Closures for felt pouches – the results of all our thinking!!!

Thanks so much Deb, Linda, Elizabeth, Lyn, Mary, Heather, Shirley, Ellen, Irene, Kirsten, Chrissie, Terrie, Carole, Karen, Dawn, Sharon, Juiliane and all my FB friends for enthusiastically entering into the debate after I posed the question about a closure for my little starburst pouch. In the same post I also posed a question about photographing certain colours, again thanks for all the helpful replies! I needed a little time to mull over the closure response and finally I think that I have assessed the answers and can give you my own thoughts on the suggestions offered. Do please bear in mind that I an not an experienced or  happy sewing gal, I really appreciate the beautiful added dimension stitching may lend to felt but in selecting an option for one of my own pouches I want something that is practical, looks good and doesn’t mean I lose pints of sweat (on second thoughts maybe that would be a good idea too!)!!! Here is a recap of the various ideas suggested, hopefully I haven’t left any out! In no particular order …..

  • Velcro – circles or possibly strips.  Since Velcro can be difficult to sew Heather suggested stitching the strip to another piece of felt and then stitching this to the pouch
  • Press studs/poppers
  • Magnetic clasps sewn or punched into the felt, alternatively felted in at the layout stage
  • Felt tie closure
  • Slashed cut and toggle closure
  • Tie and toggle
  • Loop and button, I liked Irene’s idea of using a hair elastic for the loop because I have TONNES of them in my stash!
  • Felt rope combined with a toggle, possibility of adding glass beads to the toggle
  • Grommets
  • Upcycled closure, possibly cut from bicycle tyres (again in my stash!)
  • Braided leather
  • Glass buttons

and finally an idea from Hilary Williams on FB, adding the traditional button and button hole to the pouch under the flap. If I understand this suggestion correctly it would mean sewing the button to the inside back of the pouch and making the slash in the front piece as you would be viewing it when you lift up the flap.

Now for the main potential problems identified …..

  • Velcro is difficult to stitch and can get fuzzed up with felt
  • Magnets may effect the battery life of certain mobile devices (although in my internet research this seems to have been almost eliminated as a problem by now with most makes of device)
  • Press studs or poppers often prove difficult to open and might tear away from the felt

All in all Hilary’s suggestion is probably the best solution for me with the starburst pouch, the stitching on the front flap has compressed the felt so much that it would be pretty difficult to sew any of the other suggested closures onto it and I don’t want to do anything that spoils the starburst effect.  Obviously by using Hilary’s method the actual usable size inside the pouch is reduced slightly but that’s OK, I’m going to try and have a go at it anyway first thing tomorrow morning and I’ll post pictures of the results then!

The rest of today is going to be spent continuing with my studio clear out and reorganisation. I may get to do some felting (as a reward obviously!!!) although I might not have the time, I do intend to put some felting kits together however combining wool, silk and mohair off cuts.  After all my hard work yesterday (updated via FB) I can now actually see my first felting table and walk unimpeded into the room, today I want to clear out and restock one of my supply cupboards as well as try to sort storage for some of my many embellishing fibres. For now I’m going to leave you with a picture of another piece of highly textured felt awaiting stitching, this pouch is felted from a combination of black NZ merino and ruched pieces of floral fabric.

Detail from another wet felted pouch

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My new felt hat and a couple of book recommendations if you are interested in hats!

Inspired by fellow Feltmakers Ireland member Sharon Wells, I decided to have another go at making myself a soft but structured felt hat that actually fits my very small head.  Sharon posted about making the origami hat from Christine White’s book Uniquely Felt on Feltcreative and since this project has always been on my ‘to do’ list and I had a pile of prefelt waiting to be used I decided the time had come to just give it a go!  In addition to Uniquely Felt the books that I would recommend for anyone wanting a bit more info about felting hats are ‘Fabulous Felt Hats’ by Chad Alice Hagen, ‘Filtning, Nunofilt & Nalefiltflor’ by Grete Lottrup and ‘Felting Fashion’ by Lizzie Houghton.  While Chad Alice’s book is the only one totally dedicated to hats all of them to my mind have helped me work out the various steps necessary to create stylish headgear that actually fits and is wearable. 

Laying out the prefelt shapes

Like Sharon I decided to work with a square resist 47cm wide.  One of my friends actually has my copy of Uniquely Felt so I just had to estimate how much wool I would need for each side, excluding the prefelt I used a total of 84g short fibred merino for the hat but have no idea if that is a lot or a little!  I laid out the wool extremely finely on both sides of the resist and then laid my prefelt shapes randomly on top making sure to overlap the edges in some places.  Because I originally intended having a brim that would turn back to reveal hand dyed silk fibres from the bottom of the other side, I chose not to position any prefelt overlapping the fourth edge as I was afraid I would forget exactly where the silk was once I started working the felt!

Due to my golf club commitments over the last few days (and I STILL have another golfing engagment tomorrow) I had to felt the hat over several different sessions and this afternoon I was able to finish fulling and shaping it over one of my cooking bowls.  Unfortunately, although I do have a hat block it is just too huge for my own head but the bowl worked perfectly so nothing ventured nothing gained. 

Blocked and drying

 It did take a long time to shrink this hat enough to fit my head so the next one that I make (and there will be another one!) will have a wedge shaped template, not a square.  The other outcome with fulling as much as I did is that the clarity of the prefelt gets muted and the silk almost disappears into the wool, not a problem but definitely something to consider.  In the end I decided that I liked the brim folded inside of the hat instead of outside as initially intended, it would of course be possible to wear it both ways anyway!  If you are interested in seeing any more views of the hat in progress I have uploaded them to Flickr and as soon as the hat is dry I might ask Alan to take a picture of me wearing it!  Tomorrow is another day and I hope to crystalise plans for my American workshops and spend some time answering emails and generally catching up with things.

Spiky wet felted neck piece!

'Green Grass"I am just about to set in to 2 full days felting, heaven for me!!  Before I start I just wanted to share this image of a new design that I am playing with, basically a cross between a necklace and a scarf that I am calling a neck piece.  Today I will be expanding on this idea and also making some long cords to use for some necklaces and collars.  Have any of you used a fabric stiffener when shaping felt and if so what is it called?  I would be very grateful to learn the name and also hear what kind of success or otherwise you have found when using it.  Thanks!   Please just leave me a comment or send a personal email.