When I posted last time, I showed you the felted portion of my 1st Quarter Challenge piece. The next step was to start free motion machine stitching to add more detail.
First to find some thread that would work with the colors of the felt. I used all of these except for one of the reds.
I started with dark green thread and worked on the stems, leaves and bud. I kept the inspiration photo by my sewing machine so it was easier to see where I needed to add stitching.
Next was the light green thread. I just used it for a few highlights on the stems, bud and top of the big leaf.
Now on to the poppies. I used a light pink for highlights. Somehow, I always forget how much the machine stitching compacts the felt. It makes the unstitched portions feel very puffy.
Then I add some yellow for the centers of the poppies.
Next is the medium value red. You can’t see it very well because it is the same value as the main poppy color. But perhaps it gives a bit more definition of the edges.
Then on to adding a little more dark value where it was needed. Afterwards, I put it up on the design board and stepped back a little. Looking for anything that didn’t look right or drew the eye too much in one place. The areas that bothered me were the top poppy there seemed to be a straight pink line coming down to the bottom of the flower. And the bottom poppy, I thought the pink at the bottom center was a bit too much.
So I added a bit more burgundy in those two areas to tone down the pink just a little. So it’s complete. You can click on the photo to see it up close. Thanks for the challenge, Lyn and Annie!
Like many of you, I belong to some textile groups that would normally meet in person but this year have needed to find alternative ways to work together. One such group is the Farnborough Embroiderer’s Guild (EG). This EG group is quite unusual in that rather than inviting speakers to talk about their practice, we all take it in turns to teach each other new skills. Three months ago we started meeting via Zoom and I have to confess in some ways I actually prefer it! We aren’t a large group but when we meet in person I often end up only talking to the 2-3 people I am sat nearest to, on Zoom the whole group shares the same conversation which is nice and feels very inclusive. The other advantage is the lack of commute, for me, this means I get to eat before we gather and I can have a glass of wine while we play together 🙂
Last month Sue took us through a technique to create foiled pictures; I don’t know about you but I can’t resist a bit of bling! As we are approaching holiday season it also feels very appropriate to share this with you now, I think it would make some wonderful textile Christmas cards and gifts. I hope you enjoy it and feel inspired to have a go!
Although I have played with foils before it was only as decorative finishing touches never as the basis to create a whole textile picture. Even so, I still managed to make every mistake in the book but was pleased to find foils are remarkably accommodating, if you make a mistake, it can (mostly) be rectified with layering more foil over the top.
Unfortunately it did not occur to me to take photos of the process until I was half way through my picture, I apologise for the lack of photos covering the initial stages of the process. The first few photos are where I went back and reapplied the bondaweb on the beak as my initial application had not transferred completely.
This was the reference photo I used for inspiration:
Some useful tips before you start:
set your iron on a low to medium (1 to 2 dots) setting without steam
always use a sheet of baking parchment to protect your iron
work on an ironing board
1: Cut a piece of medium weight, iron-fusible interfacing / fabric stabiliser slightly smaller than the background fabric and iron it to the back of your fabric. We used black cotton velvet but most non-synthetic fabrics will work (synthetic fabrics are best avoided for this technique as they might melt when heat is applied).
2: Draw out your design with a pencil on the paper side of a sheet of bondaweb. If you aren’t confident drawing freehand, you can trace the design from a printed image. Cut out your design, either as one solid shape or in sections if you plan to create a stained glass effect. For the hummingbird I cut out the whole bird as a single piece.
3: Transfer the bondaweb design onto your backing fabric.
If you are using the stained glass technique you might want to transfer one piece at a time, foil it then apply the next bondaweb shape.
4: Once cooled, carefully peel off the paper backing from the bondaweb.
5: Lay a piece of foil (coloured side facing you) over the exposed bondaweb and cover this with a piece of baking parchment, using the tip or edge of your iron, apply gentle pressure to the areas where you would like that coloured foil to appear.
Allow the piece too cool before peeling back the foil backing.
Tip: you can cut out pieces of baking parchment paper to mask off areas where you do not want that particular colour to appear.
If there are areas where the bondaweb has not transferred so well, or you have already applied several layers foils and want to lay a different colour over the top you can reapply the bondaweb but cutting a shape to match the area, I did this for the edge of breast where I wanted the purple to form a solid line:
If you want a sharp edge in a specific shape, it is also possible to cut the foil to match the shape you desire:
6: Continue adding different coloured foils to your design. If using cotton velvet for the backing it is possible to build up layers of different coloured foils without applying more bondaweb.
