by Annette Ringeisen
In today’s post, we bring you Part II of the project, (Part I was posted last week, with a tutorial on dyeing your wool fabric), which includes transferring your design into the fabric by a special felting process. Brought to you by Living Crafts in two parts, Annette Ringeisen, an accomplished fiber artist, and Living Crafts magazine contributor, teaches you how to dye your own wool fabric, felt your design, and prepare it for any sewing project you wish.
Today’s tutorial is sponsored by ArtFelt offering a huge giveaway at the end of this post! Here comes Annette in her own words with Part II:
Thinking of a Design
My idea is to embellish my fabric with a needle-felted design, and I’ve chosen two images: a bird sitting on a branch and a branch with red berries. This process is going to be very different from what I am used to. I tend to be very “free hand” in my designs, but I want a repeated design for this project, so I must work with patterns. First, I create the patterns by drawing the design on a sheet of, either, ArtFelt paper for felting or a stabilizer (one that that will wash out).
Next, I copy each design onto a square of the stabilizer (I use ArtFelt paper). I copy the designs over and over again. Wow! How many squares fit onto just one yard of fabric? If you are like me, you might not want to know. It’s better to just get started, knowing you’ll be impressed with yourself when you count up all those squares later.
I feel like I finally can get started…
… on needle felting that is. Fortunately, I have a table that I can leave everything set up on; otherwise, I would have to roll up my fabric every time and also clean up my needles and fibers.
So first I lay out the squares across the fabric to see how I want it to look. Keep in mind what you want to make. Will you need all the pictures facing in the same direction? Is it better to spread them randomly? How close together should they be? I recommend picturing the final piece in your mind’s eye, maybe even sketching it.
Using the felting needle and wool fiber, I start filling in the pattern. It is almost like coloring in a coloring book. I put felting foam underneath the square I am working on and move it to every new square.
Though you will only need a small amount of wool fiber for each square, this amount, of course, multiplies by the number squares you have. In the beginning, you are making just a rough outline, but as you move along you will needle more precisely. Moving the felting needle up and down into the background will felt the fibers together. In the beginning when fibers are still “loose,” they can be moved. Once they are tightly felted they should not be pulled out again.
This is what I am singing in my head right now!:
99 felted squares on the fabric, 99 felted squares. Felt one down and pass to the next, 98 felted squares on the fabric.
Yes, I have never before been so happy to be done with a needle/wet-felting project!
I say this, but do not let it stop you from trying this project because, in the end, it is all worth it!
It is time to wet felt!
Remember: the design is tightly needle-felted into the fabric, so you needn’t fear it moving around. On a large piece of bubble wrap spread out the fabric and wet it down with soapy water (olive soap or Ivory dish soap and water). Cover it with bubble wrap and roll it up. Moving it back and forth will felt the fabric in one direction, so after a few minutes switch the direction and roll up the fabric the long way.
In order to get rid of the stabilizer, pour boiling water over the entire fabric. I was able to do this in the kitchen sink. Once done, the fabric can go into the washing machine to shrink it down a little more.
But now that I am finished, I am thinking…oh, wouldn’t it be nice to make fabric like this to cover the old armchair, or maybe the sofa in the other room… You know, the pillows could really use a new cover…Well, I decided I want a soft, warm jacket for myself. Here it is!
Artfelt is sponsoring today’s tutorial, with giving away two each 5′ x 10′ pieces of ArtFelt paper each valued at $45 plus 20 hanks of wool roving in a variety of colors, each weighing 50 grams, each valued $10.50. Total retail value is $255. To enter drawing, please leave a comment on this post by end of the day Sunday 16th, 8:00 p.m. EST.