Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dyeing Your Base Fabric - PURPLE HEAVEN! At last!

dyed paj silk
If you've been reading this blog for a while, every few months I have something about dyes and dyeing your own fabrics for nuno felting.

And about my quest for the perfect purple (that deep purple-blue) that I have not, for the life of me, been able to find in a single dye powder. 

Every time I create a mix to get what I want - which is usually RIT's blue and red - it might, just might! be that perfect purple but can I repeat it?????never!

Dylon, nope.  Their purples are really violets with more red and yellow than blue.  Dharma Fiber Reactive Dyes?  Thistle comes close but it lacks any color depth.  It's kind of blah.

Well lo and behold the color goddess was at my side in that Joann store when I saw TULIP POWDERED DYES for the first time in little packets.  Not on sale?  Who cares, let's try it out.


You can see the gorgeous paj silk pixed inside above and outside below - see the gloss on this silk?  Much much better and more lustrous (like frosted glass) than habotai which, I think, tends to have a sharpness to it I've never liked.

Finishing Technique - Trim it Off with Scissors

In a couple of posts in early April I reviewed some of the ideas and techniques in Sheila Smith's new book:
felt fabric designs
a recipe book for textile artists
many of which are intended for very experienced nuno felters.  I do keep coming back to her book because it crystallizes a lot of the methods I use myself, tweaked to my way of working --- and that comes from years of experience added to the new knowledge passed on by other nuno felters in workshops, blogs and books. 
from the web
Sheila's books identifies 2 distinct definitions of nuno felt which include (1) felting fibers to select areas of the base fabric (her definition of "nuno felt") and (2) laminate nuno felting - covering the fabric base completely with fibers and/or prefelted sheets of fibers.
Her nuno felt example in the book shows bare fabric edges (no felted fiber) and she simply cuts the excess fabric off after completing the process --- a method that I've used in the past with mixed results. 
But I think it's worth trying it again.  Why?  Because I now use 2 of the newest "adjustable" scissors (one 4" one 8") with Titanium blades that I can adjust as needed.
To be able to trim the edges of the unfelted fabric and make it look professional, you need, at least, razor-sharp scissors. 
I've often had to re-wet and re-sand the cut edges to make sure they're all sealed.....but there are other reasons to re-try this technique.
It allows me to change the shape and contours of the edges to follow the shapes created by the fibers felted on fabric --- which leads to more interesting results!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dreaming Nuno Felt! Working with incredible, 15.5 micron merino...

Last week I told you that I found the extra-extra fine handpainted merino roving (15.5 microns) at one of my favorite sources - - which is used by most of the very talented nuno felting artisans outside the US.  This extra fine fiber is not usually available or widely used in the US.
handpainted 15.5 micron merino

Kate sent it to me so fast I couldn't believe it! and good thing too because I fell in love immediately. 

It it so soft that it feels like cashmere but is much easier to work with than I thought it would be.

I was reluctant to go for this special fiber and not only because it is much pricier than the widely available 22-24 micron merino roving from several sources but because I am not a big fan of the 18-19 micron Australian merino fibers.......

For whatever reasons I have always had trouble getting the 18-19 micron wool to migrate through my base fabric.  Even when I double Rubbing Stage and time spent with a Palm Washboard, I usually end up with areas that STILL need to be re-agitated before I move on to Sanding. 

The finer wool fibers are so fine that they sometimes just SIT ON TOP OF the fabric no matter what pressure and agitation I apply and this can be even more vexing when I use it in combination with other wool and non-wool fibers. 

Not so with this 15.5 handpainted roving --- it nuno felts like a dream.  The colors in this batch are so enchanting that I plan not to add any fancy embellishments (other than some strands of contrasting bamboo) because the final nuno felted surface is so wonderful.
on tie-dyed silk gauze - quick experiment

Friday, April 18, 2014

Techniques - Finishing Your Edges - the WRAPPED EDGE

Lots of blog readers have been writing to ask about how best to "finish off the edges of my nuno felt so it looks professional."

You do have lots of options to finish the edges/edging on your nuno felted fabrics & I'll cover 2 of them  Today it's Wrapped Edges (one of my favorites) and please see the April 23 post on Sheila Smith's "trimmed fabric edges" technique. 

