Sunday, April 17, 2011

Another Felted Cuff

It was time for me to try something new.

I am still happy with the way my first felted cuff turned out, but this time I wanted to try something a little different. I am not experienced with embroidery, but I really like the look of text and designs made from thread. This project turned out to be an ideal learning experience--it provides quick results, requires only a limited amount of space to be filled, and produces a usable object.

This bracelet was inspired by a book called Doodle Sketching, by Aimee Ray. Ray has created a book full of  random embroidery which reminds me of the drawings I used to make in my high school notebooks when I was supposed to be taking notes.

The button is made from coconut hull.

I used felted wool from an old sweater. While the wool was still damp, I cut the base shape. The shape I like to use is that of a long tapered rectangle, approximately 7 inches long, with one short side measuring about 2 1/2 inches and the other a little less than 2 inches. I put it into the tumble dryer to soften the edges a bit.

Next, I hand-sewed an elastic hairband to the 2 1/2 inch edge of the base. I sewed a button on the opposite side of the felt, about an inch from the 2 inch edge. The great thing about this kind of fastener is that it allows almost anyone to wear the bracelet. It fit me well in a snugly hand holding sort of way. It also fit my youngest in a looser, jingly bangle sort of way.

Now I was ready to begin embroidering. I found the random embroidery to be both freeing and limiting. Much like in most of life, when you don't plan ahead you can discover things you never expected...and you can make mistakes that you wouldn't have made with a little more foresight. Hopefully you find more pleasant surprises than unfortunate ones. I really enjoyed the process, and I was surprised to see a little bird take shape on the edge of a planter filled with flowers. 

I filled in some random empty spaces with spirals, my favorite shape.

When I was happy with the embroidered designs, I sewed the entire bracelet onto a largish piece of turquoise eco-felt. It is important that the felt be larger than the bracelet, because the wool can stretch or shift during sewing. If you start with the exact finished size, it will be possible to wrestle with the base wool and the sewing machine, and get the lining on perfectly. But if your lining is half an inch 'too big' on all sides, it is much easier to sew it to the base. I chose brown thread on the top to match the felt base, but I used a bright pink thread on the bobbin to contrast with the turquoise on the inside. I used a zig-zag stitch for durability, but I ended up covering the red stitches along the edge, so perhaps a straight stitch would have been a better choice.

Once the base was sewn onto the felt, I cut close to the edge, leaving just a small overlap to create a color contrast.  The felt lining serves (at least) three purposes: 1.) It covers up the ugly 'back' of the embroidery. 2.) It makes the bracelet softer and less scratchy. 3.) The color contrast makes the bracelet look more 'finished'. There may be more purposes that I haven't thought of yet. The point is, don't skip the lining.

NOTE: I really like the organic feeling of the rough edges, so I made them visible in the final bracelet. If you don't like that look, you can hide the edges by sewing the right sides together along three sides, then flipping the bracelet right side out and hand stitching the fourth side closed.

Even my doodles just can't get away from the sun.

Overall, I was happy with the finished product. It was a good beginner embroidery project because I ended up with something usable even though some of the stitches were lopsided and uneven. It made for a really great learning experience.

1 comment:

  1. This. Is awesome. I like your version of "inexperienced" with embroidery. The imperfections you mention look like they're intentional.


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