Friday, April 4, 2014

Easter Basket & Friends - Wool Felt Set Tutorial

It's Time For An Easter Basket.... With Friends!


This adorable wool felt Easter Basket and Friends Set is quick to stitch and a perfect little spring gift for children.  

Designed by Victoria of Little Black Duck, the pattern and instructions can be found on Sew Mama Sew's blog post.  

The set includes a basket, a chick in an egg, a bunny, a carrot, and a decorated egg.  All the pattern parts and pieces are here.  

I've created a wool felt kit especially for the set.  It's available here in my shop.   Included in the kit is my fabulous 100% merino wool felt.  You'll need your own scissors, pins, embroidery floss or thread and a small amount of stuffing.

Victoria explains how she assembled her version in her pattern/tutorial.   I thought I'd share my version here on my blog.




This is the wool felt you'll receive in the kit.
It includes a pre-cut strip for the basket handle.

Yes, there's still time to make this basket before Easter (which falls on Sunday, April 20 this year).  When you purchase the wool felt kit from my shop   and mention 'BUNNY' in 'Notes to Seller' upon checkout,  I'll upgrade your shipping method to Priority Mail (please see offer exclusions below).

Once you've printed out the pattern from Sew Mama Sew's blog,  use Reynold's Freezer Paper to trace the pattern pieces, on the dull side of the paper, with a pencil.  
















When you're tracing those pattern pieces onto the freezer paper, keep like-color pieces together, and keep the size of the wool felt sheets in mind.  For example, trace all of the dark green grass pieces together, and trace them within a space on the paper no larger than the dark green wool felt sheet provided in the felt kit.

Iron the freezer paper pieces (shiny side down) onto the wool felt using a hot iron.  Cut out the pieces with sharp scissors.  




Begin assembling the basket by stitching one end of the handle onto the center side, as shown.  I used a simple straight stitch, and I used two strands of DMC embroidery floss (color #728 - a perfect match for my Butter Yellow wool felt).  Repeat with the opposite end of the handle on the other side of the basket.


I folded in the corners, and stitched with a blanket stitch.  Most of these stitches don't even show once the basket is finished so you can do a simple whip stitch or straight stitch if you prefer.



Next, the long Kelly Green grass (the lighter green wool felt) is wrapped around the corners of the basket.  Evergreen (the darker color) wool felt is layered on top.  Initially I thought I would stitch both layers of grass, but ended up stitching only through the dark green layer.  The stitches were enough to hold both layers of grass to the basket.  I like the way the lighter green longer blades of grass are more loose and free... more like real grass!  

I played around using different stitches.  I tried a whip stitch, a straight stitch and a back stitch.  The embroidery floss (DMC #890) matched my Evergreen wool felt so perfectly that it's hard to see the stitches at all.  Which is absolutely fine with me!






And now for the Friends.....


These can be done as simply as you like, or some fun details can be added.  All pieces are lightly stuffed with wool stuffing.  I gave the bunny some whiskers with a few straight stitches and I added little paws.  All of the fine details on each piece are stitched first, before stitching around the outside of the piece.  Each piece required such a tiny bit of stuffing that I simply layered the stuffing in between the front and back and stitched everything together.

The cracked egg is blanket stitched from Sand wool felt with DMC floss #842.  This was a very simple piece.  I like the natural egg shell look.  The little chick can be removed from the shell.  His beak required just a few straight stitches with DMC floss #741 which matches my Goldfish wool felt.  Eyes are french knots using DMC floss #844, a very dark charcoal grey.  The fluff on the top of the little chick's head was whip stitched from the inside to secure, then the body was stitched together with a blanket stitch.


I could have done the stripes on the decorated egg with a few simple straight stitches but I decided to have a little fun with a lazy daisy stitch in white, followed by a meandering backstitch and some french knots in the center of each little flower.  DMC floss #894 is a perfect match for my Carnation Pink wool felt.


The bunny (Camel wool felt, DMC floss #437)  had to have a white fluffy tail.... I used one of my Tiny Blossom Die Cut flowers.


