Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials and techniques are as individual as she is—unique, experimental and always interesting.
A Happy Valentine's Day Project Gone Wrong!
This tutorial is a follow-up on my heart cushion tutorial. It began with me making a red heart on a white background. The warning signs were all too obvious, and it was doomed to fail. However, I persisted with the project because I had a deadline to meet. Unfortunately, the red dye ran throughout the white background. I abandoned the project, only to begin it again, but as I am often apt to do, I had to go back to the failed project to see what I could do to repair the problem.
Luck was on my side. I remembered that I have a Clover Needle Felting Tool.
What You'll Need
- Red and White Merino Wool Roving
- Hot Soapy Water
- Bubble Wrap
- A Sheet of Foam Underfloor Layment: You'll use this to create two templates, one heart and one rectangle. The rectangle should measure 50x55cm. Underfloor kayment is the perfect choice for these templates because it can be re-used over and over again.
- 2 Saucers: Your saucers should measure 17cm in diameter.
- Scissors: Make sure you have a sharp pair!
- Felt-Tip Pen: This is for drawing the templates. It sometimes pays to wipe the color off once you have cut out the template, as it can bleed into the wool.
- 1 (42x41cm) Duck-Feather Cushions: I recommend using Duck Feather inners.
- Backing Fabric: You'll need a piece of fabric the same size as the cushion for the backing but add on 15 cm to make the flap if you decide to create one. I used a pale cream fabric to match the needle felted wool.
- Piping: Cut the piping from the same material or use red. It should be cut the cross. You can use ready-made piping if you wish.
- A Continuous Length of Zipping: I used 50 cm and cut the zip to size. It can be a little tricky to attach the zip ends, but I've included a video below which will show you how to do it.
- Zip Ends: You will also need one zip end.
- Bamboo Blind: You'll use this to roll the project.
- A Wooden Handled Kecuco Needle Felting Tool: The wooden handle feels great, and I love the way that the sharp barbed needles can be stored away safely inside the handle away from prying little fingers.
1. Create the Templates
Place two saucers onto a sheet of foam underlay and draw around the saucers as shown above. Use a long ruler to connect the lines and create the heart shape. Cut around the lines.
Next, draw a 50 x 55cm rectangle on a sheet of foam underlay. The shrinkage has been accounted for in these measurements.
2. Check Your Measurements!
Place the heart template against the cushion inner that you will be using.
- The heart should take up most of the area.
- Shrinkage has been allowed for in the measurements.
3. Cover the Template in Red Wool
Cover the heart template with an even layer of red Merino fibers.
4. Add Layers 2 and 3
Add a second layer of Merino wool. Check for any thin spots, and if you find any, fill them in now.
Next, add a decorative layer to the surface area. I used red silk threads to give the heart some sheen.
Read More From Feltmagnet
5. Cover With Bubble Wrap
Wet the wool with hot, soapy water and cover it with bubble wrap. Wet the surface with hot, soapy water. This facilitates easy movement of the fingers on the bubble wrap.
6. Rub the Wool
Start by pressing down firmly on the bubble wrap. Force the water out towards the edges, and rub gently when the fibers are flat.
- Don't rub hard enough to felt the fibers—only hard enough to blend the fibers together.
You don't want the wool to felt. If it felts properly, it may not adhere to the white layer.
7. Lift the Bubble Wrap
Gently remove the bubble wrap to expose the wet fibers below.
8. Turn the Project Over
Turn the project over and fold over the wet edges to create a sharp edge.
9. Fold Over the Edges
Use a little warm water to help fold over the edges if necessary.
10. Remove the Template
Keeping the edges sharp, gently remove the template.
11. Cover and Wet the Heart
Cover the heart with bubble wrap, and then rub the folded edges carefully.
- Try to maintain a sharp edge, and rub only enough to blend the fibers into one another.
12. Notice the Running Red Dye
Looking at the picture above, it is clear for all to see that the red dye in the wool is has run. This has the potential to completely ruin the outcome!
