Flowers For A Gallery

Flowers For A Gallery

I was lucky enough to be accepted into a lovely gallery last year and they told me they were taking new work in, so could I submit more.

I am drawn to a vase of flowers as a subject for felting.   Maybe this is because you could create something calm and understated such as a few sweet peas in a jar, or go all out and produce a bouquet in a vase.   I created a piece depicting anemones and lilacs and I wanted to share the process of it coming to life with FME (Free Motion Embroidery), and a little hand stitching.

Here is the piece felted.  It is backed with iron on interfacing as this helps to stabilise the stitching, and also helps it to glide better on your machine plate.


I use a metal open toed darning foot to do my stitching, for some machines you can get a see through plastic foot for better visibility.  On the whole I like it, but it has one annoying  drawback, it can certainly snag!  Mine will often scoop up some of the thicker felt, and it definitely has a liking to errant nepps, and a total love affair with curly locks! So you have to keep an eye that nothing has caught whilst stitching.  There are different types of darning feet, it totally depends on your machine.  A closed toe darning foot is available to purchase (I couldn’t for my machine), but maybe the visibility of the stitches would be diminished.   I have to work with what I have, quirks and all!


So now it is ready to bring to life.  I really enjoy this part of creating a piece.  Out of habit I seem to start stitching any leaves first.   Leaves can have just an outline, or you can put a middle line down the length of the leaf , or add a few veins, the interpretation is down to you.

Here is a stitched leaf and an unstitched leaf, can you see what a difference it makes?


If any part of the piece has become wavy and lost it’s definition during the felting process, you can needle felt it into shape.


I decided to machine stitch the sides of the vase to give a little more definition too.  Be cautious about stitching absolutely everything, some parts look better as a suggestion, blending into the background.


I then turned my attention to the final part of the piece for machine decoration, the flowers.  I stitched around them and into the centre, using purple and off white threads.  There’s those nepps to watch out for!  It would make life easier to just not use them, but they are far too gorgeous not to.



Lastly I added a few French knots around the centre of the flowers to make them pop a little more.


Now that my pictures are hanging in galleries, I have started using a professional framing service.   I was lucky enough to be given the whole spectrum of sample coloured corner ‘L’ mounts that they show the public to keep, as they were getting new ones, how lucky was that?  So I can decide at my leisure what colour suits the finished piece.  I chose the colour ‘Royal Navy’ because it actually has a purplish tinge, not the deep blue you may expect.  Here it is finished.   I am showing it to you unglazed to cut out any glare.


I hope it catches someone’s eye in the gallery soon!

34 thoughts on “Flowers For A Gallery

  1. A beautiful piece Tracy, really lovely. If you don’t mind me asking, how did you attach the nepps?
    Mine are never as defined as yours. Tia.

    1. Thank you Kay for your lovely comment. I always put a few very very fine wisps of similar coloured wool over all the nepps to anchor them down. Then when you start felting, start really slow and gentle to begin with. If they start to ‘clump’ together and you want them to be more spaced out, just move them apart gently with your fingers through the netting and they should behave from there! You have to be patient with nepps, but as I said they really are gorgeous and worth it !

    2. Thank you Tracey, I have obviously been too heavy handed with the wisps of wool and will try your method. Looking forward to seeing your next creation! Best wishes from Australia.

    3. You are very welcome Kay, I hope they work better for you in the future. I am blogging creating a tea cosy 21st April, if you would like to check in then ! 🙂 Best wishes to you too.

  2. I adore this piece of art. Ive only recently started playing with wool and free motion embroidery. Thank you for sharing techniques. I did not know to put stabiliser on the back. Your work is beautiful. Janet x

    1. That is so kind Janet, thank you so much! Glad to hear you are experimenting, keep up the good work! The more things we find to make life easier, such as stabiliser, the better.

