Sunday, April 15, 2007

Felted Flower Quilt Explained

I have been asked to explain the process I use to make a felted quilt. I thought I would try to do it with pictures and words, so last night I worked on a little piece and took pictures as I went.

There are two main ways to felt wool, one is wet felting which uses soapy water, temperature extremes, and agitation, basically what happens when you accidentally wash a wool sweater in the washing machine. The other type of felting is called needle felting. The needles used are very sharp and have several sharp barbs on their sides. You use the needle tool to punch up and down. The sharp, barbed needles grab fibers on top and push them down. They then grab fibers underneath and pull then up. This eventually locks the fibers together and attaches the layers. You can work with one needle at a time to create three dimensional items or several at a time in some kind of holder. I delayed taking up this craft because the first time I saw it done it looked too dangerous! But the newer generation of tools have some safety features. The Clover Needle Felting Tool, made in Japan, is the green and yellow hand held tool in the picture. The tool is held upright with the needles pointing down. This is punched up and down, the clear cylinder, safety guard, retracts into the handle. Under your fabric is a flat bristle brush which absorbs the punches. You could still poke your fingers, ouch! So caution is advisable.

There are also various embellishing or needle felting machines available. They look like sewing machines, but with fewer moving parts. If purchasing one of these there are cost factors, safety features, and the ease of changing needles to be considered. Bernina has a needle felting foot available.

I am going to start with a piece of felt for the base and batting. To this I will sew various pieces of fabric, leaving raw edges. I may couch or sew yarn onto it at this stage.

I am a spinner, so I have available un-spun wool in a wide range of colors, also some dyed silk, angora, and mohair. At this point I start adding wisps of un-spun fibers and additional fuzzy yarn. Punch the hand held tool up and down; it is springy.

Continue to add wisps of fiber, small pieces of fabric, felt, and yarn to develop your design. If you have a machine available, use it to make the process quicker.

Here, I am adding red felt petals. I put wisps of wool in several
shades of red to add to the complexity. Neither my camera nor scanner picked up this subtlety.

Needle felt these to attach.

I added felt leaves at this stage.

When the design is roughly as you want it you can add machine or hand quilting, on top, for emphasize and to give the piece additional dimension. Hand embroidery and beads can now be added. You can add backing and finish the edges as you like!

This is the scaned version with the colors slightly different!

I may still add more quilting or embroidery.


StegArt said...

Thanks for the great little tutorial. One of your fabrics looks like a batik, do the felting needles go through this fabric easily, without wanting to bend?

Kathleen said...

Wow, Molly, that was so thoughtful of you! Thank you very much for posting this. It looks like a fascinating process, quite intricate and time intensive, but such a beautiful result! Do you get these tools at a craft store like A.C. Moore or Michaels?

molly jean said...

Stegart,yes the needles go through batik easily. They leave tiny visible holes but when you are using the wool the holes are not as noticable. There is some drawing up or crinkling if the felting is not distributed sort of evenly. You can see it in the last picture. I will fix that by doing some felting along that edge and maybe some additional quilting.

Kathleen, I haven't checked those stores but I got mine at Hancock Fabric and I've seen them at Hobby Lobby.

Gunnels blog said...

Thank you for the good tutorial! I like too see how your lovely works are grown!
I am so glad for your lovely postcard, and the yummi goodies, and think I will make a "molly"card to myself!

Sara said...

thank you, molly, for this explanation. I like to see how different the approaches to this technique are. this is actually the great thing about this machine!
your art is very special and i like it very much!

kay susan said...

Nice tutorial. Thank you!

molly jean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Micki said...

Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing with us.

Judy K said...

Oh Molly! I love your felted little quilt! It's beautiful!!

Judy K

Jeanette said...

Wow! So beautiful! I stumbled in on your blog last night and was thrilled! My name is Jeanette and I live in the south of Sweden. I`m addicted to woolfelting both wetfelting and needlefelting but have long searched for a way to develope my designs further. You gave me a way! I so wanted to start at once but knew that some sleep was required for the workday ahead. Have to wait until the weekend......

Will send you a picture when the design is finished!

I will defenitely come back to this blog!

/ Jeanette

Beach Girl said...

Hi Molly Jean~

I am so glad you came to visit my "beach box" blog! I wish you could come here too; I bet we'd have a lot of similarities to share.

The single part stinks, but I know that I have a husband and father in Christ and am at total peace with that.

I love your work and will be back to visit often. I wish I had the talent to have an art bag. I have many talents, but textiles, art and gardenting are not any of them. My artistic abilities lie in the performigm arts and, maybe, writing poetry! :-)

I'm so glad we've met. Come back soon to the beach box and sit in the front porch swing watching the lighthouse blink.


Emmy said...

Hello Molly
I just found your blog it is so lovely I wil add it to my links and visit it to see your wonderful work
warm regards Emmy