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2021 First Quarter Challenge

2021 First Quarter Challenge

We’ve chosen 4 decades from the 20th century upon which to base the challenges for 2021, and the first challenge to all felters, spinners, weavers, stitchers, knitters, crocheters and mixed media fibre artists is …

… to make something inspired by the decade 1900 – 1909.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Wright brothers achieved the first powered flight;  Australia became a Commonwealth;  the first silent movie was made; Marconi made the first trans-Atlantic wireless transmission; Einstein proposed his Theory of Relativity; the Suffragette Movement became strong and the North Pole was discovered!

We hope the public domain photos below will help to kick-start your imagination.

Alexander Graham Bell (better known for his work on the telephone) developed many tetrahedral kites of varying designs (1903-1909) – here are two of them.

In Australia someone had an unusual pet!  Photo dated 1900.



















Wilson Bentley photographed raindrops and snowflakes most of his life   This photo of a snow crystal was taken in 1905.  Below it are more of his photos but they are undated.


A First Nation Group near Lethbridge, Alberta, 1909.

Arthur Smith’s photos were featured in a book “Nature through Microscope and Camera” 1909 – here are just a few of them.




















































































































Beckett and Hadfield took these Lantern slides in Norway.



































Dr Julius Neubronner developed a miniature pigeon camera to photograph the earth from above.  The patent for his invention was granted in 1908.

















The images were processed and sold as postcards at expositions in Dresden and Paris 1909-11.














There is a lot of inspiration to be had from the art world.

“Vetheuil” by Monet, 1901













“Anenomes” by Renoir, 1907


“La jetee a L’Estaque” by Derain, 1906

Buildings and statues can be inspiring too.

The Flatiron Building – an iconic skyscraper  in New York –  completed in 1902.


Statue – a bronze replica of Michelangelo’s ‘David’, Buffalo in the USA, 1903.















Handmade cards were popular.  This valentine card was made in 1900 (maker unknown).










Wealthy ladies had some impressive clothing !








We hope you feel inspired to take part in this challenge.  It looks like there was a lot of really interesting things going on back then offering all sorts of exciting ideas for fibre projects.  Please post your photos in the Studio Challenges section on The Felting and Fiber Forum, we’d love to see them.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Annie (rosiepink)

For the 4th quarter challenge I made a few different things because once I started thinking about it I came up with lots of ideas and I couldn’t decide which to make!  I ended up making:

a stars themed table mat

a Christmas pudding decoration

some stars on sticks to poke into my houseplant pots

and a wreath of holly & stars

I needed a mat for the side table in my hallway because people always put keys etc on there and it gets scratched.  I was going to make one in the summer but didn’t get round to it and now that it’s winter I went for a theme of dark inky blue sky with white stars for a festive feel. I had a disaster with it when it wouldn’t felt, but that turned into a triumph when I rescued it with the embellisher because the mat not only felted but also became reversible where the pattern migrated through to the back 🙂

There is more detail about it over on our blog if you are interested:

When trying the mat on the table I saw my simple felt “flower” on a stick that is poked into one of my flower pots, and it gave me another idea.  I thought some stars on sticks would look nice and festive scattered in my plant pots. The flower is just a circle sample of felt from the odds box that I stuck on a wire one day and pushed into the soil.  A friend commented that she really liked it so I left it there.  Also, I had promised my plants I would make them some name tags this year and I didn’t, so they can have a star each instead 🙂

Since making the Christmas Podding a few years back …

… I kept thinking I’d like to make some more wired twisty holly leaves, possibly made into a wreath.  After some experimentation I made 3 sheets of colourful felt to cut the leaves from…

…but then decided it would take too much time to make all the leaves, so I decided to make a flat Christmas Pudding instead that could stand as a decoration and then I’d only need to make a few leaves!  The pudding is stood on a plate but leaning against a hidden glass jar.

To make the holly leaves I pinned some fabric to the back of the felt for stiffness then free motion stitched a few holly leaf shapes round 3 times in black thread and twice with white.  I also used some old felt to make some other leaves to mix up the colours.

To make the pudding I raided the scraps box. From scrap felt I cut out two main shapes – a 20cm diameter circle for the pudding and a wavy “topping” for the custard. I backed both pieces with fabric then stitched them together.

I cut some little “raisins” from orange felt and stitched them on then free motion stitched a pattern around them on the main pudding.

I attached the holly leaves and added some felt balls for berries. I had already made these a long time ago but they were perfect for this project.  Lastly I added a few little yellow stars for extra sparkle.

