Funky Felt Brooches - How are they made?

Funky Felt Brooch - butterfly or hair accessory - Sunbeams of Summer Gift Guide - Parade Handmade

If you're anything like me then you're curious about how things are made. You don't just want to know the name of the process. You may wonder how exactly a thing is done. As they say in the Figrolls ad, 'How do they get the figs into the Figrolls?' You would probably wonder if you could possibly do it yourself. Do you identify with this? Perhaps you are drawn by the creative challenge and perhaps you like exploring new horizons often from the comfort of your own imagination, that is, and kitchen table. Maybe you're attracted to pretty and colourful things and your inner parent, in true frugal parental style, says, 'I'll make ye one'. Ha! How many times have you heard that one?

Attracted to Beautiful Creative Projects - Guilty as charged

If there's anything I am guilty of, it's this. Hoarding new creative projects and challenges. Oh Yes. Guilty as charged. Indeed I, like many other like minded individuals, may I add, am attracted by all kinds of beautiful creative projects. Some are sparkly and some have a more natural appeal. Some trickier to master than others too. I have enthused over a great many and have had my share of half baked projects where I thought I could 'give it a try' only to realise that a little more time commitment and skill were required. Sometimes I might be deterred if I feel the process is too noisy for me or dangerous like the fabulous glass bead making skill. I did the 2 day course with Cheryl Browne in Mulranny, Co. Mayo many moons ago and even bought the kit so I could continue learning at home. However, I abandoned that idea because of the aforementioned reasons. Hee! Not to worry. I could wax on about that kind of thing some more but let's keep it for another day. It would be great fun, some day, to share some of my more hairbrained and abandoned creative projects.. can you hear silent laughter?

Funky Felt Brooches and how they are made

Today I want to share a little about my Funky Felt Brooches and how they are made. This is not a complete turorial. However, those of you who love this kind of project could probably give it a stab and come up with some satisfying results after giving this blog post a read. Even with little experience, either needle felting or wet felting, can be extremely forgiving and you can achieve some startling results quiet early on. Even on the first whirl you could be surprised. The colours of the wool are so vivid and beautiful especially when they're all blended together, somewhat like paint. With needle felting you don't even get wet so you can do it anywhere as long as you are careful with your felting needle and that you don't stab your fingers or your leg. Wet felting is a little different. Not quite as messy as pottery or metal work can be, (neither of which I have tried) but it does entail water and suds. I like to use a combination of both for most of my felt work. Sometimes I use other techniques too such as embroidery. In relation to felting though, I find wet felting is great for making a satisfying base on which to craft the details and embellisments of many diverse projects such as felt hats, felt brooches, felt hair accessories and any number of other great things.  
Laying out your design to begin felt brooches - Parade Handmade

Begin by designing your felt brooch

It helps to have an idea of what to create before starting and to gather the right colours but it is not totally neccessary to start with an idea. Gathering the wool roving that's available and letting the colours and textures lead you as you blend and piece together your pretty design on top of the bubblewrap is a lovely free spirited way to create.
Note: You can lay your wool directly on the bubblewrap or you can lightly spritz the surface before you place the wool down to help the wisps of wool stay in position while you work. Remember to overlap the fine filaments in plenty of layers so they'll felt together nicely later on when you wet them.
As soon as the work is well layered up in similar depth all round and you are happy with their placement in the overall design, gentle spritzing of the felt can begin.
Wet felted bird brooch process explained - Parade Handmade
It is important to do this gently so the felt is not blown or moved about. The spritzing mechanism can be anything with a nozzel or even sprinkling by hand will work though it's a little more difficult this way. The spritz itself is a weak mix of olive soap and warm water or if stuck for olive soap, a little washing up liquid is perfect. 
Wet felting a felt brooch with a bird design- Parade Handmade

Wet felting process begins - Felt Accessories - Felt Bird Brooch

Another layer of bubblewrap is placed over the work and this layer is spritzed aswell to make it slippy to the touch. Now the painstaking but gentle rubbing of the fibres through the bubblewrap begins. The idea is to encourage the fibres to entwine. This process takes a little time. The work gently rubbed at first using circular motion making sure not to leave out any part. It's neccessary to observe every now and then, whether the wool is felting or joining up into one piece. If any area could benefit from an added layer or two of wool you can do it at this time by carefully peeling the top layer of plastic and separating it from the work as you raise it. Keeping an eye on this aspect can prevent unexpected holes appearing later on. It's a good idea to take this opportunity to adjust the contours of the whole piece and encourage it into the desired shape. If the rubbing area becomes a little dry it's best to spritz the surface again in order to agitate the fibres easily and prevent pulling or tugging them too much at this early time.
Wet felting a bird brooch - Parade Handmade
When the work finally comes off the base into one piece it is time to roll it up in the two layers of plastic and a mat or towel. Rolling back and forth with gentle pressure, first in one direction and then swopping it round to go in the opposite direction is continued until the fibres have truly knit together.
The piece is eventually released from this process and carefully and safely plunged alternately into hot and cold water making the fibres contract and grasp onto each other in a firmer way creating a firmer piece of fabric. This result is further developed by 'shocking' the fibres as you slam the piece down repeatedly on the work surface or draining board. Again this encourages the whole piece to become sturdy and is an excellent stress reliever. (Not joking.)
By this stage the work has been rinsed over and over in the process. One last squeeze, (not to be confused with wringing). Then it's rolled in a big absorbant towel, squeezed again. A little reshaping is required at this stage buy gently stretching out the design here and there and it's time to lay it out flat, away from direct heat to dry over night.
Dried wet felted brooch designs during the process - Parade Handmade
When the piece is finally dry a suitable stable backing is needed such as 'Lacy's Stiff Stuff' which you sew your work onto. Wadding can be added as another layer along with an attractive backing material such as felt or leather. This will hide the back of your work.
Tip: Sew your brooch pin to your backing material first. This should be reinforced with an extra swatch for strentgh. The piece may be further embellished and secured by needle felting, (before attaching to sturdy backing and not befor. This will prevent the possibility of the needle breaking). Beading, embroidery or other methods of embellishment are employed depending on the project.
Finally all layers are secured together near the edge and then the edge itself is treated in a decorative manner of choice. The brooch back can be covered to hide the stitching and the piece observed for inconsistancies. Make sure there are no pins or other sharp parts that could catch in clothing.
That is my process. It can be speeded up or it can be a project you can have on the go for weeks depending on time or neccessity. It is lovely to have a project to tip in and out of. Before your know it you have a beautiful embellished piece to keep or to gift. It's your choice.
I hope this has been interesting. I know it's quite a lot to read through but it might give some insight into what creating a hand felted accessory entails.
Take care until creativity strikes again, from Amanda
By the way, where do you stand on brooches? I love wearing them. Always have. I am not one for fashion. I just like what I like. Do you wear them? If so then what kind? Hit reply. I'd love to know.

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