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61  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Discussion and Questions / Tutorial: Basic needle-felting Pt2 - Making a small mat on: September 05, 2005 10:58:48 AM
Needle Felting  Pt 2 the adventure continues -  making a small flat mat, sampler, mug rug, doily, picture, etc

This is so picture heavy am started  a new topic so hopefully will load faster.  Please consult Needle Felting Tutorial for basics  regarding supplies & work area.  https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=51271.0

Needle felting a flat piece can result in a truly flat surface, however it can also be a relatively flat piece with high relief in the design.  The flat technique shown here is also a basis for making larger pieces such as  hats, seat cushions, etc.  I have as is my bent - showen it in extreme detail - hopefully not entirely boring detail.

The first sampler from my hands, made it following suggestions in Ayala Talpus book.  Just so you know from whence I came. 

In the several years since then, have worked out my own style - Ayala Talpus basic tenet  that the fiber felts in the direction it is moved by the needle,  RULES my work.  I also use the wet felters layering of fiber in cross directions to achieve a dense tight felt.

Making a small mat/ sampler

Gather a variety of fibers -- batt, roving, yarns  Hopefully the result will be eye appealing but it can also just be a test piece to experiment with how various fibers respond to the needle and how the fibers work together.  Do the needling on a foam cushion.

This example uses generic ivory batt for the base.  Roving can be used for the base.

Gently pull fiber into strips - In the center of your foam cushion work space, lay strips lengthwise to form a rectangle or square, overlap strips slightly, 

add a second  layer on top of the first, place these strips perpendicular to the first layer strips.

Start needling with needle at 90 degree angle to the fiber, move about in an all over fashion to adhere the fibers together and begin the felting process.  Needle just deep enough to go through the wool piece, not into the foam pad.

It can be done with a single needle,  if you have a multi-needle tool the process goes faster

The piece will start to firm up in the center, with the edges a bit wispy.  Pull the edges up and lay on top of the piece. Needle from top; also begin to needle sides.  Remember you can put the needle in at any angle any direction, as long as you bring it out at the same angle and direction.  Straight in -straight out - no twists, or  sidewise moves of the needle tip once it enters the fiber piece.

This method gives a thinner center and a sort of frame to the edge.  At this point begin shaping and firming the edge.  Using directional needle strokes into the edges.

By now the bottom of the wool piece is starting to stick to the foam cushion.  Ease up one edge and

continue  gently easing  the piece away from the cushion - keeping fingers near the area being lifted so the piece does not stretch out of shape from pulling.

Turn the piece over and needle from the other side.   Work on firming the piece with a circular pattern and needle angled toward the center - this pushes the wool to the center and you may see the piece shrinking in size before your eyes as you continue in ever expanding outward circles with your needling.

Hold the piece up to a light - look for even density of the felting wool -- if the light shines through more brightly ah ha! you have identified a thin spot -- you want it even so to get the whole piece to the same density add a patch of fiber to thin spots.

Patches will totally blend into the piece if the patch is thicker in the center and tapers off to wisps at the edges.  Needle from the center of the patch to the edges  as you blend the edges, start working the needle at very shallowangles.

When the center has an even density and the edge is firmer and thicker the piece is ready to begin the decorative component -- Think of the initial steps as preparing the canvas.  Lay a fluffy portion of fiber in the center- this is like primer paint.  If you want dimension and texture to the piece you can begin creating that now. 

Needle pokes in one spot will give a hole, needle pokes repeated along a line will give an indentation.  If you have chosen to do a sampler, just play with making holes and lines.  You can  go back and needle surrounding areas until the piece is even on the surface, if you wish to work from a truly flat piece.

Again if you are just playing - you can take strands of roving of various widths and poke them into the piece - noting how they adhere.  Do the same with yarns.  Try writing your name; or mug rug or test; with yarn, poking that into the piece.  You will find it doesn't work well to lay it out the word and poke it.  You may want to think of the yarn as ink that needs to flow along as you move the needle - try it - lay a line of yarn and see what happens when you poke it in from one end to the other.  now hold the yarn in one hand, and lead it just a little,  as you poke the yarn into the piece with the needle in your other hand.

