Thursday, March 13, 2014

Felt Yardage Equals Just A Felt Pillow

I am trying to make some larger felt yardage and despite the fact that I have a pretty big studio, I have been struggling.  Wool shrinks around 30% from layout to finished product so to get anything in a large size (like enough for a cape, like I want) you have to start really, really large.  And you can make two layers at once using a resist but I didn't want to try that yet as I am still experimenting with pre-felts and layout in general. 

I started by making a smaller, test piece on a small table for a sample.

First, I made some pre-felts.  This is where you wet and work the wool with enough warm, soapy water to get it to just stay together, the first part of felting, but not to actually "full" it, which is what locks the fibers together and shrinks them.  (If you felt these bits too much then later they won't adhere to your wool yardage.)  I made these different pre-felts and then set them aside to dry a little on a towel while I worked on the main sample part.   Note, I like to leave mine with some "airiness" in them, meaning they are not totally solid sheets.  But they will shrink down and fill in the spaces quite a bit once I add them to my other layer. 

Here I have laid out three layers of my white wool roving on a layer of bubble wrap.   Then I carefully set cut up pieces of my above pre-felts on top of the wool to create a design.  

Next, I felted the wool.  As you can see, comparing to the above piece, it shrinks quite a bit!  I really liked how the sample turned out so I decided to go ahead and make a bigger piece. 

The next piece I laid out on the floor because all of my tables in my studio (four of them, four!) are all totally packed full of other items right now and could I take the time to clean one off?  No, I had to get to work right away!  Besides, all my tables are too narrow and I am in the process of trying to find a proper 4 foot by 8 foot work table that can handle water.  It's harder to find than I thought.  

So this piece is about 3 feet by 3.5 feet.  And unlike the sample that I made 3 layers of roving thick, I decided to make this one 4 layers thick, which I regretted later, but I will get to that.  Now, I do not recommend for one second felting on the floor.  It's bad for your back, it's awkward, you have to wear knee pads.  This little project is making me hustle to find a nice big work table so I don't have to do this again. 

After I felted it, it was only 23" by 28"---so small!!!!  The square drawn on there is 20.5" square.  Because I ended up turning it into a pillow.  The four layers turned out so thick that it really wouldn't work for a wearable.

And a wearable is exactly where I am going with this yardage:  I want to make a cape.  Here is the mock-up I made last month.  It needs nice, drapeable fabric, so I might even end up felting the wool into silk.  But THAT is for another sample!

So I made a pillow.  I even used my new sewing machine to make some fancy stitching on the back. 

We did just buy a new sofa and our pillows look so shabby now.  I like how this turned out.  Now I just need to make some more of them!

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