Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Yarny Vessel

A few years ago, I wanted to make a felted vessel for my girlfriend, I had an image in my mind of how I wanted it to be, and I wanted it to be 'perfect', so it took a few attempts, but I was finally happy.

I used two of the practice vessels to make some 'woolly vessels' by needle felting locks onto them. One of them was this white vessel. I needlefelted locks of Angora, Alpaca, Wensleydale, Bluefaced Leicester and Kid Mohair onto it, then put it through the washer to make sure the locks were secure, and because a lot of them were unwashed locks.

Another one I made was this bluey green one, it reminds me of something from under the sea or around the coast. This has dyed locks of Angora, Alpaca, Wensleydale, Devon, Bluefaced Leicester and Kid Mohair. And I used texturey wools like dyed Icelandic and scoured lambswool to secure the locks.

Around the same time, I had the idea for making a really colourful texturey vessel, by needlefelting pieces of handmade yarn and wool twists onto one of my spare practice vessels. I had quite a large stash of handmade yarn and often made wool twists for projects so thought it probably wouldn't take much longer than the other two had. I was wrong! :) It took a lot longer... about 3 years off and on. I probably could have finished it sooner, and I did have phases where I would make up twists and add them, or sit spinning yarn for a few hours then cut it into pieces when it was dry and spend a few hours needling pieces onto the vessel but it never seemed to get any closer to being done! This last weekend, not feeling well enought to tackle my half finished business plan, I decided to try my hardest to finish it. I got out all my left over yarn, stashes of wool blends and a drop spindle and set to work making a big pile of wool twists and a long length of plied yarn to cut up. I also got out my box of very thin felt offcuts and wetted and rubbed some of those to add too. I didn't want to wet the yarn and wait while it hung and dried, so after snipping it into lengths I wet and rubbed one end to 'seal' it and stop it unravelling. After needling all the pieces into the bare parts of the vessel, I finished off around the top, tidying it up and securing the loose fibres. And this is the result:

And then I put it into an old pillow case and put it in the washing machine with a normal load :)  It looked like this:

I unsquashed it and gave it a few shakes and spins, ran my fingers loosely through the twists and yarns (there's a few strips of silk and organza n there too) then sat it on a tub to dry overnight. And this is what it looks like this morning:

I know it's taken me a few years to finish it, but I kind of feel like making another one now! :)

Friday, 7 December 2012

Clasps, Closures and Fasteners

I decided to change the closure on the notebook cover I made from felt offcuts a few weeks ago. As much as I liked the button closure, I wanted something a little more secure. I had a hunt through my craft drawers and found a bag clip I’d salvaged from something I threw away (I recently discovered these are called Delrin Clips) and using some more felt offcuts, attached this instead of the button.


One of my WIPs at the moment is a small shoulder bag, just big enough for a camera and purse. The closure I’ve used on this is a metal magnetic bag clasp. They’re quite easy to use: each half comes in two parts, you need to make a small cut in the fabric, push the metal ‘prongs’ through, then add the little washer and fold the prongs in. I haven’t decided yet whether to cover the top with more felt or maybe a large fimo button.


This got me thinking about all the different kinds of claps, closures and fasteners I have. I have the usual buttons, zips, poppers/snap fasteners, hooks and eyes etc, but I also like to salvage and collect any I find cheap. I have a few sizes and shapes of Delrin clips, either salvaged from old bags or bought cheaply. The small ones in the Top left photo are slightly different than the 'usual' ones, they take a cord type of attachment rather than a flat webbing or ribbon type of fixture. Not so long ago, I saw cheap packs of dog and cat collars and leads in Poundland (like a dollar store) and couldn’t resist buying a pack, which gave me a few Delrin clips and Trigger Hooks (Top Right). I’ve managed to add to my collection of fasteners while I’ve been doing a lot of clearing out and tidying up lately. I salvaged quite a few lobster style trigger hooks, D-rings, split rings and key rings from old or broken or unwanted items (Bottom photos)


Most of the Delrin clips I have do take a flatter attachment though, so I just had to buy some nice braid for attaching them when I went to the fabric shop the other day :)  Aren't they gorgeous?!

