Monday, February 12, 2018

Tutorial: Cutting Felt Shapes with Freezer Paper

I fell in love with WoolFelt a few years ago. To be clear, I'm not talking about the sheets of acrylic felt that you can find at at most craft stores. I mean wool-blend felt that's made from natural fibers. I get my WoolFelt from National Nonwovens. It comes in dozens of gorgeous colors. When you cut patterns from it, the edges are sharp--not fuzzy, like acrylic felt.

But how do you transfer patterns to WoolFelt? Fabric markers and pencils aren't very compatible with the felt's texture, but freezer paper works like magic! You might have a roll in your kitchen right now. If not, you can buy a huge roll at the grocery store for just a few dollars. It's become an essential item in my craft room.

To use the freezer paper method for cutting shapes from WoolFelt, draw or print your patterns onto heavy paper or cardboard. Cut them out and then trace them onto the matte side of the freezer paper.

Next, place the freezer paper patterns shiny side down over a piece of WoolFelt. Press the freezer paper with a hot, dry iron for a few seconds until the paper adheres to the felt. (Reminder--this method is for use with wool felt only. Acrylic fibers and hot irons don't always play well together.)

Let the fused felt and paper pieces cool for a few minutes, and then use a sharp scissors to cut the shapes out. That's it--just cut right through the paper and felt. Now comes the fun part. Peel the freezer paper away from the felt pieces gently to reveal the shapes you've made. Don't you love those crisp, clean edges? And here's a bonus tip: you can reuse your freezer paper shapes several times.

I hope you've found this little tutorial helpful. Now I've got to make some more felt hearts--Valentine's Day is just two days away!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Loopy Pink Cowl

This pretty pink cowl is soft and fluffy--and surprisingly easy to crochet. The fun texture is created with the loop stitch, which is really just a variation on the single crochet stitch. The only tricky part, for me anyway, is keeping the size of the loops uniform. When you're learning loop stitch, the "a picture is worth a thousand words" rule definitely applies. So, rather than try to describe the process, I'm sharing a link to a Loop Stitch tutorial on the Annie's website. (They're the publishers of some of my favorite needlework magazines--Crochet World, Crochet!, and JustCrossStitch.) 

When you master the stitch and you're ready for a project, give this cowl pattern a try. For the model shown in the pictures, which is 7 inches high by 28 inches diameter, I used Caron Simply Soft yarn in color #9719 Soft Pink and a size I/9 crochet hook. I made my loop stitches long so they cowl would be extra fluffy.

Loopy Pink Cowl Pattern

Row 1: Chain 26, single crochet in second chain from hook and in each chain across, turn. (25 single crochet)

Row 2: Chain 1, loop stitch in first single crochet and in each single crochet across, turn. (25 loops)

Row 3: Single crochet in each stitch across, turn. (25 single crochet)

That's the pattern--I told you it was easy! Just repeat rows 2 and 3 until the piece measures 28 inches long, and then fold it in half widthwise, with the loop sides facing. Stitch the two short edges together with slip stitch. Fasten off the yarn, turn the cowl to the right side, and your cowl is ready to wear. I added a few heart charms to dress my mine up for Valentine's Day, but I think it's just as pretty plain. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Variegated Floss Heart

This Color Variations embroidery floss from DMC is my latest obsession. When I use it for cross-stitching, it creates gorgeous shading and depth without changing floss. The colors pictured here are some of my favorites: #4010 Winter Sky, #4025 Caribbean Bay, #4030 Monet's Garden, #4050 Roaming Pastures, #4200 Wild Fire, #4210 Radiant Ruby, #4215 Northern Lights, and #4240 Mid Summer Night. (I'm a pushover for color clever color names, and these are pretty great.)

When I work with solid embroidery floss, I usually cross-stitch stitch using the "cross-country" method--working across an entire row, making one half of each X, and then working back across the same row, completing each stitch with the other half of the X. But if I use this method with variegated floss, the color variations don't show up very well. Instead, I complete each stitch before I move on to the next stitch in the row. This creates a stripey effect and little pockets of color.

This simple heart is the perfect project for experimenting with variegated floss. I used Radiant Ruby for the heart shown here, but I think it would look adorable in Wild Fire or Northern Light. I also used even-weave fabric that I had on hand. You can of course use Aida, linen, or your favorite cross-stitch fabric.

