Last year in my summer embroidery classes for kids, the children embroidered notebook covers on wool felt. I learned a lot during those classes which I’m implementing in this year’s classes. For a couple projects, we’ll be using the felt again.
Wool felt is nice for embroidery – for kids or adults – for at least a couple reasons: 1. it is stiff enough to be held in hand, without a hoop; 2. In most cases, even with lighter yellows or greens, you can still get away with some thread carriage. For kids, this is important. While you do want to teach them from the very beginning the importance of keeping the back of their work neat, on small spaces if they have to start and stop a lot, they get easily frustrated or bored.
So, for example, when a kid is embroidering a purple lazy daisy daisy, carrying the purple thread from one petal to another is no big deal. On a light fabric like muslin or linen, it could very well be unsightly. On felt, not really! Who would know?!
This year, we’re making two items out of embroidered felt: a bookmark and a little coin purse. They are both very simple concepts – no sewing machine is required or really any “extra” finishing. They are also small enough to be managed in a couple classes.
The coin purse is simply a tri-fold piece of felt, with angled corners on one end (for the flap). We’ll use either a snap or velcro catch (I don’t really like the idea of using velcro with felt or embroidery), and the pouch will be lined with a coordinating calico that is fused onto the felt. The edges are stitched up with a close buttonhole stitch or overcast stitch. I’m started making the sample and it’s coming along ok – I’ll post pictures when it’s finished.
The bookmark is another question: it’s extremely simple, as there’s no folding involved, and edge stitching is not required (but could be done, if desired). The bookmarks, finished size, are about 3 inches wide and 7 inches long. Only the simplest pattern will be worked – I’ve got a couple very basic patterns that I’ll have already on the felt before the classes begin.
The problem I was running into was the backing and how to apply it. It seemed to me that an extra layer of felt made the bookmarks really thick. But if I wanted fabric beyond the edge of the embroidered front of the bookmark, it had to be something stiff, and felt seemed the only option – after all, the edges don’t require finishing. All I knew was that there absolutely had to be something to cover up the back of the booksmarks! So these were the original questions besetting me as I prepared these projects.
You can imagine how delighted I was, then, to come across an embroiderer who is actually testing the making of felt bookmarks in different ways! If you have not checked out Alicia’s blog, Curiosities 808, you really should! There are a couple things I really like about it: 1. She does some things the way I do them – like tracing a bottle cap from eye drops for circles on her fabric! 2. Her photography is really nice. And 3. She’s exploring thoroughly this question of felt bookmarks. She begins with her plan for making felt bookmarks to try out different stitches, and then she progresses through the making of them. She’ll be testing out different suggested backings, too. So that will be really interesting to me.
I’ve already decided on my mode of backing, but I’m always open to new and better ideas!! If any of you are familiar with making bookmarks on felt, what do you use for a backing? Heck, even if you’re not familiar with it, do you have any ideas?
As you can tell, my biggest preoccupation right now is the summer instruction. I hope it doesn’t bore you too much! To break the monotony, I promise something Monumentaly Interesting (!! maybe a bit of an exaggeration !!) in the next couple days. And I’ll be taking a bit of time off work shortly, so that will give me more time for photos and progress reports!
Have a terrific Thursday!
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