Monday, July 30, 2012

Flower Power Placemats

Last call for those interested in the book, "The ART of Machine Needle Felting" on sale at 25% off until Tuesday July 31 at 9 PM.  Get yours while they last.

Flower Power Placemats

I teach quilting classes in a quilt shop called, "Ladyfingers Sewing Studio" in Oley, PA.  The address is:  6375 Oley Turnpike Road Oley, PA 19547
(610) 689-0068

Ladyfingers Sewing Studio

The owner, Gail Kessler, also works at Andover Fabrics in New York City designing quilting fabric for the rest of the world and carrying it in her store.

Gail Kessler

 Because of that, her shop is always stocked with the lastest collections by Andover and other companies.

Tons of Fabric in Collections

 It is a trip out in the country but definitely worth it.  The staff are friendly and very helpful.

I also live near Lancaster County, PA, which is the quilt fabric shoppers' paradise.  However, many of those shops have lots of fabrics that may or may not work together in a quilt.  Ladyfingers fabrics come in unique collections so if you make the trip you can find all you need for an entire quilt project. 

I fell in love with a particular fabric and used it to create a couple of projects just for fun and easy classes for Beginning Sewers.  The first is a class project designed for the Kids Can Quilt series also using the Accuquilt Go! fabric cutting system. 

Quilt-Go Pillow

Here is the best description of what this equipment does for the fabric and quilt market:

"AccuQuilt offers quilters, fabric crafters and retailers a premiere line of fabric cutters, dies, quilting patterns and other quilt and fabric cutting solutions that help quilters quickly and accurately cut shapes for quilting and fabric crafts. AccuQuilt also offers quilters a wide variety of rich educational resources to enhance their quilting experiences. "

Here is a picture of the machine itself and the dye I used to create this pillow:

Accuquilt Go! fabric cutting system

Rose of Sharon Dye
All you have to do is place 1 layer or many layers of fabric on the sponge-covered metal cutting dye, run it through the rolling machine and out comes perfect cut-outs saving hours of cutting time.

I could see how this could easily be adapted to needle felting.  So I created a project to show how easy that would be.  These are called Flower Power Placemats and they are created with the Flower fabric and the above Quilt-Go! Rose of Sharon dye.

Flower Power Placemats
All I did was to create the placemats first with two fabrics, the main flowers and an interesting blue coordinate to use as a background for the felted flowers.  It looks like this fabric and the Quilt-Go dye were made for each other.

After pieceing together the placmats, I quilted them, washed them and blocked them by pinning them on my design wall in front of a strong fan.

Then I created the felted flowers.  I did that with the following directions:

1.      Set up your work area with your Embellisher, colored tulle (fine nylon netting often used for bridal wear), 12” x 12” squares of regular larger-hole netting, foam rubber pad (or old pillow), Clover hand felting tool.

2.      Start with a 24 inch square of tulle, folded in half to create double thickness, and place it on the foam rubber pad.  Begin laying a thin layer of roving on top, keeping away from the edges of the tulle. 

3.      Begin lightly felting the roving in place with the hand felting tool to stabilize the roving until you get it under the felting needles of the machine.  Think of this as the pinning stage if you were sewing. You can add two or three colors of roving at this point.

4.      Place a piece of regular larger-hole netting on top of the roving to hold everything in place while you are felting.  The netting keeps the roving in place and can be lifted and repositioned without being needle felted into the surface.

5.      Remove the piece from the foam pad, place it on the bed of the felting machine, cover with the larger-hole netting and begin needle felting this first layer of roving all over to get it stabilized.  Start in the center and work out to the edges.  The top layer of netting will not felt but may shred after repeated use and can be replaced.

Machine Needle Felting Roving into flat felt

1.      Lift off the top netting and check for thin spots or holes.  Lay down more roving, if needed, place the netting on top of the raw roving and needle felt the surface again until it is stabilized.

2.      Now turn the piece to the back side and felt the surface until the tulle disappears from both the front and the back sides. Felting from both sides creates a softer smoother felt with more subtle color progressions.