Sometimes the design migrates as you work the piece  -- In this one

I started thinking of making a face -- needling holes for the eyes and a line for nose and mouth (may not be real clear in the photo)

It did not look much like a face - I saw a tree - so took some heavy yarn and laid it out for a trunk with branches.  Poked that in - hey nice

thought cherry blossoms - added some wispy bits of pink roving  - Ok but needed leaves

added green roving - Yuck!!!!!!  getting worse.

Ah ha!!  turned it upside down - nice pumpkin starting ---- just kept adding bits of yarn and roving and shaping with needling.  Narrowed the was trunk now stem by holding needle at a shallow angle and tapping it from edge of stem toward center - that pushed the fiber inward.  Added a leaf with the thick green yarn - pulled apart a strand of black yarn to get a thin strip to make veins in the leaf.

Did not have any orange roving out - but had some orange yarn -- outlined the pumpkin in the orange yarn, then destroyed the yarn by pulling it apart with an ordinary hair comb.  Then carded it to a roving like consistency by putting the pieces in a cat slicker brush and pulling another slicker brush over the first.  (Real wool carders are expensive, but for small jobs in needle felting - like smoothing tangled roving or destructing yarn the pet brushes work well).

Keep playing with the fiber and needling until you feel the piece is done.  You can make the surface totally even and flat, or you can leave texture as has been done with this one.  Make it as soft or as firm as YOU want  considering your fiber - some fiber will never felt stiffly.  However, be aware the looser the felt the easier it snags and pills.  A denser piece usually is more durable.

The color does come through to the wrong side - this just shows you have the color well locked into the piece.

Mug Rug DONE!!!!

***** Oh one thing to note - many pets are attracted to needle felted wool pieces, so observe your animals reactions- if they are prone to making a meal of wool felted pieces that is not so good, for your work or for the animals tummy.- thus place functional and decorative felted pieces with care. 

On the other hand they may feel like they are snuggling up to a lamb and take over  a larger piece such as the seat, cushion or chair  . like my friends cat Bob with this chair I traded her (I got a fab painting, she got a needle felted chair).  Bob is content!!!!!!!!


In no way do I present this as an end all be all - just sharing the way I work in hopes it helps someone else move along faster in theirs.

 As always comments on ways to do it better, easier, cleaner, or to get better results are welcome.

62  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Treasure bag from Vintage neckties on: September 04, 2005 06:14:34 AM
Enjoy making reconstructions, especially from silk neckties - and challenge myself to keep the "essence" of the tie.  Trying for a "recognizable" original within a pretty and newly functional item.  One of my favoites are these "treasure bags" 

So what do you think? ? ? ?  Hope you enjoy them too!  Thanks for looking.
63  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / My latest design- Felt Wristlets Img heavy on: September 03, 2005 04:32:31 PM
Am always trying new purses, bags and accessories- Have a booth specializing in vintage hats at local Antiques Mall, but also put in some original hats and etc.  The littles often bring in  the "rent" -  have been working out a wristlet that will keep change and small things securely while retaining nice style.  Am pretty happy with these, but would love input on functionality as well as if you'd carry one.  My sales are only local, so if you like these will be more than happy to share how to make them.  These first are in acrylic felt - now that I've got the pattern down plan do some in finer fabric as well - such as wool felt with needle felted designs.  But FIRST -- would love some feedback.  Thanks so much,

The first three - working out stitching order

The button one was first -  woops coins fell out  so added a zipper but kept flap  for second two -- much more secure - but flap, flapped  about so added a bit of hook &loop tape (aka velcro) to hold flap in place

The next two - enhancing design

View inside

View back of bag

But best of all - shared the design with two 10 year olds and here is what they sewed

Thats it.  Comments, questions, ideas all welcome.  Thanks for looking.
64  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Completed Projects / Pink pig Needle Felted onto purse on: September 03, 2005 10:40:51 AM
Thanks to teamwang for the great inspiration.  Her NF applique mushrooms https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=51296.0  lead me to thinking of truffle hunting pigs...... and soooooo  viola

trufflesnuffagus was born
and now adorns
a tweedy little
pocket poke

Its all bedecked
with ribbon and glass
for a dear pig
Who rates first class

Thanks teamwang!!
65  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Discussion and Questions / Tutorial: Basic needle-felting overview on: September 01, 2005 01:54:22 AM
Needling for Newbies - a  tutorial for craftsters goofy enough to use wicked sharp barbed needles to create soft lovely felted stuff

Needle felting is relatively easy and many people can achieve a nice product.  There is a risk of injury to self or others as the needles are long, barbed and extremely sharp.  Plus the needle is jabbed into the work near holding fingers.