I had originally planned on making holly leaves using a base of green fibres plus a lot of other unusual colours to make it a bit quirky. I made a big sheet of felt to cut them from, but found I had used too many dark greens and not enough of the other colours so it wasn’t quite right. I decided I wanted to go more colourful, resulting in the felt I made above.  However, it is a lovely piece of felt and has some interesting passages in it.  For example, I can see lots of little landscapes in it and I will revisit it at some point because I think it has potential.  For now it’s one for my pile of “Ideas & Projects in Progress”.   Again, there is more detail on our blog about this if you are interested because this post is way too long as it is!

Then in a sudden swirl of enthusiasm I decided to make a big bunch of holly leaves after all to see if I could cobble together a wreath of sorts.  Here are some in progress photos:

After making lots of holly leaves (but sadly no wire, no time!) I hit a problem in that I couldn’t get the leaves to attach nicely to the metal wreath ring I had. I didn’t want to glue gun it in case I want to take it apart and repurpose the bits at some point.  What to do? I had a look around and rediscovered a narrow felted “scarf” that I had made in the summer.  I had been far to impatient when making the scarf and it turned out nothing like I had hoped (basically lovely colours but a complete disaster!). I kept it in the hope that it would come in handy one day, and it did.  I wrapped the ring in the scarf which gave me something to stitch the leaves to:

I mixed in some felted stars and some yellow glass beads as berries (yellow, red, who cares?!)  The stitching is appalling as it was done in record time, but it’s on the back so it won’t be seen.  My patience has limits especially on something fiddly like this when I’m running out of time!  But I think the overall appearance is fun and a bit different and if I ever make another wreath I have learnt a lot along the way for next time!

Here is everything together on the table in the hallway:


Challenge – make an item for your home for the festive season

Challenge – make an item for your home for the festive season

This  is my version of a commonplace Christmas decoration – it’s not an original idea but it’s unique because I’ve made all the bits. I used fibre in the form of fabric, yarn and merino wool tops.

My colour palette was inspired by the winter sky – blue, white, yellow, pink and grey.

I cut a suitable branch from my garden then coloured it with dark blue acrylic paint (photo below shows the branch before painting)…

…then I rummaged around in the glass recycling bin for a suitable bottle to put it in.

To make the cracker, I used a piece of cardboard tube rolled up in fabric (you can see the white tube through the fabric in the middle) …

…then tied either side of the tube with sewing thread.  The ends were trimmed with pinking shears and the cracker was finished with some narrow organza ribbon.

I knitted a stocking using a  free pattern for mini knitted socks  then stuffed it with some merino wool fibres.  I like this pattern because it’s knitted on two needles, not the usual four, so it’s very easy.

The snowgirl was made from 3 large white felted beads and some floral wire (see how to make felt beads ) and how to make a felt bead snowman).

Her hat is made from a rectangle of knitting drawn up along one long side, seamed, then a small pompom added made from the same wool.


Her scarf is a simple knitted i-cord.  Here is a video – how to make an icord

The tree is a scrap of blue felt, cut to shape, then decorated with fancy yarn.

The star is cut from a scrap of thick felt – yellow on one side and pink on the other.  I applied PVA glue to the edges to stiffen it.


I made 5 snowflakes but each is unique – that’s another way of saying that I made several mistakes because I was watching a film whilst crocheting and not paying enough attention!

I made 15 large felt beads in winter sky colours – but I only used 12.  As I was hanging everything onto the branch I reached a point where I realised I had enough and I had to stop.  The photo below shows them drying on a rack.

Everything was hung onto the branch using thin, yellow coloured wire.

This was a really easy, fun Christmas decoration to make and the variations are countless.  I hope you enjoy making something for your own home, and if you want to share photos please post them here fourth quarter challenge 2020







Here’s the final challenge of 2020 for felters, spinners, weavers, stitchers, knitters, crocheters and mixed media fibre artists …

… make an item for your home for the festive season!

It could be anything at all – practical or just decorative.  Here are a few of the things we’ve made over the years.

These felt tree hangers were re-purposed, by adding a wire loop, from a previous decoration.

The star was made origami-style from a piece of fabric and the snowflake was crocheted then stiffened with equal amounts of pva and water.

This bunting was very quick and simple to make. The fabric flags were cut with pinking shears (no hemming) then pegged onto a length of string with mini-pegs.

We used fancy children’s socks, stuffing and oddments to make snowmen.

We’ve made festive felt artwork (some of which was used to print Christmas cards).  ‘Rudolph’, pictured at the top of this post, is made from fabric with free motion stitching.

This ‘Partridge Sitting in his Pear Tree’ was made in the same way.

‘Figgy Pudding’ is wet-felted art embellished with hand stitching and beads.

