New fabric from scraps

Or….the reason to never throw anything away!

The new year has started, in fact it is speeding by way too fast, I’d actually like for it to slow down a bit – that said there are a few days I would not wish to repeat. In Lindsay’s recent post she was indulging in an Experimentanuary with some great results. I however have decided that the new decade (we won’t go into the argument of does the decade start at 0 or 1!) needs a new approach and have embraced ‘Tidyanuary’. I am tackling something (whether a kitchen cupboard or simply a pot of pens) every day and employing the positive rather than the negative. So, I’m asking myself ‘what do I want to keep, what has particular memories or value to me?’ – I’m definitely seeing good results….by 2030 I’ll let you all know if I have finished the task!

For this post and in line with the above (so – using things rather than just storing!) I thought I’d revisit a technique I learned years ago – making new fabric from scraps (some of them being not much bigger than a thumb nail!). The technique is nothing new but is good fun, simple and relatively quick and allows you to have fun with the sewing machine. It was seeing Ruth’s playful colour samples and my stitch trials that prompted my ‘ah ha’ moment, more later.

Before I begin I must repeat a quote EPH (Ever Patient Husband) found recently….’buying craft supplies and undertaking a craft are two completely different hobbies’. Need I say anything here?

I created this piece in 1995 (yep something else stored!) and I certainly suffered for my art….I had to eat lots of chocolates with beautiful wrappers!

So the technique for making new fabric from scraps….

Very simply – place little bits of Bondaweb (Wondaweb in the States I think) on some base fabric. I usually use fabric from old bed sheeting/curtain lining, or similar, to back various projects where I won’t see the fabric but need it for stability. I only dot little bits of the Bondaweb here and there as I have found that covering the base fabric in its entirety makes the whole thing too stiff for me. It is also a way of using up any bits that have broken off. Depending on how precise you want to be with the next stage, it isn’t a must to iron the Bondaweb down yet.

Even simpler – you can forget the above and use iron-on interfacing. There are advantages and disadvantages….whilst it is quicker and obviously sticks more of the fabric down in one go, I have found that heavy/close machine stitching can ‘cut’ through the interfacing making the work fragile.

Then comes the fun – place scraps of fabric/ribbon/threads onto the base fabric in a random or more considered design. Place non stick parchment carefully over the scraps & iron. It will still be fragile at this point and not everything may be fixed in place.

It is fun auditioning the scraps – anything goes. I decided to cut the interfacing square so created another fabric snippet with the surplus bit.

Over the entire design place a piece of sheer fabric – voile, netting, crystal organza, etc. There are two options for doing this….1. Use more small bits of Bondaweb randomly placed to ‘tack’ the sheer in place, or 2. Pin the sheer in place. The choice of sheer texture & colour creates interesting effects to the design. Looking at my work from 1995 I think that a layer of sheer over it would have improved the piece by softening the stitching and hence the overall design.

Warning – I have in the past ironed Bondaweb to the entire piece of the sheer and then adhered it to the scrap design….not something I would recommend for the following reasons – it makes the whole fabric too stiff, it dulls the overall look/finish of the sheer, it dulls the vibrancy of the colourful scraps, and it remains tacky which in turn impedes the top stitching.

Now it is onto having fun with stitching which can either be by machine (it’s quick – so definitely my preference), by hand or a combination of both.

I quite like the reverse of the piece too. I used just 2 thread colours, a few decorative machine stitches then some colonial knots and seed stitches.

Just seeing what it will look like framed.

Like many machine stitchers I use scraps of fabric to trial my stitches – over the years some of the pieces have actually looked quite interesting, but I just threw them away. A few months ago, whilst tidying my table area, I came across some coloured paper that had been glued to a base fabric. Then Ruth started posting about her colour samples. Suddenly I had my AH HA moment that put these three separate things together.

I layer scraps of worked paper, sweet wrappers, fabric or threads etc onto a base (either method as above) sometimes adding a sheer (loose threads definitely need a sheer!), and then set them aside. When I finally sit down to do some creative machine stitching I use one of my pieces to trial the stiches….ta da!

There is a silver lining (in this case gold) to having completely covered the sheer with Bondaweb first….heat bondable foil can be easily attached!

Using this technique a few years ago I made several needle cases as presents. Of the two that I kept, the scraps on the top case were laid randomly whilst they were laid in a more rectilinear fashion on the lower one. I stitched a ribbon cord around the perimeter then edged it with satin stitch.

