Felted Moths

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My boyfriend Nathan recently celebrated his 27th birthday and as he is a big fan of moths (slightly weird creature to be a fan of..?) I decided to create a giant felted moth for him. This is something I’ve been meaning to try making for Nathan for over a year now and I’m so glad I found the time to give it a try. Being completely creative and trying something new like this is so important when you sell your crafts too, It’s like a little creative holiday!

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Anyway, this moth was created with a combination of felting techniques. The wings were wet felted in shades of brown, cream, yellow, orange and red felt. I made a large sheet of the felt using the wet felting process and then cut wing shapes out and embellished them with sewing machine stitches. I love the look of sewing machine stitches on top of felt, the combination of materials and textures really stands out to me.

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The body of the moth was needle felted, I added long fur to the abdomen and head sections, adding long fur is a technique I have only recently learnt but am definitely now obsessed with!

The eyes are toy safety eyes that I glued in place and the moths antennae are feathers that I trimmed down and glued to the head. The moths legs are made from a special kind of pipe cleaner that has barbs so it’s very easy to attach wool to. I use these special pipe cleaners for my stag heads antlers and I hear they are great as an armature when beginning a needle felted animal/figure too.

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The smaller moth in these pictures was a bit of a test for the larger one and it is actually available to buy from my Etsy shop. I had so much fun making this moth I’m thinking of making more in various sizes and colours to sell but I have no idea if that is the kind of thing people might want to buy. Butterflies and dragon flies could be beautiful made out of felt too. Watch this space!

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Nathan loves moths and I don’t mind them but I know they freak a lot of people out, where do you stand on moths? Would you want a moth or butterfly felt sculpture in your home? I’d love to hear your opinions!

A little crafty update

Ok so once again it has been a while since my last blog post but I’m determined to not give up on my little corner of the internet and keep showing you the bits and pieces i’ve been making and doing, if you don’t mind?

Recently most of my spare time has been spent on making things for our Etsy shop, we have had our shop for just over a year now and sales have definitely picked up, particularly over Christmas. We have also created a Facebook page as I have been told that lots of people get many more sales through Facebook than they do Etsy, our page is only a couple of months old so I am yet to see any sales. It is fun to keep friends and family updated with what we’ve been making via our page though!

We also did our first craft fairs in November and December which were brilliant, we made money each time – I was very relieved as I’ve heard so many horror stories about poor crafters sat at fairs all day not making a penny. I really loved the crafting community aspect of the fairs, I met some really lovely people. One lady even liked our items enough to offer us some space in her beautiful shop, since then we have had a few pieces for sale there too. It really is all about making connections!

So that’s what has been happening with our little business but what have I been making?

One of our most popular items at fairs and on Etsy are these faux taxidermy needle felted animal heads. I started with making deer heads and have since branched out and have tried hares, giraffes, bears, badgers and foxes. I am super excited to continue the range and am thinking of doing a zebra next! Let me know if you can think of any other animals I should try!

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Making these needle felt animal heads is so rewarding as they don’t take as long as a whole animal but they still make quite an impact, I think people like that they can be hung on the wall too.

This week I am working on one of these needle felted woodland animal nursery garlands. They are popular on Etsy so we have decided to give a safari animal themed one a go too.

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The other thing I’ve been making a lot of is needle felted mushrooms, I love the way these look  and they are pretty fun to make too. As you can see most of what I have been doing lately is needle felting as it seems to sell quite well, I am also seeing a lot of improvement in my work as I keep practising which is really nice and very motivational.

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In amongst the needle felting I have been doing other crafts of course, at Christmas I found myself making loads of crochet hats and gingerbread men, and lots of Christmas ornaments and bunting. I was also given the supplies needed to try two new crafts for Christmas, dressmaking and traditional teddy bear making. I know I really don’t need to add any more crafts to my frankly ridiculously long list of hobbies but I just can’t help myself, I want to try it all!

I’d love to know what crafts you’ve been doing lately?

And what would you like to see more of on this blog, needle felting? tutorials? sewing? small craft business related stuff? Let me know!

Cushion covers – two ways

Hello again! It’s been a while but I’ve not stopped making things I promise!

My recent creative obsession – because that’s how it happens isn’t it?! Is making cushion covers for my Etsy shop. I finally got around to making the cherry blossom themed felt fronted cushion cover I had been planning for months and months.

Here it is! I’m really pleased with it, it’s turned out almost exactly as I’d imagined.

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The other type of cushion cover I’ve been working on is patchwork. I’ve been doing patchwork for years now, ever since my mum taught me as a child. My style has always been pretty scrappy, not worrying too much about corners meeting or fussy pattern placement. However the past two weeks I have been giving a neater, more controlled type of patchwork a go, and I’ve got to say it’s really worth taking the extra time and care.

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The patchwork panel on the front of these cushions was hand sewn using the english paper pieces method, the border, back panel and side seams were machine sewn. I used an envelope opening style on the back so that the cushion covers can be removed easily and washed.

My natural love of all things blue and green really shows through in my colour choices for these cushions. I plan to make some more in other colours next as I know that not everyone shares my love for ocean colours!

I’d love to know what you think of my cushion covers, or what your current crafting obsession happens to be. Thanks for reading!

Finally Framed – Needle Felted Animal Portraits

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Well my two weeks off work are over, it went too quickly as it always does but I do feel I used the time well. One thing I did not do during my time off was blogging, that is not surprising to me as I never feel like even turning on my laptop during my free time. Due to the nature of my job I get some quiet moments whilst waiting for students to turn up etc. where I can blog and edit photos at work. So apologies for the two weeks of quiet on this blog, I promise I will get around to sharing all the creative things I’ve been doing recently over the next couple of weeks.

One project I am very glad to have finished during my time off is my needle felted animal portraits. I shared them in my last post so you may have seen them before, but they were unfinished as they were waiting for the perfect little frames. I had spent a few hours roaming my local charity shops and junk shops looking for tiny old picture frames that would suit these novelty portraits of a fox and a badger wearing human clothes. Unfortunately these frames of the perfect size turned out to be another of those items that you find all the time when you don’t need them but as soon as you do, they are nowhere to be found.

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Luckily a friend came to the rescue, giving me two wooden frames of the perfect size. They didn’t have the old look I was hoping for and they seemed a little plain for my dapper looking dressed up animals so I painted them a golden colour and then rubbed gold gilding wax over the top to give the frames a kind of gold leaf effect. I am very pleased with how the frames have turned out, they work well with the texture of the felted animal portraits and best of all they cost me nothing due to the kindness of my friend.

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I have listed these two on my Etsy shop but to be honest with you, I would not mind at all if they didn’t sell and I had to keep hold of them! I’d like to try making a few more and creating a series of animal portraits, what animal do you think I should try next?

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My first Etsy custom order…

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Sorry it’s been a little quiet around here for a week or so, I’ve been pretty busy with work, quality time with friends and family and lots of making things. I must work harder on making time for blog posts!

Something pretty exciting happened the other day, I received my first ever custom order on Etsy! A lovely lady called Pamela told me she loved the seascape design felt fronted cushion I had on my site, but wanted 2 larger versions. I was more than happy to have a go at making these for her and just this morning I got them finished! You can have a look at my original seascape felt cushion in this post.

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Making two matching pieces of felt was tricky, it meant carefully measuring out pieces of each colour used so as not to include too much of one and make them look too different from each other. I had also not worked on a sheet of felt this large before, Pamela wanted her finished cushions to be 45cm squares which meant starting the wet felting process with squares of over 60cm. If I am going to continue to create felt pieces of this size I will have to find myself a new work space as none of my surfaces were big enough to roll the large felt sheets comfortably. Attempting to work out how large to start the felt sheet to allow for shrinkage during the wet felting process was another challenge that thankfully turned out ok.

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Despite these challenges making this custom order was a brilliant experience for me and one I hope to have the chance to repeat regularly. Being paid to create has always been a dream of mine and this week I got to live that dream a little bit, it felt great!

I am still new to Etsy and the world of selling handmade items but I am really enjoying learning as I go along and this custom order has definitely boosted my confidence. If you have any advice/words of wisdom/amusing anecdotes about selling your handmade items I’d love to hear them!

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I’ve been making …

Just a quick post today to share a few of the things I’ve been making this past week. I have been feeling really inspired lately and my new working hours mean that I have a good amount of free time to be able to get on with personal projects. It feels so great to be going through a phase where I can turn ideas into actual finished items quickly as sometimes it can take forever!

