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Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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I’ve Got Wool Felt – Lots of It.

 

Wool felt’s a great fabric to have on hand for hand embroidery projects. I use it underneath goldwork, for example, and it can also be used to pad regular stitching and make it sit up a bit off the fabric. I also like to make things out of it, like needlebooks that are covered to bursting with embroidery.

Wool Felt Needlebook with Hand Embroidery

But you know what I like it best for? I like it for kids’ embroidery projects. It’s so much easier to teach a child to embroider on felt than it is on other fabric. They don’t need a hoop, heavier threads work well and look great on felt, and kids really seem to like the look and the feel of the stuff.

Wool Felt for Hand Embroidery

So, I got wool felt. Lots of it. I ordered it from Weir Dolls and Crafts, where they have a good selection of colors and weights available.

Wool Felt for Hand Embroidery

Summer is rapidly approaching. And I’m considering offering a couple short workshops for the kids at the school where I teach. Knowing that the first two weeks of summer are generally a wash, and that I will be out of town the next four weeks after that, I put in my order early for wool felt, just in case I can arrange a fun workshop or two for later in the summer.

Wool Felt for Hand Embroidery

Some of the felt is ideal for needle felting projects, and I suspect that kids would go for needle felting in a big bad way.

And if the workshops don’t happen, I’m going to have a lot of wool felt on my hands.

Wool Felt for Hand Embroidery

But I love wool felt. And I can do a lot with it. So I’m not worried!

What about you? Do you use wool felt for any hand embroidery or needlework applications? If so, what? Or, better yet, got any ideas for kids’ projects with the stuff? I’m open to suggestions, and I’d love to hear your ideas! Feel free to leave a comment!

 

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(35) Comments

  1. I have not bought wool felt, and appreciate a good source. Thanks.
    My last large amount of wool, which I’m still using, came from a $2.00 wool coat at the thrift store. I washed it in hot water and it shrunk up nicely.

    My most recent project with it is as backing to beaded buttons. I hoop fabric, draw circles with at least a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Bead the circle and gather the allowance. A circle of wool felt is stitched to the back, blanket stitch…and a piece of stiff interfacing can be placed in the middle. A thread button shank is easy in crochet cotton…make several long stitches across the button back, then keep them together with a row of cast on style stitch. Anchor off with a couple of tiny stitches and work the end of the thread inside the button.

    This type of button would be good for the kids if you simplify what goes on the top of the button.

  2. Hi Mary,
    I use felt in creating my ATC’s. Your students might like to make some, or artist postcards with stitching on the felt, then maybe swapping with others in the class, or another class, perhaps. They could make decorated journal books, or pin cushions, Christmas tree decorations, even felted jewellery.

  3. i’m a beginner embroiderer and would love to embroider on wool felt (am making felt animals etc and would make great embellishments). How do you mark wool felt, to embroider on? obviously you cna’t iron on a transfer pattern, but is there a way to mark it? And what if you’re using coloured felt? i really need something to guide me, even a line to follow, the idea of freehanding it has been put to me, i tried it, and it was a flop. So i’d love to hear what you do, or do with your classes for children (to mark WHERE to do the embroidery).
    thanks
    Gigi

  4. Hi Mary,

    I absolutely love working with true wool felt.

    Check out these two companies: Magic Cabin, the
    catalogue is beautifully illustrated and
    Child’s Dream come true. Lots of ideas for projects.

    Teri

  5. After using wool felt, craft felt makes my teeth itch. I love the texture, and the colors. I’ve used it for teaching kids to stitch. Bookmarks and little purses are great starting projects. I use it under my own embroidery when I want something to have some padding, or I want to make a motif that I’ll add on later. I’m such a hoarder that I save the tiniest pieces, and I have more felt than I’ll ever use in a lifetime, but your new colors make me think that maybe I need some more!
    Nancy

  6. Beautiful colors of wool Felt! I’m going to have to order from them? What weight of felt do you use the most? For padding? For embroidery? Just wondering which of their many is the best to order. Thanks for all of the information that you give us on you blog!

