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Book Review: Fabulous Felt by Sophie Bester

Reported by Cassandra Darwin

I received this book – Fabulous Felt by Sophie Bester – as a birthday gift and was excited to see what kind of project ideas I could work with for my growing collection of wool felt. I also used the book as a reference when writing up the comparison between wool and synthetic felt. You can see below that there is a nice introduction to felt and examples of when you should use the different types.

Also included in the introductory chapters are a few guidelines and techniques for cutting and adhering felt. As well as embellishing with glitter, pastels, and paints. Who knew you could use pastels on felt?

Another page that I really appreciated was the one that review 4 popular embroidery stitches, and included easy to follow illustrations. This is a skill set that I have been wanting to improve…

And then you get straight to the “30 exquisite ideas for sophisticated home decor and stunning accessories.” I flipped through all of the projects pretty quickly and nothing initially jumped out at me. I have to say that the book was published in 2006, and was originally released in France and the UK. So the latest US craft trends are not in any of these projects (cupcakes or cute forest animals for example).

The projects range from Moroccan tea glass cozies (a great pattern to copy!) all the way to butterfly lampshades and a cuckoo clock. Two of the projects that I liked best are pictured below.

I may not be making hairclips, but I can think of about 10 other things that I would love to adhere these felt strawberries to: aprons, tote bags, greeting cards, and maybe even a baby onesie. You can see that the patterns are pictured on the same page as the project and the instruction tell you how much you’ll need to enlarge it for your felt pieces.

The other project involved some snails, leaves, and mushrooms along the edge of a toy box. I fell in love with the coiled felt snail shell below.

Pros:

  • Gave me some great ideas to start using up that growing felt collection
  • Also included useful techniques and felt overview
  • Includes patterns and detailed instructions if you want to make the exact projects that are pictured

Cons:
  • Some of the projects are a bit dated
  • Most projects only include one or two pictures – I would have liked to see more pictures of each item, including at least one showing the entire completed project

Do you have this book? What did you think? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Disclosure

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Felt Comparison: Acrylic vs. Wool

Reported by Cassandra Darwin

Felt is one of the hot trends in the craft world right now, from appliques on aprons and clothing, to pincushions, to scrapbooking; felt is everywhere! I thought I would take a chance to do a quick comparison of three different types of felt and some examples of projects that would use each one.

I’ll start out with a quick definition of felt. According to Wikipedia, felt is a non-woven fabric that is instead made by “matting, condensing, and pressing” fibers together. For the sake of our comparison, I will limit the scope of our comparison to two different felts that you can purchase at craft and fabric stores (acrylic and wool), and in the case of wool “woven felt” you can make it at home.

Acrylic Felt
This is probably the most accessible type of felt, found in craft stores everywhere. It is usually sold in small pieces like these, measuring approximately 9 inches by 12 inches and retailing for about $0.25 per piece.

Oftentimes you can find acrylic felt sold by the yard at fabric stores. This comes in handy for larger projects or if you need a certain color not available in the smaller sizes. Let’s get right down to the nitty gritty on acrylic felt.

Pros:

  • Widely available, and in a huge range of colors
  • The least expensive out of all three options
  • Because of the first two pros, it is the perfect material for trying new things and learning techniques before moving on to more expensive materials
  • Perfect for holiday decorations, card making, or other projects that will not be handled much and don’t need a long life
  • I know that at least a few brands use fiber from recycled soda bottles to make acrylic felt
Cons:
  • Relatively thin and not very strong – will pull apart
  • Usually not as clean of a cut, more loose flyaway fibers
  • Cannot be washed or laundered
Here are a few projects where I have used acrylic felt:
Adhesive felt scroll for scrapbooking
Die cut acrylic felt flowers for hair clips
Hand cut acrylic felt shapes for Valentine’s tags
Wool Felt
Wool felt is the next step up – it is more expensive, and often much harder to find than acrylic. Here are a few pieces that I picked up from different quilting and specialty fabric stores around San Diego:
The prices range from $2 for a few scraps to $6 for a 9 inch by 12 inch piece. I’ve also found that the texture, thickness, and quality vary in each little piece I collect. So for larger projects you would want to get all of the felt you need at one time for consistency.
Pros:
  • Stronger and more durable than acrylic felt
  • Stand the test of time for your heirloom projects, like applique on a quilt
  • Will withstand dry cleaning, and can be washed at home if you take care to not let colors bleed
Cons:
  • Much more expensive than acrylic felt – I feel like I should save my wool felt for the “special” projects
  • Because it is more dense and strong, some crafters prefer to use acrylic felt for softer, dainty accents like flowers and butterflies on dimensional projects
And a few examples using wool felt:
Applique penny rug that my mom made and gifted to me
A few more penny rugs in a local quilt store that I would love to copy
Woven Wool Felt
This type of wool felt is something I learned about last year, where you can shrink down knitted wool (like old sweaters) and use it just like a thicker version of wool felt (no raveling). Here is a quick how-to on the process.
Once you have the woven wool felt, you can use it just like wool felt but you’ll need to account for a thicker texture when planning projects. Here is one that my mom and I worked on for Christmas presents:
She had collected about 7 different wool and cashmere sweaters from thrift stores and then did the hot water washing routine described in the how-to link above. After that we had more than enough colors and textures to make 10 different cupcake pincushions. They were a big hit amongst the recipients and we all started planning what to make next. This is one of the pincushion patterns we plan to use for the woven felt:
Thanks for reading, and feel free to share your thoughts and experiences about the different types of felt.
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Rachel’s Holiday Wish List

Reported by Rachel Johnson
I love compiling wish lists! Something about the collection of pretty pictures makes me happy, even if I never actually receive any of the wish list items. This year, I moved from a house in Oregon to a small apartment in New York City, so extra large items didn’t make my list. My list is simple, but fun – Enjoy!
My List:
Pottery Barn Wall-Mounted Craft Organizer (MSRP $229.00) – I have been wishing for this craft organizer for what seems like years. Every season they come out with a slightly different version, but I like this white one with the dowel rods for paper and ribbon. It would really help tidy-up my office!
Doodlebug Designs Merry and Bright Collection (MSRP $19.99) – I can’t get enough of Doodlebug scrapbooking products. I think their designs are so cute, but simple and modern at the same time. This collection includes ten different sheets of 12 x 12 paper, ribbon, jewels, stickers, and brads. I do some scrapbooking, but I also use these types of supplies in all sorts of other paper crafts.
Wool-blend Felt – I have been really interested in felt crafts ever since reviewing Hand-Stitched Felt, and I need more felt in order to make more projects! I am wishing for high quality wool-blend felt in a wide range of pretty colors.
Things for the crafter on your list:

Martha Stewart Crafts Wintery Glitter Set (MSRP $15.99) – You already know that I am a glitter lover, and Martha Stewart glitter is some of my favorite. This “wintery” set includes twelve vials of snow-themed glitters in a wide range of textures, from super-fine to tinsel style, but any of the Martha Stewart glitter sets would make a great gift. Martha Stewart Craft supplies can be found at many online and brick and mortar retailers.
Amigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet (MSRP $18.95) – Amigurumi is a hip crochet craft that is based on the Japanese kawaii style and consists of making amazingly cute little stuffed critters out of yarn. Amigurumi World by Ana Paula Rimoli includes patterns for twenty different adorable creatures. The projects are all intended for beginner crocheters and do not require much yarn or time. Cute overload!
Sakura Quickie Glue Pen (MSRP $2.79) – If you are looking for a stocking stuffer idea, I would suggest picking up Quickie Glue Pens for all of the crafters on your gift list. I reviewed a bunch of Sakura products recently and the Glue Pen was one of my favorites. It is perfect for using with glitter or other small embellishments on all types of craft projects, and it is small and neat enough to always keep handy. I can’t think of any paper crafter or scrapbooker who wouldn’t love one of these pens!
So, those are my crafty gift desires and ideas for this holiday season. Are you wishing for any of the same things? What else is on your holiday wish list? I hope everyone has a wonderful season full of handmade gifts! Happy holidays!
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!