I finally got round to turning a couple of handmade felt pieces into cushion covers, they are felt on the front and plain cotton on the back like my last felt fronted cushion, you can find my tutorial for making these here. I think the sea-scape cushion is my favourite, I nearly kept it for myself but I have decided to list both cushions on Etsy.

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I had a day off work yesterday as I’ve hurt my back, I’m definitely getting old! This unexpected free time meant that I could sit and give embroidery a proper go. I haven’t really tried embroidery before but I found working on both of these plant themed pieces so relaxing, I’ll definitely be doing more! I’ve decided to pop these in my Etsy shop too, just to see what happens, you can have a look at the Etsy shop here.

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Watercolour painting is another art form I have not done much of, but I’ve always been a huge fan of the way it looks. So I have decided to take the time to teach myself, probably using youtube tutorials, any recommendations of good ones would be great! These are just little scrappy tests I did one afternoon, my technique could certainly use some work but the main thing is I enjoyed doing it. I’m very excited to push myself out of my comfort zone creatively and learn a new skill.

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I’ve also been slowly working away on my 70’s inspired floral patchwork blanket, a project I have been working on for a couple of years now. I am pleased to say it is finally nearing completion! The english paper piecing method is slow but I think the blanket will be beautiful when it’s finished, I plan to share it with you soon.

That’s all for today, I hope you enjoyed seeing a little update of my creative activities. And thanks so much for reading, this blog really pushes me to find inspiration and finish the projects I start!

Handmade Felt-Fronted Cushion

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As promised here is a quick explanation of how I made this felt fronted cushion cover, with handmade felt. This cushion ended up as a gift for my Dad’s birthday, but I have since started making more to sell on my Etsy shop, I may even keep a couple for myself too!

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My first step was to make a sheet of felt by hand, using the wet felting process. You can take a look at a tutorial I wrote on wet felting if you are not familiar with the process here. Or try this method which involves adding to a material called pre-felt here.

When making this piece of felt I tried putting smaller blue and green pieces in between layers of the sky blue coloured wool roving, hoping that they would show through in a subtle but pretty way. Unfortunately, as with many crafting experiments this did not work out, my top layer of blue must have been too thick as you couldn’t see the dark blue or green at all and I was left with plain blue felt. To jazz up my blue felt a bit I added wisps of blue and green later, using a needle felting technique. As with all crafts it takes time to learn how felting works, each time I have a go I pick up new knowledge so it’s never really a failure!

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Once my sheet of felt was made, rinsed and dried I measured the cushion I wanted to cover and cut two pieces of cotton fabric to be the back of the cushion cover. I went for a envelope style cushion cover, meaning the back was made up of two pieces of fabric which overlap so that the cover can be removed and washed if needs be.

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I hemmed the edges of the two pieces of cotton that would be visible, then pinned the cotton pieces to the felt piece, front sides facing. I was careful to make sure that I was pinning in a neat square, measuring as I went along to ensure my cushion cover came out square and professional looking.

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The last step was to sew the pieces together in a square shape, following the pins carefully and then trim off the excess felt. When turned the right way round I had a cushion cover with a felted front and a plain cotton envelope style back.

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I really like the contrast in textures between the felt and the cotton, the felt gives the cushion a warm cosy feel, whilst the plain cotton backing keeps the cushion looking modern and smart. If you don’t fancy making your own felt you can of course use this method of making an envelope cushion cover with any fabrics you want.

I have just finished another felt piece inspired by ocean colours, and am hoping to turn it into a cushion tomorrow. After that I plan to try making some in subtle, earthy colours like cream, grey and brown. These are not colours I usually go for when decorating my home but using an old, traditional technique to make fabric by hand from natural sheep’s wool has me all inspired to look to nature for my colour palette too.

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Well thanks for reading about my felted cushion covers. If you make your own felt, using any technique at all, I’d love to hear what you use it for in your home!

 

 

 

Needle Felt – The Basics

Needle felting is my new craft obsession, not that I needed yet another craft to get into! But learning something new is always great and this particular craft has very quickly become one of my favourites so I thought it was about time I shared some of the basic techniques in case you would like to give it a go yourself!

To begin needle felting you will need:

needle felt needles – these are needles with tiny barbs on them that catch the strands of felt and allow them to mat together, they are available from craft shops and online for less than £1. You can use a single needle or two or even three pushed through a cork as you can see here. The single needle is useful for fine detail and the double needles are quicker when working on larger areas.