The carrot is embellished with some little wrinkle lines.  Victoria (the pattern's designer) referred to the lines as 'carrot wrinkles' which I thought was quite cute.  I will never look at carrots again without noticing their little wrinkles ; )  The two separate pieces of the carrot top were stitched together with a straight stitch and a contrasting green floss - DMC #989.  The carrot top was whipstitched into place from the inside, then the front and back carrot pieces were blanket stitched together.




There's plenty of room left in the basket to add other treats if you'd like....  or add Easter grass or even some fluffy wool roving.

And now for the 'offer exclusions' as mentioned above..... Order an Easter Basket & Friends wool felt kit from my shop between now and April 19, 2014, and I will upgrade your shipping to Priority Mail class at no additional cost.  This offer for a postal upgrade is good only for sales here in the USA.  But to be fair to my international customers, I will add in a fifteen piece set of Tiny Blossom Die Cuts.  BE SURE TO MENTION 'BUNNY' IN 'NOTES TO SELLER' UPON CHECKOUT.  

And everyone will receive a little white fluffy tail for their bunny.  Yes, life is sweet.....






Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Went There! Did That!

Three months of intense preparation led up to the big day(s) at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan this past weekend.  I loved meeting everyone in person!  How fun to watch the reaction of people when the saw all of the colors and felt the fabulous felt!  I heard such wonderful comments... the 'oooohs' and the 'ahhhhhhhhhs' were plentiful as I expected they would be.

Some of my favorite moments were when on-line customers recognized my name and my wool felt and came to introduce themselves.  I totally loved it!!  Overall it was a fabulous experience and I hope to do it again.  Now that I've been through it once, the next time will be a piece of cake!


The 'Felt On The Fly Live' experience included all 99 luscious colors of felty wool felt available in single sheets and, of course, my famous Color Stories....we did some really cute Make 'N Take projects including a Puffed Star Ornament, a Heart Ornament and an embellished Tiny Tote, all made with die cut wool felt.  I think you'll be seeing these little kits in my Felt On The Fly shop very soon.

Patterns from some very talented designers were also featured in my booth.  Jennifer Carson of The Dragon Charmer was so very generous in allowing me to borrow her fabulous Jewel Dragon for display alongside the pattern.  And...by the way....kits including the pattern, felt and wool roving will soon be available in my shop.



From Lolli Dolls, Anne sent me adorable 'Zoe' (made with FeltOnTheFly felt, of course) as a wonderful example of her doll patterns, pictured on the right, 'Rosie', 'Ellie' and 'Grace'.  Zoe and the patterns were much admired.  Check out those eyes!  They are hand-embroidered.  The hair, the dresses, the shoes.... all in wool felt!  So crazy cute... and the patterns are well-written and detailed.  Even instructions for those sweet little socks are included. 



I also had kits for those adorable owls from Garden Birdie (left), and patterns from GingerMelon:

                                               








I also had a little lamb from JudyElizabethsFlock (below) - which is made partly from my wool felt -for those lamb-loving folks out there....it's just the sweetest thing!

Also on display in my booth were adorable little creations from Kendrea of BitsOfMe (currently on vacation from Etsy) including those sweet little acorn cap dolls inspired by Sally Mavor's book, Felt Wee Folk.  

One more very eye-catching item on display in my booth was this lovely egret and grape leaf pin created by SandhraLee who shares with me a love of wool felt and Florida.  The pin is made with my wool felt, a cotton batik print and beads:

I was happy to show off the work of crafters I admire.  When shoppers asked 'What can I make with this amazing wool felt?', I was able to show them some terrific examples of projects.

The show was wonderful.  I surely couldn't have done it without the help of good friends.  Many hands helped in the preparation, and some experienced friends gave me very good advice and suggestions.  My heartfelt thanks to all!  

And a special thanks to Felicia Kramer for allowing me to use photos she took of my booth at the Expo.       

Monday, September 24, 2012

Live and In Person!

For the last three months I've been preparing for the American Sewing Expo show (September 28, 29, 30, 2012).  The Expo is an annual three day show - the largest independent sewing expo in the world! - showcasing fiber arts, fashion, sewing, quilting, needle arts and more... and I thought it would be a great place to showcase my fabulous wool felt!

Here's a sneak peek at how my booth will look...






Imagine all of that felty goodness all in one place!  Can so much of a good thing be a bad thing?  Nah... I don't think so either....

Hope to see you at the Expo!