There are several methods for finishing off your edges and one of my favorites is the Wrapped Edge Technique. It's a great way to get a "crisp" and/or straight edge and a perfect solution for fabric that frays easily like Cotton Harem Cloth (it hides them). It can also soften the edges and make a wearable more wearable.

I'm using Wrapped Edges for almost all my designs these days because it works so well for cotton fabrics which tend to fray constantly during the entire nuno felting process.

Wrapped Edges can also give you a much stronger and durable edging which makes perfect sense when you're making wearables that are frequently worn!

You can also use this technique on the ends - say,  - of a long scarf or shawl -  (see photo) even if you don't use it on the rest of the edges.

wrapped edges AND ends

It's easy to do - it just takes a little more time up front. The directions are for a one-fiber-sided design:
1. Extend the layout of your fibers at least 1" off the edges (and ends if you choose)
2. Wet down the fibers on fabric, remove all excess water
3. Fold over your plastic sheeting and encase the project, flip over, remove plastic on other side
4. Use your fingers or a 12-18" ruler to lift up the extended fibers and fold them over onto the fabric, press firmly OR
5. Use the plastic to fold over the edge all in one go
6. Make sure all your fabric edges are covered with fibers - add more if you need to, wet down, press***
7. Cover the project again with plastic, flip over to the fiber side
8. Use your hands, a Felting Stone or a Palm Edge Tool to lightly rub the edges for a minute or two to make sure the wrapped edges are firmly pressed into the underside.
9. Complete the Rubbing Stage and pay extra attention to the wrapped edges.

Your wrapped edges may or may not "show" in the final design - it all depends on the color of your fibers and base fabric. In the example shown here the wrapped edges melt into the dark silk so that it looks like a natural result of the nuno felting process.

On other designs, the wrapped edge may be more prominent but you can play that up by varying the design of the fabric layout on the underside. For example, you could create thin lines of fiber that extend into lines or swirls which will make the wrapped edge look like a deliberate design technique.

If you add fibers to the underside just remember to add time to the Rubbing Stage to make sure everything sticks on both sides before your proceed to Sanding (or using a Palm Washboard).

***Don't be afraid to trim your finished edges when you block your design prior to letting it dry. Wrapped Edges don't always turn out perfectly and may need to be "cleaned" up. I like to do all my trimming while the project is still wet - it allows me to check to make sure the final edges are sealed. If they aren't, I agitate those sections on a glass washboard or use a Palm Washboard or Edge Tool to make sure it's completely sealed. If the edges still don't look sealed, spritz with soapy water and use a sander, then rinse thoroughly and block again, hang to dry. (Easier to see if it's wet.)

It sounds like a lot of fussy extra work but if you don't seal your edges, the felt will eventually come undone.  Use your sander to do this - it's so fast and easy and eliminates all that additional physical effort. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

BOOKS by Nunofeltdesigns Kindle & Print: Nuno Felt Faster & Better + techniques you will love

Create better, more intricate nuno felt faster!

TOPICS include:
Part 1: How to use the new tools including the Palm Washboard, Edge Tool, Felting Stone & Felting Mat
Part 2: Tumbler Dryer Method & Shelf Liner Shortcuts, Rolling Machines - what they do, where to buy
Part 3: Importance of Color in Nuno Felting including How to Work with White, Using Non-Wool Fibers, Using Cotton Base Fabrics, Prefelts & Batts, & What went wrong - my fibers fell off?!
Part 4: How to make an Infinity Loop, add Ruffles to your designs on the edges and inside, make Felt Lace, the Two Layer Technique, Mosaic Nuno Felt, add how to quickly make and add Prefelt Swirls as a design element
Part 5: List of sources for supplies including fibers, tools and fabric


Kindle COVER
Kindle Digital Edition*:

PRINT Edition on***:
*NOTE: The Kindle digital edition is readable on all Apple and Android devices including tablets and smartphones using free Kindle Reader software.


NFT&T has hundreds of secrets and tips for how to nuno felt better and faster using the newest and latest techniques and tools. It's so popular that it's now available in several bookstores and public libraries in the US and UK. Available in print and digital editions.