I actually like both sides of each case so don’t know which to make as the front.

And the finale for all my stitch trials….I can use them to make cards! The above is still a work in progress though.

This is a fun technique, which doesn’t take up any room, I hope you are inspired to try it. For me it allows the perfectionist to take a holiday and, as I also find it addictive, I set time aside to create batches of the samplers.

How do you use your scraps? We’d love to hear and learn new ways of using them.

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Trying to make up for a bad beginning to January 2020 so lets go buy more Fibre!

A bad beginning to January 2020

January 8th 2020 started a series of sudden unexpected Doctor and Dentist appointments culminating in a trip to emergency. It was an infection on one side of my face with a strong possible suspect of a broken tooth for its source. Three antibiotics later, one of them IV administered, I was off to see the dental surgeon for a consultation on Friday Jan. 17th. Really it was just to be an assessment then that word “expedited” from the specialist at the hospital came up and I was requested to return that afternoon at 3 for an extraction. They could squeeze me in while he was doing a triple wisdom tooth extraction. Oh no! Oh well, it has to be done and it would be under full anesthetic which works much better than locals for me. I’m not sure what they used this time but it must have had a codeine chaser. I was wide awake till after 4:30am last night then wide awake by 8am this morning. Since I was still a bit frozen in spots but was feeling pretty perky Glenn said he would be porter and take me as long as I took it easy.

OK now on to the fibre related stuff:


1) Wheels on Fire / Les Rouets en Feu Spin-in January 20, 2018 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Wheels on Fire is the first spin-in of the year. A time to stock up for the rest of the snow and deep freeze that can be Ottawa in the winter. Also it’s a chance to see friends from other guilds and meet some of the ladys and gentlemen from the Quebec side of the river.

It is held at Le Cabane just at the edge of the Gatineau park. It’s an old log building with a few large meeting rooms, all of which were in use today by various groups. We had a lower turn-out this time due to impending snow dump forecast for later this afternoon. However, for those who could make it, there was great shopping of fibre, yarn, felting needle and holders, Japanese embroidery templates and thimbles and did I mention fibre?

There was also to be a talk and slide show on the flax study groups findings for 2019

2-12) Report on the Flax project 2019. There will be a 2020 Flax project if you want to join in on this summer and fall’s study group you still have time to sign up.

Glenn found a great spot in the far corner and I set up for felting then I promptly wandered off to get photos. I keep forgetting to get of shot of the outside of the building before I go in. Sorry, but if you want to see a summer shot of the building you could take a peek here:

please note the size of the logs as you see the inside pictures.   Finally a few shots of vendors and participants:

13 13)  $5.00 cost to get in, Tim Hortons coffee and the roll of door prize tickets.

 14—16)  The drawing and the Door prizes

 17-18) the Cabane and the man who created it.

 19 -20) Fibre cleaning supplies for sale

 21-23) Icelandic fleeces and kids leather mitts.

  24-30)Fibre buttons and felting supplies

 31 – 33) the pink blue and white batts are the from the fibre she won a couple years ago at wheels on fire 2018!It was a donation from the Wool Growers Co-Op in Carlton Place (just west of Ottawa)

  34-36) stitch markers

  37-40) Bernadette organized the event, selling batts and locks of fibre.

 41- 47)Weaving and spinning wooden supplies, more fibre!

  48-50) Art batts, wild colour batts!

 51-54) basketry complete with a demo! (he does workshops and gives very good presentations on basketry)

                   55                            55)Yarn to knit or weave

 56-59) Indigo dyed cloths, natural dyed yarn, Japanese Embroidery –kits supplies needles and templates.

                       60                    60) Really big logs

 61-75 some of the participants today

 76-80) Ceinture Flechee


After such a fun day the snow started and we all made a run for home. Even with the threat of the impending storm the day was wonderful. There were many of the items I was hoping to find for sale and it was lots of fun talking with many of my fibre Friends.

81-82) The storm was just starting. It was time to get home and back to indoor ice (pack) and antibiotics!

Now home I can write up my day and a few quick shot of today’s purchases to inspire your own shopping. I think my year may be looking up since both Glenn and I won door prizes! He got the silk wash and I won Green Locks from Bernadette!

