Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fiona Duthie on Layouts using Batts - great tutorial!

Fiona Duthie: fiber, color, texture

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 02:26 PM PDT

  Wool fibres can be used like paints, laid out to create surface colour changes, but also combined in layers to build new colors through shadowing. We can also use this simple technique to create a shift or transition in colour progression.  It can be easier to imagine how to blend the layers when using wool roving than when using wool batting.  This is a method I use to create a more subtle shift in colour when laying out using wool batting.

This technique is illustrated using C1/Pelsull and C1 wool batting from New England Felting Supply.

 For many projects, we only need half the total thickness of the batt.
Unroll the batting so you have it at its full thickness. Then open up the layers into two- divide the sheet into two thicknesses. The wool batting divides easily this way…like sheets of phyllo dough….one half will usually be a little heavier than the other. For this layout, I am using the slightly more thick layer. Remember to do this for all your wool colours.

 On the area where you want to continue your layout and start the colour transition, divide this wool layer into two, and pull the top layer up about 2 inches (5cm). This amount will depend on the size of your overall project and composition.Pulling up a larger amount like 4 inches (10cm) will give you a large transition area with more opportunity for gradation.

 Using one hand as a clamp, pull off this part of the top layer.

 Repeat this process on your next colour. In this case I'm using two complementary colours.

 Lay the thin section of the new colour, over the thin section of the previous colour. Because these are both half thicknesses, the transition area now will be the same density as the full colour layer.

  Repeat this same process for all of your layout and colour transitions.

  Wet out and compress as usual.

 You may want to add this the very lightest, finest wisps, not adding weight, but another layer to deepen the gradation through the transition.

 Felt using your usual methods.

 In your transition areas, the two colours overlapping migrate through one another, creating colour shadowing. This migration is what will create the seamless colour transitioning. Tossing your felt really helps to get those fibres integrated and achieve good migration. It is very important to full your felt completely. If you are not seeing any colour shadowing, you probably have more felting to do!

 The transition areas show clear colour blending. A definite purple between the analogous blue and fuchsia, and a brown/orange tone coming from the lime green and fuchsia. This transition could be even more graduated by making a more deep overlap, and lightly adding wisps to the edges of the transition area in the closest colour. The colour transitioning is more subtle between analogous colours than complementary colours. This would also be true when using natural wool colours.

 This is a beautiful and simple technique for adding more depth to your felt composition, with just a simple variation in wool layout.

  A question about laying out using batting in this way was asked by a student in one of my online classes. I started writing out a text description of how to achieve the gradated result, and realized pictures just would tell it so much better! It was a fun exercise for me....a nice distraction from larger projects I have on the go, which I so need from time to time....and also a great opportunity to write a post here!

Warm wishes, 


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Books on FASTER Nuno Felting by Nunofeltdesigns - Print & Digital editions

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


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Jelly Roll Batt heaven from

My wonderful Jelly Roll Batt arrived from Decadent Fibers a couple of days ago and I've made my first design using it............lots more to come. 
the Roll
I asked for purple with gold and a few other accent colors.  Pat and Christine dyed it to order and it is so richly colored that some of it bled into a deep black.  I love that because it's a staple in my holiday designs and everyone loves black felted with lots of accent colors. 

The Jelly Roll Batt is a great option for those of you who are flexible about colors since you will always get some "unexpected" ones.............but once you start working with it, they melt together in spectacular ways and give you a lot of  color-picking freedom.  (If you like to work with much more specific colors and mix them yourself you should order batts by color, not a mélange like this.)

IF YOU ARE COMING TO THE OCTOBER 18 WORKSHOP I will be using these fibers to lay out a scarf in about 10 minutes so you can see how using batts is another way to NUNO FELT FASTER and we ALL want to nuno felt faster...........
purple heaven

Friday, August 29, 2014

Working with Paj Silk - Blog Reader Question

A GREAT READER was intrigued by my photos of scarves nuno felted on PAJ SILK. 

PAJ SILK is a favorite of European felters and the very best nuno felters like Felted Pleasure use it exclusively (and she often dyes all her Paj the same color!).
Paj Silk
Until recently it just hasn't been available to buy in the US because, I guess, there hasn't been enough demand.  It turns out that many doll-clothes makers prefer it to other silks because of it's lustre and drape which works perfectly for miniature clothing.

