Working with Wool Felt

Thank you to our community member, Melford who did some research for us on this topic! And also a thank you to our other contributors, Jodi of??www.sugarplumstitches.com??Sue of??www.thepunchinfool.com??and Anita ofhttp://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZwoolnstitches

ACRYLIC, WOOL/RAYON BLENDS, AND WOOL FELT ??? THE DIFFERENCES
Acrylic felt is also known as ???crafting??? felt. One of the main differences you will notice immediately is that acrylic felt is very easy to find and fairly inexpensive. Wool/rayon blends cost more and are a little more difficult to find in the stores. Pure wool is the most expensive and the hardest to find in the stores.

There are differences when using felt to stitch. Acrylic felt does not sew very well. It will tend to pull at the stitches, leaving a gapping hole where the stitch pulls, and you would not want to use if you are stuffing an object, as the felt could rip. The wool and wool blends tend to only leave the hole where the stitch is, not pulling the hole open when stuffed.

A wool blend tends to be softer than the pure wool. Pure wool is more durable, able to withstand more wear and tear, as well as being better suited to needle felting due to the repeated punching of the needle.

Can you use different blends of wool in the same project? Of course you can! However, if you are ???felting??? the wool prior to using it for your crafts, note that the higher percentage of wool, the more noticeable the felting effect will be. It is personal preference whether you like the looks together. Pure wool also tends to be a bit thicker.

Another common question???can you use an old wool sweater, pants or blanket for your projects? Yes! Thrift store finds are wonderful for finding unique pieces of wool. There are different weights of 100% wool. Heavy would be coats. Those might be too heavy, depending on the craft project. Skirts and jackets are the best!

All you need to do is felt it first. Wash it in your machine on the hot cycle with some detergent. After washing, throw it into the dryer on the hot cycle and you are ready to use when it comes out. Just cut along the seams to remove the stitching from the usable piece, there is no need to rip out the seams as the edges will not ravel on pure wool so you can just cut. Have fun!

One note of caution from a penny rug creator – when using wool sweaters, you may find they are too loose of a weave for penny rugs. Experiment and see what fabric you like to work with best.

WHAT IS ???FELTING??? WOOL?

Felting refers to the process your wool or wool blends go through when you wash in hot water and dry. This will shrink the fibers in the wool piece and bond them together, giving a ???felted??? look, sometimes referred to as a boiled felt look. The higher the percentage of wool in your piece, the more noticeable the felting effect will be.

To felt your piece of wool, you will need to wash it on the hot cycle in your washing machine, or even hand wash in hot water. Throw it into the dryer on the hottest cycle and when it is dry you have a wonderful piece of felted wool! Have fun creating!!!

Note: when you are working on projects with specific measurements, your wool will shrink when you felt it. You will want to give yourself extra yardage when felting so you make sure you have enough to work with on your project. Plus scraps are always good to have around with penny rugs!

If you can’t find the wool color you need, you can always dye it! Be sure to check out our tutorial on dyeing wool in the General Craft section of the Learning Center. If you are working with woolfelt, you can also use RIT dyes on white woolfelt. The woolfelt will end up being ‘felted’ after the dyeing process too.

ONLINE SOURCES FOR WOOL FELT:

http://www.prairiepointjunction.com…eltcentral.html

http://www.achildsdream.com/handwor…s/wool_felt.htm

http://www.birdbraindesigns.net/Products.aspx?idDept=19

http://www.colonialcrafts.com/category/Wool_Felt/c1

http://www.crawforddesigns.net/woolfelts.htm

http://www.crawforddesigns.net/woolfelts.htm

http://www.joggles.com/store/catalo…roducts_id=7936

http://www.karimeaway.com/products/15

http://www.thesilverneedle.net/week…5d75c073564772e

http://www.thesilverpenny.com/FeltColors.html

How to Add Wool Backing to Punch Needle Designs

Here is one way you can finish your punch needle design, using a felt backing. This is good for ornies or little designs you wish to ???stand alone??? after they are complete.

Remove the finished design from the hoop/frame. Cut fabric all the way around the design, to about a half inch from the punches.

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Then snip into the fabric at intervals; be careful not to snip the punches.

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Cut a piece of felt a little bigger than the original pattern piece.

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Turn the design over and fold down an edge of the weaver???s cloth where you snipped; place the felt over that folded edge.

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Put a whip stitch in, and ???feed??? the fabric in between the design and felt as you go, working around the whole piece. If the felt is too big, you can clip it where it is too big, making sure it is still round and covers the backing of the punched piece.

The finished product will not be misshapen if you cut this correctly, and it makes it fit to the project.

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Your finished piece will look like this:

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I hope this helps you out with your punchneedle projects!

Tutorial submitted by Sue Kennen

Tips & Techniques for Punch Needle Embroidery

Some tips & techniques for punch needle embroidery from The Punchin’ Fool:
*Punching is much like coloring in a coloring book. It’s best to outline your areas first with a particular color and then fill in with rows of punching. The end result will be clean lines and evenly punched areas.