Best Silks for nuno felting with a list of types and weights
Cottons for nuno felting
How to dye your own fabrics with RIT and DYLON powdered dyes
Non-wool fibers and nuno felting
Using a microwave
Using a portable electric sander; detailed directions
How to "water" your nuno felt
Soaps for nuno felting
Learn how to make great EDGES and ENDS
Make "ROVING YARN" to create outlines & designs
What to look for when buying custom-dyed/mixed fibers online
Best throwing technique
Using the "ALL COLD WATER" method
Fix a "mistake" with needle felting
plus many, many more!
or you can buy it from my online store at a discounted price


Sunday, April 13, 2014

TIPS on using non-wool fibers to add interest to your nuno felt - so wonderful to work with!

This is the perfect time of year to try out non-wool fibers which I use for more than 50% of my designs.

If you are trying to create nuno felt for the first time by incorporating non-wool fibers I recommend using prepared, machine carded (and often handpainted) rovings which you can find at varying prices on Etsy.*
Machine carded fibers are usually well-mixed so the non-wool fibers are interlaced evenly with the wool fibers and which is very important...when using non-wools you want to make sure that MOSTLY WOOL fibers surround the non-wool and are the primary fiber in direct contact with your base fabric for nuno felting.

The wool will felt over, under and around your non-wools. The non-wool will never felt; it only felts with the wool that surrounds it.

You may now wonder why the heck use non-wools? Try one like bamboo or tencel and you'll see a whole new world of texture and color possibilities for your nuno felt projects.

Each one adds its own unique characteristics including crimp, gloss, loft, transparency and reflects light in completely different ways than 100% wool.

It also produces nuno felt that is better suited to more purposes and more seasons/climates for garments, scarves, home accents and dozens more.

Because non-wools do not felt on their own you need to spend more time at the start of your project and here are some general rules:
1. Check your fiber layout before you do the first wet-down - make sure you do not have areas where the non-wool fibers are the only ones in contact with your fabric. Add wisps of wool or even a very very thin layer of wool around and/or over those areas.
2. Spend 10-15 minutes more on the Rubbing Stage because you have to work harder and longer to get the non-wool fibers to migrate with the wool through the fabric to stick.**
3. When you inspect your fabric before sanding or rolling if any non-wool fibers pull or fall off you may need to add wisps of wool and return to Rubbing for another 10-15 minutes.

The more you work with non-wools the more you can adapt to what you need to do to integrate them into your projects and designs. Everything is slightly different when using non-wools including the fact that you'll get LESS OVERALL SHRINKAGE. The more non-wool you add percentage-wise the less shrinking.......because non-wool never felts on its only felts when it is surrounded by wool fibers.

You may want to start off with 10% non-wool and gradually move up the percentage. I've pushed it as far as 75/25 bamboo/merino but it took 10 times the effort to get it to work!

*Etsy is a good source for mixed rovings and the big-selling shops have their own independent websites where you'll find many more options. You do need to be careful when you buy mixed/handpainted fibers online --- a lot of them are "overcooked" and completely useless for nuno felting. See NFT&T Second Ed. for How To Buy Your Fibers Online.

**Use all the tools you have during & after the Rubbing Stage including a Felting Stone, Palm Washboard and Edge Tool.

TIP/SECRET: Machine-carded mixed and handpainted rovings that you buy usually have 3 colors. You can hand-card more 100% wool in one or any of those colors before you lay out your project and enhance the "stickability" of your mixed fiber design. This not only triples your design options, it allows you to use the mixed roving in dozens of creative ways to get color and textural effects that just aren't possible when you use 100% wool.

Tips - Changing Your Water Temps While Nuno Felting

If you are trying out nuno felting for the first time or are making another attempt it helps to know how important it is to use the right water temps for every step of the process.

I use the All Cold Water Method from start to finish and only use hot water for the Agitation and Stretching last-stages for very select fiber combos or when working with predominantly white fibers.

Cold water has, for me, been a lot less damaging to my nuno felted fabrics, but it also leaves me with just enough room to make minor adjustments if any of the steps need to be re-done.

