Thursday, September 22, 2011

Felted Bracelets

Those of you that know me in "real life" know that I'm obsessed with fiber, and how it can be modified depending on manipulation type.

Today's post will introduce you to the wild world of wet felting - and in doing so we'll transform something old into something new!  We'll take an ordinary bracelet and some wool fiber, and create a brand new fashion accessory for your latest outfit.

Here's what you'll need:
* Old bangle bracelet - the one I used here was a thin stamped metal one from the 80s
* Wool roving in the color of your choice - you'll need a length a bit longer than your bracelet size is around
* Tiny bit of liquid dish soap - I like Seventh Generation since it's a little easier on the wool
* Hot water - from the tap is fine if your tap gets really hot
* Small dish - tupperware, bowl, whatever you have that will hold some water

Here's what to do:
Step 1: Measure your wool roving out to be slightly longer than your bracelet is around.  You may have to go a little bit longer depending on the width of the bracelet you've chosen to cover.  Thick bangles will need more wool to cover them completely than thin ones.

Step 2: Begin to twist your roving around the bangle.  Go the entire way around so the bangle is completely encased in wool.

Step 3: When your bangle is completely covered by the wool twist, overlap the edges slightly to make sure you're not left with a seam.  The amount of roving on the two ends that are overlapping should naturally be slightly less than in the middle of your roving, so you're not left with more wool on once side than the other.  If it's not thinner on your ends for overlapping, pull the wool and possibly remove some so it' more even.

Step 4: Place your bangle, wrapped in the wool roving, into your bowl / tupperware / dish / etc.  Sprinkle with a little bit of liquid dish soap.

Step 5: Add a little bit of hot water to your container, and get the wool wet!

Step 6: Begin working the wool, rubbing the soap into the wool with your fingertips.  Start with a "pinching" motion, working around the bangle on all sides, and keeping the wool even and intact.  Keep adding hot water and rubbing with your fingertips.  You'll feel the wool start to tighten around the bangle!

Step 7: Work the wool until it's nice and tight on the bangle.  Once the wool feels like you want it to, rinse in hot running water until it runs clear.  Make sure all the soap is out!

Step 8: Rinse out your container, add a little hot water and a splash of white vinegar.  Swish your new bracelet in the vinegar mixture, and then rinse again (really well) in hot running water.  The vinegar will neutralize any remaining soap so it won't break down your wool.

You're done!  Hang your bangle to dry so it can dry evenly on all sides, and wear with pride!

I have also included step-by-step photo instructions in my Flickr Set for this project here: Wet Felting Flickr Set

If you follow my tutorial, I'd love to see what you create!  Send me a note to mandy (dot) stultz (at) gmail.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Recycled Sweater Flower Brooch

Recycled sweaters are one of my favorite "fibers" to work with, and I'm always looking for new and creative uses for them, especially wool.  Wool is so versatile - so why throw a sweater away because it doesn't fit, or shrunk in the wash, or got a moth hole in storage?  Make something else with it!

For this recycled sweater flower brooch, I chose leftover sweater scraps in 4 different colors - grey, red, yellow and green.  Thinner, already felted sweaters work the best for this project, if you'd like a more "stacked" petals look.  A thicker sweater will require fewer petal stacks for the same thickness.

Choosing grey and red for the petals, I cut one red petal set and one grey, tracing around the edge of a plastic party cup for the initial basic size, then cutting into it to create the petals.  I left the center intact.  I followed the same system for the following layers, downsizing the petal sets slightly by tracing around a smaller cup, and then a medicine lid.

For the leaf, I cut a simple teardrop shape out of the green sweater.

The flower center is three tiny strips cut from the yellow sweater, then folded in half.

Once all the wool was cut, I stacked everything so it was pleasing to the eye, and stitched everything together straight up the middle from the back.  I stitched on a safety pin to the back, and it was ready to wear!

I've gotten lots of compliments on mine - feel free to give it a go and sport your own!