The second of two felt-making posts for today.
During the third of our felt-making classes we made flowers, and this was what I made:
At this stage, the pieces are not fixed together, but arranged as I thought I might fix them. I decided to make a hair clip from these poppies. Before the felt class last night, I quickly assembled it, not realising I’d put the clip on back to front, meaning I had to do it up with my left hand! The teacher said that we need to watch that when making things like hair clips and brooches. I hope I won’t make that mistake again! Anyway, they all loved it.
Today, I took the clip off and sewed it on again the right way round, using thick button thread. Looking at it, the back was a mess. It would be OK just for me (except I’m a bit of a perfectionist!) but if I wanted to make these for gifts or for sale, they’d have to be a lot neater than this.
I thought I could apply my newly acquired needle-felting skills and felt on a back piece to cover all that mess.
I began by laying down some green wool fibres to match the back of the leaves.
I partially felted the whole thing, using my single felting needle, making a rough oval shape.
I didn’t want to felt the whole thing because I wanted to feather it onto the piece at the edges, but it needed to be substantial enough to handle. I had to felt the centre part, which would cover the clip, because obviously you can’t needle-felt through metal! I began with the single needle, turning the piece over frequently.
After a while I had a good go with the Clover tool, which is better for covering a larger area. However, its needles are rather small, and it took a while.
During the afternoon I had attempted, without a great deal of success, to use this tool to try and improve the look of the poppies, which had flattened quite a lot when drying; I had hoped to needle-felt the petals together a bit and force them into a more upright shape. In the end I achieved this with a running stitch. Had I known it, I would have done a lot better to use the larger, single needle.
You can see that the Clover tool has a clear plastic shield around the needles. The green flange above the needles can be turned; in one position it locks the shield to protect the needles (and your fingers), and in the other position, the shield can be retracted against a spring into the handle. As you press the tool up and down on the felt, the needles do their stuff, but the end of the shield remains in contact with the surface so you can’t accidentally pierce your fingers.
As I felted the back piece, it became apparent after a while that it was a bit thin, so I added some more fibres, and resumed felting.
Once the middle was sufficiently felted, I slipped the piece underneath the metal clip.
Taking extreme care so as not to break my needle against the hidden metal part, I began needle-felting, getting as close to the edge of the metal as possible. I pulled off some of the outer edge and feathered what remained, gradually needle-felting outwards towards the edge of the piece.
The back piece did not cover the exposed ends of the clip, however. The clip has a hole at each end, through which you can sew it down, and the stitching was showing and not looking very nice, so I made a couple of end pieces, again felting them in the middle, and leaving the fibres at the ends to be felted onto the piece.
The next photo shows the end piece being felted on. I added a bit more fibre to cover the edge and to blend it in nicely, again taking great care not to strike the needle against the hidden metal.
Nice neat back! The little stab marks from the needle will disappear eventually. I think this is a much better finish.
Here is the finished piece. You can see that I have embellished the centres of the poppies with some little gold-coloured glass beads, which I think really lift the design and give it a bit of focus. Originally I was going to embroider French knots using a shiny black embroidery thread but in my huge box of threads, I had every colour but black!! I tried embroidering with black stranded cotton but it simply didn’t show up. Then I thought of black beads, and again, in all my stash, not a single small black bead! Why is it that you can have a whole room full of stuff, and still not have what you want?!! Anyway, it was a blessing in disguise, because I decided to use the gold beads instead, and the result is actually much better than if I’d used black.
Finally, a detailed shot of the beadwork.
This project illustrates very well the way wet felting and needle felting can be combined to good effect.