P1240481A large sponge or needle felting mat – a sponge is a great surface to felt on as its texture keeps the wool in place and you stab through the sponge rather than stabbing yourself or the table! However after a while the sponge will start to break up due to being stabbed repeatedly which is where the needle felting mat comes in handy.

P1240480Some wool fibres in whatever colour you choose – there are lots of different types of wool fibres available and different types are best for different projects, ask for advice in your local craft shop or some quick online research should help you pick what is best for you.

P1240482Once you have these three things you are ready to start needle felting, one of the best things about this craft is that you need very little materials to give it a go! Needle felting is essentially the act of turning fluffy wool fibres into a solid object through a process of stabbing it with the barbed needles until all the fibres mat together and the shape compacts and hardens. The way you go about this depends on the shape you are making. Today I thought I’d show you how to make an oblong shape and a circle, these basic techniques will allow you to start making any number of felt animals and will help you to get your head around the way it works. As you can see from the pictures, I needle felt on my lap as I find this easiest. It is important to sit up straight and relax your shoulders as the repetitive motion of stabbing the felt can cause tension in your body.

To make an oblong shape:

Pull a handful of strands from your wool (the more you start with the larger your finished shape will become but it takes some practice to be able to guess how much you will need, don’t worry if you get it wrong at first you can always add more wool later to increase the size)

P1240483Start at one end of the wool fibres and tightly roll into a sausage shape, tucking in any wispy bits on the sides to make a compact cylinder shape

P1240484Place your rolled fibres on your large sponge or needle felt mat (I was given this mat for Christmas but I often stick with using the sponge I started out with, it is totally up to you if you want to spend the extra money) Now it is time to start stabbing! Using your single needle begin to stab the wool in a line along the tube shape, once you have reached the other end roll your tube over a bit and stab another line. You should start to see and feel the fibres matting together, the shape should slowly reduce in size and become harder and harder. You will notice that the areas you stab more compact more and areas you miss stay soft and fluffy, this is how you shape your creation.

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P1240486 Keep stabbing and rolling your piece of wool over and over again. If you find yourself stabbing your fingers don’t worry everyone does this! Just remember to work carefully and take a break if you feel yourself getting frustrated or careless. You will also need to occasionally turn your piece of felt on one of its ends and stab the other end a bit to make sure that the whole thing is firm. P1240487 These images show the shape as it is worked on more and more and becomes harder and more defined. The image below shows a finished oblong shape, as you can see the shape is compacted and defined and there are less fluffy fibres sticking out.

The technique involved in needle felting is pretty tricky to explain! But once you get started you will quickly realise the way it works and why it is done that way. It really is the kind of craft you learn through hands on experience and the gradual compacting and hardening on the wool fibres needs to be felt to be understood! Some felters go for a more compact, harder finish and others feel their piece is finished when it is still at a softer stage, this is personal preference but remember if people are handling the object you will want it to be relatively sturdy.
P1240488To make a ball shape:

Take a handful of fibres and start pulling at them and mixing them up so that the strands end up running in lots of different directions. The best way to describe this is ‘messing up’ the fibres

P1240489Roll the wool around between your palms until you form a rough ball shape, it really doesn’t matter at this point if it is not circular as you will perfect the shape using the needles.P1240490Place the wool on your sponge or mat and begin to stab with the needle, you will feel the fibres begin to catch on each other and the shape begin to take form. P1240491Keep stabbing and rolling your ball so that it is worked on evenly all over. At this point you could use the double needles as this will speed up the process a little.

P1240492If your ball begins to form lumps or looks uneven just focus some more time on the lumpy area, it will disappear with enough stabbing!

P1240493Once you have an even, round ball which is firm to the touch you are done! Now you know how to make these two basic shapes you can easily move on to making whole felt animals using the oblong for a body and the ball for a head. I will write a post very soon on how to shape a felt animal out of these two basic shapes and how to add colour and detail. But for now there are a few things you could do using only these shapes such as making small egg shapes for easter decorations or gifts. Alternatively you could make lots of coloured felt balls and make a felt ball garland which is something I have always wanted to do!

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Wow that was a long post! I hope I haven’t bored you and I really hope you give needle felting a go, it is certainly addictive and very creative! I will do another post with the next stages of needle felting soon so keep reading!

