Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bead Weaving with Wool Felt Sweater Scraps

Did you know that we can apply bead weaving techniques to wool felt?  This weekend I figured out how, and I have to admit, I'm pretty darn excited about it. Here is my first project.  It's a trivet, you know, a hot pad for protecting table tops from hot pots.  It measures 9 inches from top to bottom, and it's 5/8 inches thick.
Here you can see the trivet close up. Let me just say, this technique would make an amazing carpet. This is the texture I want my feet to touch first thing every morning when I get out of bed. Super soft and springy.
Do you want to see how I did it? Here are my materials and tools.  I started with scraps of felted wool sweaters. I used my rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat to cut a bunch of little strips that are 5/8 inches wide and about 3 inches long.  I made the green strips a little shorter than the yellow strips because the green wool is thicker and I wanted the rolls to finish as the same size, 5/8 inches in diameter. I used polyester "jean stitch" thread and a really thick, long needle to sew the rolls together.  I rolled each strip as I attached it. I stitched this together just as I would bead weave with peyote stitch. Sew right though the side of the jelly roll, through the center and out the other side.
The green scraps were left over from a sweater I made for myself this winter.  I think of it as "The Kelp Queen Sweater." I feel like a sea monster when I wear it, in a good way. It's mostly cashmere and super warm and cozy.
I also made this berry colored sweater recently.  It's in my Etsy shop if you want it.  Again, it's mostly cashmere.  I hand dyed the fabrics before I cut them up and stitched them together. Soft, cozy, warm and berry delicious!
 After finishing this sweater, I had some really nice cashmere scraps that I couldn't part with.  They were too small to make arm warmers, but too nice to throw away. So you can imagine my delight when I found that I could bead weave with them. Here is my set up of tools and materials.  I cut these strips a bit wider than the last set, 3/4 inches.  The strips are long enough to make the rolls 3/4 inches wide.  You'll notice I also added some pliers to my set of tools.  Those are useful for pulling the needle through the many layers of wool.  This technique is a bit hard on the fingers, and the pliers give you super powers, well, practically.
For my second trial of beading with felt rolls, I wanted to make a beaded ball.  With these wonderful strips of cashmere and wool, I beaded an icosahedron. It's the size of a tennis ball. It's very much like a tennis ball, in fact. My local tennis playing friend says it has a similar weight, too, but lighter. Similar squish, but a skosh squishier. It would be a good juggling ball, soft and light but not too light.  I stuffed the small space on the inside full of scraps I made with my scraps. That keeps it nice and solid. You can see how I layered dark and light purple together before making he jelly rolls.  Also, I used my scissors to trim the outside surface to make it smooth, well, smoother than it was. 
In making these two pieces, I found the beaded felt rolls really like to make a flat plane, like the trivet. The amount of curvature in the icosahedron is really pushing how much it the surface wants to curve smoothly before you start to see the sides of the rolls.  Accordingly, this technique will work better for objects with less curvature.  A big felt bowl would be nice, suitable project, I think. The felt should handle that level of curvature nicely.
Anyway, I still have a large garbage bag full of old felted sweaters destined to become new wearable pieces. In that process, I'll make lots more felt scraps. And with those scraps, I might just have to bead weave them into other things like bowls, balls, and boxes. So hopefully there is more bead weaving with felt in my future. Stay tuned. And, as always, thanks for looking. Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cotton Jersey Tunic in Blue and Gold

I finished this top last night. It's made with cotton jersey fabric, stenciled with artists' acrylics and entirely hand stitched with polyester thread--super soft and comfortable. The more pieces I make like this, the more I'm getting addicted to these sewing techniques of Alabama Chanin. The styling and stencils are my own design.
Meet Bunny!  This is one of the back panels.
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Here you can see The Twins.  I got a little carried away making silly cartoon stencils. The colors on this photo were enhanced.  The gold doesn't actually contrast that much with the blue. While it looks nice in the photo, and it helps you see the slight metallic sheen of the paints I used, I actually prefer the more subtle coloring of the original.  After all, it's clothing, not art to hang on a wall.
Image may contain: food 
Thanks for looking!


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