13. Roll the Heart
It seems that I have a decision to make, either to abandon the project or try to find a solution to the problem!
I choose the latter. I rolled the heart inside the bamboo to blend the fold into the fiber.
14. Rinse the Color
It seemed to me that if I were able to rinse the red heart until the water ran clear, I would be able to combine the red heart with the white wool without doing any damage.
15. Keep Rinsing the Project
I let the water rinse the project through the bamboo blind. The project is still delicate at this stage as it has not been fully felted.
The water runs clear, and it appears that I may have cured the problem. The fibers on the heart have not been displaced and I think that the risk will be minimal if I continue with the project, so I do.
16. Start Layering the White Wool
Completely cover the rectangular template with two thin layers of white wool roving.
Wet and flatten the wool using bubble wrap and soapy water.
17. Add the Third Layer
Cover the wool with a third layer and use some embellishment to create a shiny surface. I used some synthetic fibers, but you could use white silk.
18. Add the Decorative Layer
As can be seen above, I also added a few decorative fibers to the heart. The white fibers are now ready to receive its new red heart.
19. Wet the Fibers
Gently wet the fibers using a squeeze bottle. Try not to displace the sharp edges of the heart.
20. Cover and Wet the Bubble Wrap
Cover and wet the surface of the bubble wrap. Rub the surface gently at first, and then rub it a little more firmly as the wool begins to knit together.
21. Roll in the Blind
With the bubble wrap still covering the fibers, put the project inside the bamboo blind.
Roll it very gently at first so as not to displace the fibers. As the fibers knit together, rub a little harder.
22. Change Directions
Remove the bubble wrap, roll the project up again, and roll firmly. Keep on changing the direction in which you roll to allow for even shrinkage from all sides of the cushion.
23. Open the Project
On opening the project, it became blatantly evident that rinsing the red fibers had not been sufficient to stop the color from bleeding into the white fibers.
I took the whole project to the kitchen sink and rinsed it with water, alternating with hot and cold. The red dye continued to bleed into the now pink wool. I rinsed the project under hot and cold water and put it into the tumble dryer for a few minutes. Disheartened, I considered my options.
24. Get Out Your Wooden Clover Needle Felting Tool
Needle felt the white wool, including some shiny embellishment over the pink wool.
Use one needle on its own to neaten the edge areas. It is possible to get a really well-defined heart!
25. Continue Needle Felting (My Solution to Mend a 'Broken' Heart)
I gathered together some of the synthetic white fibers I had used on the surface of the cushion and decided to needle felt them over the now pink fibers.
- In many ways, it was the perfect solution because it also gave me the opportunity to sharpen the edges of the heart template.
I think this proves that if things do go wrong, there is almost always a solution.
26. Make and Attach the Red Piping
There are many tutorials online which will teach you how to make your own red piping. Alternatively, you can purchase some ready-to-use piping.
How to Make Piping
27. Attach the Continuous Zip
Follow the video below to teach yourself how to attach a continuous zip.
How to Sew on the Zip
© 2018 Sally Gulbrandsen
Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 30, 2018:
Thank you, Larry. I take your comment as a real compliment. Truth be told I am sometimes told that I think too much:) My approach is always to think about how I learn and how I can better teach the pupil.
Larry W Fish from Raleigh on April 30, 2018:
You are an interesting woman, Sally. The way you show step by step is the way to go. I can see that you don't rush into something, but think about it very well.
Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 16, 2018:
The idea is to start with little steps and expand as the ideas as you go along Catherine:) That way you won't find the idea too daunting. Much appreciate you stopping by to comment, thank you!
Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on April 16, 2018:
I don't know much about wet felt, but reading over your directions I can see that I would never have the patience for it. So many steps! I think for some people the patient effort might be what makes this craft so appealing. The final result does look lovely.
Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 14, 2018:
Thanks for the compliment and the congratulations, just not sure about the pay grade!