This wet felted snowman, decorated with hand stitching, was going to be a Christmas card but he looked so good sitting on the hearth that’s where he stayed.

Who doesn’t have sweets around during the festive season?  We thought it would be fun to make ‘Christmas Podding’ and ‘Sid the Snowman’ to keep our favourite chocolates in.

We always decorate the table at Christmas – something different every year – and one year we made placemats…

…and coasters…

A wet-felted tea cosy, that was plain on one side, was decorated for Christmas with yarn, a reindeer cut out of white pre-felt and needle-felting.

These machine embroidered organza crackers were made many, many moons ago.  Apologies for the poor quality photo, but this was back in the day when we didn’t consider photos to be that important.

We hope you have lots of fun with this challenge!

Please post your photos on in ‘Studio Challenges’.

Third Quarter Challenge – Felt Hat

Third Quarter Challenge – Felt Hat

hat view 1

I found this delightful free pattern for a reversible wool hat, and with the kind permission of the author, Daniela Gutierrez-Diaz,  here is a LINK to her pattern and a photo of her hat.

original hat

First job was to print the pattern and stick it together to try it for size.  I discovered that I needed to reduce the size by 12% – easily done on the print settings.


Then I could work out the size of felt fabric I needed to make.  I used 4 layers of mid-green merino wool to make a rectangle then topped it with a pattern of diagonal stripes of open-weave fabric, yarns and nepps.  The dry layout was 100 x 60cms (40″ x 24″).

felt fabric

I got the idea for the pattern by looking down at my skirt!

pattern inspiration







I had to make a few adaptations to the pattern because the felt fabric was thicker than the fabric used in Daniela’s pattern.

Instead of folding the fabric over itself into a tube then flattening it with zig-zag, I cut the straps in half widthways, backed them with thin cotton fabric then zig-zagged around the edges.


The hat was designed to be made from two layers of fabric then ‘bagged out’ but the felt wasn’t suitable for that, so I applied an adhesive web to a piece of thin green cotton fabric then ironed it onto the felt fabric to form the lining.

I cut away the excess cotton fabric…


…then neatened the bottom edge with zig-zag stitch.

The crown of the hat is formed by joining together the points.  I butted the edges of the felt together and sewed them shut with zig-zag stitch.

stitiching top together

first top seam

The first one was easy but it became progressively harder as more felt bunched up under the machine.

stitching top together 1

But here it is finished…

hat view 2

…and the view of the top.

hat view 3

With all the lovely weather we’re having this year, it’s hard to imagine it being cold enough to wear this hat!


2020 Third Quarter Challenge

2020 Third Quarter Challenge

This year’s theme is ‘Personal Items’ so the third quarter challenge calls to all felters, spinners, weavers, stitchers, knitters, crocheters and mixed media fibre artists to think ahead.

With apologies to our forum friends in the southern hemisphere who are looking forward to spring, we need to think about the coming cooler months.

All the shops have their summer sales now so that they can clear the way for the new autumn/winter stock that will be on sale by the beginning of August.

So the challenge is to make something that will keep you warm!

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

Josie (forum member) is knitting a lap quilt…

challenge blanket

…Arlene (adventures in felt) has just made her first pair of mittens…

challenge mittens

…and last year Judith (koffipot) showed her woven scarf on the forum…

challenge scarf

…and if you’d like to make a hat but don’t know how, then Teri Berry is running an online class via the Felting and Fiber Forum. The class will run in July / August and registration opens on 2 July 2020.  The price for this four-week course is £50 GBP (approx. $66 US, $85 Canadian, €56, $88 AUD, $97 NZ) and the number of places will be limited to 30 students.

The first felting tutorial will be posted on 16 July 2020 with another tutorial posted in each of the following 2 weeks. The class forum will remain open for you to share your work and ask questions until 27 Aug 2020.

Here are a couple of her hats…

challenge hats

So get your thinking hat on.  What can you make, in your favourite medium, to help keep you warm this autumn/winter?

Please post your photos on the Felting and Fiber Forum in the studio challenges section.


Felt Parasol for Sunny Days

Felt Parasol for Sunny Days


Ta-Dah!  I finally finished my parasol.  If you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, please see this blog post

I made a paper pattern of the segments of the umbrella then I cut out the felt panels.

I stitched the panels together using the wide zigzag stitch that worked so well on my sample.  The thread I used (top and bobbin) was ‘The Bottom Line’ by Libby Lehman – it’s almost ‘invisible’ and the colour of the felt showed through the stitches.

