A Little Stitching

Time is flying by, isn’t it? I can’t believe it is April already. I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing much lately. But I’ll show you a little stitching I have been working on.

Needle Felting

I started working on this 5″ x 7″ felted landscape a couple of weeks ago. I needle felted first and then machine needle felted.

Machine Stitched

Then I free motion stitched the background mountains. The foreground will be hand stitched so I thought the smaller machine stitching in the background would be less prominent.

Closer View Stitching

Here’s a little closer view. I used really dark grey, medium grey and white threads.

Ready to Stitch

And then I picked out my threads for hand stitching. That’s as far as I have gotten. I haven’t been motivated to pick it up and start the hand stitching since then. The plan is to use distorted cross stitch on the tree area.

Quilting Complete

I decided that I should start using some of the fabric that I have “decorated” with my local group. So I took out my soy wax batik fabrics and decided to make book covers. I thought they might be good to sell in the store so I found some inexpensive sketch books to cover. I stitched several fabrics together and backed it with batting and quilted it.

Straight Line QuiltingOn the grid pattern, I just used a straight stitch.

Stitched Pebbles

I did free motion stitching around the leaves and the “pebbles”.

Smaller Notebook Cover

Then I followed Lyric Kinard’s tutorial for making a book cover. She does give a general idea of how to measure but that somehow didn’t work for me. The first one above, was too small and the book wouldn’t fit in.

Back of Smaller Cover

Here’s the back. Now I need to find a book that fits it. It is about 5″ x 8″.

Larger Notebook Cover

Then I decided I would make the next one bigger. And of course it was too big for the books I had purchased. It did however fit the sketchbook that I carry all the time. So I guess I’ll just have to keep this one.

Back of Larger Cover

Here’s the back. The only problem is that I sewed the inside fabric upside down.

Inside Cover

The fabric is right side up here but the book is upside down. Of course I could use the back as the front but I like the leaves better than the grid. So I just won’t worry about all that upside down writing. I think it’s in French so I can’t read it anyway!

Fabric on Batting with Notebooks

So on to making some more that fit. You can see the pile of notebooks in the upper right corner of the photo. I am using a piece of break down screen printed fabric this time. I have laid it out on a piece of batting.

Safety Pins in Place

I safety pinned it to the batting to get ready to do some free motion quilting.

Free Motion Stitching

And off I go.

More Free Motion Stitching

I am using a blue-green cotton thread and I really like how the outline looks. I considered using a red thread but thought it might be a bit much on the contrast.

Free Motion Stitching

I still have a way to go on the quilting for this one. Hopefully, I’ll do a better job on getting the size correct this time. Three times a charm, right?



Posted in Stitching | Tagged , | 24 Comments

Identifying Customer Problems and Product Benefits

In my previous marketing post, I asked, “Who Are Your customers?”  We had a nice discussion on the forum about customers and how some of the members found their markets.  Some of the members who are selling products that responded had to think hard about it.  But once they did give it some thought, they had a good idea of who their customers are.  Of course, those people selling multiple types of products had a broader range of customers depending on the product.gift giver

As a summary, I’ve compiled a very general profile:

  • Women were the primary market
  • Ages 25-65
  • Who have disposable income
  • Who value handmade goods and specialized services

There were several common threads in the development of an art business, whether it was intended to start a business or not.

  • Product appeal and uniqueness
  • Seeing the product as a gift for oneself or someone else
  • Word of mouth

Leonor (Felt Buddies) and Carole aka craftywoman each experienced the building of a potential or actual business through word of mouth.  It doesn’t just happen to artists. It can happen on a major scale in the corporate world as well.

word of mouthI worked for one company that did not have a sales force, did no advertising and at the time were in 18 states with their own warehousing and distribution systems.  All of the growth was due to word of mouth.  What they had was a unique concept that was appealing to parents at schools who did fundraising to help the school support special programs.  No door to door selling required!  Products were ordered ahead of time and delivered once a month to the school.  Volunteers ran the sale. This all evolved because one woman provided something other than baked goods for her child’s fundraising program at school.  Word spread quickly and a business was born!

The customers (parents who convinced school officials to use the program) were the company’s best salespeople!  But that doesn’t mean a business can always depend on that.  It’s up to the business owner to know their customers, the problem being solved and the benefit to the customer.  For this company, it was parents and administrators who needed to raise funds.  The benefit was the school being able to raise funds without sending children door to door and excellent products being delivered to the school.  Parents and teachers felt good to help out, keep the programs running and still benefit by obtaining excellent and unique products for their families.  Win, win for everyone.

For your business, it may mean a customer needing to find a unique gift (problem).  When they purchase one of your items, they feel good about finding something meaningful and/or unique (benefit.)

