Today, I am going to talk about wool felt.
But first, let's talk about hand-stitching.
Some late-night hand-stitching happened this past month.
There's something cathartic about hand-stitching, isn't there?
It's deliberate and exact and pure and wonderful, especially compared to the efficient, floor-the-pedal, bam! Bam! Bam! of machine-sewing, which conjures images of mass-producing and imprecise seamlines and winging-it-ness.
And the bother of details that slow down that process.
Oh, the details.
Whenever I'm machine-sewing a bag, for instance, I often roll my eyes when it takes me twice as long as it should, simply because I've added in superfluous pockets and topstitching and fiddly bits that aren't the actual bag. But when I'm hand-stitching, I expect the details; they're factored into the design itself, and I love how it slows me down, embellishing even as I am making.
So, last month, when I consulted my mental calendar and realized that, once again, the summer was over and the kids were returning to school, I gleefully began planning the girls' back-to-school lunchbox gifts and looking forward to the promise of more hand-stitching. This was a deadline-heavy project in that each Sunday night, one little softie per girl needed to be completed and wrapped for her lunch box the next morning. However, it was also spread across four Sundays in the month of September, allowing me to slowly stitch throughout the week, sitting on the couch in the evenings with the husband, which I can never do with my machine-sewn projects.
When I dug into my wool felt stash - the one I'd inherited from grandma - and began cutting and adapting and choosing colors, I discovered I was lacking in some of the shades I needed.
Many readers have asked where I get my wool felt and I thought I'd do a post or two to answer. First, most of my wool felt was, as I said, inherited from grandma. Sometimes when JoAnn has a sale on their wool-blend felt, I'll pick up a yard or two. But their colors are extremely limited, and they aren't 100% wool. So whenever I need particular shades of 100% wool felt, I buy 8" x 12" sheets on etsy, from Felt on the Fly.
Now, today's post is a product review. I've been known to do those from time to time on ikatbag, if the product is something I really like, and something my readers would find relevant to the sort of projects that define this blog. I don't do product reviews of things I have never used myself, or simply in exchange for a freebie that, up till that point, I'd never heard about or been interested in.
Vendors have, and will, write to me, offering their stuff, to review. In such cases, I tell them that I cannot guarantee I will even try their product, let alone write a post about it, let alone have it be a positive post. If they are still interested, they are welcome to send me their product, understanding that I may do anything (or nothing) with it, from ignoring, throwing away, giving away, or liking/hating it enough to give it airtime on my blog. This is how I try to be transparent to my readers. You can read about it here (but it's pretty much what I've already just said in this paragraph).
Occasionally, I will come across a product (or a book) that so grabs me that I actually contact the vendor to ask if they'd be interested in a review. Cinnamon Miles' beginning sewing book was one of those, and resulted in a fun collaboration and a chance for you guys to win her book for yourself. But it rarely happens, because it means being pretty sure I'll already love a product I haven't actually yet used myself, and those are more exceptions than the norm.
Most of my reviews are of products I am already using and want to gush about - products I like so much that I'd use even in secret without telling you about.
So, Felt on the Fly.
I've been buying my wool felt sheets from Felt on the Fly for years. Janet, its proprietor, is wonderful to work with, and prompt and helpful in her correspondence. Whenever my own felt stash falls short in certain colors, this is where I buy what I need. They come in different sizes - 6" x 8", 8" x 12" and larger 18" x 18" sheets. The quality is excellent. There are ready-matched combinations to pick from, or you can choose your own shades from among the 112 colors.
Some months back, Janet emailed to ask if I'd be interested in reviewing her felt if she sent me some free sheets for my projects. I was already familiar - and happy - with her felt, so it was easy to say yes. However, I hadn't a felt project in mind then, so I waited till I began planning the kids' back-to-school lunch gifts to write her back and start things in motion.
She sent me these lovely colors to work with.
Want to see what they became?
First: Emily's gifts. For the past few years, hers were of a fish/sea creature theme, which you can read about here.
This year, I found I'd run out of sea creatures to make from my go-to book:
and switched, instead, to insects:
butterfly, water-beetle, ladybug and caterpillar.
Their legs are bendy wire, so they can be posed in er... more natural surroundings.
The ladybug is Emily's favorite critter - "so forlorn!" she says.
Here's a shot that shows how well 100% wool felt holds up under edge-stitching (blanket stitch, in this case) - no pilling or tearing or any of the other tragedies that befall craft felt (aka eco felt aka acrylic felt).
Next up are Jenna's and Kate's back-to-school gifts -
and more on the different kinds of felt there are on the market.