My name is Karen, and I run Big Sky Fiber Arts, an online store specializing in wool, effect fibers, and threads for felters and other fiber artists. I love adding three dimensional elements to my own work, and I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that dissoluble fabric might open some new artistic doors. This past week, I decided to experiment by making some needle felted leaves on dissoluble fabric. Making the leaves is very simple, and it is a good project for all levels.
To make the leaves, I photocopied dried leaves I collected this fall. I traced an outline on the picture of the leaf.
I placed my tracing under Sulky dissoluble fabric, and I traced the pattern. I began filling it in with wool. To make these leaves, I experimented with different wool. Mostly I used carded Maori (Corriedale and Coopsworth) in yolk, orange, red, and soft fruits as the fibers are short and easy to control. I added some additional color with bulky carded Corriedale in various shades (peach melba, whirlpool, and sour cherry). I also experimented with merino. The Maori leaves came out a bit firmer, and they filled in more quickly than the merino leaves.
I added in veins. Where the veins seemed too prominent, I added thin wisps of wool to cover the veins. I like to use all tools when needle felting. Single needles help you to add detail (such as the veins). I like to use the needle holder with five needs when covering a lot of territory. I use the three needle tool the most as it gives a lot of control.
I cut around the leaf to remove the dissoluble fabric. I put it in a bowl with warm water for about three minutes, swirling it around a bit.
When the fabric was gone, I placed it flat on a towel. Rather than wringing it out, I pressed it dry with a paper towel. I then propped the leaves on, yes, measuring cups. As the leaf dries, you can give it a little shape by positioning it as you like.
In the future, I might consider doing some free motion stitching on the leaf once it is dry. You could use a mixture of half glue/half water to stiffen the leaf. You would paint it onto the leaf, and then form it. Here is close-up of a different leaf.
I decided to put the leaves on fabric, and I wanted to couch threads and yarns around the leaves. I choose a stiff fusible stabilizer (Pellon 71). I covered it with a batik, and then I covered the batik with a hand dyed silk fabric. I used a spray adhesive to hold the silk to the fabric. I couched sari yarn and hand dyed threads onto the fabric. I added a layer of batting and backing fabric. I used a few of my machine’s fun stitches to add texture, and I also quilted in some regular lines. I then sewed the leaves onto the fabric with a row of stitches down the center vein. I may still add more stitching and beads. If you want to learn more about this method of stitching and couching threads, check out the wonderful work of Carol Ann Waugh (http://www.carolannwaugh.com/).
I can think of other leaves that might be fun to try with this method, or perhaps some flower petals.
Are there ways you could use dissoluble fabric and needle felting?
Feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions!
Big Sky Fiber Arts
24 thoughts on “Felted Leaves”
Great leaves Karen. I would like to make myself a woodland bag with leaf decoration one day so these would be perfect. I guess the thickness is down to personal choice ?
Thank you. Absolutely! If you made them thinner, you could always stiffen them with a glue/water mixture. I think they would be really pretty this way.
That’s a great way to make needle-felted leaves! They look wonderful against the blue.
Thanks, Lyn. It is always fun to have a small project you can work on anywhere.
These leaves turned out beautifully. Thanks for sharing the method.
My pleasure. Thank you for checking them out, Robin!
very nice, and interesting use of materials
Thanks, Kathryn. I love collecting threads and fibers!
Also, thanks for the link to your shop!
Great idea! Thanks for sharing!
My pleasure! I had fun making them.
An interesting idea and a great way to stabilise thin needle felt while making it. would it be easiest to do the stitching on the leaves before dissolving them? then you only have to stabilise them once. They look lovely on the your stitched background.
Absolutely! I would definitely stitch the leaves before dissolving them. I think stitching them would be very fun and could add to the look.
I realized above I said stitch after dry. But, it would be far easier to stitch with the stabilizer before dissolving the leaves.
Beautiful, delicate yet very realistic fall leaves, only yours won’t crumble. ;-). Thanks for sharing your method.
Thanks for the post Karen! I love the look of your leaves against the background. Such a great color combination.
Thanks, Ruth. They are some of my favorite colors.
Lovely! I’ve thought about dissolving stabilizer but haven’t yet tried it; this gives me somewhere to start. Beautiful colors, and I like the batik background and couching.
Thanks so much, Cathy! It could be fun to practice with flowers as well.
The leaves are great and really stand out against the nice background 🙂 One of my first ‘proper’ needlefelt projects was a sycamore leaf. I was going to say the same as Ann about stitching, and could you leave a little bit of the soluble fabric on to provide stiffness? I’ve seen Ruth do it on projects, not tried it myself 🙂
Absolutely. These are great tips!
I found this fascinating and so beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing this process!
I’m so glad! Thank you!