Let’s look at a few examples from my perspective:

Ann (Shepardess) makes fingerless mitts that are popular with young women.  Problem:  The women like to text, but find it too hard to do with traditional gloves.  Benefit:  They can keep their hands warm and text to their hearts content while making a fashion statement.

Ann's fingerless mitts

Ann’s fingerless mitts

Leonor makes custom felted animals.  Problem:  Pet owners want a remembrance of their beloved animals or a unique gift resembling a favorite pet for a family member or friend.   Benefit: The lifelike miniature brings joy and sometimes comfort to the recipient. The gift giver feels good about giving a special gift.

Worrying about capturing this pet's personality

Worrying about capturing this pet’s personality

Carole has been making flower brooches and hair clips for her friend’s craft fair this summer.  Problem:  Her friend needed inexpensive items to sell.  Benefit:  Fun, bright, inexpensive items customers will feel good about purchasing and using and will help fair sales.

Carole's Flower Pins

Carole’s Flower Pins

What problems can you solve for your customers and what benefits can you provide for them?  You may be thinking  “problem,” my customers don’t have problems to solve.  Maybe they just like to buy pretty, artsy things, then switch the word problem to goal if that helps you to understand your buyers needs better.

Food for thought:  Are you a loyal customer?  What are the attributes about those businesses you frequent that makes it appealing for you to keep going back? What are the benefits you get from shopping there?  How can you use this information to understand your buyers better?

photo 1

Thank you to everyone who shared their experience with me on the forum and gave me permission to use that information and pictures.

Watch the Marketing section on the forum for more discussion.





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Drawstring Bag and Not a Jackson Pollock

My girlfriend bought me a bike a couple of months ago and a big sturdy lock for it. There’s nowhere to attach the lock to the bike though, so I thought I’d make myself a drawstring bag just big enough for carrying the lock and a few tools. The first bag I made turned out a little too small and a bit thin on the bottom so I’ve put that to the side for now. I used a bigger template for the next one. I started working inside out and laid out some pieces of silk and cotton gauze in shades of black and white for the front. I was just going to use black Merino for the top layer, but compared to the black, the silk looked blueish so I used some dark ‘midnight’ blue Merino as well. This is how the front turned out after felting:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the back I started with a piece of black silk chiffon, I thought it’d help reduce pilling (bobbles) if the bag rubbed on my back while riding. It really sunk in and isn’t really visible unless you look really hard! I used some grey merino with the black for the back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI wanted to keep the natural top edges, but it seemed simpler to cut it straight across for adding the webbing I wanted to use as a channel for the cord. I cut the bag at the top at each side, slightly smaller than the width of the webbing I was using, then I sewed the webbing on with the machine, leaving each end open. You can see from this photo that I used some scrim for a lining on the bag.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI blanket stitched along the top edge to make it look nice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’d originally planned to use eyelets at the bottom for the cord to go through, but after looking online I had a choice of spending a small amount of money for a few eyelets and a little plastic kit, or a large amount of a money for a really sturdy metal looking kit and about 400 eyelets. I’m not planning on making that many bags, so I decided to just cut the holes I needed and blanket stitch around them :)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI attached the cords so that the shoulder straps were also the drawstring closure. I used spring toggles so that I can shorten the straps too in case the bag hangs low while riding.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd this is what it looks like closed. I must admit, I was surprised how well it turned out!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m just in time for Ruth’s Jackson Pollock studio challenge. I thought of many things to do for this, one idea was to do wool and wire sculptures based on some sculptures Jackson Pollock dabbled with. I thought about ‘action painting’ some silk, but in the end, I thought I’d do something based on some works of his that weren’t action paintings. They had large areas of coloured shapes, this is a good example. I thought I’d ‘modernise’ it a bit though and use brighter colours and silk and gauze pieces. And since I was enjoying making bags, I thought I’d use my idea and make a bag at the same time. The bag turned out great! The design though, was a little bit bright, and really, not in the slightest like a Jackson Pollock painting!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI need to get some nice webbing or braiding for the cord channel, but I’ll show the full bag when it’s finished.

Posted in Challenges, Experiments, Wet Felting | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

Felting with friends Weekend- Hats

More on my felting weekend.  We all meat at Maureen’s ( http://www.dreamspinfibres.ca/ ) A great place, she has so much fiber to choose from.

Three of us made hats based on a hat in Judit Pocs video. It seems to be gone from the internet. It was mostly about making a rug.  This is Diane and Susan( http://www.suzannetowns.ca/ ) sizing up a template.

Diane and Susan

They made their hats on the first day. They like a really firm hat so their scaled up the template and added more layers than I do.

laying out fiber laying out fiber 2

more colour and embelishments 3 dianes hat half done 2

Susan added come great colour  and Dian used some resists to reveal some fabric on the layer underneath.

Diane and Susan finnished hats 2

Diane added a string of small felted yarn balls to her hat. The parts that stick down were up to high so the pulled them down and twisted them to get them in a better position.