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Feather Your Nest Follow Up....

In my last post I told you about the 'Feather Your Nest' competition over at Stumbles & Stitches.  Wow!  That was *so* much fun!  And I stand corrected:  there were 73 entries (not 72 as previously reported - oopsie).  There was such a flurry of entries, deadlines, voting, narrowing down the field, voting again, prizes, categories of winners.... a girl can get confused!!  I nearly missed the fact that my Falling Leaves Pillow was voted one of the top ten favorites by some pretty impressive judges!  Thank you, dear judges for the recognition!

Forgive me if I've mentioned this before, but I've been up to my eyebrows in felty wool felt (an nuthin' BUT felty wool felt) for over three years now, and have not taken the time to do much stitching.  It seems as though the universe is calling out to me to change my ways and come up out of the felt mines once in a while and enjoy the pleasures of my sewing room once again.  I remember once upon a time when I was actually designing patterns... hmmm.....




Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Feathering Your Nest...

The ladies over at Stumbles & Stitches put their heads together recently and came up with a great challenge - they call it 'Feather Your Nest'.  The point of the challenge was to make something for your home using stitches, and something up-cycled or re-purposed.

I loved the idea of the challenge and made a long list of all the
possibilities... it was a little hard to narrow it down! But finally, an
obvious choice emerged.

 I wanted to add a personal touch to my new living room furniture, so I thought a pillow would be perfect.  Designing 'on the fly', I die-cut feather-ish shapes from my felty wool felt, hand-stitched them to a contrasting panel, bordered the panel with cording, and framed it with a felted wool fabric purchased eons ago from who knows where...and stuffed it by cutting down an extra bed pillow that was going to be sent to Salvation Army in the very near future! 


I named the pillow 'Falling Leaves' and it was designed to be displayed in a vertical position, but I think it works vertically as well.  The colors blend with both the patterned chair and the more solid color on the couch. 



There were 72 'Feather Your Nest' entries - wow!  That was a terrific response to the challenge, don't you think?  You can see all of the entries and vote for your favorites right here.  Please note, I am not asking you to 'vote for ME!' as I find that sooooo irritating.  I'd sincerely like you to vote for the entries that you like best.  Voting ends tomorrow - Thursday, May 3, so don't wait if you want to vote! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Festival of Broken Needles

I'm so intrigued and enchanted by the rituals of cultures older than mine.   The USA is such a young country in comparison to most of the world.  Here in this country we are, in some ways, lucky to have access to so much and yet that leads to taking so much for granted.

I was so very moved when I recently discovered the Festival of Broken Needles, held every February 8 in Japan.  I'm thinking that it was a good thing that I discovered this custom a few days after it was celebrated this year because I can now thoughtfully prepare for next year's ceremony.


The Festival of Broken Needles, also known as Hari-Kuyo is an annual ceremony held at Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples for sewists, tailors and kimono makers.  Their worn and broken pins and needles, saved throughout the year, are laid to rest, thanked and honored for their faithful service.

I love that the value of small, inanimate objects is recognized and appreciated.  The concept that serviceable tools not be lost, wasted or carelessly replaced appeals to me.  In researching this post, I read about a woman's Grandmother who always had a needle woven into the fabric of her dress, ready to be called into service.  Every day.  And the Grandmother had only one needle.  Imagine her connection with that needle, and the care she had to take so that the needle wasn't lost.  That kind of connection is worthy of ceremony when it's days are done, don't you agree?

Another aspect of the Needle Mass is the recognition that women have 'secret sorrows' which are reflected upon during the many hours spent stitching and that those sorrows are passed on to the needle which helps to bear the burden.  To show such reverence for a seemingly simple tool is, in the act of this ceremony, a living prayer.  In fact, the women who participate in this requiem ceremony pray that their sewing skills will improve in the coming year. 

To honor her own needles, Susan Elliott of PlaysWithNeedles designed this gorgeous needlebook and e-class.  The class has already begun and, sadly, it's too late to join in, but maybe Susan will offer another...I can hope, right?


And I have to say that I'm quite thrilled that Susan chose FeltOnTheFly wool felt for her beautiful needlebook.  I had no clue when she ordered the wool felt that she was working on such a meaningful project.  If it hadn't been for Susan sending me a link to her blog post showing the needlebook, I may have never learned about Hari-Kuyo.  Thank you, Susan!  You can see Susan's personal needle ceremony right here.