  7. I have used wool felt to make a needlebook, and two bears, one of which is a top for a tea cozy. I have used water erasable markers, which are only good for small dots. Lines are almost impossible, but if you draw a line using small dots it does work quite well. Another option is to use a running stitch in a contrasting thread that is covered by the embroidery. Thanks for the source! I will bookmark it and start laying in supplies, my 2 year old granddaughter might be ready to learn in a few years.

  8. I’ve done very little with wool felt–I’d love to make some soft bunnies, though. I’m certain my girls would love to learn to embroider on it–we’d take your class!

  9. I LOVE wool felt. I have not done specific embroidery projects with it, but have done other applique projects where some embroidery was used. I have tons of it. My only complaint in working with my wool felt projects is that it is so time consuming…tracing the pattern pieces, cutting them out, etc. I am very happy that you shared this source for wool felt. Thanks.

  10. Kids love to wear things that give them an identity and a sense of belonging. What about felt badges embroidered with a simple crest that they design with an animal, their name or nickname, and a title: ‘Jimbo: I heart soccer’ (reading, etc.,) or ‘Lucy: World’s Greatest Speller’? Beads and other things could be added as well. Judith Randall

  11. What a great topic, Mary! I am enjoying the readers’ comments with great suggestions. I volunteer at an after-school program with kids and have tried many craft projects with them. A while back, I taught about 7 girls how to do some simple embroidery stitches to make those smaller, white teddy bears from issue #42 of Inspirations magazine. We used some ivory wool blanketing I had, but I think the felt would have been much better! Using some wool fibers I had, I taught them how to sew on buttons for the eyes with a few more going down the front. I then showed them how to make a padded, satin-stitch nose and to make a smile using fly stitch. We even tried some daisies using detached chain stitch. I then sewed up the seams and had each stuff her bear. For a final step, I embroidered each girl’s name on the back of her bear. The girls loved having something they made themselves! I would enjoy getting more ideas from you and your readers for kids’ needlework projects….

  12. Hi Mary,

    I work at a small independent quilt shop, where wool applique is very popular. You can take a look at primitivethimble.com There are many patterns around right now for wool applique and lots of books with small cute projects in them that would appeal to kids. One thought I have is to do a bookmark that would be a sampler of a couple basic stitches. Another idea is a little “mug rug” or teacup mat with a bit of stitching and wool applique. I did a couple as gifts and they are small and quick and can feature good beginning stitches. Pearl cotton (#8) on wool is a very friendly thread for beginners. I have taught a couple of stitch classes at the shop and could send you pix of the class projects. Your workshop idea is wonderful and I know you will come up with the perfect project!

  13. Hi Mary,

    I have made several needle holders out of felt. I would cut a rectangle out of felt (I used black) then put over it some white felt rectangles, maybe 3, (like layers) then sew straight down the middle. Fold in half like a little book. The needles can be pierced in the white felt “pages”. I would embroider the
    black felt first on the front using a big initial or flowers. To embroider I used a big piece of black felt in my hoop and with white chalk or a white pencil outline my rectangle, then embroider. These make cute little gifts and you can fill them with needles.

    Sherrylou

  14. Hi, all! Thanks very much for your comments and suggestions! I really appreciate them! Very helpful!

    In the past for kids’ classes, I’ve done felt bookmarks, felt needlebooks, felt notebook covers, and felt ornaments. What I’ve noticed about working with felt with kids is that they get into the project with less reserve than they do when they’re working with lighter fabrics. They just go for it! Which is nice! Also, the fact that felt doesn’t have to be hooped and the edges can be left unfinished is a great thing in my book!

    Keep the suggestions coming!! (I’m making a list!)

    MC

  15. The N/D 2006 Piecework magazine (which I absolutely love) had directions for a Bird Ornament made from wool felt, sequins and gold braid. I had so much fun making it, and actually made two of them for my nieces. Yours is a great idea for using felt to teach kids.

  16. Mary – cut the felt so that you can create a cone shape from it. Get the kids to stuff, after sewing ip the back and along the bottom for ease or cut a circle so that it can be sewn so the mouse sits up. Cut felt for ears, eyes and nose and tail (or use floss ), glue on. The kids then have made little mice. Edith

  17. I love working with Colourstreams hand-dyed wool felt. I have used it for much of the embroidery in my two latest books, “The Left-Handed Embroiderer’s Companion” and “The Right-Handed Embroiderer’s Companion”.

