Following our introduction to 3-D needle felting in March we decided to continue with that theme and do some form of flat felting in April. For those of you who are not aware, (and I was one of them) there is a machine, similar to a sewing machine, called an Embellishing Machine (Needle Felting Machine,) that makes life a whole lot easier to do needle felting over a large area. Many companies make them and the main difference between models seems to be the number of needles they use – some have 5 needles and others have 12. They use no thread, have no bobbin and have about the same amount of space inside the arm of machine. You can see in this picture of Jan at the machine what it looks like.
Diane has a HuskyStar by Husqvarna Viking and she brought hers along to FOG on Tuesday for us to try. After having used it I can’t imagine doing this by hand, even as small as a piece of felt.
Using a backing piece of felt or other fabric, you design your piece by lying down and overlapping almost any items that you can think of – as long as the needles can penetrate the item. We used yarns, paper napkins, silk flower petals, wool roving, thread waste, ribbon, lace and all types of fabrics. Once your design is completed you overlay the entire piece with organza, tulle, netting – something that you can still see your items through, but will enhance the piece. We used an article by Rebekah Meier from an issue of Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine as a general guideline.
Then you take it to the machine and start to move the piece around under the needles that are moving up and down quite quickly. For those of you who free motion quilt, the process is about the same. We found that with some of the overlays that it was helpful to lay down wisps of wool roving to help the needles penetrate and hold all the layers together.