Do you have any interesting clasps, closures or attachments? Do you have any tips for salvaging or buying them cheaply? I’d love to hear your ideas :)

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Fibre Art Swap and a new Tutorial

Over on The Felting and Fiber Forum, we're having our first Holiday Fibre Art swap. My partner was Heather Woollove. This week, I received this gorgeous snowperson from Heather.

It's so beautifully made, and if you click to see the photo bigger you can see it has great texture with gorgeous shiny locks of wool (or maybe mohair?) I'm going to try to get an LED tea-light to put inside, so it glows at night like a huge snowman vessel :)  Ruth and Judy were each others' partners and they've both received their swaps and posted about them on their blogs. Ruth:  Judy:

I posted a tutorial on the Felting and Fiber Studio site today on how to Batch Edit photos using Photoshop. I don't know about you, but I spend too much time editing photos as it is, so this is a great way for editing a whole load of photos all at once. I'll also post a link in my Free Tutorials page at the top of this blog. If anyone has any ideas for tutorials, anything felting or fibre related, including Photoshop etc, please let us know either in comments here or on the studio site :)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Catch Up 2

I feel terrible for neglecting this blog so much lately. It seems like the past couple of months have been filled with endless phone calls to people in government agencies trying to get on a scheme to become self employed. It's like trying to do a jigsaw when you don't know what the picture is meant to be, it seems that  everyone I speak to knows just a very small part and doesn't really know who else I should speak to, but the bits are starting to fit together, finally! Hopefully all the hard work I've been putting into my fabrics and fibres project will amount to something worthwhile.

I haven't really had time for much felting, but I did get a sewing machine off my mum and have played around on that a few times. I started just by practising straight lines on a spare piece of nuno felt, then attached a few shapes with zig-zag stitch. I then folded the piece and stitched along the sides to make a small bag/pouch.

I also did some zig-zag borders on some felt offcuts to make bookmarks. I added a few felt offcuts to some of these too.

Recently I decided I needed to sort out all my felt scraps. I had two huge boxes of them, roughly sorted, but hadn't really kept up with keeping them separated or neat. I tried to organise them into lots of different piles, depending on length and width, and got some old margerine tubs and labelled them to encourage me to keep them neat!

Once they were all sorted, I went through and chose some nice pieces to make myself a collage notebook cover. I cut a piece of craft felt a bit bigger than the size I needed, then added strips and pieces of felt offcuts to it and zig-zag stitched them in place. I really like the way it came out :)

 What do you do with all your felt or fabric offcuts?

Monday, 15 October 2012


We're having a Giveaway over on the Felting and Fiber Studio site. I have raided my fabric and fibre stash and put together lots of goodies perfect for embellishing felt. There is lots of shiny things, including some crinkly synthetic fibres.

There is also some novelty yarns/fancy fibres: some long pieces and some shorter lengths

There are lots of different types of fabric pieces and 'scraps', silk, synthetic fabrics and organza

Some natural fibres and top, Top L-R Egyptian Cotton fibre, Crimped Viscose fibre, Bamboo Fibre. Bottom L-R: Flax, Ramie, Banana top.

Plus lots of other little things I keep adding as I think of them :)
For all the details head over to the Studio site, all you have to do to win is leave a comment on the post
Good Luck! :)

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Catch Up

Sorry for not posting anything for a while. I think I've just had too many things going on at once, and I don't know about you, but when I've got so many things I need to do that I don't know where to start, I usually end up putting them off longer! One of the main things I've been working on is getting through my huge pile of WIPs.

As part of my other fabrics and fibres project, I had lots of unfinished pieces waiting to be made into things...unfinished camera pouches, pencil cases, iPod cases, mirror cases, purses, glasses cases... not to mention lots of pieces of felt waiting to be cut and pinned and sewn to add to the pile :)

They are mostly finished now, and one of the biggest tasks was photographing them all. For a while I just had 2 cloths for photographing-a black piece and some natural calico, but after struggling to get a few photos right, my girlfriend suggested using neutral colours like a brown or grey, so it ended up being a mammoth task taking photographs of about 30 felt pieces on 4 different backgrounds, not to mention the fun of going through and deleting all but the best. At least now that Summer is over, the light is better and getting good shots is far easier :)

I even had time to make some felt just for fun recently, which was really nice. I probably went a bit over the top with all the different fibres I blended with the wool and all the different fabric and fibre embellishments I piled on the top, but it was nice to make something that wasn't controlled or being made with anything in mind for a change :)

Have you been working on anything just for fun lately?

Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Complete Photo Guide To Felting

As you probably all know, I collaborate on The Felting and Fiber Studio site with 3 other fibre artists. One of the other artists is Ruth Lane, a fibre artist and gallery owner from Montana, USA. Ruth has been felting for several years now, and is very skilled in wet felting and needle felting-both by hand and machine. Last year she started work on her book, The Complete Photo Guide To Felting. Ruth did all the research; sourced fibres and dyed them; sourced many different breeds of wool and animals fibres; washed, dyed and carded wool; made felt samples; designed projects and wrote tutorials; and photographed everything herself. The book is now available to buy. It is an invaluable source of information on all kinds of felting and is suitable for a beginner or advanced felter. The instructions are very clear and understandable and there are over 800 clear, informative photos in the book too, aswell as galleries of felted artwork from artists around the world. The book is packed with expert tips and advice learned over many years of felting.

  The book is available through Amazon and The Book Depository, but if you'd like to buy the book directly from Ruth, and have it signed, please visit her blog

You can also have a sneak peek at the inside from when Ruth got an advanced copy

Lyn from Rosiepink has written a book review if you'd like more info

Monday, 30 July 2012

Handmade Greetings cards Using Handmade Felt

I don't know about you, but I never throw any pieces of felt away, however ugly or small. Even the tiniest slivers cut from the edges of felt get saved up for re-using, usually between the layers of textured felt. I was looking at some of my smaller pieces and wondered if they’d be any use to my mum who makes her own greetings cards, so I asked on the forum if anyone knew the best way to attach felt or fabrics to card. I got some good advice and when Ruth and Lyn both said the easiest way is to sew them on, I thought I’d give it a go myself.

I spent a good few hours cutting, measuring and scoring card, cutting out felt, choosing colours of thread to use…and then my machine wouldn’t work :( I think I must have done something to it when I tried to sew organza, no amount of cleaning and oiling seemed to help, it just kept making grinding noises and chewing the thread. But, a few days later, it was back to normal! It must have needed the oil to soak in or something.

So, I got all my supplies out again and started sewing away. Before long, I had a nice pile of almost finished felt greetings cards. When I was asking on the forum about attaching the felt, Lyn also suggested using cards with a double fold, so that the sewing on the back could be hidden. I do have some of these, but they have an aperture, so weren’t any use.

After lots of measuring and dividing and practising, I worked out a good system for scoring the cards so they folded well. I used standard A4 size card, cut in half, so that I had two long strips. On the back side, I measured 98mm in from the left side, and 99mm in from the right, and scored gently. This left the centre panel where the felt would go, approximately 100mm wide.

After working out where the felt would go, I then sewed it into place. You don’t need a fancy machine, mine is an old electric Singer without power :)

Once all the felt was attached, I turned the card over and added a couple of strips of double sided sticky tape.