Be extra careful when you change your water temps:

If you use hot water at any time during nuno felting it's even more important to take extra care with water temps. Changing your water temps abruptly at any stage may create too much of a "shock" to the fibers and fabric and alter your results.

Any nuno felted fabric that's been immersed in hot water should be left to cool to room temp before you use cold water.

For example, if you use hot water for the Agitation and Stretching stages, let your nuno felted fabric sit for a bit to return to room temp before you rinse it in cool to cold water.

If you use warm water to rinse your project, make sure you don't suddenly switch to very hot or ice cold water - gradually increase or decrease the water temp instead.

You'll be much happier with the results.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

3D Felting by Jenny Hill

This popped up in my Google+ feed (which I never use because it keeps telling me what to do without any regard for my preferences or privacy) and Jenny does such a great job that you'll love watching it. 

A third of the total length is Jenny laying out fibers off camera, but it does show that more complicated nuno felt designs often end up taking as much time to lay out as they do to felt.

Note her mention of OpulentFibers, her ingenious use of a WEED KILLER SPRAYER - see?  it does not dislodge all those layers of dry fibers, wow! --- and her use of the Palm Washboard from the start.  (With the microfiber net that comes with all the washboard tools from

Jenny also uses about 10x the amount of soap that I do, but it just proves that each nuno felter has their own methods for achieving great results.  It works for her.

I do know from years of experience that throughout the last 10 minutes of the video it's clear that Jenny knows by touch and feel just what stage she's reached in the process --- she handles with full knowledge of what needs to be done to complete it. 

That knowledge and "close communication with your felting fibers" comes with a lot of practice, lots of mistakes and taking the leap to adapting the technique to FIT YOU and your style for working.  Make nuno felting work for you, not the other way around!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bracelets and Pots - Market Booths 2014

More news coming about my Market days in Petaluma, Napa and Sonoma.

Petaluma East Side Farmer's Market 10am-2 pm every Tuesday throughout the year
Luccini Park
Start Date TUESDAY April 22


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Rolled Hem Edges for your nuno felting projects (create your own Blanks)

Elna Rolled Hem Foot
Buying silk and cotton blanks with rolled and/or serged edges for your nuno felting projects often means that you're limited to buying what's out there and most available sizes are just too small.

You don't have to get a serger and you may not like serged edges....but if you have a sewing machine, even a really basic one that only does straight and zigzag stitches.... you can usually find sewing feet that will create a ROLLED EDGE on your fabrics before and after nuno felting.
Many sewing machine feet-makers have also designed "universal" feet that can fit more than one brand of sewing machine-----it comes down to how old your sewing machine is!

I used a basic Singer 2-stitch machine for many many years and didn't even know there was such as thing as a ROLLED EDGE foot, for heaven's sake. 

There are so many great home-sewing sites today that include online tutorials about how to use speciality feet including Rolled Edges.

The trick is how to learn to finish up the CORNERS of your fabric so that the final rolled edges are stitched securely and won't unravel during and after nuno felting.

You can also create rolled edges on finished nuno felt.

Don't limit yourself to buying (expensive) blanks in sizes that don't fit your needs.  If you love finished edges on your projects you can make them on your own terms in your own sizes when you need them!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

BFL - Blue Facced Leicester - so wonderful to use for nuno felting

Lots of different wool fibers are suitable for nuno felting and seem to pop in and out of popularity and availability - in 2013 it's BFL Blue Faced Leicester.

"...a long staple, medium amount of crimp and a super smooth draft, this fiber is a favorite of handspinners, and produces yarns with beautiful luster and next-to-skin softness. BFL offers a fine surface to any wet or needle felting projects, and takes dye well when used for home dyeing."

BFL takes dye beautifully and if you are searching for hand-dyed and handpainted BFL the colors are very enticing. I bought several 2 oz. lots from CapistranoFiberArts on Etsy this season and loved every one of them.

BFL is great for nuno felting. Despite it's longer fiber-length, the curly texture and distinct crimp makes it easier to push it through your fabric base. The other advantage is that it is "dull" and isn't as slippery (or as glossy as) merino - and that makes it easier to work with.

If you're nuno felting with it for the first time, expect a more "hairy" finished surface and no gloss --- but it will be as soft and lovely to wear as merino wool.