The Colour Wheel In Felting

I taught a felting workshop the other weekend where we made nuno felt flowers and a little mobile phone case over a template.  The day was, thankfully, warm and sunny so we could felt outside which was lovely.

One thing I have noticed about felting is that everyone just dives in and goes wild on their colours without really thinking about it. Some people have a flair for colour and their projects always look great.  Unfortunately others don’t really have any idea, and they are inevitably not happy with their projects.  They can be great on the technique but their colour choices let them down.

Flickr: knit.spin

So I before we leapt in the deep end, I spoke briefly about colour theory and the colour wheel.  Even this little snippet, caused the students to pause and think about their choices, and the tones and shades they were selecting.  And on the whole, I think the finished projects were so much better for putting a little thought into colour.

Here’s a few weblinks to useful colour wheel information:

Basic Color Theory

Colour Wheels

My little purple bag (photograph right at the top) is always popular and it is so because of the complementary colour scheme I used, purple and green are opposites on the colour wheel. It works so well in nature with irises and I’ve always loved that colour combination.

Authenticity in colour

For a long time with my felting I feel like I’ve been choosing colours which just aren’t me. That’s not to say I don’t like the colours, in fact I often do. But many of my felting projects are gifts for others. Like the hot pink organza nuno felt bag. I was very happy with how this turned out – but well hot pink is just not me!

And in Australia we do tend to – as a collective – to favour the bright oranges, yellows, reds so reminiscent of an outback imagination.

So going back to basics, lately I’ve been selecting the colours I like without thinking about my projects as gifts. Which, frankly, is a whole lot more relaxing and enjoyable than worrying about if the person you have in mind will like it or not! It makes the whole crafty experience are lot more enjoyable.

I like the pastel tones in this one – and I often think that grey and white are under – appreciated colours!

I also have always liked green and purple together, so was happy with the tones in these merino wool tops from Colourstreams.  I looked for some time for these colours – to get just the right purple and green, and it can be very hard to be sure you’ve got the right colour you want when shopping online. But I was very happy when the parcel arrived in the mail – don’t you love getting parcels in the mail!! – and the colours were as they should be!

This little bag is made from purple, green and white merino wool tops. The little red butterflies are made from nuno felt with satin stitched bodies.

In Response to a Rose

The weather in Australia this summer has been a bit on the wild side, the unpleasant wild side that is. There have been enormous floods in Queensland which have left all of Australia reeling. Then Cyclone Yasi quickly followed, and the southern states have not escaped, the floods and rains have worked their way down here. That is, in between the hot weather which brought bush fires….

So it feels a little like we have been taking shelter, with small windows of nice weather to dash outside and play, before the rain or the heat forces us back indoors.

Source: Flickr – Samantha Celera

And every time the rain stops and we dash outside there stands the hardy rose bush in my front garden.  I thought it had stopped flowering a month ago, but after each heavy downpour or unbelievably hot day, there it is with a new bud, or several new flowers half open. It appears to like this extreme erratic weather! And in a poignant kind of way, defies these extremes, flowering anew after each terror.

The roses go through various stages of pink from fushia or cerise, to coral and lastly to tea pink.

Source: Flickr – Brandy Shaul

What can you do to remember such a rose bush? So defiant and so beautiful.  I guess some would paint it or draw it, but I photograph it and try a little textile tribute to it.


I don’t have any great plans for these little nuno felt pieces. I often feel the need to justify my crafting – it has to be something – but why do I do that? Maybe I just created for fun, for relaxation, just for creating, just to remember the colours of that rose and nothing more …..it doesn’t have to be something, it just is.

Muslin Minis

Nuno felting is a great felting project. But why you ask??? Top three reasons why I think nuno felt is a great project for both novices and experienced felters:

  • Gives a lovely finish on both sides – particularly like the scrunchy- ruffled “back side”.
  • It works up fairly quickly – as the fabric provides a nice, solid base.
  • The finished piece lends itself so well to sewing and beading.

You can nuno felt a wide range of fabrics but there is one key test it has to pass – when you hold it up, blow through the fabric…… now can you feel your breath on the other side?  Fabric for nuno felt needs to be fairly breathable so that the wool fibres can work their way through.

I love using silk georgette and silk organza in nuno felt (particularly the organza which gives a nice ruffled look on the back, like in the photo below.) But if you buy silk georgette and silk organza its not exactly cheap!

Silk Organz Nuno Felt Ruffles

Australian muslin is quite open weave, almost like cheesecloth and not at all like American muslin which is quite a close, firm weave (not at all suitable for nuno felt).  I had a few small pieces of Australian muslin left over from other projects and thought I would  couch a few beads onto the finished nuno pieces.

Beaded nuno felt made from Australian muslin and merino wooltops

Red beaded Nuno felt (same ingredients)

Tea Leaves and Rusty Nails

Multi-Craftural

I recently came across the term “multi-craftural” the other day and thought it was a fantastic word! I assume it means “someone who loves and practices more than one, two or three crafts….”  Its such a good description of many crafters, if I think of the crafty types I know, all of us do at least two or more crafts.

And one technique I’ve been meaning to try for …. years…… is natural and found objects for dyeing. I’ve seen some gorgeous colours produced by using found items like rusty nails and plant materials like bark and leaves.

Source: Flickr – Schilling2

But I must admit I’ve been rather put off by actually trying it out, the books and articles I’ve read usually call for all sorts of cooking pots, weird chemicals I’ve never heard of and a well-ventilated stove preferably outside!  (I’m afraid I just don’t have one of those, don’t really want to spend the money getting one & this is not something I want to try out in my kitchen around others!)

