Introduction: Victorian-inspired Needle Felt on Fabric
Felt is considered the world's oldest textile and can be used in many different ways. In many cultures, the method of felting stemmed from ancient times and has been used for functional objects like rugs, yurts, and weaponry. In Victorian era, as we know, people of high enough economic class decorated their homes like patterns threw up everywhere and an excess of wall hangings is normal. Felting was mainly seen with highly detailed floral patterns. Although the piece we are using as inspiration is a crewelwork, a special embroidery done with wool, felting is similar because it uses wool roving and is 3-D.
The materials you will need are a needle felt tool, a sponge or piece of foam, a piece of tolerable fabric (desired size and color are up to you), and small amounts of wool roving (your desired colors).
By tolerable fabric, I mean one that is strong enough to take the pokes of the needle without running or tearing and durable enough to hold the felt. In my situation, I used a thin cotton fabric and doubled it in order to maintain strength.
Optional items include a multi-needle felt tool, which makes those bigger pieces of roving easier to get down, and an embroidery hoop, which in this case I used at the beginning because I doubled my fabric and did not want it to move as I felted.
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Step 1: Prepare the Fabric (optional)
Once you have gathered the materials, place the fabric on a hard surface that you can write on. I recommend using a pencil because it can come out of the material, but pen is darker and easier to see.
This step is optional because one can always free hand the flowers and leaves. However, it is extremely helpful as you want to keep the circular wreath shape!
Although my drawings are not perfectly accurate to the original, I recommend putting your own spin on it, as felting is very tedious and the details in the crewelwork are expert felting level. Details are appealing, but remember to estimate the time you have to work on this, the size of your piece, and the amount of objects you draw.
Step 2: Begin Felting
To begin felting, place your sponge or foam under the fabric where you are felting. In this case I have an embroidery hoop in order to keep my doubled fabric taut when felting my first flower.
You want to take a small piece of your roving and roll it a bit so the edges are tucked in, then shape it into a petal. Wool roving is long and narrow bundles of fiber that are not spun. Place the roving piece in the desired spot and push your needle into it. The multi-needle tool comes in helpful here because it shortens the work by over half the time and can ensure general placement so you can follow back with your single needle tool to poke edges.
I recommend to poke the fabric as much as possible, moving the needle around and making sure the felt is interlocking with itself and the fabric.
For smaller parts like petals or leaves, use the single needle tool in order to keep the shape.
Step 3: Continue Felting
Felt away and remember to be careful with your fingers as the needle has ridges specifically designed to interlock the roving but also are extremely painful to take out of skin.
For small pieces like the stems in the design, it is easier to felt them first on the sponge or foam by poking with the needle, then poking them onto the fabric with the single needle tool.
Step 4: Finishing the Piece (optional)
When the final petal is felted and the last stem is locked in, the one last option you have is to cover the raw back with another piece of fabric to give it an overall polished feeling.
For my own piece, I did this with a contrasting fabric and hot glue, but it is completely optional!