Sunday, 13 April 2014

Felt Collage Book Cover

I thought I would make a new book cover from felt off-cuts that I've saved. I used a piece of interfacing cut a little bit bigger than I needed for the front and back, and started adding the pieces of felt using exaggerated stitching in contrasting colours. When it was finished, I cut it to size and made the strap and flap for closing the book and attached them with the sewing machine. Then I made the pieces for the inside sleeves, cut them to size and attached them using my sewing machine too. This is the inside front sleeve, I made it stiffer by sewing lines up and down the felt:

This is the inside back sleeve, I used strips of blue and green felt offcuts and overlapped them and added detail with the sewing machine:

After I'd attached the sleeves, I sewed blanket stitch around all the edges with sewing thread, to finish it off. This is the back of the book cover:

This is the front with the flap open:

This is the finished cover with the flap and delrin clip closed:

I'm pretty much done with flickr now, the latest changes have made it too difficult for me to use, apart from the dreadful claustrophobic 'design', the white on black messes with my eyes and causes a lot of vision problems. I'll still check there for comments etc, but all my new uploads will be on ipernity:  It's a nice site and easy to use.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Another Felt Hat

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my first felt hat. I had a think about how I could improve on the design and resist and thought I'd give it another go. I also thought more about shaping it and blocking it to get a better shape. This time I used an upturned glass bowl with a couple of microfibre towels and bubble wrap on to finish the felting/fulling. Last time I said I'd used mt head and for some reason most people who commented on the Felting and Fiber Studio site had a vision of me with soggy soapy roving wrapped around my head frantically rubbing for hours! :) What I really meant was for pulling the hat into shape and the final fulling stage, I used my head. This was the finished hat:

As it dried, I removed the bubble-wrap and added the lid from a storage tub, this gave the top a flatter shape. I kept checking the size, and removed another towel and let it dry with just one towel and the lid over the bowl. This is the flatter top.

I increased the size of the resist slightly, but this time only used 2 layers of wool, I thought this would keep it softer, and not shrink so much. The idea worked in theory, but the amount of fulling I had to do to get the correct shrinkage caused a lot of wool migration which makes the hat look very fuzzy and the colours are dulled. This is the wool migrating through and over silk:

Yellow and red wool migrating through blue:

Wool over silk and cotton gauze:

I might shave it carefully to remove some of the fuzz. You can see the shape a bit better from underneath, and I had the narrow sides again, where the edges of the resist were, I'm working on ideas to prevent that for next time.

I mentioned in my bag post last week that I'd been looking at eyelet kits, but couldn't decide. I'm glad I couldn't, because while I was out on Friday I had a good look around a 'bargain' shop and found myself a kit for £2.50. I also found a pack of 2 rainbow luggage straps, which I'm hoping will be perfect for the drawstring channel of my Pollock bag. If not, they will be perfect for something else! I also found some woven cord too, which will be ideal for drawstrings. I got a couple of different colours of this.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Drawstring Felt Bag

My girlfriend bought me a bike a couple of months ago and a big sturdy lock for it. There's nowhere to attach the lock to the bike though, so I thought I'd make myself a drawstring bag just big enough for carrying the lock and a few tools. The first bag I made turned out a little too small and a bit thin on the bottom so I've put that to the side for now. I used a bigger template for the next one. I started working inside out and laid out some pieces of silk and cotton gauze in shades of black and white for the front. I was just going to use black Merino for the top layer, but compared to the black, the silk looked blueish so I used some dark 'midnight' blue Merino aswell. This is how the front turned out after felting:

On the back I started with a piece of black silk chiffon, I thought it'd help reduce pilling (bobbles) if the bag rubbed on my back while riding. It really sunk in and isn't really visible unless you look really hard! I used some grey merino with the black for the back.

I wanted to keep the natural top edges, but it seemed simpler to cut it straight across for adding the webbing I wanted to use as a channel for the cord. I cut the bag at the top at each side, slightly smaller than the width of the webbing I was using, then I sewed the webbing on with the machine, leaving each end open. You can see from this photo that I used some scrim for a lining on the bag.

I blanket stitched along the top edge to make it look nice.

I'd originally planned to use eyelets at the bottom for the cord to go through, but after looking online I had a choice of spending a small amount of money for a few eyelets and a little plastic kit, or a large amount of a money for a really sturdy metal looking kit and about 400 eyelets. I'm not planning on making that many bags, so I decided to just cut the holes I needed and blanket stitch around them :)

I attached the cords so that the shoulder straps were also the drawstring closure. I used spring toggles so that I can shorten the straps too in case the bag hangs low while riding.

And this is what it looks like closed. I must admit, I was surprised how well it turned out!

On The Felting and Fiber Studio, Ruth challenged us to make something inspired by Jackson Pollock. I thought of many things to do for this, one idea was to do wool and wire sculptures based on some sculptures Jackson Pollock dabbled with. I thought about 'action painting' some silk, but in the end, I thought I'd do something based on some works of his that weren't action paintings. They had large areas of coloured shapes, this is a good example. I thought I'd 'modernise' it a bit though and use brighter colours and silk and gauze pieces. And since I was enjoying making bags, I thought I'd use my idea and make a bag at the same time. The bag turned out great! The design though, was a little bit bright, and really, not in the slightest like a Jackson Pollock painting!

I need to get some nice webbing or braiding for the cord channel, but I'll show the full bag when it's finished

Sunday, 23 March 2014

My First Felted Hat

Last time I posted, I'd been working on a hat template. A couple of days later I got a chance to work on it. I made a resist out of a large piece of dense plasticy foam stuff I had, probably some kind of packing material.