    I just love working with the colours, and the surface of the fabric is so easy to work with, as you can put your needle *anywhere*! I like the hand-dyed wool felt because I use the colour gradations as “contour lines” along which I can embroider.

    I have recently learned of prefelt, and now my mind is percolating with how I could use that too! I have been dreaming up ideas over the past little while… I’d love to make an item of clothing with embroidery all over it, in the same style as I have used on the covers of my two books.

  18. Hi Mary, That’s a great idea and thank you. I have a couple of neices that get really interested in my cross stitching/embroidery and the always ask will you teach me, I a get together planned with my family its perfect. Hve a great week Stacey

  19. I love wool felt…all fulled and dyed! I do use wool and love how either machine or hand stitching look on it.
    For kids I might work out a way to have them make a cuff…girls can make one with beads, crystals etc and boys could make an army camo pattern from felt.
    Have fun!

  20. I love to work with wool felt. I have made Christmas pillows with it,pin cushions,purses. Wool felt is very forgiving.And your right kids love it. Great for starters.

  21. Bottle cap pin cushions! I love making these, and they are simple and easy to work up, and can be decorated any way, from a pretty pot of flowers to a gross bloodshot eyeball and anything in between, would appeal to boys as well as girls, if there are any.

  22. One of my first introductions to embroidery, and I’m talking very young here, was making little felt dolls in kindergarten, though I suspect it would still interest older children. We would basically cut out a couple gingerbread like shapes from the felt(mine were always rabbits) and embroider & decorate them however we liked; whip-stitch or blanketstitch them together and stuff them with a little puff. It could be made more or less advanced to suit your crowd, with multicolour appliques, fancy embroidery or attaching little bits-n-bobs. I made a bunch of these and my mum apparently still has a few tucked away, they were such fun and made such an impact that I still remember it all these years later.
    I still love working with felt myself, it’s a relaxing, no hassle material to work with. I am envious of your stash, Mary!

  23. I made some magnetic fish for my kids. I really enjoyed practicing my embroidery (since I am new) and making toys for the children at the same time. They love to play with their fish (and seaweed!).

  24. Lynn, (comment number 13), i looked at the site you suggested (primitive thimble) and put “embroidery” in that site’s search window, and nothing came up. Which part of the site are you thinking of? That site looks like it’s for hard core quilters only, i’m all lost looking at it. which part should i be looking at for embroidery on felt?

  25. Hi,
    First, I want to tell you that I like your new website. Second, in regards to wool felt projects I have recently started teaching my four year old granddaughter how to sew by cutting simple shapes out of wool felt. For example, I recently cut out the shape of a ladybug (one red for the top of the bug and one black for the bottom.) I cut out circles for her to glue to the top of the bug. I used a small hole punch and punched holes through both layers of felt all along the outside edge. Sitting with my granddaughter I loaded a plastic needle with Pearl Cotton for her and proceeded to teach her the button hole stitch. I have done this with several of her favorite shapes; ladybug, bumble bee, butterfly and horse. Embellishing the critters with glitter, buttons, or whatever your imagination can think of only adds to the fun. She is so proud of her accomplishments and her “marvelous” finished piece.

  26. Hi Mary,
    I loved going through your posts of projects for the children. You are so generous with your ideas and willingness to share, thank you! Especially interesting were the posts about your organizational and teaching tips. An idea for another project is to make an envelope in which the students could keep special memorabilia. The envelope could be embroidered first, then stitched together using a blanket stitch, or the buttonhole stitch. The closure could be fashioned using a button and buttonhole, or a loop and tassel. Hope this inspires some ideas! Carla

  27. Wool felt is my absolute favorite medium to work with! I have so much and love it, love it, love it! I only use 100% after having it, I can’t seem to go to any other. What kind do you like the best? Based on the recommendation of someone, I might try to order another kind, if it’s good quality. I was excited to see your post!

  28. Wow…love the website redo…I use the wool felt in an unusual way. In quilting, I like to do English “paper-piecing” technique, but I cut out wool pieces instead of paper so that it acts as a batting instead of paper. The new felts and dyes they have these days allow for it to be used without dye discharge or much shrinkage and it helps to keep the pieces from getting wonky. Since I figured out the way to do “framed” hexagons, it also allows me to turn them forwards and backwards when my designs call for the opposite color. It also allows me to add embroidery inside the frames if I so choose. Thanks for always bringing so many different forms of needlework to our attention.