I was worried about how I could ‘pin’ the panels together for stitching, but as the felt is thin and firm thanks to the fabric between the fine layers of wool, it was easy to sew by just butting the edges together just before the pieces went under the needle. The parasol shape became obvious after only stitching 2 panels together.

1. stitching the panels together

I cut a hole in the centre so that the cover would slide over the central pole. To reinforce the hole, I found an old metal key ring that was the exact size.  I glued it in place, then stitched it with perle embroidery thread.

2. reinforced hole for centre 1

3. reinforced hole for centre 2

I trimmed the bottom edge, then using the same red thread that formed the flowers, I secured the cut edge with blanket stitch. It’s a very bright red – I’d describe it as neon because it almost glows!

Compare the zigzag stitching in the photos above and below – one looks blue the other looks yellow, but it’s the same pale grey thread described above.

4. blanket stitch and bows

The ends of the spokes of the umbrella have plastic caps with large holes at the back so I secured the cover to the end of each spoke with thread bows.

5. attaching bows to underside

Ann (Shepherdessann) expressed an interest in what the parasol would look like inside, so here it is on its back (the under layers of wool were plain colours – baby blue and canary yellow.

6. underside

The summer cover is quick to fix in place and just as quick to remove, and fold away, for the winter.

7. easy to fold to pack away





I decided to make a small bag from handmade felt to carry a sketchbook and a few pens out and about with me.

a. Finished_Bag_Side_1

I didn’t make a plan or measure anything. To start with I just laid out a piece of felt with some randomly placed small pieces of bubble wrap to make pockets then I figured I’d work with what I ended up with to cobble a bag together!
I thought it would keep it more spontaneous (and be less effort if I’m honest!)

b. Laying_Out

c. Wet_Down

d. Felted_Close_Up

In one way it was easier because the layout was carefree, then in another it was hard work because I realised I put the initial attempt at “lining” fabric (some scrim) on the wrong side and also the spacing of the pockets was completely wrong for utilising all the felt fabric I had made.

e. Testing_The_Pockets

However, it means I’ve got a piece of felt leftover for a future project and also the bag miraculously ended up OK!  I cut 2 pieces out incorporating 2 pockets then ironed some interfacing on to each piece to make them more sturdy.  I reinforced each pocket with a line of machine stitch.
Then I decided to neaten the top edges by folding over and machine stitching then trimming away the excess.
I sewed round the edges of the two pieces with right sides together then turned it out to make the basic bag shape.  I realised at this stage I was not going to get away with not lining it as it looked a bit shabby inside with the interfacing on show.
So I cut some thin cotton navy fabric and made a pocket lining to sew inside.  That was a palaver!  But I got there in the end and it looked surprisingly neat!

f. Making_The_Lining

Lastly, I just needed to figure out a handle.
I found some yellow webbing and sewed that on before realising I had forgotten to topstitch round the outside of the bag so I did it afterwards.  I think it worked out OK.

g. Finished_Bag_Side_2

h. Detail_Of_Stitching

I mostly like to make felted artwork so this was a nice change to make, and definitely a challenge! 🙂


I have a plastic umbrella that I intended to cannabalize to make a felt parasol, but I wondered how I would control the spokes once the plastic had been removed.

1. Umbrella

So I decided to take the easy way out and leave the plastic in place.  Originally I planned to make a felt cover then stitch it to the plastic, but after a bit of thought I decided that if I made a detachable felt cover, I could have an umbrella AND a parasol.

I would need to make some felt that would be fine enough to be lightweight yet strong enough to cut and stitch, and it would need to be firm, not stretchy.

I had an idea that nuno felt, with the fabric sandwiched between layers of wool, would work.  I needed to make a sample!

I used some very fine net, plain yellow merino wool, a mini-batt leftover from another project and some 2 ply wool.

2. items used in sample

The sample is a ‘sandwich’ made of two fine layers of yellow merino wool, a piece of net, one fine layer of yellow merino wool topped with one fine layer of blended yellow/orange merino wool.  I added a 6″ (15.25cm) square made from 4 lengths of 2-ply wool to make the shrinkage estimate easier.

3. Sample with shrinkage square - pre felting

I used tepid water and gentle rubbing then rolling to felt the sample. Here it is after drip-drying.  You can see that although the net has gone frilly around the edge, it didn’t buckle the felt at all – the felt is flat.  The shrinkage was 17%.

4. Sample post felting

The felt was thin, lightweight and strong.

My plan was to sew panels of felt together to make the removable cover, so I experimented on the sample.

The felt cut beautifully – the cut edges were firm.

5. Experimental cut of sample

First I tried a plain seam.  The felt travelled under the needle effortlessly and smoothly.

