Do have a go at this challenge no matter what materials you prefer and no matter how new or how experienced you are.

The first challenge for this year is to make one, or more, experimental textile samples using repurposed items such as old clothing or furnishings.

For example, you could deconstruct an old shirt and use specific pieces or just rough cut pieces or even shred the fabric down to threads.  You could unravel an old sweater or scarf to reuse the yarn, or make ‘yarn’ by cutting lengths from an old t-shirt.

So why only make a sample?

Well, it’s quick, fun and there’s no pressure to get something right. It’s a great risk-free way to get creativity flowing and can lead to further experimentation or perhaps a new project. Sampling gives you a chance to test an idea before embarking on a project and it can inspire future work.

Look around at what you have and ask ‘what if?’  Then make a sample to see what happens.

Here are some of our samples of ‘textile deconstruction and reconstruction’:

This large scarf had a few holes in it and wasn’t fit for purpose.

Some of it was cut into strips then knitted to see how it would look and feel.

Old scarves and blouses can be used to make nuno felt.  If you’re unsure whether the fabric will work or not, make a sample!

Small pieces from three different garments were cut into rough shapes then placed onto a few layers of merino wool before felting.  The sample shows how each piece of fabric looked after felting.

This experimental sample is a scrap of fabric cut from an old garment then embellished with stitching.

This is a slice of the sleeve of an old sweater splayed out and stitched down.

Old t-shirts can be cut into strips to make ‘yarn’.  Seamless t-shirts are best as you can just cut round and round – with a seamed t-shirt you have to make joins in the ‘yarn’.

This red t-shirt yarn …

… and some of this recycled sari silk …

… were knitted together, as an I-Cord, on giant needles to make interesting ‘rope’.

Some fulled felt that was left over from a very colourful project was cut into small pieces, laid on top of loose white merino fibres then felted …

… the result was a colourful, textured piece of felt.

These shoelaces were rescued from discarded trainers.  They were handstitched to a piece of velvet and the sample was an experiment to try to ‘abstract’ rhubarb.

You may already have a stash of deconstructed stuff e.g. ribbons saved from gift wrappings, short lengths of yarn from old sweaters/scarves, lace from old blouses etc.

This weaving sample was made from such a stash.

So, look around at what you have to hand and ask ‘what if?’  Then make a sample to see what happens.

Please post a photo of your experimental sample onto the Felting and Fiber Forum under ‘Studio Challenges’ in the thread ‘2022 First Quarter Challenge’.


17 thoughts on “2022 FIRST QUARTER CHALLENGE

  1. Great first quarter challenge Lyn and Annie. I re use things all the time. I hate trowing stuff out. I have a box of off cuts from felt that I use to add texture to other felt. I will have to go hunting for some pictures. I will post a picture of my lamb jacket in the forum to get us started.

  2. What beautiful inspirational samples you have produced Lyn and Annie. You are certainly getting my creative juices flowing so thank you for that.

    This is a really appropriate challenge, given the current push to reuse and recycle. On with my thinking cap!

  3. I have to say that probably 99.9% of my nuno felting is with repurposed fabrics. I did buy some silk chiffon in a moment of madness (the pockets must have been flush that day) but because I don’t want to “waste” something so expensive, I haven’t used it yet.
    I am up to my eyes in scarves, blouses and remnants waiting to be used up – though some of those have gone into theatrical costumes. I appeared as “Polly” in our Panto Treasure Island in 2019 and all of the fabrics I used for the costume were second hand – in fact some so old I managed to tear a bit while I was being a bit too enthusiastic in trying to climb up Long John Silver to sit on his shoulder. (The mean old so and so never did let me sit on his shoulder and it was all I wanted, since I was too old to fly!)

    1. We know that feeling very well. When a fabric is just too nice to cut up, you allow it to sit there looking good.

      Be brave. Take the scissors to it …. perhaps cut just a teensy-weensy bit to experiment with?

  4. An interesting fun challenge Lyn & Annie. Your samples are inspiring.

    Like others I have so much ‘don’t throw that away it might come in useful’ stuff filed/stored – most of which, as yet, is unused but I continue to salvage to the point where I dare not crack open a cupboard door for fear of an explosion!

  5. This is a great idea for a challenge! I partucularly like to use recycled materials in my work but don’t do as much sampling and “playing” as I would like. Thanks for the encouragement Lyn, I’m off to gather some bits and see what happens!

  6. Ooh, great challenge for me as I constantly wander about charity shops thinking ‘I wonder if this would felt …. and ….what would happen to that if I felted it?’ Like others I squirrel everything away and almost all the fabrics I use are second hand but I don’t always use or sample the more experimental fabrics. This will be a good opportunity to dig some of those out and have a go. If you don’t hear from me in a while I may be trapped under a fabric avalanche.

    Excellent range of techniques in your samples. Lots of food for thought.

    1. Experimenting is fun and there’s no pressure! It often does lead to new ideas for work too.

      We know all about fabric avalanches – Annie’s floor often disappears under one!

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