On the second day I did my hat. I adjusted the pointy parts so they would be lower. and left the pointy top smaller.

my hat ready to felt my hat finished my hat finnished 2

I should have used a different colour yarn for the embellishments. The colour was much to close the hat colour.

Dian made another hat on the second day. I didn’t get any pictures of it in progress. the template was like witches hat.

dianes seconed hat 3 dianes seconed hat 4

I have to give one of these a try. I like the way it is folded in on itself.



Posted in Uncategorized, Wet Felting, Experiments, Design, Felted Hats | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

When Do You Give Up on a Design?

I have been taking an online class Designing with Circles 1 and 2 by Gail Harker and wrote a post a while ago showing some samples from my sketchbook. Of course, I just showed you the pages that I liked. As part of the course, I and other students had an online discussion with Gail going over questions we had sent in and showing pages from student work. It was a very interesting discussion and I learned that you shouldn’t give up on a design if you don’t like it, you should see if there are ways to change, crop or enhance your design to improve it.

Ugliest Doodle

One of the class assignments is to doodle. I have a very hard time doodling and the photo above shows what I called “The Ugliest Doodle Ever”. The background was done with breakdown screen printing and the doodle was done with colored markers. I sent a copy to Gail and said she could use it as an example of what not to do. But Gail saw something in the doodle that I hadn’t even noticed. She saw a prehistoric bird in a cave drawing. I never saw the bird before she pointed it out. During the class discussion, she showed how she had put the image into Photoshop and made some changes making the drawing a considerably better design. So I was inspired to take this really ugly design and improve it.

Ugliest Doodle 2

The first thing I did was erase the big “femur” in the middle of the design going over the bird’s legs. That made a huge difference for me because that part really bugged me. But the design was done in ink and I had given up because I didn’t know how I could make it any better unless I just painted over the whole page.

Ugliest Doodle 4

Then in Photoshop, I filled in the background pattern and redrew the green legs. Now I was ready to play with filters, lighting and color.

Ugliest Doodle 5

This is using the “posterize” filter. It highlights the edges with black. Another thing Gail pointed out was the “alligator” on the right side of the design. She suggested that the design could be cropped in different areas to take certain parts and use them as a separate design.

Ugliest Doodle 6

I don’t remember all the filters and steps I did in Photoshop but just played around and saved the ones that I thought had potential.

Ugliest Doodle 7

As you can see, it really changes the look of the design and gives you thoughts about how you could use the design differently.

Ugliest Doodle 8

I think this one is neon glow.

Ugliest Doodle 10

Or how about purple and black?

Ugliest Doodle 12Or orange anybody?

Ugliest Doodle 14

This is my favorite one. I can actually think of how I could use this in a textile context. It was really an eye opening experience. I think that we might all have a tendency to give up too soon on certain designs that don’t work out the way we intended. What do you think?


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Ruffled Nuno Felted Silk Scarf

I personally like the feel of silk.  So, I decided to learn to make a silk ruffled edge on a scarf.  This was an experiment for the ruffle and using a few other techniques with different fabrics and yarns. While I’m not a pink person, I thought if this turned out well I’d give it as a gift or sell it.

Before starting, I decided to make the scarf two-sided. So, I had to use flipping boards which I marked off with two colors of tape.  Blue to show the outside lines of the ruffle and regular masking tape for the place to join the edge of the silk ruffle and the inside design area.

I used a piece of hand dyed pink chiffon.  The chiffon shrank a little with the dyeing process, so I allowed for some more during felting.  The piece measured 20 1/2′ by 86″ (52 cm x 218.44 cm) to start with before folding over 2″ (5.08 cm) on each side for the ruffle.  I used a ruler and iron as I went along .  To make sure the silk edge stayed down, I used fabric glue along the edge.  This dissolved during the felting.

2014-03-17 14.47.45

The flipping boards are from insulation board I bought from the local hardware store.  They were kind enough to cut it in half lengthwise for me.   I covered the edges in duct tape to protect them from water damage.

I carefully laid the silk open edge up following the lines on the board.  I put wisps of pink and white roving lengthwise along the ruffle edges careful to have a little over each side of the raw edge.  Because the wool will shrink lengthwise it gathers up the material on both sides creating the ruffle.  I used some pink mohair yarn in a design down the middle and left fringe hanging on both ends.  I covered the raw edges with wisps of wool.

I used some tencel in addition to random wisps of wool for ruching and two different yarns to decorate the first side.

pink scarf materialsWhen the first side was done, I very carefully rolled plastic wrap (out of the box) over the first side.  I cut it off with a scissors a little longer than the design.  Since the wrap as not as wide as the design, I had to overlap a second layer in the center to cover the width.  Rolling the wrap helps keep the design in place and creates less static than trying to pull a piece off and laying it over the design.  Using my hands, I gently pressed down along the design to remove any air bubbles.  You could also use a rolling pin or foam noodle.