Source: Flickr – Leo Reynolds

Have no fear!

So it was with absolute delight that I came across an article in Down Under Textiles No. 3 (Sept 2010) about Rita Summers and her approach to textiles, recycling, experimenting and dyeing.  Best of all, she had simple instructions which seem a bit more achievable to me. (There are still a few things I’m stuck on like finding some of the chemicals like iron sulphate – just where do you buy that?)

But I did like her instructions for rusting fabric because I had all the items already!

100 teabags – yes!

4 litres of hot water – yes!

Ironmongery – old nails, screws etc: yes! (scavenged from the builders’ thoughtful scrap heap they left behind.)

So I didn’t worry about finding iron sulphate but adapted her instructions to rust some silks and cottons.

Here’s what I did and the results:

I soaked these fabrics in the teabags & hot water for about 10 minutes and then wrapped them in the iron nails and screws & cold water for about 3 hours. This is what I got:

Silk Organza - tea rusted

Velvet with DMC Embroidery Threads - tea rusted

Silk georgette - tea rusted

Cotton with hand printing - tea rusted

The darker marks you can see on the organza, georgette and velvet are the ironmongery marks.

I then let them dry and then washed them in boiling hot soapy water to see how much colour they lost. The small scrap you see at the bottom is what they looked like after being hot washed.

So now I’ve got the multi-craftural bug……

So now I think I’ve got “the crafty bug” to keep exploring this craft too!  I’m going to have to think of a way to try out the plant dyeing ……….

A Quick Felt Decoration for the Holidays

Felt cornucopia

Christmas Cornucopias are a very simple decoration to make which looks great in felt. Cornucopias were just one of the many handmade decorations popular in the Victorian era. They used to make them from paper, which I have done in the past, and fill them with sweets or dried fruit. They then were hung on a Christmas tree.

Instructions to make your own felt Christmas Cornucopias

Materials

You will need two sheets of machine made felt (297 x 210 mm or 11 x 8 inches) available from most craft stores. Matching or contrasting thread.

Instructions

1. Print my Confident Crafts Cornucopia Outline.

2. Trace the dotted line shape onto your first piece of felt. This becomes the outside of the cone.

3. Trace the solid line shape onto your second piece of felt. This becomes the inside of the cone.

4. Lay the two shapes flat together with the smaller shape centered on the larger shape. Sew a small running stitch across the top arch. (This can also be done after step 5).

5. Fold the two shapes into a cone – like an ice cream cone – and sew a small running stitch up the side of the “ice cream” shape.

6. If you didn’t sew across the top as step four, do so now.

7. Using scissors or pinking sheers, cut a handle to your desired length, mine measured 20 cm or 7 inches.

8. Attach one end of the handle to one side of the cornucopia with a running stitch or a cross stitch. Repeat straight across to the other side of the cornucopia to attach the other end of the handle.

Then fill them up with your favorite Christmas sweet or fruit ready for the Christmas tree. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Tutorial: Nuno Felt Ipod Shuffle Case

My poor ipod shuffle has for some time now been traveling around in a clean, but old sports sock. Not exactly glamorous or all that easy to use but in a moment of haste I grabbed a sock to protect the shuffle as I threw it into a bag. I love my little ipod shuffle to listen to all sorts of great podcasts from the ABC here in Australia, Craft Sanity and  CraftyPod. So about time it deserved something a bit better! Here’s a little tutorial on how to make a nuno felt embroidered shuffle case.

ipod shuffle case handmade

Nuno felted organza

Materials

1 x length of solid nuno felt for outside measuring 21 x 6 cm without the frill (8 x 2 inches). The frill is part of the nuno felt when you make up the nuno felt but I don’t sew the frill, its purely decorative. I made my red piece of nuno felt with a piece of organza, red merino wool and red silk throws. The silk throws helped to make a textured piece of nuno felt with contours.

1 x length of plain homemade or machine made felt for lining measuring 20 x 5 cm

Mixture of embroidery threads to contrast and match

Contrasting 2mm seed beeds Invisible sewing thread

Tools

Scissors

Tape measure

Sewing needles including a size 9 sewing needle for the beadwork

Materials needed to make shuffle case

1. Cut a piece of nuno felt measuring 21 x 6 cm. Embroider the top side of the nuno felt – the top side is the woolly side. I used a selection of simple DMC cotton embroidery threads and an unknown metallic red thread I had in my collection. Using a plain running stitch, I stitched along the contours of the fabric formed by the silk throws on the nuno felt, letting the texture of the fabric guide me.

Following the contours of the nuno felt

2. When I was satisfied with the amount of stitching around the contours, I then filled in a few areas with 2 mm seed beads. These were stitched using the size 9 sewing needle and invisible sewing thread onto the top side of the nuno felt. To create a textured surface with the beads, I varied the number of beads I threaded onto my needle before stitching down into the felt. So a fairly flat bead surface only needs 1 to 2 beads but to build up a surface 3 beads works really well and 4 to 5 beads can also work well. 5 beads can get quite bulky and create loops, which may of course be what you are trying to achieve!

3. When the nuno felt is embellished as much as you want, line the underside of it with the plain felt. Trim the plain felt so it sits back from the edge of the nuno felt – about 0.5 cm around.

4. Stitch the two pieces together, making sure to stitch around the whole rectangle. Due to its thickness, I hand sewed this piece. I used the invisible sewing thread but you may like to use embroidery thread as part of your design.

5. Then divide the finished piece into thirds and fold the bottom third up to sit above the middle third to form a small case. The top third then folds over as a lid. I decorated the inside of the lid with the seed beads at this point.

Inside the shuffle case