Once the flap is folded over to cover the sewing you have a gorgeous, unique greetings card :)

I’ve made a PDF file with more photos and more detailed instructions. If you’d like more info on how to make your own cards, just click the link below

Do you use fabric, felt or fibres for greetings cards? Do you have any photos or tips you’d like to share?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Rachelle Gardner

Rachelle Gardner is a mixed media artist from the US. At the moment she is focusing on fibers and textiles. Some of her recent work is lace felt which she creates by free motion embroidery on water soluble stabiliser and hand dyed wool which is then lightly felted to produce beautiful pieces in rich colours with intricate designs. On her blog she has examples of some of her recent work and also a post showing the process.

Rachelle is also about to embark on an adventurous project transforming her 2-D lace work into large scale 3-D sculpture.

If you'd like to know more about that, visit her Aspen Project website, there's even the opportunity for you to be involved and help with the costs of the project. Everyone who helps out receives a credit and also a reward of beautiful unique artwork, made individually for each person.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Book Review: Creating Felt Artwork

Creating Felt Artwork: a step by step guide

This is an excellent, information packed, 60 page, full colour e-book by Rosiepink fibre artists Annie and Lyn. Using one of their own pieces, 'The Meadow' as a guide, they show you a step by step process and give you all the information you need to make your own beautiful, unique felt artwork. There are lots of nice, clear photos throughout, and simple but detailed instructions with lots of excellent tips and advice. Before the main part on how to create your felt wall hanging, there is a great section about finding inspiration, how to interpret your ideas into a design and planning your artwork.

The information in the main step by step guide, is excellent. It starts with a detailed equipment list with lots of hints for using inexpensive items you'd find around the house, and advice about preparing your work area. The instructions for how to lay out the wool for your design are very clear and detailed, and there are lots of photographs to illustrate each stage. There's a very detailed explanation of the whole felting process and valuable information about choosing other fabrics and fibres to add to your design.

The next section teaches you how to enhance and embellish your artwork with simple machine embroidery. This part is packed with information and advice too. There's everything you need to know about stabilising your felt artwork and choosing the right colours and types of thread to work best with your design. There's information about techniques to create the effect you want and how to add detail. This section also has advice about adding hand stitching and how to use machine and hand stitching create effects and texture and also about using other fibres for adding extra texture and detail.

Once you've finished your felt art wall hanging, you'll want to display it. There is a great section on how to back and hang your artwork simply and effectively, with clear instructions and photos. But if you'd like to display your artwork a different way, there is also a separate section on alternate ways to display your artwork and how to care for it.

There's information and tips throughout the book for techniques to help you realise your own design and create your own unique artwork. This includes how to make and use prefelt for more control over your design; how to re-use spare felt in the same way; using yarn and small drafted sections of wool for design, and adding other fabrics and needlefelting to enhance your artwork.

So, what if you've followed all the instructions and you're not happy with the way it turned out, or maybe you made a few sample pieces to try out your colour choices and don't know what to do with them? There's even a section for that, with some great ideas on what to do with spare pieces of felt.

And don't worry if you're an absolute beginner and have never tried felting before, or don't really know what all the felting terms mean, there's a glossary at the end with everything you need to know and an appendix with a complete step by step guide to making felt, with lots of clear photos.

This really is excellent value for money. It's an invaluable source of information and advice about creating beautiful feltwork and enhancing it simply with easy tips and techniques. And the great advantages about being an e-book is you can have it instantly and zoom into the photos for even more detail :)

If you'd like to own a copy visit Annie and Lyn's website It's also available on Craftsy

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Cotton Gauze

Do you ever use lightweight cottons in your felting work? I’ve been quite busy lately working on my project of ‘other’ fibres and fabrics used in felting. I’ve been making a lot of felt pieces using lightweight cotton fabrics like muslin and cheesecloth. Another fabric I’ve used is Cotton Gauze, this is also known as ‘Scrim’, and I’ve used a couple of different types. This is some of the dyed pieces I have.

The gauze is really good for creating texture and effects. I’ve been making some large bold pieces to use for bookcovers.

