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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Embroidery on Felt – a Wee Inspirational Piece


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I have to show this to you!

Remember that list of Things to Do in 2016 from last week? Well, embroidery on felt is one of them.

I love embroidering on felt! I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I had so much fun with this needlebook years and years ago. It was such a “free form” project – no rules, no preconceived ideas. Just stitching whatever occurred to me.

Yes, that was certainly the beginning of my romance with stitching on felt.

Well, for Christmas, I received the most adorable little felt pincushion from a very kind reader. And I have to show it to you, so that you can see that stitching on felt can be creative, delicate, and addictive!

Bottle cap pincushion with embroidered felt

Here ’tis! This is a bottle cap pincushion. Are you familiar with those? They’ve enjoyed quite a bit of popularity – you can find tutorials for them online, all over the place.

Jen Segrest offers this basic bottle cap pincushion tutorial on Flickr. She has quite a gallery of amazing little bottle cap pincushions on Flickr, too – you should check it out, if you like tiny little embroidered things made from felt.

The idea is that a plastic bottle cap is used for the base of the pincushion. It’s surrounded by a felt casing that can be embellished in pretty much any way your imagination will take you. The pincushion is firmly packed full of fiber fill.

This particular pincushion I’m showing you today was stitched by Holly. It’s a little crenelated castle tower. But not just any tower, mind you!

Bottle cap pincushion with embroidered felt

The tower has several inset little lighted windows, neatly stitched around with one tiny thread in backstitch.

Climbing the walls of this tiny tower is a flowering vine, neatly stitched in stem stitch, French knots, and daisy stitch.

Bottle cap pincushion with embroidered felt

The French knots make perfect tiny roses!

The vine makes the tower really beautiful, as it crawls around the walls and over the windows. But the real personality in the piece shows up right here:

Bottle cap pincushion with embroidered felt

Rapunzel’s golden braid, tied up with a blue bow! It’s tiny, and oh-so-perfect! Infatuating, isn’t it?

I’ve been yearning to do something with felt for a while now, but when I received this little treasure in the mail, my resolve was absolutely confirmed.

I love my little Rapunzel pincushion! It has inspired me with all kinds of ideas that I’ve been jotting down hither and yon. I even started hoarding bottle caps from everywhere and everything, thinking I’d try my hand at working up a few tiny pincushions of my own.

The thing about little pincushions like this is that they’re not only cute as all get-out, but they’re super handy. If you travel with projects, or if you have several projects going, or if you stitch in different rooms in your house, it’s so nice to have a little pincushion next to you for each project, where you can sink your needles securely or add a few pins in case you need them. And little cushions like this make nice traveling companions – they tuck into a project bag very easily and take up a lot less space than a full-sized pincushion.

So, some inspiration for you! Grab your scraps of wool felt, sort out some thread from your stash (and maybe some beads, too?), strip your milk carton or your water bottle of its cap, refer to the tutorial linked to above, search around online for some inspiration (Pinterest has a ton of bottle cap pincushion boards), and go to it!

But beware: these little things can lead to a serious addiction!


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(36) Comments

  1. Mary, What a lovly gift and what a wonderful idea. as you know, i am a big supporter of freehand stitching. How are you getting along? You are in my thoughts frequently and I always send a ‘Get well’ wish at the same time. Hope you get a tingle from them.

    1. Thanks, Ann! I’m hanging in ok. I have another chemo treatment this Thursday, so I’m trying to get a lot done before then. They usually knock me out for about a week, but then things start stabilizing and getting back to normal….just in time to do it again! 🙂 But everything’s going well and I’m trying my best to keep plugging along! I appreciate so much all the encouragement!

  2. This is lovely. I do have a question, though: everybody always says “grab your wool felt” as if it were just lying about in everyone’s houses. The felt I have lying around is not wool, it’s (probably) rayon and that’s what the local stores offer. Does it matter? If it’s thin felt, should I use a double layer? It looks like this pincusion has a double layer, as there is the reverse-applique window thing going on–I guess there is a yellow layer under the beige “stone” layer. Could use two layers of the store rayon-blend felt and just go to town with it, do you think?

    1. Hi, Karen – acrylic craft felt doesn’t work as well for this type of embroidery and construction. It will pull apart and it doesn’t cut as cleanly in small spaces. That said, you can try a double layer – I don’t know how well that would work, but it might do the job. A blend of wool felt and rayon (there are different ratio blends available out there) or 100% wools felt would work best. The blends are less expensive, overall. But these little projects don’t take much felt. A little 4×6″ sample piece would give you enough for a small bottle cap pincushion with a little left over.

    2. I have found 100% wool felt at my local Joann’s Fabric. It wasn’t cheap and they only had it in natural color. I bought it with a coupon and only needed a small piece. It feels wonderful. Maybe you could dye it the color you wanted. I am planning on making several needlebooks and pinkeeps this year, so I am excited to see all small embroidery projects and have been collecting ideas myself. = )

    3. I only use polyester felt exclusively. There isn’t an “acrylic” as I know of, since (at least Foy Mfg felt brand Kunin’s “eco-fi” felt) what I use is made from recycled pop bottles. I do prefer the Kunin to other names of “craft” felt, i feel they have a more consistent thickness and a bunch more colors.

      Being it’s a handheld product and many people are allergic to wool, I chose Poly felt.

      I can’t say I’ve worked on Wool, but can’t find it too easily in all the colors I like to have (I have over 50 colors of poly felt) so I tend to stick with poly. It might be easier to work on wool. But I have very few problems with the poly.

