How to Make a Felt Brooch
Brief history of brooches
The first evidence of brooches dates back to the Bronze age.
Brooches dating from the Iron age have been found throughout Eurasia.
During Medieval times, brooches commonly depicted religious and animalistic scenes. In the Renaissance period, brooches fell out of favor and it was not until the Victorian age that they came back into their own, using intricate designs and elaborate jewels.
Today, brooches are found throughout the world, in any design imaginable. They remain one of the most popular accessories.
One of my favorite accessories is a brooch. They add color and interest to any outfit. They can dress up a plain shirt or add a little whimsy to an old grey sweater. Strategically placed, brooches can cover a stain or add a little extra modesty to a low cut blouse.
Ask any woman and she'll tell you that no one will ever know that you are wearing the same black sweater day after day if you just change your brooch. It was a trick I used many times when I was a single gal just out of college and on a very tight budget.
My mother always wore brooches, that is until her fingers let her down and it got too difficult to pin them on. Luckily she has given me many of her pieces so I can wear them.
A few weeks ago I needed a little something for an old white blouse and the brooches I had just weren't right. Since I had been doing a lot of work with felt I decided to make my own brooch, and I came up with some designs that I really love.
Felt brooches are easy to make and the design possibilities are endless. If you are in the mood for a new brooch, try making your own. It's easy and fun and sure to impress the girls at your next card party!
Supplies you'll need to make this brooch
- Sharp Scissors
- Pinking shears (optional)
- Embroidery needles
- Freezer paper
- Embroidery floss
- Safety pin
- Beads (optional)
- Iron/Ironing board
Choose your colors and pattern
You can get felt in almost any "big box" store, but those rectangle pieces are thin. Go to a bigger fabric store and purchase it by the yard. It's much denser and the color choices are impressive. Be careful not to buy flannel by accident.
Decide what colors you want to use for your brooch. For this paisley piece, I wanted vibrant contrasting colors that showed off the design.
As a general rule, contrasting colors add more pop to a design whereas similar colors are more soothing. "Hot" colors, like reds and oranges, show up more than "cool" colors, like blues and greens.
Sketch your design on freezer paper
Cut out a piece of freezer paper that is manageable to draw on. Using a pencil, sketch out the shape you want. Draw a shape for every felt piece that will be in your brooch.
Cut out the paper shapes and set them aside until ready to use.
Tip: Draw on the flat side of the paper, not the shiny side. The shiny side will be the side pressed against the fabric.
If you are confident in your cutting skills, you can skip this freezer paper step and just cut out your shapes freehand.
Press the freezer paper onto the felt
Don't press too long. The freezer paper loses its adhesive and the felt gets too hot and starts to melt.
Set your iron to the "wool setting" without steam. Place the freezer paper shape, shiny side against the felt, and press for about 5 seconds. That should be long enough, but if the paper is not sticking, press for another 2 - 3 seconds.
Cut out the felt shapes
Felt can be tricky to cut so use really sharp scissors. For smaller pieces, use embroidery scissors. They will help you get nice sharp points and smooth edges.
Using sharp scissors, cut out the shapes using the freezer paper as a guideline. Then remove the paper.
If you want, use pinking shears to add an interesting edge to some of the pieces. Only use the pinking shears after the paper is removed.
Add the safety pin to the back
What's your favorite jewelry accessory?
It's not a brooch until there is a pin on the back.
- Lay the back piece of the brooch onto a flat surface with the side that will be against the shirt facing up. In the photo above this is the black felt.
- Cut out a small piece of felt that will fit the safety pin. In the photo above this is the white felt.
- Using 3 strands of embroidery thread, sew down the shaft of the safety pin, as closely as possible on both sides. It is almost like you are wrapping the metal.
- Using a straight stitch, go around the outside of the square for extra security.
Note: For this project I used contrasting felt and thread, but for your brooch, it will look nicer to secure the safety pin with matching materials.
Start assembling the top of the brooch
When sewing the layers together for this brooch, always start with the top layers. If you start at the bottom, it will be too thick to sew through.
Decide what color embroidery floss to use. If you are decent at embroidery, use a contrasting color like the white in the photo above. Embroidery adds a nice decorative touch to the piece.
For this brooch I used a simple running stitch around the edge of the pink felt.
Continue adding felt layers
How to do the blanket stitch
Once the top two layers are sewn together, sew that piece to the third felt piece (blue). For this step I used a blanket stitch in a contrasting red floss. I think it adds an interesting design element.
The blanket stitch is one of the more common embroidery stitches. Sometimes it is known as the button-hole stitch.
It's also one of the easier stitches. Check out the video tutorial on the right to learn how to do it.
Complete the brooch
I used beads to attach the top three layers to the black backing. Use embroidery floss that matches the beads so only the beads are seen.
If you don't want to use beads, then use another stitch of your choice. I like the beads because I think that they add a little bling to the piece.
The finished brooch
With all of the felt colors available today, the design possibilities for these brooches are endless. It's entirely up to you.
To help you get inspired, here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Here's another brooch using the same steps
© 2013 Claudia Mitchell