Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Surface Design Elements

We've been playing around with surface design elements and techniques recently at the well-being centre, things for adding texture and depth to felted landscape pictures. We're working up to doing some detailed pieces which we'll add hand stitching and free motion embroidery to. We started off doing really simple landscape pictures, using nothing much more than textured wool rovings and a few embellishments:

Hollow tubes of wool, which I can't help calling 'wool kebabs', because they're made by wrapping wool wisps around a bamboo kebab skewer, have lots of potential for creating texture and interest not just for felted landscapes, but on any felt piece. These are a collection I have from using the skewer to clean by hand carders:

I made some felt samples to show the tubes being used simply, so they can inspire ideas rather than influence how they're used. I made lots of different black/white/grey tubes/kebabs. For this first sample I used black Merino and a blend I got from a Botany Lap waste bag. The shiny fibre looks like bamboo or viscose. I just used 5 pieces on this:

For this next sample, I covered the whole piece with the wool tubes, these were mostly quite 'hairy' rather than smooth because I used some coarser blends. The neat rectangle really changed shape with the areas of different shrinkage according to how thick/thin it was in places:

I think the blend I used for these had a few brownish shades of wool in. These were quite texturey too. I don't know which wool I used for a base. I think that was from a Botany Lap bag too. I think this is my favourite:

I bought some stripey wool from wollknoll a couple of years ago, and thought this would make some nice wool kebabs. I used them on Black Merino, and they turned out really nice too:

I took a pile of the wool tubes to the well-being centre for a play around and thought I'd see how laying them in 2 different directions worked out. I put the middle lot of tubes on first, then the diagonal ones at the top, then filled in the gaps at the sides with a couple more on each end. We were talking about the bag of dyed embellishments I'd taken in and I pulled out some cotton and fluffed it up, and noticing some gaps on my layout, thought I'd add it to show how it felted. It looks like a kind of futuristic landscape, in a non gloomy or dystopian kind of way:

I thought I'd try making a felt piece with the tubes kind of crammed on, instead of laying them out neatly next to each other, because they tend to move a bit and leave gaps. I didn't over do it, just added two or 3 more than if I'd positioned them. I also wanted to see what the tubes looked like if they were stretched, so I pulled some from each end until they were the right size to fit accross the layout:

One surface design technique I've always liked to play around with is wool twists, so simple, but so versatile and effective. I used quite a lot of the tops from my weird grey/black and white botany lap waste bag for the twists used on this first one, plus a few blends of my own:

I like how it looks on an angle:

I thought it'd be nice to show twists used simply because not everyone wants to make something which looks 'real', I cut the twists in half, and then made some little woolly balls to go in the gaps:

It has a kind of swaying seaweedy feel to it:

I think the wool twists are self explanatory, but I thought I'd make a short video showing how to use the kebab skewer to custom make the wool tubes, and at the end is using the skewer to get the trapped fibres out of hand carders which is where the idea originally came from:

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Project Updates

I promised photos of the blue/green bag I was in the process of making, though it really doesn't look too much different to the separate panels :) This is the front, or more blue side:

This is the more green side:

 I also made a smaller bag with some of the green pieces. Side 1:

 Side 2:

I've only got as far as making the last of my nuno strip pieces into panels for a bag. It was this yellow piece:

I used various types of fabric–cotton, viscose, silk, suspected silk, so got various textures:

I liked these two strips next to each other, they showed the very different way felting/shrinkage affected them:

I used some of the spare offcuts from the orange piece to make up the panels:

 I showed some half finished purses not so long ago. I finally finished all the blanket stitching and buttons/buttonholes:

I also had some others I was at various stages with, and finished those too:

It's nice to have a growing pile of finished projects instead of a growing pile of felt pieces waiting for the inspiration (and energy!) to make them in to something!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Blues and Greens

These are the blue and green nuno pieces I made using fabric strips a few weeks ago. I tried to include a wide range of colours as well as various fabrics. This one was a mix of blue, purple, green and turquoise:

The two viscose pieces either side of this silk chiffon have great ripples, the chiffon just sunk in. It's one of my favourite fabrics, from a dress I got at a charity shop and didn't realise was silk until I used it and saw how it sunk in, and went back to search for the label.

I've noticed that some fabrics attach better if they are in the middle or aren't too close to the edge. I'll try a sample with just this thick blue scarf piece at the end, and see if it attaches better not so close to the edge.