PAJ SILK is a cross between Habotai and Crepe; it has a tight weave (tighter than silk gauze) and shine on both sides of the fabric but it is completely different from Habotai which tends to be very shiny on one side and moderately shiny on the (wrong) side. 

I think it looks like frosted glass.  Much more subtle and once felted it takes on a completely different "hand" - it turns into a soft, supple and very luxurious super-silk, no other way to describe it.

It's lustre also makes it behave differently (a lot like Habotai) because it crimps, puckers, and bunches up at a much higher rate than the non-glossy silks. 

If you use it for nuno felting you will see this extreme puckering start the minute you start sanding -- it's that fast.

PAJ SILK is available if you qualify for a wholesale account at Exotic Silks in CA; all purchases are $100 minimums.  It's 5.5m weight

This site sells it by the yard (undyed) in a 5m weight:
You can buy 2-3 yards to try it out for yourself without spending a fortune (but $7.50 a yard if you use a lot like I do is pretty expensive.)

PAJ SILK is sometimes called PONGEE SILK but most PONGEE available to buy is 100% polyester, not suitable for nuno felting.   If you have access to a fashion fabric store or a designer wholesale fabric outlet check to see if they carry PAJ (or call it Pongee) but make sure it is 100% silk.

WORKING WITH PAJ:  Like Habotai, Paj takes longer to nuno felt primarily during the Rubbing Stage.  You have to work 20-30% harder and longer to make sure your fibers migrate through the "frosted" surface.

I love it, in fact prefer it to Silk Gauze and Silk Chiffon because it adds another wonderful texture to the other textures of nuno felted fibers and embellishments.  Plus it is so luxurious and fabulous to wear --- like cashmere pajamas.

I am not a fan of Habotai for 3 big reasons; it takes much longer to nuno felt, it can have such a slippery surface that fibers shift a LOT once wetted down and that SHINE can really dominate the final me it just "gets in the way" of appreciating the final nuno felted surface.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Blog Reader Question: ADDING to "done" nuno felt

Such a great question from a blog reader:
Hi Nancy, Can I ask your advise?
I recently made a nuno felt scarf with hand painted merino and silk.
I only put the wool on one side and I was wondering if I could now also add wool to the other side or will this over-felt the wool I have already fulled?

The answer is yes, you will overfelt the completed side of the fabric if you now add fibers to the other side and take it through all the steps.

Even if you take great care not to touch the first side, it will be affected by agitation and throwing.  If you use hot water at the end (not the All Cold Water Method) it could make the first side hard and scratchy.

My advice is to make a small sample of a two-sided design - if you like how it looks (2 sided designs take about 20% longer to make) you can go ahead with a larger project.  This is of course if you have enough fibers left!

To rescue the first design, since you can't add fibers to it, you could add stitching or embroidery.  Or add beading or hot-fix gems/studs.  If you've done some fabric painting you can paint the non-fiber side but be sure to use fabric paints, they are much softer when dry. 

(You can always cut it up and use it for other projects.)

Friday, July 18, 2014

More Working with Cotton TIPS & TRICKS - it has qualities silk does not

Cotton fabric is a great option for nuno felting year-round but especially when the weather gets warmer; it provides a durable canvas for everything from nuno felted shapes to garments and accessories such as purses and bags. (Cotton really isn't just for the warm months and warmer climates - it's such a wonderful fabric to use and wear.)

For most projects the lighter-weight the 100% cotton fabric the better it works. I've used Cotton Voile, Scrim, Hospital Gauze and Dharma Trading's Harem Cloth.

I dye all of these cotton fabrics myself even though many 100% lightweight cottons are available in commercially dyed colors and prints. It's harder to dye cotton whatever method you use so it's usually best to over-dye to compensate for the inevitable color-loss during the nuno felting process.

Dharma's Cotton Harem Cloth is my new favorite (even better than voile) because it can be over-dyed and has so much more body & crispness to it --- I love the way it holds up to the tough nuno felting process. (You need to cut it with scissors, not rip it.)

Cotton has characteristics that make it very different from working with silk - the 2 main considerations are WEIGHT and TEXTURE.

All the cottons including voile are heavier than most lightweight silks (3mm to 5mm) so the weight of the cotton needs to be factored in to your end product. If you are making wearables the weight affects the final drape. If you are making bags, hats and other accessories, cotton may be the better base fabric because of it's weight and durability.

