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Holiday Card Exchange

Holiday Card Exchange

Each year on the forum, we have a holiday card exchange. It’s always lots of fun to see all the different cards created and to receive one in the mail. If you’d like to see other cards, you can see them here. Make sure to scroll down and then look at all the pages in this thread to see the ones posted so far. 

I was getting a bit concerned about the card that I sent to Janet in Canada. I sent it out on November 4th and she didn’t receive it until November 27th. That is one of the reasons that we have people send their cards early so it has more time to arrive safely during the busy holiday season. But at last, she got it! So now I can tell you how I made the card.

Here’s the layout. I used a piece of white prefelt for the background and then added short fiber merino in blue green for the sky. I left patches very thin to make it look more snowy. I used “white” mixed 56’s for the snow but it wasn’t very white so I added a bit of white cashmere fiber that I have been saving. It was very white. Then I added silk noil to create a more snow like effect on the ground and in the sky. Finally over top of this, I added white prefelt tree trunks. I started with only one layer of prefelt but decided to add another layer over the trunks in the sky section as I felt that the blue green was going to bleed through too much.

Here it is after felting. I liked how the tree trunks overlapped on the top so I left them for awhile.

Next up was to add a little free motion machine stitching. I used an off white thread to give a slight shadow and more texture on the trunks. It’s kind of hard to see here but you can click on the photo to enlarge it.

Then I added a dark grey thread to give the characteristic birch tree look. I don’t use black for this because it feels much too stark. I think the grey looks more natural. Then I had to decide whether to crop or leave it as is. I finally decided on the cropping because it was just slightly too big to fit on my 5″ x 7″ card. I trimmed it up with a rotary cutter and attached it to a greeting card to send to Janet.

So here it is. I do think it looks very wintery which was the goal. I am going to have to make some more of these to sell as small art pieces.

And this is the wonderful card that I received from Janet. This is Janet’s first attempt at making a fiber/felt card and didn’t she do an awesome job? Thanks Janet for this beautiful card.

Sampling Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy

Sampling Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy

Recently, I got an order from Sulky for more machine threads and a product that I have wanted to test out for a while.

It’s called Sticky Fabri-Solvy. I have used the Fabri-Solvy for machine lace and liked it. But this one has a sticky surface, so you can press it down on a piece of fabric or felt and it sticks. Or you can stick smaller bits of fabric or felt down to it and then stitch. You can also run it through the printer to print a design on it and then use the printed design for your stitching guidelines. I haven’t tried that yet but I’m planning on testing that out as well to see how that works.

Here is a piece of the Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy. It has a backing paper which you pull off to reveal the sticky surface. I did a small square about 6″ x 6″ for my sample. I cut two pieces the same size.

I then cut up some old printed felt in small bits and place it over the surface. The felt sticks down and holds fairly well.

I kept adding felt in a variety of colors filling up the blank spaces. You could certainly leave blank spaces if you wanted the result to be more open and lacey.

Once I had all the felt laid out, I then put the other piece of Sticky Fabri-Solvy on top with the sticky side down. I should have left a bit more room around the edges but it ended up working out OK although the edge pieces tended to bulge out and want to jump off before being stitched.

I then used four of my new thread colors to free motion machine stitch over the sandwich. I didn’t use a hoop and it seemed to work just fine. You have to be careful that the edges don’t get sucked down into your machine though. I used a meandering stitch to give an organic feel. I didn’t want any straight lines.

And here is is with all of the stitching done. You need to catch all of the pieces of felt with your stitching to prevent the pieces from falling apart once you dissolve the water soluble fabric.

Then you just stick the whole thing in some warm water, let it soak for a bit and the Sticky Fabri-Solvy dissolves and disappears. If you don’t wash it all out, you can use it to help hold the shape in different positions. It acts like a stiffener. I washed mine mostly all away so there is no residual stiffness. I plan on trying this technique with some sheer fabric pieces too.

Have you tried a new product lately? We’d love to hear your results. Show us over on the forum. 


Up the North Fork

Up the North Fork

Here is the fifth in my series of nuno felted landscapes. It is called Up the North Fork after a portion of the Flathead River here in Montana.

Here is the layout and after wet down and felted slightly.

And here it is after felting. You’ll notice that the foreground has wool on top in browns and orange. I decided to remove that because I wanted it to look more like a river and I think the silk does that better than the wool.