I’ve also made some smaller pieces with resists, using the gauze for texture. This piece was for making into a pouch.

and this became a textured sculptural vessel

I’m starting to have a huge pile of colourful, texturey felt pieces all waiting to be made into something once the weather gets too hot for felting. This is a close up of a large piece I made for making a purse and matching mirror case out of.

The lightweight cottons also work really well for using in scarves and wraps instead of the usual silk. Do you use scrim or cotton fabrics in felting, or fibre art? How do you find it to work with? Have you ever dyed your own? (My hands are currently a strange shade after using red, blue and brown dyes this week!) I’d love to hear about your experiences with it and see photos if you have links :)

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Free Tutorials and Silk Paper Update

I've added a new page to the blog so it's easier to find the links to my free tutorials. The new page is just under the blog banner. The tutorials are mostly photosets on flickr, but there are also some PDFs. All the tutorials were written by me and photographed by me and took a long time to do, please respect all the effort that went into them, they are for personal use only and not for reproducing or selling, thanks :)

I did get around to trying out the silk paper sheets that I made not so long ago. I first tried using the tufty bits from around the edges of the sheets to see how the paper felted. The piece I made looked a bit pale, so when I layed the wool out for the new piece, I used darker blues and purples for the background.

I was really pleased with the way it felted, though for some reason it shrank unevenly. The first piece I'd made had also shrunk unevenly, but I just assumed it was the way I lay the paper, so there were more fibres running in one direction. But both pieces had two equal layers of merino and I didn't pay particular attention to the silk paper fibres and which way they ran, and since most were two layers it shouldn't have mattered.

You can see from this angle that the silk paper felted in really nicely

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Silk Paper

Over on the Felting and Fiber Forum, we've been discussing silk paper recently. It started when Pam showed us this gorgeous silk vase  and then a beautiful silk box made from delicate silk hankies, threads and angelina fibres. Then Karen was inspired to try making silk paper and after finding some silks work better with different methods made some gorgeous pieces. Once the hard work had been done ;) I thought I'd give it a go too.
I decided to just jump in and try it with spray starch. I'd read a few years ago that it was possible to make silk paper by spraying a layer of silk fibres with starch, adding another layer of silk fibres and spraying that, then covering with baking parchment and ironing until it was dried. Well, it's almost that easy. It's hard to get the spray starch onto the fibres without blowing them away, so it takes a bit of practice to get the spray to 'drizzle'. I found it helpful to spray first, so I got an old piece of cotton cloth and layed it onto brown parcel paper, sprayed the cloth with starch, added a layer of silk, drizzled then sprayed starch onto that, then added more silk, more starch, then covered with another layer of cloth, another piece of parcel paper and ironed. The results were mostly really good. A few times, the layers wanted to separate, but I then had two layers of finer silk paper.
This is 2 layers of mulberry silk:

This piece is 2 layers of mulberry silks and tussah silks. I tried to make it two sided. This is the front:

And this is the back:

This is also two layers of mulberry and tussah silks:

And this piece is made up of two layers of fluffed up mulberry and tussah silks, silk throwsters waste and silk hankies:

This is one layer:

This is from one of the first pieces I made. The layers of tussah silk and dyed mulberry silks separated, so I was left with a layer of mulberry silk (which I used on another piece) and a piece of honey coloured tussah silk paper with subtle colours from the mulberry silk dyes staining it. This is the piece before felting, with the silk paper cut into a few shapes:

And this is how it looked after felting:

It kept the shapes really well, even the wispy tufty bits from around the edges.

I'm hoping to try the wallpaper paste method soon. I recently got the book 'Handmade Silk Paper' by Kath Russon, recommended to me by Lyn from Rosiepink. All I need to do is actually start reading it instead of just drooling over the pictures :)
Have you made silk paper or paper from any other fibres? Do you use it in felting or something else? I'd loved to hear about it or see photos.