*Consistantly punch just inside the lines so your finished piece will be in proportion.

*Keep your thread ends clipped as close as possible to the fabric to avoid pulling out the row.

*When punching next to a line of a different color, angle your needle away from the row so your loops won’t intermingle.

*If you aren’t happy with a punched row, simply pull out the threads and gently scrape your fingernail over the weaver’s cloth. This will put the weave of the fabric back in line so you can once again punch on it.

*Flip your hoop/frame over often in between punching to make sure your loops are consistant and even.

*While your work is still in the hoop/frame, turn it over to the finished side and hold it up to the light to make sure all areas are filled in. If you see any holes or gaps, fill in the area with the proper color.

*Remember to keep the trailing thread at the end of your punch needle clear from any obstacles while punching. It’s easy to snag it on your arm or hand while you’re holding the hoop/frame. This will result in lost loops and lots of frustration!

*Use the tip of your punch needle to gently nudge stray loops in place.

*A note about punching with wool threads:
You’ll soon discover that wool threads give a punched piece an entire different look than punching with cotton floss.. Punching with wool fills in a design quickly with a soft-to-the-touch end result! Don’t limit yourself to using these threads alone, though. Cotton floss, wool/acrylic thread, silk, rayon, even plain old sewing thread can all be used in your punch needle with amazing results! A rule of thumb is…if it’ll freely flow through your punch needle, you can punch with it! Be creative and experiment!

*Not all hoops are made alike. Be sure to get a brand made specifically for punching. These vary in design but it’s essential to have the fabric ‘drum’ tight in the hoop at all times. These include a locking lip or No-slip feature. A gripper frame is also a good alternative to a hoop. This frame has rows of tiny ‘teeth’ around the frame to grip the fabric.

*Threading your punch needle is a two-step process. Many beginners [myself included!] forget to thread the eye of the needle after threading the barrel of the punch needle. Always make sure your threads are trailing out from the rounded part of the needle at the eye. Make sure you have plenty of threaders on hand too. These don’t last forever! I like to take a red felt tip marker and draw a big heart on the paper tab at the end of the threader so I can find it easily if it’s dropped on the floor.

*Weaver’s cloth is the fabric of choice for punching. It is a cotton/poly blend that is tightly woven and wonderful to punch on. You can also experiment with other fabrics too.An all cotton fabric is not recommended, though. This causes holes and the threads are more apt to break over time due to the sharp needle. It’s best to stick with a cotton/poly blend. You can also punch on wool and wool felt. You must use an iron on woven fusible interfacing as your backing and remember to set your loop gauge a step higher since you’ll be punching through a thicker amount of fabric.

*This is a great tip if you are using a punch needle that has the tiny tube gauges that you slip onto the needle to adjust your loop length. use a large safety pin to store your gauges. its keeps them always at hand and are so easy to see them at a glance.

Tutorial submitted by Sue, The Punchin’ Fool

Punch Needle Basics

Supplies needed:
Punch Needle (we like Cameo, but there are lots available!)
Needle threader
Weaver’s cloth
Interlocking or gripper frame hoop
DMC Floss or Wool
Small embroidery scissors
Pattern and light box (or a sunny window)

1. Trace your pattern onto your weaver’s cloth using a pigma pen (so it won’t bleed) or a Mark-B-Gone pen. You have to remember that your design you are working on when punching is actually the “back” area of the finished product. So if you are punching any words, make sure they are applied backwards to how you would normally see them. That way when you are finished punching and flip it over to see the actual section that will be displayed….. it will look the right way.

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2. Hoop your fabric, make sure you have a hoop that works for Punch Needle embroidery; it has to be a hoop that you can lock in place. The fabric should be very tight in the frame and stay tight.

3. Thread your needle. Punch needles require 2 steps for threading – most punch needles come with instructions in case you need help here’s how to do it.

First put the needle threader through the eye of your needle.

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Now put your thread through the threader end and pull it back through the needle, through the eye leaving a tail of thread.

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Reinsert the threader through the needle eye and thread that ‘tail’ into the end of the threader again.

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Pull it through the needle eye and you are ready to go!

 

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4. Take the needle tip and place it on the pattern design on the fabric, wherever you are starting. Hold the tail with your opposite hand (just so it doesn’t get lost); and begin ‘punching’ the needle through the weaver’s cloth.

5. Ok…..so now when you are coming back up, you don’t pull the needle all the way out of the fabric. You get to the edge and sorta glide it over to the next spot and PUNCH. You keep the tip of the needle facing the same direction and just keep gliding over and punching. Follow the pattern design, first outline and then fill inside.

6. Each time you need to change colors, simply repeat the threading process and fill in that area of the design.

If you would like to see a video of Sherry of www.anniescupboards.com threading and punching – please click on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ombeiga1FQo

Tutorial submitted by Cedara of www.thrutheatticdoor.com and Cindy of www.homespunfromtheheart.com