Using a sewing machine to add further detail to felt is loads of fun. Stitching can be added by using the sewing machines regular straight stitch, decorative programmed stitches or free motion machine embroidery. Even if your sewing machine is very basic, wonderful designs can be made just with straight stitch which will add texture to the felt. Machine stitched felt looks almost like it was quilted and inspirational stitching designs can be found by looking closely at the stitching on quilts.
One important consideration when machine stitching on felt is the thickness of the felt. The felt needs to be thin enough to fit under the presser foot of the sewing machine. A very thick felted rug, for example, would be problematic and difficult to machine stitch. Generally, two to three layers of wool provides an ideal thickness of resulting felt on which to try out a variety of machine stitches.
If you think the programmed stitches on your sewing machine are boring, try altering the length or width of the stitch. Sewing lines of a programmed stitch where the width or length or both have been progressively increased can prove to be an interesting addition. Try using the zigzag stitch at a very short stitch length and vary the width as you sew up and down the felt.
If your sewing machine allows the feed dogs to be lowered, you can try free motion machine embroidery. The feed dogs are the gear like pieces on the base of the machine that run your fabric through the machine at a steady pace. If the feed dogs are lowered and a darning foot is used, the fabric or felt can be moved in any direction at whatever speed is desired. A darning foot is usually circular and has a spring-loaded device that allows it to move up and down as the sewing action occurs. Although this method takes a bit of practice, it is well worth the effort as any type of design or pattern can be achieved.
See this thread sketching on felt tutorial for a more in-depth explanation of free motion machine stitching.
Please visit our Machine Stitching Gallery.