83-87) Shopping! (i went from 6 students for a full class to 18 students wanting to take needle felted sheep workshop so i had to get more supplys!)

I hope your year is starting out with lots of fibre and no trips to doctors and dentists!

Posted in Spinning, Uncategorized | Tagged | 16 Comments

Holiday Card

Now that my partner has finally received her card I can tell you about it.

First I made a background using some prefelt and added some northern lights. I then wet felted it all together. they are not felted hard because it is small and is an art piece.

Next, I added the trees along the far hill and a nice big evergreen and a barn using prefelt again.

I added some snow to the tree and added some definition to the barn. I also added the fence wire using perspective so I could add the posts along the right line.

Then came the fence posts and some shading for the snow-covered ground.

and finally I added the sheep( I bet you are not surprised that I added sheep) and trimmed the northern lights so I could turn it into a card. I always do my card as a postcard so they can easily be framed if someone wants to. I just print off a postcard back from the internet and iron it onto the back with a fusible web. I was in a hurry to get it in the mail at that point and didn’t get a picture.

I made a second one at the same time. I like to have 2 to choose from when sending a card. This one I kept. I will frame it. I haven’t decided if I will keep the northern lights projecting over the mat board or trim them off as I did in the one I sent.

I wish I had a better picture for you but I have put it someplace safe and now I can’t find it. I am sure I will come across it when I am looking for something else.

Posted in Design, Finishing/Framing, hand stitching, Inspiration, Needle Felting, Prefelt, Stitching, Uncategorized, Wet Felting | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Felt Pod with Differential Shrinkage and Machine Lace

I am continuing on with my experiments with differential shrinkage. I wanted to add some free motion machine stitched lace so I started out with a very simple addition.

I thought I would add some stamens to the center of the pod. I already had black thread in the machine so I just went with that not thinking very far in advance as you will see.

I began my layout with the embroidered piece on the bottom. I covered that stamen with plastic wrap to make sure nothing would stick or felt in. I don’t think that I really needed this step and I will try without the plastic next time.

I then made one layer of black wool laying the wool out in a circular fashion.

On top of that, I added 5 cut pieces of green wool batt. There are probably 6-8 layers of batt so it is  much thicker than the black wool layer. I then went ahead and felted and fulled to get the black to shrink into a cone shape as I showed here.

I then pinned it after shaping to dry. You can see only two of the stamen as they were really not as long as I wanted them to end up. And here is the poor planning part.

You can’t see the stamen in the black center. I should have made a different color center or stitched different colored stamen. Duh!

So I will try another. I will pay more attention to the center color being contrasting with the thread color. I think I will use a resist next time to achieve a different shape.  I also want to progress to adding some texture to the outside surface with machine lace felted in – more ideas/experiments to come.


Posted in sculptural felt, Wet Felting | Tagged , | 14 Comments

3D Wet Felting Experiments (Part One)

Some people close to me are giving up eating animal-based products this month – Veganuary – while others give up alcohol – Dry January.  As I’ve set aside some time for playing with 3D wet felting this month I’m going for ‘experimentanuary’ which is much more self-indulgent and shouldn’t be compared with the other examples but what the heck?!

I’ve had various ideas simmering in the back of my mind for a while, so now is the time to bring some to the boil:

  • Last summer I noticed some particularly lovely fungus growing on a dead tree trunk.
  • Since the wonderful Gladys Paulus seed pods workshop I did in November I’ve been thinking about how to felt sprouting seeds.
  • A couple of months ago I saw a call for submissions for an open exhibition across three local galleries (Creek Creative in Faversham, The Fishslab in Whitstable and Beach Creative in Herne Bay) with the title ‘Map’ – to be interpreted as widely as you like. 

From a sprouting seed to fungus on a dead tree I’ve been mulling over the idea of ‘mapping’ life cycles.

First I think about texture. I’ve stitched a piece of thin grey Shetland wool pre-felt into ridges with no specific end in mind so I loosely wrap it around a lozenge-shaped resist covered in 2 layers of wetted brown Finnish wool – all from carded batts – to see what happens (I usually use wool tops so this is another experiment). 

First experimental pod

The remains of the ridges give an interesting texture and I like the top where pre-felt was lightly pushed together – it reminds me of the ‘seam’ on a walnut shell. 

I remember some thick lacy fabric (maybe linen) I’d found in a charity shop which created an interesting texture when I felted a sample so I dig that out and decide to give it a try.