Tip: keep the scraps of partially used foils, they can be used to overlay different colours on top of each other very pretty marbled colours.
It is possible to “draw” lines of foil using just the tip or edge of your iron, I used this technique to create the feathers on the wings:
It is not very easy to capture foils in a photo, especially the holographic ones so I shot a short video that I hope shows all the different colours more effectively:
Our group met again last night to add some embroidery to our designs, this is how far I managed to travel in the couple of hours we had together.
…and a little sneak peek of my most recent foiled “painting”.
First off, I had to get the drum carder out and find a space for it on my studio table. The chosen colors were blue green and red orange. I wanted to see how the drum carder mixing differentiated from the felted layers of the same colors. I used the same proportions of colors that I used in the prior sample, which was about 3 to 1 red orange to blue green.
Here is the batt that I created with those colors. The photo on the left is one run through on the drum carder and the photo on the right is two runs through the carder. I then tore the batt in half as I didn’t need that big of a felt sample. So I still have another sample I can make in these colors.
I wanted to try a different way to texture the bark so I used some cut up pieces of heavy interfacing (Pellon). It’s probably about a quarter of an inch thick. I peeled apart a layer of the batt, put the interfacing pieces down and covered with the rest of the batt. After felting, I should have split the batt into two equal pieces, that would have worked better than a thinner layer on the bottom.
The front is shown on the left and the back on the right after felting. As you can see, the interfacing came through the ends as I didn’t have enough wool covering the ends. And the back shows that I had too thin a layer under the interfacing pieces. But it was easier to see the interfacing to stitch around. The interfacing was not thick enough to feel through the wool and didn’t give a good texture. (Doesn’t the photo on the left remind you of a short rib?)
I then added some free motion machine stitching so the texture was more evident from the interfacing pieces. I also trimmed off the ends that were showing and did a little needle felting repair in those areas.
Here are the two pieces side by side. The one on the right does have silk nuno felted on the top too. Which do you think works better? The carded sample is more homogeneous in neutralized red orange but I do like the mottled appearance of the layered color mixing on the right. The carded sample definitely needs more value contrast than what it has now. How do you mix your colors of wool? We’d love to hear about over on the forum.
After doing lots of machine stitching on the last landscape that I showed you, I decided to try a more minimalist approach.
This is the starting point after nuno felting.
I then machine stitched the distant mountains as well as the lines on the water. I considered stitching heavily again to get the variety of colors in the mountains but thought, why not use paint? I hadn’t tried much painting on nuno felt but I decided to just go for it. I used Dye-Na-Flow paint that I already had. I watered it down a bit as it turns kind of plastic looking when dry used straight out of the bottle.
Here is it after painting. I had to be careful applying the paint as it had a tendency to spread so I carefully brushed it on and didn’t get very close to the edges of the stitching. Now it looks more like mountains and a lake. What to put in the foreground? I searched online for photos of Flathead Lake at sunset and found some that I liked and the photos helped with the foreground choice. Add trees, now why didn’t I think of that?
So I stitched in the outlines of the trees.
Then added the paint. I am still deciding if it is finished. I might add some hand stitching to the trees to give a bit more texture and variation in color. What do you think? Does it need more?
I showed you the start for this landscape last week. It’s based on a photo of the trees in winter on the Whitefish river. I really like the way the orange branches look against the sky and in the reflections in the water.
Here’s the photo I took and then the layout of the felt on the right. I used what silk I already had to represent the sky and the water and then added a little wool for the land and for the large tree trunk on the left. The felted piece ended up about 8″ x 11″.
I then started stitching the most distant background features. I forgot to add any support behind the felt at this point but later on added a heavy weight Pellon interfacing to support some of the heavier machine stitching.
Now to add some sheer orange fabric for the trees. I also stitched in dark brown along the edge of the river and the shore.
Then on to adding in the trees along the shoreline. I did baste down the orange sheer fabric to hold it in place while stitching. I added more stitching for the reflections of the trees.
I cut back some of the orange in the trees to show the sky in places and added a second layer of sheer orange over some of the branches. I then stitched more branches in orange thread. I did the same for the reflected trees.
Now on to the large foreground tree. I added some bark details with my darkest brown thread.
And then stitched in the large foreground branches. I started from the top dark branches and moved downward. I added one layer of sheer fabric over the yellow in the bottom left hand corner by the trunk to tone it down just a little. After looking at this for a while, I decided to make a few small changes. The right hand corner was drawing my attention to much with the background trees. There was too much contrast between the white clouds and the dark branches. Also, the shoreline wasn’t quite right.