Here's my finished heart. See all those pretty shades of ruby? I can't wait to make it into a little lavender sachet--hopefully in time for Valentine's Day.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Winter Blues Felt Baskets

Winter can get a bit gloomy, but I find that a snowy palette of pale blues and whites can be very calming. These little baskets translate the colors of winter into felt and embroidery floss. One features an embroidered branch embellished appliqued leaves and pearl "berries"; glass beads accent the windy embroidered swirls on the other. (The large basket is 3 inches diameter, 2 3/4 inches high; the small basket is 2 1/4-inches in diameter, 2 1/4 inches high.)

This project was originally published in Craft Ideas magazine, which sadly ceased publication next year. You can still click here to get the on the magazine's website. The directions follow below. (They're more involved than most of my blog project how-tos, so please bear with the step-by-step format.)

You'll need:

NationalNonwovens WoolFelt: two 9" x 12" sheets White, one 9" x 12" sheet Alluring Aqua, one 6" x 9" sheet Blue Snow

DMC 6-Strand Embroidery Floss: 747 Very Light Sky Blue, 3756 Ultra Very Light Baby Blue, 3766 Light Peacock Blue, White

Ten 1/8"-diameter pearl beads

Eight glass seed beads

Tools and Supplies: scissors, white tissue paper, fine-tip marking pen, straight pins, sewing needle, ¼" hole punch, tweezers.

Cut Felt:

Use the patterns (see link above) to cut the following shapes from WoolFelt:
White: 1 large basket middle band, 1 large basket inner band, 1 large basket base, 1 small basket middle band, 1 small basket inner band, 1 small basket base, 6 leaf. Use hole punch to cut 6 circles from white.
Alluring Aqua: 1 large basket outer band, 1 large basket base inset
Blue Snow: 1 small basket outer band, 1 small basket inset, 6 leaf from light blue.

Embroider and Embellish:

Trace the large basket stitching diagram onto the white tissue paper with the fine-point marker. Pin the tracing to the large basket outer band and embroider the branches as indicated by the dash lines with White embroidery floss and split stitch, sewing through the tissue paper. (The leaf stems will be added later.) When the branches are embroidered, carefully tear the tissue paper away from the stitching. Use tweezers to remove small pieces, if necessary.

Using the large basket stitching diagram as a guide, position the White and Blue Snow leaves along the branches and sew split stitch stems and center veins with white embroidery floss to hold leaves in place. Sew pearl beads along branches as indicated on the diagram.

Trace the small basket stitching diagram onto the white tissue paper with the marker. Pin the tracing to the small basket outer band and embroider swirls as indicated by dotted lines with Sky Blue embroidery floss and split stitch, sewing through the tissue paper. Use White floss and split stitch to embroider along the dash lines. Tear away tissue paper as above.

Referring to the diagram as a guide, position Wite felt circles on the design and sew them in place with White embroidery floss and straight stitches, working from the center of each circle. Sew seed beads in place.


To assemble the large basket, pin the large basket base inset, centered, on the large basket base. Sew along the outer edge of the inset with White embroidery floss and running stitch. Fold the large basket middle band in half widthwise and sew the short edges together with White embroidery floss, 1/8" from edge. Fold the large basket inner band in half widthwise and sew the short edges together in the same way.

Next, turn the large basket inner band so the wrong side faces inside and pin the base to one end of the tube with inset facing out. Sew the base to the band 1/8" from the edge with White embroidery floss and running stitch. When you've finished sewing, turn the basket so the inset is at the inside bottom and the side seam is on outside.

Turn the large basket middle band so the wrong side faces inside. Position the embroidered large basket outer band around the middle band. (The middle band should extend 1/8" beyond both long edges of the outer band.) Pin the outer band in place, easing the fabric so the short edges of the outer band abut. Use Light Peacock Blue embroidery floss and running stitch to sew the outer band to the middle band along the long edges of the outer band. Sew over the seam where the edges of outer band meet with closely spaced straight stitches and Light Peacock Blue embroidery floss.

Slip the middle band/outer band over the inner band so the top edges of the inner band and middle band align. Sew pieces together with White embroidery floss along top edge.

To assemble the small basket, follow the steps above, using Light Baby Blue floss to sew the small basket outer band to the middle band.