    4. Bloomerie carries colorway packs of Heather Bailey wool/poly blend felt that work very well for embroidery.

    5. Karen…You can get wool felt in your quilt shops also….I love going to my quilt shop for the wool…they always have pieces in tiny bags that they sell….the wool is left overs from cutting they do for larger projects…hope you find them….Trish

    6. Hi Karen – I use the craft store felt and embroidery on it for small scale items. It works. Wool felt is nice to stitch on though, but you can do it with the craft store stuff too. I wouldn’t do a double layer, but I guess it depends on what you are using it for. I would say to just give it a try. Make a small heart or something and get a feel for it (if you haven’t already). I am trying to transition to wool and wool blend, but I’m not just going to let all my craft store felt go to waste! I ordered wool and wool-blend from Etsy. While I do love the wool, my budget perfers the wool blend!

  3. Dear Mary

    I agree felt is so easy to work with and the castle tower is such a lovely gift and unusual and small enough to fit into any travelling bag. I really like Rapunzel’s braid and the vine is gorgeous, the windows are lovely, such a fun project to get your needle into. I’m sure you were delighted to receive such an inspiring gift and beautifully embroidered. Thanks for sharing this delightful felt castle tower from Holly, it certainly has made me want to create something similar.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  4. Thank you for the additional inspiration. We recently did this project in my guild, but you have now provided some new ideas. Can’t wait to try some of them out !

  5. This little project may be a perfect little project for our Scottish Women’s Rural sewing circle. The group has done many taster projects, but there is a lull right now in the brainstorming department. I will print this page and bring it along tonight as a suggestion. I have a lot of leftover felt from a previous project, and we all have enough threads. This is a timely suggestion, thank you.

  6. Mary, thank you so very much for your wonderful posts. I look forward to reading them each day. Even though I may not have had a needle and thread in my hand, through you I have. This post is perfect for gentle, mind soothing stitching that results in a gift that will delight the receiver.

  7. Oh,that is just darling! Those would make great Christmas gifts, I’m thinking. Thanks for sharing that Mary, and be sure to show us what you have come up with yourself.

  8. I have some bottlecap pincushions that are more utilitarian. I use them at my sewing machine. I found that putting a sticky-back Velcro dot on the bottom of the pincushion and the other dot on the bed of my sewing machine gave me a super-convenient no-slide little pincushion. Works great!

    The fancier ones would be great fun to stitch.

  9. How adorable! Such a great little project…I’m inspired! Now to look up the how-to for the pincushion. Thanks so much for your blog, I’ve enjoyed it and learn so much.

  10. I also love embroidery on felt! It can be simple, it is tactile, and the results are lovely as soon as you are finished 🙂

    Your gifted castle is endearing…I can see how it would draw you in to the artform.



  11. I’ve added this to my wanna-do list. Last November I bought a kit for Christmas mittens. It was fun to cut them out and embellish with embroidery. They were slightly stuffed and sewn to the back. Very cute and fun.

  12. Mary, what a delightful gift! You always inspire us with new ideas and I am now dashing off to look up how to make these little charmers!! How clever of Holly to think of Rapunzel’s castle as a subject – and so beautifully stitched.
    Best wishes and good thoughts for Thursday Mary.

  13. These are going on my list of things to do! I have little bits of felt left over from making Penguin Hussifs. Probably not wool, but it will give me a chance to try out a few designs and see how it goes. Will keep in mind what you have said regarding felt quality though.

  14. Wow, what a little beauty. Something new to me…bottle cap pin cushions. Learning still….awesome. Thank you for the link.

  15. Yes, they are additive and great gifts.
    I put bee bees and glue in the lid first to weight them down. Awesome in tuna cans and larger lids.

    1. The Poly felt worked fine for me. My oldest bottle cap pincushion is 5 years old and still looks new. I have even used thin iron-on Pellon to stiffen a design.

  16. What a great gift Mary! Thanks for sharing a fun way to combine embroidery with applique. Nice felt is not readily available at the big box craft stores. May I suggest some sources for hand dyed wool felt? Sue Spargo in Uniontown, OH, Crows on a Ledge in Thompson, OH & the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster OH on Memorial Day weekend. Lots of colors & patterns (houndstooth, plaid etc) to choose from. No relationship to any vendor, just a happy customer. For filling pincushions, I use wool roving. Hope this helps some readers.

  17. Just a quick note – no one is actually allergic to wool, as it’s the same protein as human hair – you’d have to be allergic to your own hair to be allergic to wool 🙂 Some people are sensitive or allergic to chemicals put on the wool during processing. And commercial processing can make wool feel much more harsh than it is when it’s fresh off the sheep and washed gently at home.

    I get my wool felt from Weir Crafts, . Yes, it’s more expensive than polyester or blends, but it’s got so much more body and strength. And you can buy it undyed by the yard, and dye it yourself.

    I use commercial wool dyes, but drink mixes and food coloring, including Easter Egg dyes, work quite well. For the most even color, presoak the felt in hot water with a shot of detergent, for at least 24 hours, and keep the felt flat at all times – if you squeeze it, the crinkles tend to stay. If you see any spots that look like bubbles, “pop” them – they actually are bubbles of air that will resist dye.

    Wool has to be heat set for the dye to stick. I zap the felt, laid flat in a plastic dish tub, using the microwave for about 15 minutes after applying dye (if you’re worried about the chemicals getting into your microwave, use one from a thrift store dedicated to dyeing). Or it can be steamed for 30 minutes instead.

    Rinse thoroughly in cool water, press out excess water by putting it between layers of a bathtowel and dancing on top :), lay flat til nearly dry, and give it a hot press if needed.


  18. Thanks so muchfor efforts and enthusiam in bringing us all the lovely information you find! That gillieflower freebie is a sweet one and i look forward to seeing you do it beads! All smiles to you…and hoping that you have major things to smile about!!
    in gassho

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