I added fabric trees and fused those in place before machine stitching. This is before I decided to remove the foreground wool. The plan was to shave it off. I tried that but finally decided just to pull it off. Then I shaved the edges a bit at the edge of the “river”.

And here is the finished piece after much stitching of trees and a huge variety of green threads changed in and out of the sewing machine. The photo on the left shows the organic edges and the one on the right is cropped as if matted and framed.

I did talk to a framer about these 6 pieces and he thought I should keep the organic edges. His suggestion is to attach each piece to a matching background fabric, stitch the piece in place and then wrap the background fabric around foam core board. Then I could use a simple black frame and the background fabric will look like the matting. And you can still appreciate the organic edges. So I think I will try that and see how I like it. Only one more piece to finish and I’ll start choosing the background fabrics and get the pieces ready for framing.

Notebook Winner and Another Free Design

Notebook Winner and Another Free Design

The winner of the felt notebook is Rhonda Lynn! Rhonda Lynn please contact me with your snail mail address at laneruthe at gmail dot com and I will send you the notebook. I used a random number generator to pick the winner and the number was 11. So congratulations to Rhonda Lynn.

Back in October, I told you about a project I am working on with Deb Stika using her contemporary and modern designs. So I am posting another free design today in PDF format that you are welcome to use in your work. I would love to see if you make anything. Last time, Teri Berry made a beautiful nuno felted creation from one of the designs. You can see her piece here.

Psychedelic 1

This next design is in the Psychedelic category.

Psychedelic 1 - Hand Stitch

This is Deb’s hand stitched representation of the design. The background fabric is a piece of screen printed fabric that I made several years ago.

Cut Back Felt Machine Applique - Psychedelic Design 1

And this is my machine stitched cut back applique made with two layers of felt. Since several people thought it would be a good idea to have some tutorial aspects in the proposed book, I did a short tutorial to show you how I made this.

Water Soluble Taped to Paper Design

I started with the printed design on paper. I then taped down water soluble fabric over the design and traced it. Use a regular pencil, not a colored pencil. Colored pencils have wax that gum up your sewing machine needle.

Two Layers of Felt

I then chose a couple of pieces of screen printed felt in different colors. It helps if the colors are different either in value or hue.

Water Soluble with Design on Felt

I placed the design over the felt and then…

Water Soluble Fabric Pinned to Two Layers of Felt

pinned it down. It would probably be better to baste all the layers together but I was being lazy and it actually didn’t shift that much with stitching.

Stitching Outer Edge

I then began free motion stitching the outer edge. With free motion stitching you need to use a darning foot, lower the feed dogs and set your stitch length to zero. I stitched all the lines at least twice over.

Close Up Free Motion Machine Stitching

Here’s a little bit closer view of the stitching.

Stitching Inner Lines

Then I started working on the inner lines. I made sure to stitch in place at the end of each inner design to lock the thread and then just moved the needle to the next spot. At the end, you have to trim off all the threads that are between the stitched designs.

Still Stitching

And then I stitched, stitched and stitched some more. It took a while.

Ready to Start Cutting Back

I cut off the excess threads and trimmed off the extra water soluble fabric from around the edges.

Water Soluble Dissolved

Then I soaked the piece in warm water to dissolve the water soluble fabric. Then I let the piece dry completely. I forgot to take any photos of the cut back process. While carefully looking at the paper design, I decided which areas to cut out. Use a sharp pair of embroidery type scissors and cut inside your stitched lines. Only cut the first layer of fabric or felt as close to the stitched line as possible. But don’t cut through your stitching.

Cut Back Complete

And here you can see the green beneath showing where I cut out portion of the upper blue felt.

Dense Free Motion Stitching

I then did some really dense stitching on the “black” part of the original design.

Cut Back Felt Machine Applique - Psychedelic Design 1

And this is the result. I think if I was going to mount this piece, I might cut around the outside of the design to give it more definition. But I am leaving it how it is for right now. So here’s another mini challenge, use this design in your own work with whatever media you choose. You can increase the size of the design if you’d like or leave it as it is. Have fun!

Psychedelic 1 with copyright



Here’s Norman

Here’s Norman

I have written several posts about a collaboration between artists which will result in an upcoming exhibition and a coffee table type book. The original sketches that all of these are based on are by Nanci Williams who works at the store with me. We see a wide diversity of people and fashions. It’s getting closer to the deadline to have all the pieces completed and so I’ve finished one more. His name is Norman.