 

Present Idea: Felted Leaf Brooch

DSC_0026A couple of days ago I posted about the second felting method I had recently tried. The method leaves you with a piece of felt in whatever colours you chose which you can then do whatever you like with. Well here’s what I decided to do with mine: little leaf shaped brooches which I will give as Christmas presents this year!

All you will need to make one of these little brooches is some felt, a leaf template or real leaf to draw around, metallic thread, a needle and a brooch pin. As I said the felt that I used was felt I had created myself, using felt fibres which can be bought cheaply from craft shops and online. Making the felt itself uses only these fibres, water, washing up liquid and a bit of time and effort. Using this technique meant that I chose the colours that went into my piece of felt and I love that I made the whole thing myself, but if you don’t fancy giving felting a go then you could always use shop bought felt.

The first step is to find a leaf of an appropriate size and shape that you like, it was wet outside when I made my brooches so I used a leaf template I found online.

DSC_0001DSC_0002Pin your template or leaf to your felt and cut round it. Even handmade felt should leave a crisp edge when cut which should not fray. Next just choose some metallic or sparkly thread – I chose a coppery colour to compliment the autumnal greens, browns and reds in my felt. Sew the pattern of a leaf skeleton onto your leaf using careful, small, neat stitches.

DSC_0007DSC_0004 I haven’t included a picture but it’s safe to say the back of my brooches do not look as neat or pretty as the front! You could glue another piece of felt to the back if you were concerned about this but I decided not to worry about the back.

The last step is just to fix your brooch pins on to the back of your leaf, you could use glue but I decided to sew mine on with some strong thread. And there you have it! Quick, inexpensive gifts that are completely hand made and very pretty!

DSC_0003I think these brooches would look lovely pinned to a winter coat or even onto a bag, what do you think?

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Felting – Method 2

In an earlier post I showed you my first attempt at felting, with a method that involved using pre-felt as a backing material and then building up strands of felt fibre on top. Today I thought I’d show you another method which does not use pre-felt at all, meaning you need even less equipment/materials.

Once again I was taught this method by my mum, you can see pictures of both of our creations in this post. Again, this may not be the most technical of instructions but it should give you a rough idea!

To start lay out a towel and some bubblewrap, choose a base colour (this will become the back of your finished piece) pull wispy strands of felt fibre and begin to layer them on the bubblewrap. With this method it is important that your layers of fibres are lying in the same direction.

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Once you have a thick covering of fibres which you cannot see through build another layer of fibres going in the other direction – this is hard to explain, please see the images! Then sprinkle warm water and a little washing up liquid over your felt fibres and cover with a thin sheet of clear plastic or half a plastic carrier bag.

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Add some more water and washing up liquid on top of the plastic and rub your hands all over the felt, it should begin to mesh together. Once your fibres have flattened and look like they are becoming one piece rather than separate fibres, remove your plastic and begin laying more felt fibres on top. This layer will be the front of your piece so you may want to try and incorporate a design into it, I chose autumnal colours because I was in an autumnal kind of mood!

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Once you are happy with your design and have created a nice thick layer of fibres add more water and washing up liquid, cover with your plastic, get the plastic wet and soapy and start to rub over the felt once again.

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Once you can see that the fibres have really started to mesh together it is time to wrap up the felt, bubblewrap and plastic into your towel in a sausage shape and begin rolling the whole thing backwards and forwards on the table. You will need to turn your piece every 5 minutes or so to make sure you have worked at it from each of the four sides/angles. You may need to unwrap the towel and rearrange the felt and plastic in order to straighten out wrinkles which form and to work out which sides need working on.

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Remember that your design will always shrink with wet felting and may change shape slightly, it is not an exact science and it is hard to create something which comes out perfectly square or a pattern which is perfectly formed. I think that is part of the beauty of felting, what you end up with will be a kind of mix of all the layers/colours you put in but perhaps not in the way you expected it!

You can stop rolling when on inspection the fibres are all meshed together nicely and are now one sturdy piece of fabric, if you pull at the fibres slightly they should not come away easily. The last step is just to rinse your felt thoroughly, including one rinse with some vinegar in the water to make sure the soap is all washed out.

Here are our finished pieces! They don’t look like much but I have a plan to make some Christmas presents out of my little autumnal coloured piece. I will post about that soon I promise!

We’re going to a needle felting course next, I’m excited to make some 3D felt objects and see how the process differs from these wet felting methods!

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