Texture is a dominant feature when you use cotton as your base fabric because it does completely different things when it shrinks during felting and can be so dramatic that it's actually as much of a design-decision as it is a fabric-decision.

Cotton (whatever type or weight) wrinkles and puckers, folds and pleats and you can pump it up or tone it down depending on how much and where you place your fibers in your design layout.

For example if you spread out your fibers similar to the prep for Cobweb Felt you'll end up with tons of small puckers between the fibers - a fascinating and wonderful effect.

If you vary the direction of your fibers in the initial layout you'll get puckering in both directions and you can really play up this textural-effect trick with the heavier weights.

All the cottons fray like crazy so it helps to think ahead about how to deal with it during layout. I like to use the Wrapped Edge Technique because it looks more professional (and hides all those ugly edges and ends). You can also serge the edges, use a Rolled Edge foot on your sewing machine or buy cotton scarf blanks with finished edges.

gauze (from tight to loose weave often labeled "hospital gauze")
Dharma Trading's Cotton Harem Cloth - see my post
lightweight cotton blends with at least 80% cotton content

Friday, June 13, 2014

Watering Part 2

from PINTEREST not me!
This photo from a great Pinterest Board shows the weed sprayer in action.  Talk about a match made in heaven.....

I got the cheap-o $10 one and after wishing only the worst for the idiot who wrote the directions about how to fit all the parts together, I finally looked at the pix on the front of the box and voila, done in 5 minutes.  Or ask your hardware store to put it together after you pay for one.  They sell hundreds of these things.

The pressure for spraying is created with a hand-pump designed into the handle (she is holding that handle) and YES you can add your soap be it Dawn or olive oil soap - I thought the pumping action might create bubbles, but it does not. 

This works perfect for my All Cold Water Method.  (All sprayers are for cold or room-temp water, NO hot.)

Works like a felter's dream of going to nuno felting heaven and everything is easier and faster!

PERFECT for watering down batts which, as you know by my posts about using the fab batts from Decadent Fibers, are so hard to saturate since batt fibers are full of air pockets.

NEW:  FABULOUS for wetting down felt bracelets and necklaces too....makes it so much easier when all the fibers are saturated in a consistent manner ---- this sprayer has cut my process for making these 2 items in half!

I was singing while spraying!

Incredibly helpful for felters who are starting to have a lot of discomfort using a spritzer or other watering methods that require repetitive hand-movements.  With me it's the increasing arthritis in my this was like I sent my hands on vacation.


Those ball watering thingies cost $25-$35 which I think is nuts.  A really basic weed sprayer (nightmare directions thrown in for free) runs you $10.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Batts vs Roving from Incredible, Talented Fiona Duthis

Canadian felting artist Fiona Duthie (so incredible talented) is a constant inspiration for me.  Every section of her beautiful site - the Gallery, Bio, and Blog are well worth the time you will spend being enchanted, intrigued, and delighted with this singular vision of fibers, textiles and felt.  I love this post from her blog which is the best decription of how to use Wool Batting to its best advantage.   There's also a list of resources at the end.  (Note:  WorldofWool in the UK has been recommended by several serious felters because the variety of fiber-types are just not available from US sources.  Even with the shipping charges it might be your best source for unusual fibers.  Adding just a bit of something completely different might be all the incentive you need to keep felting during the months where everyone thinks felt only thrives in the cold months, little do they know what's going on in the 2014 world of felt........)

Wool Roving vs. Wool Batting

Comparing wool roving and wool batting was once one of the foundations of the Surface Design class, but that exploration felt most possible for in person classes. I include the fibers in the online Surface Design class, as I think it's a benefit for everyone to experience working with fibres in their different forms. In working through the class materials, I decided to do a little test to see what differences I would find when working with roving and batting, in a documentated study! I used 16 grams/ 0.5 ounce of extra fine merino roving, and the same amount of extra fine merino batting both from the wonderful DHG.
(see sources at the end!)

Wool batting has been scoured, dyed and carded. It comes in big sheets or rolls. The wool fibres are not directional, or straightened. When we are felting we want to have our fibres laid out in different directions to allow for the greatest connection of the fibres and their scales as they integrate to become felt. With batting we don't need to pay any attention to the direction we lay out the fibres as they are already blended.