I made a batt from some browns, greens and rusty orange Merino for the first couple of layers. I laid the first layer on the resist, wet it down, flipped it over then folded the wool in and finished the first layer on the other side. I repeated this colour on the second layer, but laid the wool at 90 degrees. For the third and fourth layers, I used more greeny shades, then I added some torn silk pieces (bottom right photo)

I felted it until it was holding together, then removed the resist. I knew it would be hard work, but hadn't realised just how hard! I seemed to rubbing and shaping for ages. I thought a bowl I had would be good for fulling and shaping, but it was only good for a while, so I finished fulling and shaping it on my head. I didn't consider that it would shrink some more so it ended up a bit too small. Using my head made it more of a cloche hat than a bucket hat too. But, not bad for a first go, I think.

The brim wasn't very even, though it did feel good being smaller at the back.

I don't think the brim was wide enough at the front either. Some of the silk pieces came off and I realised I should have worked inside out.

And, upside down it does look a bit like those moulded cardboard bed-pans :)

I might rework the template and try again. Maybe :)

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Folder Cover and Hat Template

A few years ago, I made some fabric collages. I didn't do anything with them for a long time, but eventually they all became notebook covers. I had one left, a large blue one:

On a whim, a few days ago I decided to make a cover for a ring-binder out of it. It wasn't quite big enough, but luckily after a bit of a search, I found some of the backing fabric I'd sewn the collage onto. I used this to make the front sleeve. But first, I used a spare piece of the collage to make a little pen holder.

I used an offcut for the back sleeve.

I used some nice braiding I got a while ago for the straps, and hand stitched the edges with regular sewing thread, and little blanket stitches.

The other thing I worked on this week was making a hat template. I had the same one for years, but when I cut my hair, it was too big, I have another, but I've worn that in the garden, so I used it to make a template. It was a bit like tracing around a lampshade or coffee cup to make a template, I had to roll it...and then squash it, and  bend it :) Eventually I had what looked like my hat. Using Photoshop, I went over the curves with the circular selection tool and drew lines between the edge to where the top curves intersected. Just to make sure it was even, I copied one half, flipped it over and joined the two halves.

Now, all I have to do is find the time to make it :)

Friday, 7 March 2014

Surface Design Using Resists

I haven't been very well lately and haven't had chance to do anything other than tidy up the mess I let accumulate while I was writing my notebook tutorial :)
We always seem to be talking about surface design on the Felting and Fiber forum: stitching, embroidering, embellishment fibres, beading etc. And there have been quite a few projects using resists lately too: Lyn's pod that she posted about on The Felting and Fiber Studio site last week, Nada's resist Slipper tutorial, and Carole from the forum showed us her gorgeous sculptural vessels with lots of surface design and embellishment.  A couple of months ago, Nada reminded me of some projects I'd done using resists to create surface design, so having nothing new to post about, I had a look through my photostream for some examples and hope you don't mind revisiting some old stuff!
I think this was the very first piece I made using resists to create surface design. I wanted to have a go at trying out lots of different ideas at once, so made a piece using six resists to try out different cuts/shapes.

I wanted to try out using resists with more contrast between the top layer and what it revealed underneath. This one has green/brown/mossy shades revealing slashes of orangey brown shades of wool with embellishments of silk noil, bamboo, silk hankie and  soya fibre.

This burgundy piece is cut away to reveal orangey mustard shades with soy bean fibres.

I think this next piece is probably one of my most adventurous. The resists and cuts were fairly straightforward, but it was quite big, very thick to make it stiff enough to support itself, and I used a flat resist - not something I ever have much luck with for a 3d shape!

This last piece is one of my favourite vessels. I love the colours and textures and was really pleased that it came out just how I'd imagined!

If you're interested in using resists in felting, Ruth did a post on The Felting and Fiber Studio quite a while ago about using flat resists for different hat and vessel shapes. Also, Lyn and her daughter Annie (Rosiepink) have written a brilliant PDF guide to making 3D vessels using flat resists. If you are interested in all aspects of surface design, Fiona Duthie has an online surface design workshop starting soon and has info on her website.

Friday, 21 February 2014


Sorry I haven't written a blog post for a while. I've just finished a  tutorial with everything you need to know to make a piece of flat felt and turn it into a book-cover with a flap closure and delrin clip. It took forever because I started toying with the idea of doing workshops and started working on updating and expanding my Wet Felting tutorial, and I also wanted to do the tutorial for making the book cover, and in the end I decided to combine them.

I thought I'd never finish, but I finally got it uploaded to the hosting site yesterday (hopefully, I did it right!) so I'm giving away a copy on the Felting and Fiber Studio. It's a 59 page PDF and has lots of different sections and loads of photos right through the whole process of planning, making a sample, laying out the wool and fibres, wet felting, cutting out the pieces, and sewing it together. For more details you can read the full blurb on my projects page.

 You don’t need to do anything special to enter, just go over to the Felting and Fibre Studio site and leave a comment on the post there. If you’d like to spread the word through your blog or facebook etc, it would be very much appreciated but it isn’t a requirement. I will randomly draw the winner 6 days from now, on Thursday 27th February 2014, so please check back on the 27th to see if you’ve won, and leave a comment on the announcement post so I can contact you with the download information.

 Also ... together with the tutorial, I am giving away a custom 'Project Pack': enough wool, fabrics and embellishment fibres to make a sample and piece of felt big enough to make a cover for an A5 notebook ( they're about 21 x 15cm or 8 x 6") a delrin clip and embroidery thread. I'll make up the wool batts to your specifications, whichever colour theme you want, which embellishment fibres to blend in, some texturey wools if you like, etc.

I'll even do a pink theme if you like ;)