It is extremely important to identify a quiet work space where one can focus and remain attentive while felting.  Being bashed with a ball, bumped by someone roughhousing, or having a young child or pet grab the needle can lead to disaster.

***note to youngest craftsters***  You are welcome here as long as you use responsible judgment in the use  of felting needles, if you are allowed to use a steam iron without supervision,  can handle a sewing needle without loosing it on the floor, are good about putting away tools you most likely can manage a felting needle.  You know your parents, follow their guidelines and ask/share what you are doing with them. 

First step - Identify a safe work area and storage area.

Second step - gather supplies - felting needles, wool fiber, foam cushion/pillow for work surface

stop here if you like it brief , and commence poking the wool
- if you want details - lots of details continue reading :-)

Felting needles - to start one will do but two is grand

  look for

38 gauge -- the workhorse -- bigger of the two (needles get smaller in diameter as the number gets bigger)

40 gauge -- the finisher -- takes forever to make a project with this fine needle, however it leaves a smoother surface- so great to use at the end to finish the project

WARNING********Store felting needles with care and out of reach of young children.  The needles are loooong, barbed and extremely sharp - will really tear flesh.   Kind of like a multi fanged fish hook without the bend.  My preference is to store felting needles with the tip covered or with the tip stuck  in a wool ball  in a closed box or canister.

Felting needles are fairly brittle.  Needles break easily if twisted when poking into the felting piece or if hit on a solid object -like the table top.  Hence the foam work top. 

Some people find the skinny needle tops difficult to hold and make handles out of corks.  Personally, I use them as is when single needling.  For large jobs one can buy multi-needle  handles.  Mine is a nice turned wood one that holds 5 needles at a time for large projects (got it from Mielkes). 

Wool fiber for felting

Wool Batt and or wool roving

white is batt     red is romney roving     purple is merino superwash    blue is romney roving rolled in a ball (this is how it  is sold)  the red and purple have been pulled off into working lenghts.

Wool batt is lightly processed fleece - it has been washed and carded.  It is  rolled off the carding drum and packaged.  (Batts come in huge big rolls - are mostly used inside quilts and comforters, also for inside of futons, and for wet and dry felt making).

Usually wool batt felts really well, fairly quick,  and gives a firm tight felt

On the other hand it often has a  dull appearance and  the surface will frequently show obvious poke holes -- pitted appearance

Batt is a good filler - for center of 3D item and good mixer with other fibers.

Roving - the next step up the fiber chain.  Roving develops from a lengthy  carding  process; the drum keeps circling until the fibers  run straight  and lay in large wrist thick strands on the carding drum.   Roving is easier to handle and dye than batt, so you will find it in many colors.  Roving is used to spin yarn - so if you know a spinner find out where they get their roving or see if you can get some odds and ends of roving from them.

There are good felting rovings and poor felting rovings.  So ask  about the roving before buying. 

I often get romney roving from Mielke Fiber Art Farms.  These felt firmly with medium level of effort, they work fairly fast with the workhorse needle (38) and will look best if surface is finished with the smaller size  needle (40) especially if a smooth surface appearance is desired. 

For beginners avoid superwash roving -
I know because this is what is available in my town - I was so excited roving was locally available- alas- It turns out it has been treated with a process called superwash to make it washable and keep it from shrinking.  The spinners like it, because they can spin it easily and then when they knit things, the item can  be laundered easily with no shrinking.  However, the superwash calms down the natural scales on the shafts and those scales are what make the wool fiber felt well.

Wool Yarn

Wool yarn will be used for details, wrapping, etc.  Felting is a great way to use up scraps and bits.  Tapestry yarn, Needle point yarn, Crewel yarn -- look for 100% wool

Foam cushion or pillow for work surface

At least 1 inch thick, 2 inches is better.  Identify a work space at a table with plenty of room for the cushion on top of the table.  Working a project in your lap - even over a cushion can be risky -  it is way too easy to poke thighs, tummy, and various tender body parts.

