Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Free Needle Felting Project For You!

A beautiful embellishment to a ready-to-wear garment can really personalize your wardrobe.  How about an easy floral design on a sweater done by hand needle felting?  If you've wanted to try your hand at this craft, it's both quick to learn and the tools are affordable.  Basic needle felting instructions are easy to find online by searching "how to needle felt".  And needle felting designs can be easily made from wool applique and punchneedle pattern designs, so the ideas are limitless!

General Supplies:
Needle Felting Tool; Pen Style Needle Felting Tool; Large Felting Pad; Natural Wool Roving: Off-White, Light Blue, Teal, Blue, Lime Green, Moss Green, Caramel, Light Yellow, Black; Sweater or garment to embellish; Scissors; Pins; Chalk

First, create a paper pattern from the template below.  Cut out the flower and leaf centers from the pattern.  Find the right placement for your embellishment by pinning the paper pattern to the garment and trying on the sweater.  Adjust as needed.  The design for this cardigan sweater was positioned about 3” down from the top shoulder seam and about 3” from the collar’s side edge.  Use a piece of white chalk to mark the flower and leaf locations and remove the pattern.  Place the area of the garment that will be embellished on top of the large felting pad.

Began by creating the flower stems. Remove a small long hank of caramel roving and fold back one end. Twist this end, and with the pen felting tool, tack the end at the point where the stem begins. Be sure to remove pins before felting in those areas. With one hand begin to twist the roving semi tightly while felting it in place with the other hand. Stems have a gentle curve to their end. When the bottom of the stem is reached, cut the roving with scissors a little longer than the length needed and felt in the end. Go back and securely felt the stems until they feel very secure.

To create the leaves, take a small hank of lime green roving and spread it thinly across the felting pad, end to end (if it overlaps, that is fine). Spread another slightly thicker hank of moss green roving the opposite direction on the pad. Felt these crossed roving pieces to the pad and then loosely wrap any overlapped roving on all sides and felt these in place. Turn piece over on the pad and fold it in half. Felt this together. Turn piece over again and fold in half. Felt this together. Piece will be thick now; remove from pad. Trace or copy the leaf patterns onto paper and cut out these shapes. Take the first leaf pattern and line it up with one edge of the green roving piece. With scissors, cut around the roving piece just outside of the pattern. There should be enough of the mottled green roving piece left over to cut the second leaf pattern as well. Position the leaves at the bottom of the stem areas and felt in place using the pen felting tool. After cleaning any loose fibers, go back over the leaves with the five needle felting tool to securely set the leaves into the garment. Take a very small length of moss green roving and felt a vein in each leaf in the same manner as the stems were created.

Creating each flower involves blending together two different colors. To do this, use the amounts and colors listed below to create the gradual effect. Take a very small amount of the two roving colors and gently pull apart the fibers and bring them back together with fingers. Keep blending the two colors this way until the darker tone can barely be distinguished. These are very small amounts to work with, so there will be very little roving used to make each flower. Once satisfied with the color blending, create a ball shape with fingers and then felt into place. Move through the flower stem, gradually lessening the darker color until reaching the top flower, which is almost all white. Flowers should get gradually smaller as their color lightens. Position flowers on either side of the stem, but not exactly parallel to one another. Do this shading for the second smaller flower stem, however eliminate those levels of solid color (see color shading key below). Finish the flowers by felting a very small ball of yellow roving in each flower’s center with the pen felting tool. Go over each flower with larger felting tool to further set in the flowers. Use the pen felting tool to clean up around the edges by felting in any loose fibers.

Color Shading Key:
Top flowers: Off-White, very small amount of Light Blue
2nd level flowers: Light Blue, very small amount of Teal
3rd level flowers: Teal only
4th level flowers: Teal, very small amount of Blue
5th level flowers: Blue only
Bottom level flowers: Blue, very small amount of Black

Wow!  Wasn't that easy and quick?  And this wonderful embellishment is securely attached to your garment and will withstand regular laundering.  If those fiber "hairs" do peak out, just resecure them with a little more felting.

For more needle felting designs with lots of detailed instructions and photo illustrations, check out my epatterns that may be purchased from the right side column of my blog, in my Etsy shop, or on Patternmart.  Enjoy!

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