Felting Fabric 01

I’ve been working On Fabric_01 again. To be honest, I thought the last changes were fun and interesting.


But I wasn’t completely at ease.  I liked it. I didn’t like it.  I finally asked the question, “Would I buy this if I saw it in the fabric store?”  The answer was NO. So the next question was:  can I make this into something I would buy?

My thoughts on the matter turned to color first.  My vests that are in high rotation are  mostly solid colored and fairly neutral.  They may contain tone-on-tone embroidery or a trim, but in and of themselves, they are not show stoppers.  Show stoppers are memorable; must be carefully coordinated and therefore not worn often. Oh and I’m soon going to need to replace the plain blue vests that I have.   That immediately suggested to me, adding blues in a way that would be neutral.

What technique? More stencils and paint?  Machine Embroidery? Well I was anxious to try out the new foot I had just purchased.  It is  Cording Foot H

developed for the Janome line of machines.  Why am I buying Janome feet when I have a TOL Viking?  In this case I have the 7-hole foot from Viking. I will spare you the colorful words needed to thread it.  I purchased the Viking 7-hole foot thinking that I would be able to couch up to 7 cords at once, should I ever so desire. I’ve never couched that many cords. In fact, 3 is most I have ever tried to couch and it’s still the devil to thread. The H foot’s little black bar (in the picture of the foot) is open at one end which makes this foot very easy to thread.  I slip the thread under the slot on the right side of the black bar and then slip the cord under the black bar and into place.  Umm I probably should admit that it can come unthreaded. But this foot is so easy to thread, I don’t care.  I have a Janome MC9500. To my surprise I realized that the feet from my Janome worked well with my Viking Designer Ruby.  In fact, I prefer to use some of the Janome feet instead of the Viking engineered equivalents.  As far I as know, Viking does not have a cording foot with that little black bar.  I like to use cording. I do so often.  I purchased the Janome H foot because it works with my Ruby and it’s so very easy to thread.

I seldom just start sewing with any embellishment technique. Now was no exception.  I couldn’t find the remnants of Fabric_01 so hacked out a 8×6″ rectangle from a fabric of similar weight and fiber.  I chose to use the 3 step zig zag; loaded up H foot with 3 thin yarns (which I was able to do with the foot on the machine.  I’ve always threaded the 7-hole foot and then put the foot on the machine. This is so much nicer.)  After a few attempts I changed the stitch width to 6.5 and the length to 12.0.  I liked the test so began couching thin wool yarn on top of the decolored, and paint layered fabric.  I couched rows of cords about an inch apart and thought that was OK. Then I applied the cords closer and closer together, almost on top of each other.  The effect was surprisingly good. At one point I looked and asked “Don’t I have fabric like this in my stash.”   A little excavation occurred and I discovered the fabric was not in the stash but in the closet.  For summer I had a similarly printed canvas which I had made in to shorts.

Long story short, I began couching the cords about 1.5 inches apart on Fabric_01.  Eh, OK.  But then I started couching the cords about 3/8″ apart from the first row. WOW,  I liked this.


Already I could see wearing a vest made of the corded fabric.  I planned to continue couching more and more rows of yarn but 2 things happened.  The first is Sewing TV Saturday.  Yeah, I’m a lucky individual.  My PBS station broadcasts about 4 hours of sewing programs most Saturday mornings.  I watch the programs eagerly but because of the cooler winter temperatures, I don’t go downstairs to sew on Saturdays. (I do in the Spring and Summer).  Like most of us in the U.S., I’ve been looking for ways to tighten the belt; ways that won’t feel too restrictive.  One of the actions I’ve chosen to do is NOT heat the sewing rooms when I would only sew for an hour or there about.

The other closely related thing that happens is when the temperatures drop below freezing, I avoid heating the sewing rooms at all.  I look for things I can do comfortably in the major rooms of the house.  Well immediately after Christmas, the little Simplicity Felting machine was temporarily stationed upstairs.  It’s relatively small and lightweight; very easy to pop up on the dining room table for use and tuck away beneath the chairs when not needed.  I don’t expect this to be a permanent situation, but for now it is handy and just what I wanted.

I popped up the Simplicity Felting Machine and started working on my sample. Felting one thin yarn at a time just didn’t work too well.  The needles (all 6 in the machine) kept missing the single thread.  3 threads were more cooperative but they tended to bunch together. I didn’t want bunched together.  But you know, I haven’t seen many accessories for felting machines. Certainly nothing in the way of feet or feeders.  I think the thought is you are supposed to spread out a little roving,  felt that and be happy even satisfied. Little do they know what Americans will do. (Pretty sure the major manufacturers have no idea how creative the Australians are either.)    So my desire is to felt the yarns to my base and achieve a similar effect to the couching I’ve already done.  What to do?  I made my own accessory.


This is two, transparent Avery labels.  They are sticky on the back so I placed the backs together forming a nice strong plastic,,, thingy.  It was wider than I wanted, so I cut them in half.  The end result is about 1.5″ wide and 3″ long.  At the top, the opposite of the blue tab, I poked 3 holes with a straight pin and then enlarged the holes with yarn needle.  Through those holes I threaded my 3 yarns.  I hold the blue tab in my hand. The yarns feed under the needles from the 3-holed end. Works pretty good and pretty fast not to mention economical.


On the left are the felted yarns on the right the couched threads.  I was pleased with the sample and began felting on Fabric_01, but not with quite the same success. Oh it looks great.


I’m not sure I want to add any more than the first layer of felted yarns.

But I keep breaking needles….and these are a b*tch to replace. It is not all that easy to insert a new needle, hold it in place with tweezers while I round-up the screw driver and tighten the screw.  Add to that, the machine needs to be unplugged, the safety cover removed and the clear foot must be in precise alignment.  For some threads the clear foot must be removed. I discovered the clear foot became loose. Slightly loose, but enough to break 3 needles before I realized it was an issue. Catherine O’Leary of From Felt to Fabric recommended using a thin base fabric but I missed the idea of firmer fabrics breaking needles. Sigh, I stopped felting when I  all my spare needles were gone.


Back to the SM and couching.