Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fall Felting

I had some thick, brown, needle-felted batts that I wanted to make into shoulder bags and a messenger bag, and make them themed for the four seasons. So, I started with autumn.  I have a series of photos to show some of the stages in this process.

First, I laid out and cut the appropriate size of batting.  The I lightly covered it with some loose, white, Icelandic wool that I am trying to felt before I purchase it (and it felts well). This is to lessen the very deep, charcoal brown of the base batt.  Atop that, I randomly added strands of purple and a unusual coral-orange colored, both 100% wool boucle yarn.   To this I layered leaf-like shapes cut out of colored prefelt.    And this is what I had at this stage:

 I next used a felting needle tool to needle, or "lock in," the main elements I wanted to stay in place (stuff shifts around as you wet felt.  See previous posts for more info on using a felting needle). In this photo, you can see that the main shapes are now lightly needle-felted:

Then, I transferred the composition to a large piece of bubble wrap (this presents the uneven surface necessary to encourage the wool to felt, or bind together).  I covered the entire project with millinery netting (the kind used in hats) to prevent the wool from felting into itself when I roll it. You can also used a slick, rayon fabric.  

See the cut, pink pool noodle in the photo below?   That is used in the rolling part of the process.
Below: bubble wrap, wool project, netting:

The next step is to wet down the entire project, saturate it, with a solution of a squirt of dish washing liquid in a 1 gallon bucket of hot water (I actually used a homemade solution of olive oil soap, shaved and mixed with water, and left to soak, but dish soap works fine- I like the natural ones).  I wrung out a sponge full of this soapy solution all over the project.  You can also use a spray bottle or bulb sprayer, but an inexpensive sponge works fine:

Next, I began carefully rolling the entire thin- bubble wrap, wool project and netting, being as careful as I could to prevent folds occurring in the wool (this was a bit difficult, as this particular wool batting was was quite thick, unlike most commercial batting or prefelt you can purchase):

Here is the roll, tied up with old stockings, on a towel to absorb water (best to have a few old towels around to use to sop up excess water):

Using my wrists, on a tall enough surface to ease my back (my kitchen counter) I rolled it back and forth 100 times, unrolled and checked to see how well the wool was locking together, then I rolled it back up for 100 more rolls.  Below I am performing a pinch test, to see how well the wool is locking. Very little is coming up in my fingers, so it is getting pretty well felted.

When done, I rinsed it in warm water with 1/4 c of white vinegar added, then I rinsed it again in cool, clear water:

I am in the process of embellishing the project and locking down a few stray areas using needle felting.  And here is the result (so far):

I will continue to work on this piece and intend to make it into a messenger bag.  Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your insight on how to do the above project!! Sharing is caring! :)