I covered the plastic with bubble wrap bubbles down.  Then I placed the second board on top being careful not to disturb the design. I secured the boards with panty hose tied tightly in three places along the board. Then I carefully flipped the boards.  It’s best to do if you have help, but not necessary if you have enough room to do so without juggling it around. Any kind of ties would work as long as you can secure them tightly without disturbing the design.  I just had an abundance of old pantyhose.

2014-03-17 14.56.43My table is shorter than the boards, so I made sure the boards were centered over the table.  The last thing I wanted was for the scarf to go sliding to the floor.  After removing the ties,  I used a chop stick to gently lift it slightly to make sure the design hadn’t been disturbed and lifted up slowly. Any static can cause the silk, wool and decorations to shift.

On the second side, I used pieces of silk gauze and a sparkly open weave fabric (different shapes with wool under and along the edges) and a pin/gold mohair yarn along the center of the ruffle seam on each side leaving fringes on each end.  I covered the raw edges of the ends with wool and used some of the pink/gold yarn across.

SAMSUNGWhen I was satisfied with the design, I covered this side with netting and began wetting it down with room temperature soapy water (for me this usually turns cold quickly since I work in a cold basement.) For this project, I used a sprayer with a few drops of Dawn dish soap being careful not to over wet it.  Then I used a foam roller and rolled over the scarf to help disperse the water more evenly.  I checked for dry and overly wet spots. I used a sponge to pick up excess water and applied more water to dry areas.

Then I began rolling, starting at one end using a foam pool noodle cut to size.  I rolled for ten minutes, unwrapped and started the roll from the opposite end.  I did this several more times check to see how well the fibers were starting to felt on both sides and everything was evenly wet.  I started with light pressure and increased a little more with each roll. When I thought the fibers were starting to felt, I flipped it over, removed the plastic wrap and started again alternating the direction of the rolling and increasing pressure.

There were a few spots of the dark pink yarn in the center that weren’t sticking, so I re-wet those areas with soapier water and continued to roll.  Now, I would just run the soap bar over the netting and rub.

After I finished rolling, I used hot slightly soapy water to full on the glass bead board rubbing in all directions, but particularly lengthwise along the ruffle lines.  I flipped it over and repeated the process.  Then I took it to the sink and ran it under hot then cold water while scrunching it up and throwing the wet scarf in the sink.  (I can’t help myself, I love that part.)  I let it sit in a vinegar water bath for 15 minutes, then rinsed and laid it out on towels to dry.

ps length side two ps front

The next day I measured the scarf.  It was 9″ x 55″ (22.86 cm x 139.7 cm) without the fringe.  The shrinkage was approximately 36-38% in each direction.  There were a couple of spots that needed  attention so I needle felted them down.

ps side 2

Side 1

Side 2

Side 2

I learned several things with this project.  The more wool you use along the ruffle line, the more ruffles you’ll get.  The ruffle didn’t shrink much, so the next one I made used a narrower ruffle and more wool along the ruffle seam and I got a much better ruffle. I didn’t use that as an example because it was black and it would have been hard to see.  The pink was good to use for a first time because I could see where I had the design on the back side.  While I was satisfied with the ruffles and ruching, I wasn’t in love with the scarf.  But it was an excellent learning experience. I hope this process will help those of you who would like to try a ruffled silk scarf.






Posted in Nuno Felting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

My First Felted Hat

Last time I posted, I’d been working on a hat template. A couple of days later I got a chance to work on it. I made a resist out of a large piece of dense plasticy foam stuff I had, probably some kind of packing material.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made a batt from some browns, greens and rusty orange Merino for the first couple of layers. I laid the first layer on the resist, wet it down, flipped it over then folded the wool in and finished the first layer on the other side. I repeated this colour on the second layer, but laid the wool at 90 degrees. For the third and fourth layers, I used more greeny shades, then I added some torn silk pieces (bottom right photo)

hat comp 1I felted it until it was holding together, then removed the resist. I knew it would be hard work, but hadn’t realised just how hard! I seemed to rubbing and shaping for ages. I thought a bowl I had would be good for fulling and shaping, but it was only good for a while, so I finished fulling and shaping it on my head. I didn’t consider that it would shrink some more so it ended up a bit too small. Using my head made it more of a cloche hat than a bucket hat too. But, not bad for a first go, I think.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe brim wasn’t very even, though it did feel good being smaller at the back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t think the brim was wide enough, at the front either. Some of the silk pieces came off and I realised I should have worked inside out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd, upside down it does look a bit like those moulded cardboard bed-pans :)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI might rework the template and try again. Maybe :)

Posted in Experiments, Felted Hats, Wet Felting | Tagged , , , , | 33 Comments