Sunday, 18 March 2018

Quick Stitch - Felted Flora

Although the Spring Solstice is only two days away, Spring still feels a very long way off in Somerset.  And so in the slowness and waiting this month, I have dreamt of all the colour and flora that will eventually arrive.  And in doing so, I have come back to a project that has transpired to capture the imagination of other stitchers in Somerset too.  These 'felted flora' are striking, tactile and easy to make in wool fibres.

On this snowy Somerset Sunday, I thought that I would share the joy they have given and pass on the instructions on how to make.  The first task is a most pleasurable one, sourcing some beautiful fibre tops.  One of my favourite sources for fibres is John Arbon Textiles in South Molton Devon, just a touch over the Somerset border.  He stocks a fabulous range of dyed and blended fibre tops which are perfect for this project.  Alternatively, find a friend who spins and they will most likely have some tops oddments to share.

The next product to source is water soluble fleece and the make I use is Vlieseline Solufleece.  I find myself increasing working with this product over water soluble film, at it is possible to use without a hoop - a huge plus for me.  To start you need to cut yourself two pieces of fleece the size of a flower petal and draw a shape on one piece - a Frixion pen is good.  Trap some fibres between this and the other fleece piece and then machine stitch all the way along the line you have drawn.  Then cut back the excess fleece and fibre close to the stitch line.

Repeat this process making around 5 petals of various shapes - I went for seed head shapes in slightly different sizes.  Next to drop the feeds on your machine and do some free stitching - it really can be anything that is relatively open.  You may find it easier to wait to trim back the fleece around the shape so that you have more to hold while you are stitching.  I like to use a rayon thread for this project as it has a lovely sheen against the fibres.

Then to bring back up the feeds and choose a few decorative stitches to stitch lines down the length of the petal shape.  Again pick a stitch that is relatively open so that the trapped fibres can still be seen when finished. Then take a beading wire around .5mm in gauge and starting at the bottom of the petal and leaving a tail of a good 3", stitch all the way round with an narrow open zigzag.  Leave a tail of wire as well at the end and zigzag stitch around several times so the wire is mostly covered and securely attached.

When all the petals are stitched and wired, twist the excess wire together and swish the petal around in a bowl of warm water to removed the water soluble fabric.  This the most exciting bit as you will see what the colours you have chosen will look like.  Leave the petals to dry somewhere warm like a sunny window ledge, or a warm radiator in for many of us in England just now.

When the petals are completely dry, bring them together to make the final flower shape and twist the wires from each petal together to hold.  To finish off, make some little felt balls for the centre or decorate with beads or pom poms.

I have so enjoyed that this stitch project has given much pleasure during the long winter months in Somerset this year.  The colour possibilities of combing fibres and thread are endless and this is my latest creation inspired by the colours around my Somerset studio.  Please do share photos of any of your own creations, I would be delighted to see.

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