Friday, September 26, 2014


The Petaluma Arts Center where the workshop will take place has a BROKEN WEBSITE.

to sign up please call

and she will take care of you, so sorry!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Using Silk Fibers - Blog Reader Question

In a recent re-post of the newest "felt-in" at Feltmakers North in Ireland I highlighted a merino/silk nuno felt scarf and got a great question about using silk fibers.

I am not a fan of silk fibers for a couple of reasons (that are about to fly out the window) because when they are nuno felted they often have such a high gloss that they are notoriously hard to photograph for my online stores.  

I also don't think they add any "textural interest" in the way that bamboo fibers placed in and near the surface of about 90% of my designs.  My customers online and in person love that I add bamboo and when I point it out to those interested in buying one of my scarves, they love the look and texture.  Adding bamboo also "lightens" the weight of the wool nuno felted on fabric.  It creates more ethereal designs and the more bamboo I add, the more interesting it is.

However, silk adds one important element that cuts down on the problem many have (including myself) wearing 100% wool.  I used to be able to wear it all the time when I lived on the East Coast and had quite a collection of wonderful all-merino wool sweaters.  As I got older and my skin more finicky, I can wear cashmere but not 100% wool unless it is very high quality merino.  ADDING SILK fibers can eliminate the "scratchy" problem that many of us have with 100% wool (of any quality).  It can make "felted wool" a lot more wearable.

The more silk you add to nuno felt, the softer and more-supple it is.  So I am convinced! that working with more silk in my custom-mixes is the right way to go and plan to make designs with a very high content of silk fibers this season.

Please remember that you have to have 100% wool to make a successful piece of nuno felt ---- but you can add other non-wool fibers up to 50% to change the weight, texture, look and feel.  For those of you who are willing to do the extra labor, you can add up to 70-80% non-wool fibers but they will always take 3x to 4x longer to nuno felt.  

BEST MIXES:  If you buy machine carded custom mixes of up to 50/50 silk/merino you are much more likely to have success.  If you have your own carding machine you can make your own.  If you use wood hand-carders like I do, you do need to card the mixes at least 6 times to make it work ---- and have more of a chance for success.

If you have never worked with silk before, you may want to try a machine-carded mix.  

SURFACE DESIGN using silk fibers:  Always add a layer of wool fibers ON TOP OF your silk fiber if you place it on top of your layout.  Add a layer of wool fibers if you lay out a carded mix and see that some silk fibers are "all by themselves" on top of your fabric --- they need the wool to felt.  Even it is it a gossamer thin layer of wool that no one but you can see, you still need to "anchor" your non wool fibers with wool.  Any stray silk fibers will just fall off once you finish if you don't spend the extra time to make sure they adhere.

Nuno felting has so many possibilities that even if you add 10% non-wool fibers to your projects you will be enchanted by what it adds to the color, weight, texture and total effect of your work.  There are so many wonderful options for adding all kinds of fibers that you can experiment until the sheep come home......

Sunday, September 14, 2014

SANDERS for Nuno Felting - what I'm using now

Those of you who were hooked on the B&D 1/3rd Sheet Finishing Sander which is no longer made have been sending great notes to me with suggestions for substitutes/

I just got back from our local big box hardware store empty-handed because they only carry 1/4 sheet and orbital finishing sanders --- NO 1/3rd sheet at all.  Guess they have "gone out of favor" with contractors who obviously prefer the smaller units.  I imagine they are much more adaptable for custom work but that doesn't help felters at all!!!!!!

Did they count us out?

1/3rd sheets have the biggest plate so you can get more done more quickly.  Period.  You can use the 1/4 sheet but it will just take you twice as long***

My last (boohoo) B&D just bit the dust so I am using my new BUFFALO TOOLS 1/3rd sheet from Sears:

It's OK but it is much lighter than the B&D and the ON switch really needs to be secured with your finger ---- both of these problems make it harder to use.  I have to physically PRESS down harder and my fingers hurt after using it for 10-15 minutes, my usual routine duration.

One great blog reader told me to look into the MIATA 1/3rd sheet sander so I ordered it and will let you know ----------- costly but if it works and last longer than 6 months it might end up being worth it.

Who wants to spend hours and hours looking for a replacement for that wonderful B&D?????

If you have any suggestions, please let me know and I'll post if for all of you to read.