Lighter brown stitching was added to the background trees and to the shoreline. I used a small amount of oil pastel to make a shoreline reflection in the water. And it was finished. Or at least finished for now. I will need to find a background cotton fabric for it’s matte and then get it framed. On to the next landscape!
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I have started creating some nuno felted landscapes so that when the world returns to “normal”, I will have work that I can take to different galleries to sell. These are created with hand dyed silk (5 mm) and white merino prefelt. Some of the silk I used this time was dyed by my friend Paula Rindal. She gave me her silk when she decided to stop felting. Thanks Paula!
This is one of the pieces of silk from Paula. I see an autumn landscape developing from this piece. I don’t always have a plan in mind until after these are felted. Then I look at the piece from all angles and decide what I “see” in the piece. Then I progress from there. This one I am planning on hand stitching.
This piece was one of my hand dyed pieces of silk. I haven’t quite decided on this one yet but it might be mountains in the distance with Montana wildflowers in the foreground. I might use a combination of machine and hand stitching.
Again, another one of my hand dyed pieces of silk. I think this might be a lake with mountains in the distance, perhaps machine stitched?
This last one I based on a photo I took of the Whitefish river. I laid the pieces out based on the photo and then it will be all machine stitched. You can see I have started by adding background trees. I forgot to take a photo of this one before I started stitching.
So what do you see in these? It’s always interesting to me that people see different things in an abstract background. What would you create out of the top three backgrounds? I will be showing you the progression of each of these as I work through them but I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Lyn and Annie’s First Quarter Jewelry Challenge has been in the back of my mind while I have been busy with other things. I had thought I would use cut pieces of printed or screen printed felt (still using stuff up) and machine stitch them together to form a necklace. I originally thought that I would use many pieces and essentially just stitch them together into a big circle.
So I started cutting out some pieces from my chosen felt. The green is green on both sides but the red is only printed on one side. These are both from old wool blankets that have been dyed, printed or screen printed.
I started laying out some of the pieces and decided to create a focal point and have the rest of the necklace be a chain or some other form of attachment.
Now I had to decide how I would keep the pieces all aligned while stitching. I decided to pin the pieces to heavy paper, stitch them and then pull the paper off. As you can see the backs of the red felt is pretty ugly so I decided I would use two layers of red with grey sides facing in.
Next up was choosing the thread I wanted to use and machine stitching them all together. I used a Sulky #12 thread as it is more heavy weight and should be more sturdy. The first round of stitching went well with no major issues.
So I left really long tails to use as the rest of the necklace or for attachment to a regular chain. Then I tore the paper off the felt. I had to use tweezers to remove some of the tiny bits of paper that were stuck but so far, the process was working. The photo on the right shows the necklace stitched but the backs of the red pieces were still grey. If they got flipped over while wearing, it wouldn’t be a pretty sight. So I thought I would just machine stitch another piece of red felt to the backs.
Bad idea. The two pieces together were way too thick. I had difficulty maneuvering them while stitching and the thread kept breaking. If I was to make another one, I would hand stitch the backs on. That would have looked better and been much easier.
So here’s how it looks if it was worn. I don’t wear jewelry much, meaning hardly ever, so this probably isn’t something that I will wear. But it was fun working out how to make it and I do like the look of it. Thanks for the challenge, Lyn and Annie.
I am continuing on in the differential shrinkage experimentation mode and wanted to try a different shape with a resist and try again on the machine lace inclusion.
I stitched the stamen in a radiating pattern and doubled the length since my last ones were too short. I also am using a lighter inside wool color so that the black thread will show up better.
First, I decided on my resist shape and then covered it with four layers of batt on each side. The photo on the right shows the piece after a bit of felting. I really didn’t do that much felting but I should have paid a bit more attention. It was too felted and really already past the pre-felt stage. I haven’t used these short fiber merino batts that much and boy do they felt fast! But since I wasn’t paying enough attention, I just kept going.
I then cut the “pre-felt” into 5 pieces and started on the inner layer.
I used the same resist again and put the machine lace stamen in place over the resist. I covered that with a thin layer of merino wool in a yellow (with a green tinge). Then at the last moment, I decided to add a stem. So I whipped up a stem with brown and burnt orange and added that to the inner layer.
Now to add the “pre-felt” back over the inner layer and ready to felt. I took quite a bit of time trying to get the green to adhere to the yellow but it just wasn’t to be. I did add a bit more green wool to the top of the “petals” so that they would adhere better to the stem.
