TUTORIALS - Felting Flowers

Here will be tutorials for two different styles of flower.  I have written them so that they can easily be followed (hopefully) by someone with little or no felting experience.  Experienced felters will get the idea just from the pictures and a quick scim over the instructions :)

The first tutorial is for flowers with a stem




You will need:
·       Merino wool tops/roving - green for the stem + 2 flower colours
·       Silk fibre - I used sari silk fibre
·       Bubble wrap
·       Elastic bands, or pieces of tights/pantyhose legs to use as ties
·       Beads - optional
·       Brooch backs - optional
·       A towel
·       Soap and/or washing up liquid
·       Warm water
·       Scissors
·       Thin plastic, cut from a carrier bag or similar - size 10” x 10” (25cm x 25cm)



For sprinkling water onto the wool fibre I have a special tool with a water sprinkler, simply because I do a LOT of felting.  You can use a plastic pop bottle, or small milk carton with a couple of holes poked in the lid, to sprinkle water.  Or you can scatter it with a spoon, or drip it off your fingers.


    1.    Place the towel on to your work surface.  Fold your bubble wrap in half with the bubbles on the inside and place it on top of the towel, now open the bubble wrap (you will need to fold it back over the flower in a moment so please don’t move it).

2.      Decide what length you want the stem to be.  Remember it will shrink!

Break off a suitable length of green fibre.  You don't want it too thin or too thick..  I find that when using merino tops if I 
separate them along the length into two equal pieces they are just right.

3.      Fill a jug or mug with very warm water and add washing up liquid to it.  No more than ½ a teaspoon per pint of water.  Alternatively put your bar of soap in the warm water and leave till it goes cloudy.

4.      Carefully place the green fibre into the soapy water - keeping about 3” at one end completely dry!        


     5.   As you take the fibre back out of the water you must be careful it doesn’t separate due to the weight of the   water.  Hold the fluffy end in one hand, position the other hand about an inch from the surface of the water and gently draw the fibre between the fingers of that hand to remove some of the water.  We want it wet, but not soaked.

6.   Once the fibre is out of the water dry your hands.  Lay the stem over the palm of one hand so the fluffy end is just hanging over, place the other hand on top and gently roll the stem between the palms of your hands 20 times increasing pressure as you go.  Now move along to the next bit of stem and repeat the process, do this all the way along – be sure to keep the fluffy end dry.   


7.   Continue rolling between your palms like this until the stem is firm - if you have a small rush mat / sushi mat, rolling the stem in them works very well.

8.    Take the piece of thin plastic and cut a hole in the centre just big enough for the stem to go through.  Pass the stem through the plastic until the plastic is right behind the fluffy end, now lay it down on the bubble wrap so the stem is underneath the plastic and the fluffy end is on top.  Now spread that fluffy end out so it radiates out from the stem in a circle.  This will root into the base of the flower – when you place the petals make sure to centre them where the stems is.       


    9.      Decide which of the colours will be the base colour of your flower (this will be col.1).  Hold the fibre approx. 6” (15cm) from the end with one hand.  With your other hand gently grasp the tips of the fibre and pull.  Keep pulling steadily until the fibres you are holding have detached from the rest.

10.  Pinch the tips at one end of the tuft together and place the pinched end right over the stem (at the centre of the green fluff circle).

11.  Pull another tuft of fibre, pinch the end and position next to the first, touching but not overlapping.  Repeat this process until you have a continuous circle of petals.

12.  Take your second petal colour (this will be col.2) and pinching between thumb and forefinger pull a small tuft of fibre.  Again pinch the tips at one end and place them in the centre of the circle, this tuft should lie over the join of the previous petals – repeat all the way around.

13.  From col. 1 pull a small tuft, gently tease it apart sideways, so it spreads out and is more wispy than the others – do not pinch the end.  Place tuft on the outside edge of the circle, on top of the previous tufts.  These tufts will not reach the centre of the flower, which is ok, we only want these on the outside edge of the petals.   Continue placing all the way round the circle.

14.  Take col. 2, pull a small tuft and tease it gently apart so it is wispy, lightly pinch one end and place the pinched end in the centre of the flower.  Repeat all the way around (should only take 2, maybe 3 tufts).   
  


