate around the shape with free-motion stitching and buttons. (figure 7)