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.