It seemed like it had started to adhere slightly to the yellow so I thought if I took the resist out and worked from the inside, that it might get those yellow fibers to adhere to the back side of the green. But that really didn’t work. There were a few places where it adhered slightly but I needed to have roughed up the inside of the green felt and that might have worked. But really, I should have done less felting of the green so that it was still pre-felt.
So it didn’t turn out as planned. It looks more like a flower than a seed pod. The yellow layer is separate from the green and therefore, I didn’t get any differential shrinkage. The new stamen worked better than the last experiment and didn’t adhere to the felt even though I never covered them with plastic. But it is an experiment so I will just go with the result.
I decided the stem needed more dimension so I needle felted some grooves and notches to give it a more natural feel.
I’m not sure how many times I need to learn that sometimes wool/felt has a mind of it’s own. Also, that I can’t rush the process or not pay attention. That’s usually when I set myself up for disappointment. But I accept that it’s just another learning opportunity and an experiment. And perhaps, next time, I will remember to not rush the process.
Here’s the next edition of my progress on the fabric collage landscape I have been working on.
In the photos from left to right, I worked on texturing the middle ground green area. I used a mixture of chopped up pieces of fabric, thread and yarn. I worked small areas at a time since the fabric mixture was easily shifted around as I machine stitched it. Using a wooden skewer to hold things in place definitely helps and protects wayward fingers. Once the green was all stitched in place, I noticed that the water on the left didn’t look exactly right. The portion of water going into the distance towards the left should have been shadowed by the hill behind it and not had any pink reflection. I needed to fix that.
So I covered that piece of water on the left with more of the blue green water fabric, stitched it down and then stitched along the edge of the shore and into the pink reflection to integrate it into the area better. I also added a few more fingers of purple sheer fabric into the water on the left in front of the peninsula. Then on to more stitching details along the shoreline.
You probably can’t see a lot of difference in the photo on the left but I added black stitching along the shore line to give a bit of shadow at the water’s edge. Then in the right photo, I used a dark green thread to add some details including tree shadows into the water and little “island” bits and tree shapes on the peninsula portions.
Next I checked the green foreground again to see if I needed to fix anything else in the completed parts before I started the foreground. Another water error was definitely in evidence. Water should look like it is lying horizontally to the horizon line. My water was falling down the front because of the pink lines that were diagonal instead of horizontal. My stitching lines should have been more horizontal as well but they didn’t show as much as those pink fingers. Those needed fixing!
I used some scraps of the red sheer fabric and filled in the areas so the diagonal pink fingers were disguised. This looked much better and I was satisfied with the background and mid ground so now to move on to the foreground. Stay tuned for the next edition!
I added texture to the mountains including threads, yarns and bits of cheesecloth.
I then stitched the bits down with free motion machine stitching. The trickiest part here is keeping everything in place but I just didn’t worry if things shifted. I kept going and moved things back as needed and just got it all stitched down.
I decided the grey cheesecloth was a bit much on the central mountain and added more brown cheesecloth on top. Then I stitched that in place.
Then I discovered that I didn’t like how the orange cloud and the distant mountain were so much alike. I tried stitching some darker thread on the mountain first and that helped.
But I thought it still needed a bit more attention in this area, so I added more blue stitching into the sky. I didn’t want to eliminate the orange, I just wanted more distinction between the sky and the mountain.
Next up, the central mountain needed a bit more detail. So I stitched some vertical dark lines in place. The trick is to add enough detail to get the impression you want but not to over do the distant mountains. The detail needs to be less here than in the foreground of the picture. (I just noticed that I must have stitched this part before I stitched the sky but you get the idea, I hope.)
Next up, I put the green mid ground in place and worked on the water. The sunset reflection had felt a little dark so I place a piece of light blue fabric in that portion instead of the blue green going all the way across. I then added a blue purple sheer fabric covered with a red sheer fabric. I messed around with the edges to make them look more natural. You can see here on the left if you look closely that there is a straight line going down the right side of the sunset reflection, that is where the blue green fabric butts up against the light blue fabric. I cut that edge in V’s so that wouldn’t catch my eye so much. I also played around with foreground fabric to see how it would eventually look with more green added at the bottom of the picture.
I then stitched the water into place. I wanted the water to have minimal stitching and texture so it would appear flat against the rest of the textured landscape.
Then I added the green mid ground pieces and fused them down with the iron. You will notice that there is some white in one of the green mid ground pieces. The original photo that I was inspired by had snow in the mountains. In the end, I decided not to have snow in my picture so that will be covered up soon.
Next time I will show you texturing the green mid ground and some changes I ended up making to the water. Luckily, this is a forgiving process so mistakes can be covered up pretty easily.