Sample of second-hand fabric when felted with merino wool

I cut out two egg-shaped pieces of the fabric and a slightly smaller resist (to give me a seam round the middle), lay three layers of white Finnish wool on each side of the resist, put the fabric on top and add some tufts of wool on top of the fabric, particularly round the edges.

Here’s the pod as I’m ready to cut out the resist and start fulling more vigorously and the finished item – which I think looks rather like an almond / walnut hybrid. I like the texture and shape.

I wonder what would happen if I used darker wool under the fabric and if I didn’t put any wool on top, so I decide to have a go. 

I’ve already made the ‘sprout’ section from a green dyed Perendale carded batt with two leaves at one end of a felt rope, unfelted wool at the other end so I can felt it into a seed pod.  Using the same resist I snug the unfelted end of the sprout under 3 layers of natural grey Shetland wool and add the fabric.

I put the unfelted end of the sprout next to the resist
Shetland wool added

As I rub the pod I wonder if it was wise to try the fabric with no wool on top because it doesn’t look like anything is happening for quite a while but it’s one of those times when you just have to have faith in felting and keep going. I’m relieved when I look side-on and see the wool hairs coming through. 

Looking at the edge I can just see that the wool is coming through

Here’s the pod when it’s dry.  I knew I would need to stiffen the stem for it to stand up in the way I want.  Although it’s fulled very hard, as soon as you tilt it it won’t hold the weight of the leaves. I got some advice from the forum here on using GAC 400 so thought I’d try that.

Finished felting but the stem needs stiffening (it’s leaning against the wall!)

Here’s where I’d like to be showing you the finished pod but unfortunately I bought the wrong product (GAC 500 instead of GAC 400) so I’m now waiting for the right product to arrive before I can go ahead.

While waiting, I’ve made another seed pod based on something between a sweet chestnut and a hazelnut using 3 shades of Finnish wool. 

I’ve also made the rest of the ‘lifecycles’ pieces….or at least I think I have, but I keep thinking of other things I could add, like maybe a stag beetle, so who knows?

There’s a danger of this becoming a very long blog because I’m having so much fun. How many pieces will I submit to the exhibition? Will my entry be accepted? The submission deadline is later this month so I don’t yet know the answers to those questions. In my next guest blog spot I’ll show how I developed the log with fungus and lichen, a piece of (mostly) flat felt for them to sit on, and let you know what happens about the exhibition. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Degumming Silk Throwsters Waste

Today we have a throwback post. It was originally posted by Zed in 2011. Jan is ill and can’t make a post and I thought this would be interesting to everyone.

A few years ago I was given some gorgeous multi-coloured Throwsters waste in a fibre swap. I’ve always used it sparingly, worried it’d run out and I’d have to begrudgingly pay a ridiculous amount of money for a tiny handful. Then a few months ago I was ordering wool and fibres from World of Wool and thought I’d take the plunge and order some gummed throwster’s waste since it cost less for 100g than most people charge for 10g dyed. I had no idea it’d be so stiff and dull! The complete opposite of what I was used to. I had absolutely no idea how to de-gum it either 🙂

A couple of days later after a few hours searching the internet, I was confident I’d pieced together enough info to try de-gumming for myself. I thought I’d probably have to try it a few times before getting it right, but was pleasantly surprised to see it work first time with excellent results 🙂

If you’d like to try it yourself or are just interested in the process, I’ve made a tutorial with lots of photos and an easy to follow table for working out quantities.

Degumming Silk Throwsters Waste

I’ll be following up later this week with a tutorial for direct dyeing small amounts of animal fibres with acid dyes, which can be used to dye your degummed throwster’s waste some gorgeous colours 🙂

I have to say Thank You to foragingfibers whose pictures convinced me it was worth trying to degum my own throwster’s waste 🙂

Posted in Experiments, Other Fibers, Silk, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

A fun pot making class

Not long ago I taught a fun pot class. To make it a little different than an upsidedown hat class I taught them how to make it a different colour inside and out.

Heres the laying out and assembling the 2 colour pots.

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After the layers are assembled it’s time to add some embellishments.

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And after much rubbing, rolling and throwing you get to blow up a balloon inside to let it dry. Here is everyone together, and you will notice one of the pots somehow turned into a hat. The close-ups are below. All in all a fun day playing with wool and making felt.

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