    15.  Pull out some sari silk fibre and chop it into short lengths with your scissors.  Sprinkle the silk over the top of the flower, I like to place a dark colour, often green, in the centre.

16.  Sprinkle warm soapy water onto the flower, starting in the centre and working your way outwards.  You want it to be thoroughly wet, but not swimming.


    17.  Fold the bubble wrap back over the top of the flower and gently press down to ensure the flower is evenly soaked.            

18.  Sprinkle some water onto the bubble wrap and get your palms soapy.  Gently smooth the bubble wrap over the flower making sure there are no air pockets.  Now start rubbing your hands in small gentle circles, you need to thoroughly rub every part of the flower – this should take about 2 minutes.      


    19.  Pull the bubble wrap back and carefully straighten the flower up if necessary.  If you have wayward fibres sticking out from the edges carefully fold them back over the flower petals.  


    20.  Put the bubble wrap back over the top and turn it over (so you are looking at the other side of the flower through the bubble wrap.  

21.  Repeat step 19 and 20.          

22.  Still keeping the flower sandwiched in between the bubble wrap, with the stem coming out at one side.  Starting at the edge closest to you roll the bubble wrap up, roll it all the way up and secure with elastic bands.  


    23.  Positioning your hands over the place where the flower is gently roll back and forth (like rolling pastry) 50 times.  It may help to wrap the bubble roll inside the towel to roll it.        
Pressure and movement create friction and heat which cause the wool fibres to felt, and shrink in the direction that you are rolling.

24.  Unroll, straighten the flower if necessary (without repositioning it).  Cover it back up.

25.  Rotate the bubble wrap sandwich 90® to the left, reposition the stem so that it still comes out at the side.  Again working from the edge closest to you roll it up and secure.  Roll a little more firmly this time – another 50 rolls.

26.  Repeat steps 25 & 26 until you have worked all four edges.

27.  Turn the flower over and repeat the rolling process until you have worked all four edges again.

28.  The flower should be pretty well felted by now.  It is time to shape it!  Hold the stem gently in one hand, now pull the stem until the head of the flower is in the palm of your hand.  Roll back and forth between your hands 20 times, and throw it HARD onto the work surface (this shocks the fibres and speeds up the final felting stage).  Straighten flower, gently stretching the petals sideways as you go.  By doing this you will get a nice ruffled, rippling flower.          


29.  Hold the stem in one hand and again pull until the head of the flower is in the palm of your hand held in a light fist.  Gently using a finger from the other hand - poke the petals down into the centre.  Now roll it between your hands like you are making a clay ball – roll it 20 times then throw it down onto the work surface a couple of times.  

Unroll the flower and use your fingers to massage and stretch the petals into the shape you want them to be. 


    30.  Repeat step 28 applying most pressure at the base of the flower, repeating step 29 one more time.  After each repeat stretch the petals into shape!  The flower should feel sturdy and well felted, and you are hopefully happy with the shape.

31.  Rinse thoroughly.  Alternating between hot and cold water for the rinses will harden the felt even more.  Squeeze out excess water.

32.  Manipulate the petals into a pleasing position and leave to dry.  Felt has ‘memory’ it will remember the shape that it dries in and stay that way.


My daughter wearing one as a corsage
You can make these long enough to wear as a necklace, belt or headband. Make them a little smaller and daintier and use as napkin rings - imagine how lovely they would be used at a Wedding Breakfast.  Or make a short stem and stitch a brooch pin to the back to wear as a brooch.  One Mothers Day I felted a bouquet of these (with very stiff stems) for both of our Moms.. they loved them :)

Enjoy!



Tutorial No.2

Flowers with Petals
You will need:
  • Merino wool fibre
  • Sari silk fibre
  • Bubble wrap
  • Soap / washing up liquid
  • Warm water
  • Elastic bands / pieces cut from tights/panty hose legs to use as ties
  • Beads
  • Brooch back
  • Towel
  • Scissors

For sprinkling water onto the wool fibre I have a special tool with a water sprinkler, simply because I do a LOT of felting.  You can use a plastic pop bottle, or small milk carton with a couple of holes poked in the lid, to sprinkle water.  Or you can scatter it with a spoon, or drip it off your fingers.


     1.      Place the towel on to your work surface.  Fold your bubble wrap in half with the bubbles on the inside and place it on top of the towel, now open the bubble wrap (you will need to fold it back over the flower in a moment so please don’t move it).