Batting is fantastic for quick layouts. The batting can be spread out to your desired shape and size, and layers can be built up to reach your desired thickness. To layout the batting, spread your wool out on your work surface. To remove extra fibre, use one hand as a clamp, held flat and firm on top of your fibres, and use the other hand to pull away the excess fibre-image left. Increase your layout size by laying on more batting, overlapping by about 1 inch (2.5cm) -image centre. If you have any thin spots or holes, fill in with wisps of the wool batting- image right. Very fast and easy.

Wool batting is especially useful for quick layouts for all flat feltmaking projects, like wall pieces, playmats, or making your own prefelt. It is also excellent as a base for vessels, hats and bags.
Wool batting is generally not as readily available of wool rovings, sliver or tops. Several breeds can be purchased in wool batting form, including Merino, Merino blends, Corriedale/Coopworth, Bergschaf, Norwegian C1, and Norwegian C1-Pelsull, Finnish and Icelandic. (resources below!)

Wool roving has been scoured, dyed and carded, and combed, so the fibres are all straight and aligned in a single direction. It comes in long lengths, sometimes rolled up into balls. We can layout one layer of roving if we want to create a very fine light felt, but most often we will lay out multiple layers, with each new layer perpendicular to the last. This creates the greatest potential connection of the fibres and their scales as they integrate to become felt. The fibres will shrink more along the length of the fibre and we can use this to influence the size and shaping of our felt work during layout. In general though, we want consistent, even, perpendicular layers.

There are several ways to layout your wool roving. The most common form is called shingling. We use one hand as a clamp and pull away a staple length of wool fibre. Each shingle overlaps the previous one by one third -image left. After laying out all the fibres in one direction, we'll lay out the second layer of wool shingles, with the fibre direction perpendicular to the previous layer- image right. Two layers will create a lightweight consistent felt. More layers may be used either depending on the thickness of each shingle, or the desired thickness of your finished felt.

If I use the same weight of wool fibres, and start with the same size of layout, my end result should be the same with either wool roving or batting. I used exactly the same felting techniques for the same durations in both samples. The batting was faster to layout. The roving developed a more strong felted skin more quickly. The batting felt more cohesive and started to full or shrink sooner in the process. They were both finished in the same amount of time, and the finished size was the same in both samples, with equal shrinkage in the width and the length.

My batting sample was more even in finished density overall. If I had of been a little more attentive in my layout of the roving, I think it would have been as consistent, if not more than the batting. But I was working quite quickly, so in this case the batting had a slightly better end result.

After fulling completely, rinsing and laying flat to dry, both samples are tight and evenly finished. The batting appears just a little more smooth and flat.

So... no dramatic results! The same amount and size of sample produced a similar end result, as happens when an experiment goes exactly as you think it will!

I chose between roving and batting based on two main criteria. The first is availability. What fibre form is available to me in the particular wool breed I want. I love C-1/pelsull for bags, and that is most readily available in a batting form. But I also make most of my bags in white and then dye them after, and for those I use Finnish wool, that is most readily available as a roving. The second criteria is the density of the finished felt. When I am making the lightest weight, structural felt garments, I will use an extra fine merino roving. I feel I have the most control over the density of my felt (when I don't rush!) using the wool in a roving form.

It is valuable to touch and work with the different forms. Laying out with locks alone is another great experience. Exploring and using the different wools informs our felting sensibilities and understanding of the fibre qualities, as well as deepening our physical appreciation and hand recognition of the wools.

Here are some sources for you:
Merino: Dyeing House Gallery (Italy)
distributed in the US by Opulent Fibers
distributed in Canada by ArtGus Studio

Merino: New England Felting Supply

Merino Cross: Living Felt

Norwegian C1, C1-Pelsull Blend, and Pelsull: New England Felting Supply

Bergschaf: Dyeing House Gallery (Italy)

distributed in the US by Opulent Fibers
distributed in Canada by ArtGus Studio

Finnish: Piiku (Finland)

Icelandic: Alafoss (Iceland)

Rovings or Tops are much easier to come by, and there are many wonderful online sources, including most of those above. Too many to list here, but I do purchase most of the coarse wool breed rovings from:

Lots of felt with!
Warm wishes,