April 2011

Just finished the wedding ring cushion for my sister and future husband. It is made of three layers of felted merino with silk noil  and silk hankies, silk gauze fabric, strips of silk chiffon and cotton muslin as decoration. I used the green and gold silks for the Kerry colours for Juliette and the red merino with sparkly angelina fibres for Denis for the Cork colours. I felted a flat piece in roughly a square shape, intentionally making a piece bigger than I needed so I could cut my favourite piece out.  When firmly felted, I used a piece of recycled satin scarf cut to size for the back as the template for the felted piece.  Before stuffing and sewing up I tried a few sample machine embroidery stitches on the excess felt. I picked a flower stitch that seemed able to follow curves without the need to make the machine ready for free machining (which involves removing some bits and adding other – and I just don’t have the patience for that fiddling about!!!). I then used a fade away pen and drew some heart shapes around the muslin which had created the best surface texture of all the additions. I then followed the pen line with the machine embroidery stitch. Finally I pinned and stitched the satin to the felt leaving about two inches not sewed, turned it right side around and stuffed the cushion with some cushion filling that a friend had given me a couple of weeks ago. I then hand stitched it completely closed and added a lovely light gold organza ribbon in the centre for tying the rings.  I am so pleased with the end result and again I learned a lot. I would love to make more of these as well but am racking my brains trying to find an excuse!! Otherwise I will end up with loads of lovely small cushions all over the house!

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Have just completed two outstanding projects, thanks to a morning babysitting given to me by my generous sister.

The hat is made of felted Kerry and merino wool fibres and then cut into equally sized squares. This turned out to be a fortuitous accident as when the felt was made some years ago, I had not the skill to complete a hat. My mum and I felted the wool one night with the intention of making ‘something’ and decided to try making a hat by in joining the squares. But it sat there unfinished for at least three years until Mum found the bag of bits and gave it to me. I took it away intending to work on it at some point.  After a further six months I started sewing the squares together alternating the black/green and white squares. It took me two attempts at hand sewing it, using blanket stitch, then whip stitch until I realised that the stitches were too visible and it needed machine stitching. I joined the squares together in a rectangle shape of two lines of squares. Then I created a six piece crown for the top of the head but snipped the corner squares in half at both ends in order to create an oval shape. I then joined the oval and rectangle together. I had previously worked out how many squares I needed for the oval and base by measuring my hat block. When the oval and rectangle were joined together it was a little loose so I decided to felt it again. This was partly to strengthen it and also to shrink it to get the exact hat block size. I was delighted with the results, as I only ever half believed that it would actually work out properly. Today I finally got around to making a lining. I cut an oval and rectangle shape from green lining a little larger than the hat size to allow for hemming. I joined the oval and rectangle together and hemmed the edge of the rectangle that would be joined to the hat. I then hand stitched the lining in place, learning, as I went that big stitches worked better to hold the lining in place. I am so delighted with this hat, it was a complete learning experience from start to finish. And I hope to use this design to make more in the very near future. I call this hat Composite for want of a better word! It is an example of style I am developing where I join separate pieces of felt together to create something that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

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