All the fabrics I used on this piece were silk or strongly suspected of being silk:

It looks much better close up, and on an angle – the lighter pieces seem to reflect light a lot:

You can see the textures better too:

I think I made the strips a bit too long on the green piece, a few of these didn't attach well along the edge, even though the rest of the pieces did. I usually try to make sure I work on edges, so I don't know why it happens sometimes:

Slightly closer:

I did think I'd probably make one mostly blue bag and one mostly green, but once the strips were cut up and moved around to see which others they looked best with, it didn't work out  like that! Also, being conscious of how bags wear more on the back, picking pieces to work best there also influenced the final outcome. These are the two panels I made for my next bag:

I have to remember to take photos of it sewn up for next time!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

More Nuno, More Sewing

One thing I realised when I was making the bag I showed last time is that I was running out of offcuts. So decided to make some more. I suppose technically they're not offcuts if I make them with the intention of cutting into strips, but you know what I mean :) I made a few different coloured nuno felt pieces:

I loved the variety of textures I got from using different fabrics on the orange piece:

The red piece was made with all silk pieces:

This is a corner of the red piece with sunlight on it:

Before I got too attached to the pieces, I cut them all up into strips:

I made a mistake with some of them, because some pieces weren't very wide. I should have left them 'whole' instead of cutting the strip in half like I did the others. I started with the red and orange strips, and matched up some pieces, it turned out some of the purple strips worked well to so I used some of them. I made them into a passport style shoulder bag. I made this side as the front:

I made the back to match, but different enough that it can be reversed for a different look:

It's not very easy to see, but I finished the bottom of the strap off with some wooden beads.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Latest Sewing Projects

I got some new tubs to organise my felt off-cuts and project pieces recently, and while I was sorting them out, I put a few strips to one side to make a new camera bag. I've been using my current one for about 18 months, it was kind of a prototype to see how it would hold up to being used, and happily, it's still in one piece, but some of the felt pieces I used were too soft where the bags rubs against my hip. I used all nuno pieces for this one. This is the front:

If I feel like a change, I can flip the bag around:

While I had the sewing machine out, I thought I'd make a coin pouch with one of my bigger offcuts, I try to be more careful when cutting out these days, to keep pieces as big as possible intact:

Luckily, I never did get around to putting the sewing machine away, so when I finally finished blanket stitching the tops of some coin purse pockets that I cut out a few weeks ago, I could sew those up too. Here are some pink ones:

This is what they look like closed:

The next step is to round off the corners of the front flaps, then stitch all around with blanket stitch. I think choosing the right thread for the blanket stitch can take as long as the stitching sometimes! I had to make a make-shift table out of a cardboard box to put all the things waiting to be stitched, that stack of boxes on the right is about 9 of the thread drawers I have:

At the beginning of last year I made a nuno sample piece with some strips from a viscose scarf and a linen scarf. I thought it would make a nice pencil pouch. I made myself one a few years ago and use it almost every day. The idea is to use an extra long cord to wrap around to close it instead of a zip or other fastener. This is what it looks like closed:

This is the back when it's opened:

And, inside, I lined it with some nice fabric I got a few years ago:

And, while the machine is still out, I may as well ... root through all those offcuts I tidied away. This is a bookcover I've been working on, the front, inside front sleeve, and the back is finished. Here, I'm planning the layout for the inside back sleeve. I thought I'd make enough for a future one while I was at it, so made it extra long:

Friday, 28 April 2017

Fauvism Challenge

Over on The Felting and Fiber Studio we have Quarterly Challenges. The First Quarter Challenge was from Ruth, it was a Fauvism Challenge. I was late getting mine done, and if you want to see some of the other brilliant entries, you can do here. I kept changing my mind about what I wanted to do, I thought I had finally made my mind up, but then looked at other entries and remembered a felt picture I made from a photo my sister took. You might remember it:

I took the original photo (without permission!) and altered the colours in Photoshop:

I'd had in my head that Fauvism was really bright, but the more I looked, the more I saw muted colours, unsaturated shades. There's one particular jade green that I started to see everywhere! I simplified the picture to get the colour bands:

And added some 'accented edges':

Then I blended the last one and first one together:

A lot of the Fauvist paintings had roughly blended brush strokes and patchy areas so I blended some colours for each band to try to get that effect:

I don't know which photo shows it better:

Then I added embellishment fibres for more effect, this is some Kapok on the pink, there's a bit of silk on the blue, trilobal nylon on the orange, and nylon staple on the blue:

 I don't know why I did that second band blue, I can see it's green on the photo, I clearly wrote 'green' on my template, and somehow chose blue! Maybe I tilted my laptop screen back too far (good excuse!) I did realise before felting and changed it:

The other embellishments and fibres I added are: some dark blue wool and light blue nylon for trees at the top; some green wool and red nylon for trees between the top orange row and blue one underneath it; green and yellow viscose staple on the green layer and some dark blue nylon for a hedge. The track lines are wool; I used viscose and nylon on the lower orangey band, and the blue/purple band at the bottom has dyed cotton nepps and nylon staple fibre added. This angle might show them a bit better:

I was quite disapointed when I looked at it, still wet, pegged on the washing line to dry, it looked so dull and flat:

It looked a lot better when it was dry, but I put lots of detail in the original one, so it still looks dull in comparison. If I ever get brave enough, I'll try some free motion stitching on it!