6. Sewing the sample

The plain seam looked good but was too bulky, so I cut the sample again, butted the cut edges together and joined them with a wide zig-zag stitch.  Perfect!  It made a strong, flat seam.

7. Seams

I thought a test was needed on the zigzag seam so I gripped it firmly between both hands and gave it several sharp tugs.  It held fast – probably thanks mainly to the layer of net.

Sorry the photo below is a tiny bit blurry – I put the camera on a tripod then set the shutter timer for 10 seconds.  I yanked and yanked on the felt until the photo was taken so it’s an action shot!

8. Testing the zigzag seam

I would need 8 triangles of felt to make the removable cover, so allowing for shrinkage each triangle would have to be laid out 45cm (18″) wide at the base and 65cm (26″) high.

I decided it would be daft to lay out a triangle exactly – it could mis-shape during felting – so I made a paper template to the correct size, to use as a guide during layout, then ‘squared off’ the point of the triangle.  After felting, the triangle could then be cut accurately from the larger piece.

10. layout

My colours and pattern for the parasol would be an hommage to Annie’s ‘Flowers on Coverack Beach’ but in a very, very minimalist style using just 3 colours.

9. pattern inspiration

I carded a batt of blue blend merino wool and a batt of yellow blend merino wool…

11. yellow and blue blends

…and found some spools of bright red thread in my stash.  I don’t know what it is but it looks like there’s some wool fibres in it.

12. unknown red thread

I expect you’re wondering why I’ve only got half a parasol?

Well … things happened. My time-plan collapsed so I’ve only made 6 panels so far!

13. six panels

I need to make 2 more panels, cut all 8 to shape, then stitch them together.  I’ll post a photo of the finished parasol on the forum soon!


2020 Second Quarter Challenge

2020 Second Quarter Challenge

We think it likely that many people associate handmade felted, knitted or woven items with providing warmth in the darker months, so the ‘Personal Items’ challenge for this quarter is to make something that you could use in sunny weather.

It can be as simple or as complicated as you choose but most importantly it’s a challenge so perhaps try new colours or designs or something just a little different from your usual style.

Don’t take this too seriously though – it’s meant to be fun!

The first thing we all do at this time of year is to try to find our sunglasses so that we can read outside in the garden or on holiday.

This Kindle and these sunglasses could do with handmade cases to protect them and make them pretty and a textile bookmark would be very useful for the paperback.

kindle, book, sunglasses

Hmmm,  how about a lightweight sleeveless top or a delicate shoulder wrap and of course a sunhat is essential.

Annie said she wanted a new sunhat – one that would make a statement – so I made her one.  I don’t think it’s quite what she had in mind though.

Annie's statement sunhat

It would be good to have a pretty tote bag for all those things too wouldn’t it?  A bag could be made from scratch or a simple jute bag could be purchased then embellished with textile panels or hand embroidery.

In January 2013 I embellished a plain jute tote bag with fabric scraps from an old skirt and a bit of rough machining.  The bag is still in use – it’s a bit grubby now but still pretty.

Jute bag

So whatever your skill level please enjoy this challenge and post your photos on the forum for us all to enjoy!


2020 First Quarter Challenge

2020 First Quarter Challenge

The theme for this year’s challenges is ‘Personal Items’.

So here’s the first challenge for felters, spinners, weavers, stitchers, knitters, crocheters and mixed media fibre artists …

…make a piece of jewellery!

We might associate jewellery with metal and glass, but jewellery is just ‘personal adornment’ usually in the shape of a necklace, ring, bracelet, brooch/pin or earrings and they can be made from anything.

This isn’t a competition – there’s no judging and there are no prizes – you just challenge yourself no matter what your skill level and we’d love it if you could post a photo of your jewellery on the forum.

Here are just a few examples of textile jewellery – hopefully they will inspire you to get designing and making!

Pebble necklace, felt, made by Karen (Lincs in Stitches)

1. pebble necklace by Karen Lane - Lincs in Stitches. Forum member


Flower pins, organza, silk, etc made by Judith (koffipot)

2. flower pins made by Judith (koffipot) forum member


Butterfly pin, felt and beads, made by Pam (Pamd)

3. butterfly pin by Pam (Pamd) - forum member

Close up of bubble bracelet, felt, by Ann (Shepherdess)

4. bubble-bracelet-close

Flower pin, needle-felt and beads by Annie (rosiepink)

5. red needle felt brooch

Cuff, felt & stitch by Annie (rosiepink)

6. JewelCuff

Choker, embroidered felt beads by Lyn (rosiepink)

7. felt beads on a metal choker

8. close up of beads


We’re looking forward to seeing lots of pieces of jewellery posted on the forum!

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