  29. dear mary,
    i don’t know how i missed this entry because after mydevotions and making my bed you are the next thing i do. you get my day going right. wool felt. oh how i love wool felt. i used it so much when my children were small. since i have a granddaughter by my daughter and my son went into the army later than most young men it’s been a while.when they were small it was near impossible to even find wool felt but i have never been into synthetics, maybe that has to do do with all of the double knit dresses my mother made me, i raised mine on natural products. i made a nativity scene which were actually 3 1/2 in dolls out of wool felt. wool felt is the best material to teach really young children basic sewing stitches. right now i am teaching my 3 1/2 year old granddaughter how to do a whipping stitch. wool felt will take a tapestry needle. i cut out two smallish circles, she got to choose the colors, she picked two colors of embroidery floss from which i took one strand of each, then after you thread the needle you even all four strands because she thinks there is nothing funnier than watchingher grandmama thread a needle. when she comes over she will always work on it for maybe three minutes. it is the first thing she wants to do though. wool felt stands up to a lot of handling and is forgiving and #1 it doesn’t ravel! i did my first embroidery when i was 4. it was a stamped crosstitch of a kittens face with a blue bow. i don’t know if rowen will be ready for something like that or not as she is my complete opposite. the best things i ever mademy children out of the felt were finger puppets. i didn’t use patterns just my imagination. i realize now that the people were always frontal view while the animals were side view. people aren’t too interesting from the side. you want to see their face. while animalsare usually their cutest from the side…longor turned up noses tails of all different kinds. once youve got it down you can make at least two in an evening. depending on how much you want to decorate them.it is usuall best to embroider the fronts and backs seperately. but not always. i always sewed mine together with a small blanket stitch. you have to be careful with this also and do a jab blanket stich in order to get enough felt on the underside. with rowens i am planning on trying to needle felt hair or fluffy tails. wool felt is alsoan ideal material for children to explore with, as long as you explain that they can cut the square they want just as easily from the corner of the felt than from the center. there is also a new book out called felties. i do not know the authors name. it is in my husbands car. rowen adores it it is for making tiny stuffed animals.
    terri sue

  30. Hi, I am looking for the Norwegian type of embroidery with wool done on wool garmets for Folk costuming? WHat is the technique called? I am working on a porcelain doll and I am going to be sewing a Sami, Lapland black with red and gold metallic ribboned Kolt jacket and the Female Sami hat in red and I wish to embroider bright colored something Not sure what on her red or black mittens to make them pop? It has to be Scandinavian in feel and appearance. You know what I mean? Not sure where to look for these kinds of ideas or patterns or techniques. Please help.

  31. I use wool felt a lot…Mostly for the Kiwi Hexagons…I do use embroidery around the edges as well to secure the outer frame more securely.
    http://www.pinterest.com/cqmadhatter/
    I have my hexagon jacket under the above link and the subject hexagon crazy, but this picture was taken before I started the embroidered embellishing. thanks as always for your blog!

  32. Hi Mary,
    I have just recently started to embroider and applique on felt. I have embroidered and appliqued since I was a little girl but
    haven’t done it since my “grown up” daughters were babies and I haven’t ever done it on felt. I love it. My Great Aunt Helen was a kindergarten teacher for many years and when she died several years ago, I found a shoebox marked in her handwriting,”Valentine Pin-Cushions” in the attic of our family homestead. As I am a saver especially when it comes to sewing materials, I kept it for now nearly twenty years have been meaning to do something with these red felt heart cut-outs that Aunt Helen cut out her self with smaller white hearts probably twenty years before that and pinned them and red felt circles. I am making my two daughters and my granddaughter felt valentines and not sure what I will do from there with them. I have finished four of them so far. any ideas?

    1. Hi, Heidi – I think hearts would make cute Christmas ornaments, too. Maybe embroider dates or the year on them, and tie them to Christmas packages or give them in the place of greeting cards? Hopefully, other readers will come up with some ideas, too…? -MC

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