  3. Hello, this is really nice work! I hope to do some also. I will be doing a workshop with Moy Mackay in the Fall. For now, I will try some more on my own by following her two books I bought. I also love to felt…if you wish to see my work, you can come take a peak at and comment on what you think. Have you seen some of the Russian women doing lovely felt paintings on Livemaster. I am sure you will love to see it. If you need some help to see their work, I can find the link for you. Have a great day! Kathryne

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Kathryne. Your work is lovely, I did take a look. I have two books by Moy Mackay, lucky you to be doing a workshop with her in the near future, I hope you have a wonderful time. I will check out the Russian felters thank you for the tip.

  4. It will be snapped up very quickly – it’s beautiful! Love the colours too. The right frame is so important and you were very lucky to get your mitts on the sample ‘L’s.
    The nepps are worth struggling with – they add a little magic – as do the french knots.

    Yes the open toe is great for seeing where you’re going, but it certainly does snag. Judith (koffipot) gave me a link to a ‘universal’ see through darning foot (there are none to fit our old Berninas). It now works well, but as it was from the USA I had to pay £11 tax and handling and fetch it from the sorting office (oh joy) then I had to spend some time snipping metal bits off and generally adjusting it before it fitted my machine.

    1. Thank you very much Lyn! Yes the ‘L’s are a bit of a treasure. There are 62 to choose between, so I leisurely give it the ‘maybe’ ‘no’ ‘maybe’, then cut the ‘maybes’ down to a yes! I am glad you said your darning foot works well now, because the DIY bit sounded a bit scary….I could imagine you with a welding torch and a facemask….!

    1. What an incredibly generous comment Vicky, I really appreciate that very much, thank you!

    1. Thank you so much, that is excellent news! Just have a play with random stitching on a spare piece of felt. The more practice, the more confident you will become, it is good fun.

  5. Fabulous piece Tracey! I love the deep rich colors and the detail with fme. I’m sure it won’t be in the shop for long. I do have a clear fme foot for my Pfaff and it makes a difference. My Singer has a metal one which works fine but harder to see details underneath.

    1. Thank you very much Marilyn! A clear foot sounds lovely. I am on board with my metal open toe, apart from the gathering up it does from time to time as I said!

  6. Great post Tracey! Thanks again for doing all these lovely posts. Your flower vase is gorgeous and best of luck with selling it. How large is it? I have a very large vase of flowers that I made but no luck selling it yet. I think I might take it off its frame and do some FME to liven it up. Maybe that would help it sell 🙂

    I know what you mean about catching things when stitching. I have an open toe clear plastic foot that I really like but it does catch loose fiber easily.

    1. Thank you Ruth, very kind! I think it is in a 20 x 16 frame. I would like to see your vase of flowers on the forum sometime 😉 Yes do have a go at a bit of FME on it, if it comes off the frame easily enough.

    2. Yes I remember it now, it is a lovely piece. I like how you managed to get the silk flowers to adhere. Try a little FME on it. If you think it was a bad idea, you could spend the next hour with the stitch ripper, deep joy!

  7. Inspiring vase of flowers, I don’t think it will be long before it is sold. Thank you for such clear instructions and detail pictures.

  8. Wow what a beautiful vase of flowers. The FME details are just enough to make the design punch into 3D life. Thank you for your generosity and lovely photos sharing how you created this piece. I’ve backed flat Felt pieces with fabric for stitching in the past, but never iron-on….I’ve definitely learnt a ‘few’ somethings!

    1. Thank you so much Antje, what lovely comments, very much appreciated! Glad to have provided you with a few new things to try. We are always learning, that is part of the fun!

  9. Wow Tracey!!!! That is wonderful piece , you made me jalous!! Love the colors and it is just perfect, not overdone, that would be mine problem, i would like it so much that i can’t sto 🙂 You did just right.

    1. Thank you Jifke! that is a really lovely comment. Yes you have to know when to stop for sure!

  10. Thanks very much Karen, very kind! It is in a gallery in the Lake District. FME is great when it goes well, I am still playing ‘will it – won’t it behave’ with metallic threads!

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