21 August 2011

I felt like needle-felting

This summer I’ve spent a lot of time decluttering my home and getting rid of stuff that I’ve collected over the years. Yesterday I found yet another place where I’d hidden away a bunch of papers that needed to be sorted out. I’m more and more convinced that I was a squirrel in an earlier life.

While sorting out the cupboard where I mainly keep my craft supplies, I found a small box with bits of wool that were the leftovers from a rather ambitious slipover project that I knitted some years ago. The yarn was so beautiful that I hadn’t had the heart to throw it away. In the same box I also found snippets of machine embroidery thread that I had saved ‘for something’. While pondering whether to throw away or save these treasures, I decided on a third option: to make them into something right away.

A number of years ago I experimented a bit with combining yarn and machine embroidery. My first experiment was inspired by a Swedish textile artist, AnnLis Krüger, who uses yarn in her humorous art quilts. Her technique was to wind a bit of yarn around her fingers, place it on a piece of fabric and free-motion stitch it in place. I tried this method, thought it was fun, but a bit tricky, as you had to watch your fingers carefully and be on the alert for loops that got caught around the embroidery foot. Here’s little quilt I made with this technique:

My next experiment was to loosely knit a piece of  fabric, place it between two sheets of water-soluble stabiliser and free-motion stitch the surface to flatten the fabric and lock the knitted stitches in place. That was a lot safer for the fingers and there was no risk of the foot getting stuck on loops. This is what the knitted and stitched fabric looks like:

The embellishers/needle-felting machines that are on the market now open up the possibilities for combining yarn and fabric further. When I did my earlier experiments, I’d hardly even heard of needle-felting, let alone of any needle-felting machines for domestic use. I don’t think that I will invest in an embellisher, but I have bought a handy little tool that is a kind of hand-driven mini needle-felting machine:

So when I found that leftover yarn, I decided it was time to put the needle-felting gadget to the test. I used a piece of craft felt as the base, put a generous amount of fibres (yarn and machine embroidery thread) on top and started punching away. It took me a quite a while to punch the fibres in place (a machine would definitely be a lot quicker), but as long as the project is small and you are equipped with a bit of patience it’s doable. When the fibres were relatively well attached, I took the fabric over to the sewing machine and free-motioned on top to secure everything in place.

I then took my needle-felted fabric pieces and made them into these cute little hearts:

I’d be happy to post instructions on how to make these hearts if anyone is interested. Just leave a comment or e-mail me, and I’ll include the instructions in a future blog post.


  1. These are gorgeous, Annika. Love the kitty, but I'd like more info on the hearts. I do have an embellisher (Janome) and don't use it nearly enough. These would make a great item to sell at my next quilt show. Always looking for simple gift items for the boutique.

  2. Thanks Cheryl! I'll get back to you with more info on the hearts soon.

  3. Annika, a tutorial would be wonderful! I have the little hand held felter and enjoy using it. The cat is wonderful! As are the hearts. I always make tags for gifts and these would be wonderful. Have a fun filled week.

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