So now that I know about this 400-year-old Festival of Broken Needles, and since I have vowed to make more time for stitching this year, I will need to create something special; some soft place in which to rest my broken and bent needles and pins so that I may properly and thoughtfully say goodbye to them on February 8, 2013.  I don't plan to travel to Japan for the official ceremony, but I'll come up with something right here in the USA...

Beautiful in it's simplicity, I hope you'll take a few minutes to scroll through this booklet:

 http://issuu.com/audsomee/docs/hari-kuyo?mode=embed&layout=http://skin.issuu.com/v/light/layout.xml&showFlipBtn=true


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inspiration, Collaboration and Serendipity!

You might want to make yourself a cuppa tea for this post - lots of links and pictures and stories!  This is the blog post I promised a few days ago when I left you with a little teaser of what I was working on...

I made something!  Yay!  I'm usually up to my eyeballs in the Felt Mines doing all the things I do on a regular basis to keep my business running smoothly.  But lately I've had an overwhelming urge to make something, and an underwhelming urge to find the time.  But thanks to an internet connection with Erin of Clever Charlotte and that rare and wondrous thing called serendipity, I made an Embroidery Folder!  




It all started when Erin was inspired by the colors in this artwork by Alyssa Nassner of SmallTalkStudio.


Erin wondered if I could pull together some of my wool felt colors to recreate Alyssa's unique palette in her 'Dream Catcher' print  (silly goose... I can recreate any palette!!) for an embroidery/needle case she wanted to make for herself.  Here are the colors I chose:


Baby Yellow
Yellow Green
Avocado
Blush Pink
Coral Pink
Coral
Grey
Slate Grey

Once I saw this pretty pile of wool felt, I started thinking about a project that had been brewing in my mind for quite some time...an Embroidery Folder using parts and pieces cut with dies.  My name, Felt On The Fly, comes from the fact that I love to design 'on the fly'!  It always starts with a need, which fuels my creativity and off I go - designing from my imagination.

Erin and I decided that we would each design our own project using the same color palette and compare results when we were done.  You can see her finished project right here. 

 My wool felt cuts like a dream with most of the popular dies available in craft stores and on-line.  I used just three Sizzix dies for all of the parts and pieces shown here.

The largest pieces were cut with the Sizzix 'Pocket Page and Tag' die which requires the huge Sizzix Big Shot Pro Die Cutting Machine.  The smaller embellishments were cut with the Sizzix 'Flower Layers #7' die and the Sizzix 'Jungle Leaves' die using the smaller, more manageable Sizzix Big Shot Die Cutting Machine.  

I knew I'd need lots of pockets for my Embroidery Folder because I like to carry lots of bits and pieces around while I'm designing and stitching.  Lucky for me, the 'Pocket Page and Tag' die includes holes - so much neater than trying to make little slices with scissors!  Those holes made it really easy to insert metal rings to keep the pocket pages lying flat when the Folder is open. 

Some creative cutting and folding and stitching ensued and, what the heck, why not toss in a few sparkly little beads too... and here's what the inside of my Embroidery Folder looks like:


There are three layers of pockets.  Each of the top two layers open like a book.  The bottom layer is one large pocket.  I used the tag die cuts to make a needlebook and a handy little layered pocket for reading glasses and my needle threader - both of those little extras fit right inside the Embroidery Folder making one nice, neat little package.


I cut out embellishments using the same color palette and used those embellishments to repeat the theme of Alyssa's artwork. 

And finally, so you can get an idea of how all of this looks when it's actually being used...here it is, stuffed with the bits and pieces of my next project!


Here's a few close-ups of some of the detail work...

The three-dimensional flower is actually three flower die cuts, folded in quarters, embellished with beads and stitched together.






 I love the 'Jungle Leaf' die.  Looks just like a feather, don't you think?


And here's the simple leaf/feather design again - simply embellished with minimal embroidery and a few tiny beads.

All done!  Easy peasy!  Thanks, Erin, for the unintentional wool felt project throw down!  I look forward to the next challenge, whether it's matching a color palette or designing another project on the fly....