***Palm Finishing Sanders are just what they say --- you hold it with the palm of your hand.  If you have any arthritis or problems gripping a "knob" for several minutes at a time, this might be way too uncomfortable for you to use.  Some of the smaller finishing sanders have the same-sized plate so get one that you can grip comfortably.    The more sanding you do, the more you will pay attention to your comfort ---- if you can "try out" various sanders in a store, do that.  It's worth the extra effort.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fringe - adding fringe to your nuno felt designs

Fringe in accessories and garments are the big deal this Fall Season and you can add this to your nuno felt projects - it does take extra work.  You also need, to make it look great at the end, to pay attention to it all through the process.
no thanks!
Fringe can look great or it can be a fiasco.  And it's an add-on that some women just don't like to wear. 

I like it in very limited situations --- but it is THE LOOK in scarves for 2014.  And not just fringe; scarves are now as big as shawls and are wrapped backwards using the middle at the front of the neck with the 2 ends looped over the shoulder to the front.  That takes a lot of scarf and a lot of fabric.


wool yarn fringe

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


Friday, September 5, 2014

Blog Reader Question - What Weight Silk Fabric for Nuno Felting?

silk Chiffon
There's a list of suitable silks you can use in the Tips & Tricks Book but what counts most is what you want your project to be ---- a scarf?  Garment?  Bag?  Pillow cover?

Weight and drape are most important for wearables including scarves and garments.  For thin, delicate nuno felt you'll be happiest with SILK GAUZE which is available in mummy weights from 3.5 to 5.  3.5 is very hard to work with and may not be durable enough for an item that is worn often, like a scarf.

I love to use 4.5 and 5 mummy SILK GAUZE and in my experience it is the most flexible.

For heavier weight wearables and for items like jackets and coats (bags too) you'll be better off using a SILK CHIFFON which comes in weights (usually) from 8 to 16 mummy.  The heavier the fabric the longer it takes to nuno felt!

OTHER SILKS including HABOTAI are available in 3/5 to 8 and sometimes you can find it in 10-12m.  It has a very shiny surface and is always harder to nuno felt because of this treatment.

Other silks and silk blends are ok to use but I strongly recommend you make a 12"x12" test piece before you attempt a larger project. 

For example, I have had great success using 100% SILK TAFFETA but, as you probably know, the surface of taffeta varies so widely (it can be very nubby to very sheer to very stiff) so do a test piece first.  A full-bodied silk like this will often crimp and pucker into an un-wearable --- scratchy and stiff which is a final texture that you won't want to wear next to your skin.

SILK ORGANIZA is best for making bags and items like table runners and pillow covers.  High quality Organza is always stiff and will get a whole lot more stiff once it's nuno felted, believe me.

IF YOU ARE JUST STARTING OUT, see if you can get a couple of yards of 4.5-5m SILK GAUZE and a lowest-weight SILK CHIFFON (8m).  Once you work with each one you'll discover that you probably prefer one over the other or one for a certain mix of fibers/embellishments than another.

For WINTER WEIGHT wearables I recommend an 8m SILK CHIFFON which is wonderful to work with.  It has plenty of body and structure but drapes wonderfully once it's nuno felted with as little and one thin layer of fibers.   Makes wonderful shawls and wraps as well. 

SILK CHIFFON ALSO ACTS BETTER if you're adding felt or yarn fringe; FRINGE is the big deal in scarves and garments this season.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

SAVING YOUR PROJECT for the next day....yes you can!

As I said in 100 degree temps I just had to stop in the middle of the Rubbing Stage of a very large nuno felt shawl and wrap it all up in the plastic (it was still wetted down) around a Pool Noodle and save it to finish the next morning. 

It worked but I did have to back up and repeat a few steps.

Thank goodness I still had my Pool Noodles!  Those of you who have been reading this blog and the books know that I really don't Roll my designs manually using the Solar Pool Cover around a Noodle - I go from the Rubbing Stage shortened using the Palm Washboard to Sanding.

This is what I did:
1.  The project was still wrapped inside the 1m clear plastic and still wet-through with cold, soapy water;
2.  I tightly rolled the project INSIDE the plastic around a Pool Noodle;
3.  Secured both ends with strips of muslin ties (use anything but don't use rubber bands - they might leave impressions in your fabric);
4.  Left in a cool place NOT in any sunlight;
5.  Next morning at 8 AM (roughly 16 hours later) I unrolled the design still in plastic:
6.  Opened one side of the plastic and covered the whole designs with my window screen;
7.  Used my Weed Sprinkler to soak the project again, pressed and then used dry towels to soak up any excess soapy water.