Definition of carding, roving and picture of carding drum

Ayala Talpai  "The Felting Needle:  from Factory to Fantasy,  second ed 2001; published by Diligence Woodwork & Design,   ISBN # 0-9706453-0-9

Anne Einset Vickrey,  "Needle Felting: Art Techniques and Projects", published by Craft Works Pub. 2002  (www.feltcrafts.com)  ISBN 0-9619053-2-8

http://www.mielkesfarm.com/flt_ndls.htm   (info about needles, etc - an internet store) there are many others as well, this is the one I happen to use most

If you have other resources to recommend let me know and I'll add them to this list. 
66  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Discussion and Questions / Terminology, felting, fulling. Does it make anyone else NUTS?????? on: August 20, 2005 05:52:31 AM
Oh my gosh, I must be a purist  Roll Eyes  It is truely distressing to see the broadening of the term "felting" .   The problem is that the broadening of the term, mades it less specific.  To me a felted purse, hat, or etc is something crafted from basically raw fiber (clean, but not preprocessed, preprocessing would be spinning, knitting, crocheting, weaving, etc) .  In pure felting, the craftster uses a process of wet, dry or a combination of wet and dry felting to get the fibers to adhere together.

Here are the terms as I understand them.

Historically felting, felt -- signified a non-woven, non-knit, non-croched fabric / item.  One that was made from fusing the fibers with aggitation (either wet or dry) until they adhered.

In wet felting, the process of fulling is where the fibers shrink in length and fluff in width.  Some call this blooming, or bulking up the felt.

When fabric is washed in a machine, this is a type of fulling -- it is an intentional shrinking and blooming.

Just food for thought.  Are semantics important.  To some yes, to others no. 

I confess, it does bother me.  Though am coming to accept, that the word is out in general usage and is not going to be reversed. 

Just needed to put my concern out there.  Not intending to be snippy, simply having a personal struggle as a word/terminology purist.  Can you help me be more comfortable with this or expain non-woven felt making more clearly to others?  Thanks.


It bothers lots of feltmakers - there have been discussions on this on the feltmakers list - it leaves feltmakers in a dilema of how to clearly explain and differentiate their work.  Here is a link with definitions and info from feltmakers aspects for those who would like more info.

67  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Completed Projects / Laminate Needle felted using Embellisher - hat, scarf, purse, wrist cuff, brooch on: August 12, 2005 08:49:39 AM

IMHO, these are fun to make, fun to wear, roving punched into necktie interfacing
Purse - orig. posted Aug 30, 2005

The design on the flap on this purse was created using a Yvonne Porcella applique pattern but instead of using fabric, the design was filled in by  needle felting roving and yarn into fulled wool.  I use a combination of hand needling and machine needling - though it can be done all by hand (which is what I always did before investing in a needle punch attachment for my sewing machine).  It simply gets done faster with the machine driving the needles.  Works much like machine freemotion embroidery, but no thread in the needles - plus it uses multiple barbed (needle felting) needles.

Comments, questions welcome.  Smiley

Hats & Scarves on: October 06, 2005 09:11:48

More winter accessories, -laminate needle felted, some hand needling but also machine work using an attachment on a sewing machine that holds 5 felting needles.  With the machine attachment is is possible to get fibers other than wool to adhere and fuse into a fabric base.  

These hat and scarf sets have wool and acrylic yarn punched into fulled wool fabric (woven wool fabric that was shrunk in the washing machine until it could be cut without edges raveling)

here is a pic of the machine attachment at work

Harvest brooches added on Aug 12, 2006

Soft fiber pins to stick on a hat or lapel or ?  Perhaps one could even use them on a vine wreath, but personal adornment is so much more fun.

For a look at a basket full and more close ups,


note:  for the more pointy leaves painted modge podge glue on the edges - read here on craftster where someone used glue on the edges of her fabric flowers to prevent fraying... cannot find that topic again, so unable to post link and appropriate thanks for that idea.  If it is you-- hugs and many thanks.  If  not you, but you recall the link please let me know so I can get back and give thanks.