Practicing Free Motion Stitching

I started with Nanci’s sketch and on the left, you will see an attempt to thread sketch Norman without any guidelines. I could have done him that way but I just seem to get the proportions a bit off. So I decided I would try using colored pencil to trace the sketch and then use that to free motion machine stitch over. So that is the middle piece. He definitely looked better than the first attempt. So now to determine size. I increased the original sketch 180% and that is on the right side of the photo. I had some linen that I had dyed naturally and I can’t remember now what it was dyed with. (Note to self – keep better track of experiments.) I backed it with Osnaberg fabric by fusing it down to the back after I had traced the sketch with “Beige” colored pencil.

Stitching Finished on Norman

Then I free motion stitched him on the machine. Here he is after stitching. I actually really liked him without color but I was persuaded that he needed color.

Colored Portrait of Norman in Stitch and Colored Pencil

So I colored him in with colored pencil. And I’m glad I did. He turned out just like I wanted.

Close Up of Norman

So here’s a little closer view. Since I have one more on the list to do, I decided to make the next one with this same method.  But I didn’t have any more of the fabric. So I dyed some heavier cotton fabric with tea and coffee. I dyed more than I needed and I’m sure that was a mistake because now I want to use the rest of the fabric with three extra sketches. Because of course I have nothing better to do! So I’ll see how many I can get done before the March 1st deadline.

Starting Over

Starting Over

It’s okay to start over again

knowing what you know and what you don’t know.

Moving on imperfectly,

and being at peace with that decision.

You don’t need a brand new book

 to begin writing a brand new story,

And although it marks a significant point in time,

You don’t need a brand new year to begin living

if you simply make the choice and begin

from the place where you are right now.

This is a book that I made for my stitch class homework. We were supposed to look at others who do contemporary machine embroidery work and this book is based on Cas Holmes work. She uses a variety of repurposed fabrics and layers with machine stitch. I was going to cover a small notebook that a friend challenged me to “re-do” but it didn’t quite work out that way.

I started off with the orange-colored fabric rectangles that I already had cut out to make cards. I backed them with Stitch N Tear and stitched flowers, leaves and bugs with black thread. I free motion machine stitched and didn’t draw ahead of time, just did it by eye.

Then the notebook I was covering was just a bit bigger than the stitched rectangles. So I had to add more fabric. All of the fabric came out of my stash. Some of the lovely bits of silk ribbon came from Karen (thanks kaz!).

The poem was from my friend Carole. She had made a silk screen with the poem and I had tried it out on a scrap piece. It was imperfect letters with some very obscured, to match the poem. I don’t know who the poem is written by but would love to give credit if someone knows. I looked online but couldn’t find it.

Once I had the collaged pieces together, I decided that if I was going to stitch over them to hold them down, I would need a backing fabric. I picked black felt to emphasize the black stitching and to calm down the overall random color scheme.

I was trying to be a bit looser in my design and not try to  make everything perfect. This flower was particularly ugly so I thought the word “imperfectly” fit it perfectly 🙂

I then added a variety of stitching to the background. This is really not my style but it was fun.

I then stitched around the edges of the page with black to hold everything down that hadn’t yet been stitched and to give a more finished look.

Then I went back to cover the spiral notebook and the pages were too thick to fit. But I decided that didn’t really matter too much as the pages were beautiful and I could do a hand sewn binding.

So then I sewed the pages back to back.

Each of the left edges of the book pages then needed to be marked at 1/4″ intervals so that the blanket stitch would come out evenly. If the stitches don’t line up, the binding doesn’t work very well.

Once all the pages are marked, then the left edges were sewn with knotted blanket stitch. The knot is added to increase the strength of the bars on the edge of the page formed by the blanket stitch.

After I stitched all the knotted blanket stitch edges, then I lined up the pages and connected them together with big safety pins.

The binding is then formed by doing raised chain band stitch over the bars of the blanket stitch. If you look back at the first photo you can see the binding.

The first time I did this type of binding, I found it a bit cumbersome but this time went much more quickly and smoothly. I guess my mother was right, “Practice makes perfect”.

Oh but I wasn’t supposed to be perfect!! Note to self, don’t listen to that voice in your head that sounds like your mother.

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