     2.      Decide which of the colours will be the base colour of your flower.  Hold the fibre approx. 6” (15cm) from the end with one hand.  With your other hand gently grasp the tips of the fibre and pull.  Keep pulling steadily until the fibres you are holding have detached from the rest.

     3.   Fold about one third of the tuft of fibre back on itself, and gently manipulate the fibres into a teardrop shape. 


       This is your first petal; place it on the bubble wrap.  The point of the             teardrop will be at the centre of the flower so be sure to position it on the bubble wrap with room for the rest of your petals.

         4.   Repeat the previous step four more times.  Now you have five    petals, just touching in the centre.


      5.     Pick up the fibre in the colour you want to use for the centre of your flower.  Again hold it 6” from the end, this time pinch some fibres between thumb and fore finger.. so you are drawing off a much smaller tuft.

     6.      These tufts will hold your petals together.  Place a tuft across the centre of the flower so one end of the tuft is half way up one petal, crosses the centre of the flower and on to the opposite petal, where it will go about half way up. Do this for each petal.

     7.      Take your third colour and pull a small tuft (as in last step) use this wherever you wish to add a highlight to the petals.  Use scissors to cut short pieces of fibre from the tuft if needed.

     8.    Pull out some sari silk fibre in which ever colour you fancy (I often use two or three colours, one for the petals and the others mostly in the centre).  Use the scissors to chop short lengths and sprinkle on top of the flower.


     9.    Fill a jug or mug with very warm water and add washing up liquid to it.  No more than ½ a teaspoon per pint of water.  Alternatively put your bar of soap in the warm water and leave till it goes cloudy.

      10.  Sprinkle warm soapy water onto your flower.


      11.    Fold the bubble wrap back over the top of the flower and gently press down to ensure the flower is evenly soaked and there are no air pockets in between the fibre.    

      12.      Sprinkle some water onto the bubble wrap and get your palms soapy.  Gently smooth the bubble wrap over the flower making sure there are no air pockets.  Now start rubbing your hands in small gentle circles, you need to thoroughly rub every part of the flower – this should take about 2 minutes. 


   
        13.    Pull the bubble wrap back and carefully straighten the flower up.  If the petals seem to be joining up use the scissors to cut between them – don’t go  into the centre of the flower. 

        14.    Put the bubble wrap back over the top and turn it over (so you are looking at the other side of the flower through the bubble wrap.

        15.    Repeat step 12 and 13.


         16.    Still keeping the flower sandwiched in between the bubble wrap.  Starting at the edge closest to you roll the bubble wrap up, roll it all the way up and secure with elastic bands / ties.           



      17.    Positioning your hands over the place where the flower is gently roll back and forth (like rolling pastry)  50 times.  It may help to wrap the bubble roll inside the towel to roll it. 

      18.   Pressure and movement create friction and heat which cause the wool fibres to felt, and shrink in the direction that you are rolling.          

      19.    Unroll, straighten the flower if necessary (without moving it).  Cover it back up.

      20.    Rotate the bubble wrap sandwich 90® to the left.  Again working from the edge closest to you roll it up and secure.  Roll a little more firmly this time – another 50 rolls.

      21.    Repeat steps 18 to 20 until you have worked all four edges.

      22.    Turn the flower over and repeat the rolling process until you have worked all four edges again.

      23.    The flower should be pretty well felted by now.  It is time to shape it!  Make a circle from the thumb and fore finger of one hand and place the flower over the top.  Gently using a finger from the other hand - poke the flower centre down into the palm of your hand, then push the petals into the centre.  Now roll it between your hands like you are making a clay ball – roll it 20 times then throw it, hard, down onto the work surface a couple of times (this shocks the fibres and speeds up the final stage).  Unroll the flower and use your fingers to massage and stretch the petals into the shape you want them to be.   

      24.    Position the flower over thumb and fore finger as in 23, poke the centre into the palm of your hand leaving the petals sticking out.  Roll back and forth between your hands 20 times, paying particular attention to the centre of the flower.  Again throw it onto the work surface a few times.  Straighten flower, pull and massage the petals into shape.


      Repeat 23 and 24 until the flower feels sturdy and well felted, and you are happy with the shape.

