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Our October tutorial from Nancy at Flights of Fancy shows us how to make a pretty flower corsage as a brooch or gift for your friends and family!
If you’ve done a little work with resists, you will know what fun this can be and if you’ve attempted the bowl tutorial included on Nancy’s website then this flower is just one stage on from that!
Cut a circle of resist approximately 10cms in diameter – bigger if you like! – and then cut a hole in the middle approximately 3cms See Tip 1
Fill your bottle approximately 2/3 full with warm water, add a couple of squirts of liquid soap and shake. If it looks too bubbly, you can add more water, if not soapy enough, you can add more soap
Fold your towel to create a working area and place your bubblewrap on top, bubble side up.
Place your resist on top See Tip 2
Pull off very fine handfuls of fibres (the finer the better) and lay them out in a ‘sunburst’ over the resist and overlapping in the middle. (Picture 1)
Spray with water, place your second piece of bubblewrap on top, bubbles nearest the wool and press to disperse the water
Turn the whole sandwich over, gently remove the bubblewrap, then fold in the overlapping bits (Picture 2)
Remove the top bubblewrap and now lay a fine layer of fibres at roughly right angles to the first – I always say like a cartwheel, or pentagon. It doesn’t matter if they overlap the edges, and you don’t need to cover the centre as you already have a lot of wool there.
Spray with water, place your second piece of bubblewrap on top, bubbles nearest the wool, press down as before and turn over.
Now repeat steps 5-8 with your second colour (Pictures 3-5)
That’s it – the fun bit with colours is done. now for the hard work!
With your wool-covered resist between two layers of bubblewrap, spray the TOP of the upper layer of bubble with soapy water. Yes – the top! This makes is slippery and helps with the rubbing process. You are now going to rub, gently at first, and then more rigorously for approximately ten minutes on each side of your sandwich. Pay special attention to the centre as you are felting through the fibres on both sides of your resist.
After about ten minutes you can try the ‘pinch test’. Pinch a very few fibres on the top of your work and try and lift them away from the rest. If they separate, you have not yet created a fabric, so you will need to keep rubbing a bit longer. until you can’t separate any fibres. It is difficult to tell you how long you will need to rub as some people are more ‘heavy handed’ than others – and I don’t mean that rudely – it’s a positive asset for felters and men are great to teach as they get this stage done so fast!
OK – so let’s say your work is felted and it’s time to cut. EEK! You are going to cut just about 2mm in from the edge of the circle, to create shorter petals on the top of your flower. Wiggle your scissors into the wool and then cut all the way round (Pictures 6&7)
Now decide on how many petals you want – uneven numbers are best (See Tip 3). cut in towards the centre on the top (smaller) layer by about 2/3 (Picture 8)
Cut your lower petals but offset them (Picture 9)
Now ease out your resist – this should leave you with the upper and lower layers joined in the centre, where there was a hole in your resist (Tip 4)
Cut off the corners of the petals to shape them (Picture 11)
As you will see in picture 12, the cut edges are open and fluffy. You need to seal these. To do this, scrunch the whole thing up, add extra water if necessary and rub as if you are washing socks. It is VERY important to open out your work repeatedly as these cut edges will stick to each other and create an almighty tangle if you don’t! Also rub along all the edges with a little bit of extra soap to ensure they are well sealed.
Straighten out your work, rinse and then stretch and pull it about to create a shape you like. You can dry it flat or push it into an egg cup to get crinkly petals (Picture 13)
To make the centre, pull off 7-8 bits of wool (trial and error and you will soon find the ideal size for future flowers) Wrap all the little bits you cut off your petals in the first bit of wool, spray and roll up, add the next bit of wool at right angles and wrap and spray, and so on until you have used up all your bits of wool. (Pictures 15&16)
Roll your fledgeling ball VERY GENTLY with your fingers, not your palms. See Tip 5. As the wool starts to felt you can roll more strongly in your palms. Don’t make it too hard or you will find it difficult to sew through!
Rinse. Flatten slightly and allow to dry.
To finish your work, sew a brooch pin on the back, stitching through both layers if you need to anchor them together, then add the bobble to the centre – or use a button or beads if you prefer.
Here are nancy's tips...
Don’t forget your work will shrink as you felt the fibres.
No-one else will tell you this, but I always advise that you spray your resist – this helps keep the fibres in place as you lay them out!
You may want to make yourself a paper template to help get the petal sizes even
Don’t be too disappointed if your upper and lower layers haven’t joined, you can stitch them together when you add the centre and brooch back
If you roll in your palm to start with you are more likely to find that the little ball separates.
Nancy Shafee is a member of the International Feltmakers Association and current Chairman of The Surrey Guild of Craftsmen. Examples of her work can be seen at:
Thank you so much to Nancy from Flights of Fancy for sending in this tutorial for us to feature!
Let us know if you have created a pretty flower corsage using this tutorial and show us your pictures on Facebook and Twitter, we’d love to see them!
We are on the hunt for new and interesting tutorials to feature on our website and in our forthcoming newsletters, so If you have a tutorial that you would like us to highlight, please contact email@example.com
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