3.      When your felted piece is one thin piece of fabric, you are ready to use it in a project. Cut the flat felt into a 5" x 10" strips and feed it through the Accuquilt-Go Rose of Sharon Dye cutter. 

5.   Mix and match the flower parts with different sizes and shapes of centers and leaves.  Sew in place on the placemats using a free-motion foot.  I found that the layers were so thick I needed to just free-motion quilt the assembled flowers in a circular pattern.  You could also just hand sew a button in the center of each flower to attach it to the placemat.

Felted Flowers
 Stay tuned for more interesting projects in the near future.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nuno Scarves on the Felting Machine

My book, The Art of Machine Needle Felting is still for sale on my website for 25% off the original price until the end of July. 

I know I have not been posting as much as I would like but I have not dropped off the face of the earth.  What did happen was, I was asked by the Babylock company, the people who make the 12 needle Embellisher machine, to create some new work and an advertising flyer for them to publish.  I made that deadline on the weekend and now have my life back.  I do have lots of new things to share with you all about cool new projects with your needle felting machines.  Following is one of the scarves I will make into a class I will be teaching locally.  Here is a picture of it:

I have taken several traditional felting classes whenever I could in my area so I could learn how it is done and then translate that into machine needle felting.  Think of hand quilting and then think of machine quilting - two paths to the same result but very different looks and timelines. 

I created some scarves with my Babylock Embellisher and am very pleased with the results.  I wanted to create scarves that were thin and drapey, rather than thick and felty. I also wanted them to be wearable and sturdy for regular people to use and not be afraid the wool was going to pull off or matt.  I also wanted more control over the outcome or look of the piece.  With hand felting, it can distort and shrink in unpredictable ways and I just knew we didn't have to live with that.  I hoped the Embellisher would be able to do that and sure enough, all the scarves turned out better than I had hoped on this machine.  Here are some pictures of them, modelled by some good friends.

  I used wool roving, sheep curls, yarn, ribbon and a silk base for each one.  I will be experimenting with other fabric bases but this is what I have done so far.  I really enjoyed creating them and will talk more about them when I find out from the company what I can and cannot publish on this blog.
However, I will be teaching the Nuno with Needlefelting class in the fall so I will talk about it now.
Here it is:

I started with a dusky blue crepey silk blend and cut it a little larger than I wanted the scarf to be.  I took several needles out of the Embellisher head so they would not distress the fabric surface too much and ruin it. 

I chose 4 colors of roving I wanted in the scarf and blended them together into one rope with my Fancy Kitty Carding Machine (whhhooooo-yeahhh!!!)  I wanted the colors to be blending without being lost entirely to one another

I pulled off thin wisps of wool with all the colors visible, laid them down and felted them in place.  There was some distressing of the silk but not as much as I thought.  The scarf didn't shrink as much as a regular hand-felted scarf shrinks either, which is great because you can judge how large your project needs to be in the end and it won't shrink too much and disappoint you.

I staggered the position of the wisps so there would be silk fabric showing in between that would keep the surface interesting, sheer and drapey.   You can see what I mean here. 

I then had to solve the problems of raw edges.  With a hand-rolled silk scarf I would treat the edges differently, or not treat them at all, but I needed to do something to keep the edges from ravelling too much.  The Embellisher quickly and easily felted them without chewing them up, tearing them or shrinking them.  I laid down wisps of wool along the edges in straight lines and the Embellisher felted the raw edges away.
Next was the "fringe."  Most scarves have fringes and I wanted one for this too.  I opened my big bin of hand dyed curls and picked out some colors that would match the roving on the scarf.  I didn't have enough for an enire fringe so I just put fringe in the corners.  It was easy as pie.  I just laid them on the bed of the machine and felted away.  I added a layer of roving on the ends of the curls on both sides of the scarf and felted some more to hold them in place and here is the result:

Next I will make more colorways of this scarf and then develop the other styles in other colorways as well.  By the way, polyester works just as well as silk with this method and there are a lot of beautiful silky prints around that could be used creatively in scarf making.  I probably won't get any sleep thinking about the possibilities..........