Free Motion Machine Stitching on Felt

I have tons of pieces of screen printed felt that I made as samples for my screen printing class. I decided in the spirit of finishing UFO’s that I wanted to do some free motion machine stitching and use the screen printed felt. I am also working on the next class which includes using a stencil to decorate felt. So I started with a couple of background pieces that had been screen printed with a soy wax screen. I made a stencil of a fish design that I “borrowed” from a brew pub that we visited in NYC a couple of years ago. I then stenciled the fish on to the background felt. Once that dried, I free motion stitched around the outline of the fish. That was a good warm up since I hadn’t used my machine for a while.

The two pieces were about 12″ square and after I stitched the fish, I wrapped each one around a black canvas. The top and the bottom edges were left with a natural felted edge instead of cutting it completely straight.

Close Up of Stitching

Perhaps you can see the stitching in this photo if you click on it to enlarge it.

Finished Stenciled Fish on Felt

Here are the two canvases together. I like how these turned out and may hang them in the guest bathroom. I haven’t decided yet. I won’t sell these since the fish isn’t my own design.

Free Motion Stitching on Felt - Berries

Next I decided to use a few pieces of silk screened felt that I over dyed blue. The over dye was a bit dark so it needed a light thread to show up well.

Free Motion Stitching on Felt - Leaves

Here’s the second one. All of these designs are from work I did in my Level 2 Experimental Stitch class. I thought it would be easier to repeat a design since my free motion skills were a bit rusty.

Free Motion Stitching on Felt - Clematis

The last one I decided to add a bit more dense stitching and “color” in the sketch. I always wonder why I don’t do free motion more often because it’s something I really enjoy. The screen printed felt pieces make nice backgrounds. All of these are 6-8″ or so they don’t take very long to stitch up. I have a lot more so hopefully, I’ll have time to do some more.

About ruthlane

When I discovered felting in 2007, I finally found the creative outlet for which I had been searching. I love that the versatility of fiber allows me to “play” with a wide variety of materials including wool, silk, fabrics, yarns and threads. Creating one of a kind fiber art pieces to share with the world fulfills my creative passion.
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22 Responses to Free Motion Machine Stitching on Felt

  1. Lyn says:

    The fish are lovely and would be great decoration in a bathroom.

    I like the first blue background – very dramatic – it makes the yellow leaves appear more delicate than maybe they would do on a lighter background.
    The dense stitching has produced flowers that look as though they are 3D and coming out of the frame to greet you – beautiful.

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Lyn! The only issue with the fish in the bathroom is the colors don’t go very well. I think I’ll need to re-do the bathroom now 🙂

  2. rosalindmoehi says:

    very nice. Love it!

  3. zedster66 says:

    Wow, these are all great, Ruth 🙂 I like the idea of leaving the natural edges on the top and bottom of the first two pieces. The ‘coloured in’ flowers are great, I’d never have realised they were stitches without zooming in.

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Zed – don’t tell anyone but I left the edges that way because the felt wasn’t long enough to wrap around 🙂

  4. Cathy says:

    Love these.

  5. Elena says:

    Ruth, these are marvelous. I’m curious what are you using to apply designs via stencils? The red looks very saturated. Is this only for items that won’t be worn/washed? Does it stiffen the felt? Thank you for your time.

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Elena! For the fish I used screen printing ink and it does leave a hand. It could probably be washed but I use it for pieces that won’t be worn or washed. But you can do this with thickened acid dyes and get the same results. The dyes won’t stiffen the felt and can be used for items that are washed or worn. My upcoming online class is all about how to stencil, stamp and play with thickened dye on felt. It will be in the fall when I get the class completed.

  6. Lilly Hooch says:

    They are all just beautiful. I would love to do your workshops, but a bit far away for me unfortunately.

  7. Teri Berry says:

    Great designs Ruth, I love how you have used red and yellow on the fish stencil and the flowers in the last panel are stunning – lovely work!

  8. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    Very nice. Free motion stitching really makes everything pop. I’d never guess you were out of practice.

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Marilyn! The main thing I notice when I’m out of practice is making the scale and proportions right in the stitched piece.

  9. Great pieces, practicing this is still on my list. I really need to cleanout my daughters old room and move my machine in. the middle one of the blue I think needs another pop of colour like the top one has. the last one is fabulous. Dows the stitching on the fish show more in person.

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Ann – a pop of color on the leaves would certainly help it but not sure how to add it in now. You do need to have your machine set up and ready to go if you want to practice. I used to do 10-15 minutes each morning. It really helped get my confidence up.

      The stitching on the fish is subtle. It doesn’t show from a distance but does up close.

  10. 1marylou says:

    Very interesting! The stencil is perfect for the piece.

  11. Flextiles says:

    Great stitching – I rather like the minimalist leaf pieces. They evoke the feeling of a spotlight in a jungle at night.

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Kim – I too am a fan of minimalist design. Never thought about it being a spotlight in the jungle though 🙂

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