      25.   Rinse thoroughly.  Alternating between hot and cold water for the rinses will harden the felt even more.  Squeeze out excess water.

      26.    Manipulate the petals into a pleasing position and leave to dry.  Felt has ‘memory’ it will remember the shape that it dries in and stay that way.

1 layer of petals.. crumpled slightly to dry
      You can make one, two or three layers of petals. For multi layered flowers I like to crinkle the petals up more as in the above picture, this makes the flower more interesting and fuller rather than being flat.


          Finishing off: 

     1.  Thread a fine needle (a fine beading needle is best for tiny seed beads) with complementary colour cotton, and tip the beads out into a saucer so you can see them easily. 

       2.  I like to decide how my beads will look before I start sewing them on by popping pinches of beads into the centre of the flower, deciding roughly how many and where I want them to be.   Then tip the beads back in the saucer and start sewing them on one at a time.

       3.   Finish off by sewing the brooch back on.

       TIP: The nice thing with multi layered petals is that you can easily hide the ugly part of the brooch pin!  Make 2 small cuts through the bottom petal centre,positioned where the ends of the pin are and just big enough to push them through.  Position the bar on the inside where it will be sandwiched between the petal layers, with just the operational parts of the pin sticking out the other side.

      NOTE: I sew the brooch back on, then assemble the petal layers and finally sew the beads on.  I join all the layers while I am sewing the beads on.. you can do it separately if you prefer.



       You can make many different flowers from the same basic method.  By using more or less layers and by changing petal shape.

      Once you have mastered the basic flower you may wish to try some variations..

       A.   Half way through the felting process carefully cut each petal in to two, only go half way down the petal.  Finish off felting in the normal way and you will have pretty bifurcated petals.


           B.     Instead of laying out five individual petals, lay them out so the edges are touching and allow them to felt together into a circle.  Half way through the felting process cut into the petal leaving a 2cm circle at the centre which you do not cut into.  Make cuts approx. 1cm apart all the way round the outside of the circle.  Carry on felting as per usual and you will end up with a daisy like flower.  A multi layered flower made up of these daisy type petals can be very interesting, especially when beaded.

        Have fun and experiment :)




16 comments:

Carl and Jackie Kincaid said...

Thanks for this tutorial. I look forward to trying a flower like this. I'm also glad for your 'time' to create this tutorial and look forward to others. I'm sure the experience publishing was exciting. Good for you!!!

Terrie said...

Very detail tutorial and the outcome is awesome. Such making goes well with anything. Thanks for sharing.

FeltersJourney said...

Terrie, Jackie & Carl :)
Glad you like it, thanks for commenting it is good to get feedback
xx

Zenitude said...

Great tutorial! I've just started to felt and really look forward to experimenting with the flowers!

FeltersJourney said...

That's wonderful Zenitude! Let me know how you get on with them :) It'll be great to get feedback
x

Anonymous said...

How generous of you to share your knowledge. Can't wait to try the stemmed flower. Thanks!!

FeltersJourney said...

You are welcome :)
Hope you enjoy making them.. let me know how you get on x

Terrie said...

The one of petals is so pretty. I've not done the way of folding back wool. It looks so nice in this way. I will have to do the same. Very good tutorial. Thanks.

Ahndea May said...

Here you are! How funny... in my quest for finding the right wool I landed on your blog. Wow thanks for sharing how to make these beauties. I would still like to see your pricing to make them for me. I sent you a message through etsy.

Ahndea May

FeltersJourney said...

Hi Ahndea, I'm not sure how to contact you to let you know.. no message has come to me through etsy.
Thanks for your comment x

Debbie said...

Thank you so so much for sharing your gorgeous art. I,m new to felting and it's nice when people do share so we all get to learn. Can't wait to get my bubble wrap in the morning and get started;)

FeltersJourney said...

You are welcome Debbie! Hope you enjoy playing :) Shout out if there's anything you are unsure about
x

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for sharing this- you have put so much work into presenting this so clearly- much appreciated! I'm off to make some

Anonymous said...

What a great tutorial!!! Thanks so much for a very easy to understand method of creating these beauties!
Shelley Shahanaghi

FeltersJourney said...

You are welcome :) Have fun with them!

Rachel Maloney said...

Thank you so much for your generous sharing of knowledge and your time in making these detailed tutorials- I really appreciate it!