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.

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