From Nov 17, 2005  Holly Brooch

note: topics merged during housecleaning boards in Dec 2006 with all photos moved to first post.
68  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Tropical fish skirt - inspired by PurpleHeather and Rick Rack Ruby on: July 05, 2005 09:00:48 AM
Well, first I saw the awesome skirt recently posted by PurpleHeather

and followed her link to Rick Rack Ruby's tutorial  https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=34064.0

Had to make one so here is my version...

tried the rectangle version suggested in RRR's tute comments by Sunny... thanks!! for that idea and in Rick Rack Ruby style added a pin to go with the skirt and a shoulder shawl from the bit left over after cutting out the skirt body.

now since every girl ought to have a quarter, a mint and a key handy --(a quote from a friend with two young daughters) turned the pin into a small pin on purse - just big enough for the above essentials.

Hugs to PurpleHeather, Rick Rack Ruby and Sunny for inspiring in this adventure.
69  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / And now I lay me down to sleep - Pillowcases with deer and fawn & forest edge on: July 03, 2005 03:25:09 PM
Just call me ol traditional, LOL.  Pretty pillowcases make bedtime pleasant.  Have this set ready to enter the county fair next month.  Not the usual crocheted edge though-so not sure how the judges will like it-but I like it.  Tried for a forest like-look  with a brown/green/beige fabric trim and rick-rack too.  Does it work?  Thanks.

70  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 2 ENTRIES / Polka dot pants, beads & ribbon top, curtain apron on: June 26, 2005 04:12:06 PM
Well here goes..... first time trying photos here ..... plus rather intimidating seeing all the wonderful work entered thus far, but what the hay, was inspired in some way by every entry so far so will share what I've done too.

My inspiration for the work done in this challenge was just to stretch my talents and go beyond my usual work.  I sew much, but do little altering or recon of items into clothing.  Also it had to be something actually useable and fit my lifestyle.

Had just finished a spree buying 70% off clothing at local thrift shop when Leah posted the recon challenge.  Mostly got wool sweaters to shrink and make accessories, but had not been able to resist a couple of silk (REAL SILK- OH YES!) tops.  At  size 2X , a little big for me.  

My original plan was just to take a tuck in the back at the neck and wear sloppy.....  well surely that was not quite enough to truly qualify for the recon challenge, so my plans got better and grander.  First did nicer more complete alterations to make the neck smaller and the shoulders more narrow- a much better fit.  Then designer details entered the plan and here is the result

Well that was the top, it compliments a thrift shop skirt purchased last year...... but that needed no changes....  so made a quick stop at Good Will - did not find much to go with the blouse--  searched clothing, linens, draperies-  several drapes where great colors but the rubberized backing put me off.....  just not in my nature to wear rubber skirts- as an older female that is just toooooo hot. and of course if I was going to spend time creating something, it had to be useable.  

OK..... there were a couple of curtain panels and a valence with a pretty flower border.   Still a bit youthful for me, but at least not rubber.  Maybe they would do.

Oh Yikes!!  not enough for a gypsy skirt, and no fabrics in my stash looked right with the curtain.  But oh la la - there in the stash was some polka dot vintage cotton,  circa 1960 maybe - it had matriculated into my stash when a nonagenarian friend died a few years back.  Well not truly within the guidelines, but would be a great base for the flowers from the curtain.  Maybe that would squeak by.  So took the flower border from one curtain panel and used that as an applique.  The new things for me here were thread painting the applique and even doing applique on pants- especially on polka dot pants.  Yes this challenge did make me stretch.  Pretty tame for lots of you, but for me quite adventuresome.  LOL

Well, like the outfit.  But what could be done to make my entry more acceptable within the challenge guidelines.  Ah, a teenage friend saves the day, she suggests an apron out of the rest of the curtain.  Wah Hoo!  Running with needle in hand now.  So used the valence and last curtain panel for a frilly feminine cover-up -  here I am ready to entertain in style.

Move over Colwin Colve (sp?)  

Silk blouse- $0.90
2 Curtain panels - $1.99
1 valence - $1.99

from stash & scraps
Vintage cotton fabric
silk ribbon (about 10 years old)
lace (also about 10 years old)
beads on binding (about 3 years old)

Hope you all enjoy the story and the work, it was fun to participate.

edited twice - but think I've finally got it all
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