One of the joys of making your own felt is creating surface texture with a variety of fibres, yarns and fabrics. These of course add to the colour play in your felt as wild or as subtle as your desire. I love to stitch into my handmade felt before wetting down and rolling so the embroidery embeds into the felt. The embroidery distorts and becomes quite impressionistic. Now as you can imagine it would be very difficult embroidering into a pile of wool tops with lots of stuff floating on top. A pre-felt base is the answer to having a stable foundation on which to build your layers of fibres and fabrics. MAKING A PREFELT – You can make your own pre-felt by laying down two fine layers of wool tops on a piece of bubble wrap. Make the first layer of wool fibres going across the bubble wrap and the next layer vertical. Place a piece of sheer curtain over the top and wet down with tap water with some liquid soap added. Roll the bubble wrap and wool around a piece of dowel. Tie each end of the roll with rubber bands or string and roll backwards and forwards for about 50 rolls. Unwrap it, remove the dowel and turn the bubble wrap 90 degrees. Roll up again and repeat the 50 rolls. Undo the parcel and remove the sheer curtain. Check that the fibres are just hanging together as a sheet. If they are not re-roll and repeat the action just until they for a sheet. When done carefully peel the wool off the bubble wrap . Lay the wool pre-felt on a flat surface to dry. SOUND TOO HARD? Help is at hand!
You can purchase prefelt ready for you to use. It comes in many colours and allows you to get started with the fun bit of layering up the fibres, fabrics and cool bits. Check out the colours, here is the PRE-FELT link .
Phew! What a relief! Now get down and get dirty adding different coloured wool & silk fibres, fabrics and those funky knitting yarns. This is just the beginning. My best TIP to help stabilize the layers enabling you to stitch into the pile is to use a hand needle felting tool or an embellisher machine just to punch all over the layers making them bond together. With a hand needle felter you need a piece of high density foam under your pre-felt. Usually I turn the panel upside down after needle felting the front then I needle felt the back. It should be stable enough to embroider. I have used silk, wool, chenille and whatever meets the texture and colour I am after to stitch up a storm. When finished then you really need to felt the panel properly. I am not going into that but there are many workshops, youtube clips and books to help you. Below are a few images of my work prior to felting and the finished look. Enjoy!