Remove screens, fold over plastic to encase the project, complete Rubbing AND use the old fashioned Rolling Method, yes, I did roll it around a pool noodle 350 times (in all four directions) to make sure the fibers migrated through the silk shawl base.

Open plastic, remove shawl, place fiber side down on clean towel, complete SANDING.

Throw, agitate and stretch.
2 day project!

I used the old 350x Rolling Method after Rubbing because I needed to do a LOT more work based on my fiber combination.  I used 50% handpainted tencel with 50% handpainted merino.  This particular tencel was quite dry and required 30-40% more work.  Not all tencel is this dry but the person who handpainted it overprocessed it.

Had it been 100% merino I might have been able to eliminate the Rolling but probably not.

WHY?  This project was sitting wet for 16 hours and that in itself caused some FELTING TO OCCUR without any agitation; wrapped wet inside plastic meant that some reaction occurred just because of the room temps went from a high of 100 to a morning low of 56.  I am sure the fibers were affected by that huge swing. 

Yes, because it worked.  However, I would never do this with a dry or overprocessed fiber ---- because, all in all, it took me 4 times the effort to complete this project.

WORKSHOP with Nunofeltdesigns October 18 - only a few spots left!

You can sign up here:

Nuno Felt Your Own Infinity Loop Scarf
Instructor: Nancy Schwab
Date: Saturday, Oct. 18
Time: 12noon-4pm
Age: 18+
Price: $70  Materials: see materials list (please contact Nancy
Description: Learn how to nuno felt a gorgeous infinity loop scarf using all the newest tools and shortcuts for creating a wonderful piece of wearable art in about one hour.  Nuno felting is a fiberart technique that focuses on felting small amounts of wool and other fibers on a fabric base such as silk and cotton voile using just soap, water and elbow grease to create light, gossamer thin accessories and garments that are wearable year-round.  It's often described as "painting with fibers".  Now you can learn to do it much faster in this 4 hour workshop which will include the secrets of great fiber layouts and picking the right colors on both sides of the fabric, quick felting with use of a Palm Washboard and Electric Sander, joining the 2 edges to create a loop scarf and finishing techniques.  Each student will end the class with a finished loop scarf measuring 56-58" in a loop by 8" wide.

This workshop is best suited to students with a basic knowledge of felting techniques and terms and at least 20 hours of felting and/or nuno felting experience.  

Venue :
230 Lakeville Street,
Petaluma, California, US, 94952

I'll bring the SANDERS!!!--- you will love how fast they work.  Everyone will go home with a finished loop scarf.


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.

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

Sunday, June 8, 2014

WEED SPRAY your Nuno Felt - UPDATE, buy the better one!

better weed aprayer
The Weed Sprayer is all the rage in felter's studios and workshops because you can water down ANY project in seconds.  Heck, you can even add your liquid soap and it never foams up.  (TIP:  you are using cold or room temp water when you wet down your project so it's just fine under pressure.  I would not use hot water in these things.)

Most of those available in the big box hardware stores and garden centers are for home use and they range from $9.99 to over $50.

I got el-cheapo used it for 2 months and just tossed it in the garbage.  It would not seal and leaked air and needed so much manual labor that my right arm almost fell off.

The new one cost $14.95 but has a "release valve" on the side to release the air pressure after using it --- you don't want to leave it pressurized overnight or around kids and animals.

Having that extra valve means I don't have to keep unscrewing the top and losing air.

The capacity is only 1.5 gal that's why I got it---the one for $19.99 was 2 gal and you have to remember you are placing it on the floor to pump in air, then LIFTING it up to your worktable ---- don't get something that is going to wreck your knees and back. 

When you fill it up:
add your cold water first
add your Dawn or other felting soap in the amount you usually use for most of your work - don't mix it in, just leave it alone
use a paper towel & completely dry the opening, the insert rod and everything around it ---- once you add liquid soap it can stop the seal from forming because it's just too slippery.
seal it up and start spraying - you will love how fast it is.

You can also omit the soap and add your soap once you've wet down your project.  Many felters rub an olive oil soap bar over their wet fibers.  (The fibers need to be tamped down with window screen so they don't shift while soaping.)

MAKE FELTING EASIER for yourself!!!!!  Once you use it you'll never be without it.