I’ve been felting furiously for my One Year One Outfit challenge, but I have yet to complete a garment. I did make a jumper earlier but decided that it was totally frumpsville when combined with the other felt I was producing. I was going to look rather, um, brown. I consulted with Megan from meggipeg and we had a good snigger at my appearance. Soooo, it was back to the drawing board.
I have been reading tutorials and blogs, having lessons, watching demonstrations, and have finally developed my own, rather eclectic approach to felting. I went to the local craft show at the weekend and saw some of the felt outfits produced for display, and felt both overwhelmed and inspired. I took some photographs, but as I don’t have permission from the owners of the garments, I decided not to put them up here, which is a shame as some of the clothes were amazing.
I began my new batch of felting – this time in pristine white, outside … when it was raining. Nothing stops me when I want to get something done, hehe!
Being outside brings its own challenges. Felting with wet hands is tricky – the wool sticks. Then, a puff of wind and the garden looks like a demented Persian cat has run amok. This happened a couple of times and I found wool in strange places for a few weeks. Please note the vinyl apron – not sure what I thought this was going to do for me!
As winter set in I had to relocate to the garage and the table tennis table. The problem with this is that (a) the table is quite low, so tough on the back, (b) Archie kept telling me that I couldn’t put any lateral force on it, which is tricky when felting, and (c) I struggled to put any pressure on the felt in the middle of the table because it’s so wide. I did produce a large piece of felt but it is disappointingly uneven (don’t worry, it won’t be wasted, I have plans). I had a quick discussion with Archie and he built me a felting table – go Archie!
He used a workbench that he built when he was in Year 9. It’s got a wheel for manoeuvrability and normally sits under the fixed workbench when not in use.
To this he added some formwork plywood
and screwed it down for stability
It is brilliant. I can lay the wool out straight onto the plywood as it is shiny, clean and waterproof. How soft and cloudlike does it look?
Then I made an amazing discovery in Bunnings. I found an attachment for the watering can which finely sprinkles water evenly across the whole table. Look, there’s no water on the floor!
This is so much easier than me flinging water around with my hands, which I have been known to do! Here is a close up of the device. I also now have a pump sprayer for the fine mist. Please note that I did initially put plastic down until Archie questioned me. It is so much easier without plastic sheeting.
This whole setup has made a massive difference to my felting output. I had never felted before this challenge, so I’ve had quite a steep learning curve. I have managed to get quite thick, sturdy pieces together but now I have produced some fine felting with hopefully enough drape for one of my garments. Here is a piece, still wet and not smoothed out yet. It turned out to be quite nice.
I’ve also learned how to do cobweb felting, thanks to Sarah from Workspace FADS. It is all in the laying out. This is my sort of felting – messy!
I have learned a few things on my felting journey:
- Solid, thick felt does not like being dry felted to other felt
- Extreme care has to be taken to keep the felt clean – don’t take it camping!
- Dirty felt can be washed
- Felt is a really forgiving fabric. If it’s not completely felted, more felt can be added (carefully!) to cover weak spots.
- Felting takes time and patience, plan to have at least a couple of hours and minimal interruptions
- Size does matter! Try to work out how big your piece needs to be and add about 30%. Wool for felting is cheap, but it is labour intensive so you don’t want too much excess and you certainly don’t want the piece to be too small.
- You need to do more teasing than a sixties hairdresser
- I love the smell when felting – eau de sheep
- Making felt is fun!
And here is my felt mountain! There is a wide variety of felt in here, but not one item of clothing yet!
This is going to be an interesting outfit! Keep in mind that it all has to be handsewn, which is not my forte
PS: Before anyone asks I don’t have a piece of purple felt lurking in the stash, it is simply a shadow on brown felt. Shame though…
* My apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge for the misquote from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner