felting, natural dyeing tutorials, learn to felt step by step beginners experienced feltmakers

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Eco Fashion in the spotlight

Eco fashion is becoming a trend these days. The constant increasing demand for eco fashion, from organic textiles to recycled wearables, is part of a growing global environmental awareness.

I have seen many different reasons why people label their garments as eco fashion. Here is an overview:

Clothing out of organic fabrics.

Organic fabrics are produced and manufactured according to the international certification standard for organic agriculture.

This certification takes in account the use of only natural products for growing the fibres. When processing the fibres into fabrics or yarn, all the conventional chemicals used, such as bleaches, dyes, anti-statics, anti-creases, fire retardants and so on, are replaced by natural and non toxic products.

Organic cotton starts to be readily available, organic wool and hemp are following. The image shows a felt shawl/poncho in organic merino wool, dyed with natural dyes.

Use of natural materials.

Some natural fibres can be used in eco fashion even if they are not organic. Cotton is definitely excluded because the huge pollution created by the culture of conventional cotton, as well as the social work conditions of the employees.

Natural fibres are renewable and thus sustainable. Some of them are wool, silk, hemp,linen and bamboo . Most of them can be produced easily without the use of chemicals, however it is always best to check each situation.

-Clean wool could be easily produced, however many big farmers use toxic pesticides for treating their animals. Wool can be processed naturally, however this is often not the case.

-Silk can be grown organically as the silk worms are fed exclusively on mulberry leaves. The harvest can create some opposition because the silk worms are killed to collect the silk. Chemicals are used for degumming the silk cocoons and further manufacturing of the fabric.

-Hemp is a very eco friendly crop, it doesn't attract many diseases and on top of that improves the soil tremendously. Again we need to look at how the processing is done.

-The same applies for linen as for hemp.

-A new material has been introduced to the market and is rapidly gaining popularity. It is the soft bamboo fibre. The bamboo production is certainly very sustainable, it regrows fast and can be grown totally without chemicals. Unfortunately, now comes the tricky part. To process the bamboo fiber and make it into the soft fabric that everyone likes, a lot of chemicals need to be used.

Bamboo clothes are mostly considered eco friendly and it all depends where you draw the line.

Recycled materials.

Turning used clothes into new ones has become very fashionable. Not only do we reduce waste, less energy is needed to produce new fabrics. This is something I grew up with. My mother transformed her own clothes into new outfits for us.

When the recycled fabrics are dyed, it is important to choose for eco friendly dyes.

Again it is up to everyone's own choice whether wearables out of synthetic fabrics can be considered to be eco fashion.

The social environment.

Eco fashion is manufactured in socially responsible work places, where the employees are respected and paid fair wages.

Here is an overview of the benefits of eco fashion:

-less pollution because of absence of chemicals.

-soil improvement through responsible agriculture methods.

-organic clothing is stronger because it hasn't been treated with harsh chemicals that destroy the fibres.

-recycled clothing also reduces the energy needed for new production and reduces land fill.

-workers have the opportunity to work in a socially responsible environment.-natural fibres let the body breathe naturally.

What does eco fashion mean to you? What questions do you ask before buying clothing?Feel free to comment and add your suggestion or experiences.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blue green coral scarf

A stunning scarf, in felted crochet work. It is produced in fine Australian organic merino wool, dyed with natural dyes.
It can be worn in different ways, depending on your mood and temperature.

Decorating, as well as giving warmth, this scarf is a nice addition to your outfit.

check out this scarf in my etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=17834115

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recycled artworkbyKD

It is almost certain to be up for a new surprise when browsing through the shops on etsy. If you haven't come across the wonderful recycled jewelry of artworkbykd yet, it is worth a visit.

She makes super funky jewelry out of recycled plastic bottles/containers/lids and aluminum cans.

Coming in contact with these items on a daily basis herself, as well as the generous donations from friends and family, she transforms it into useful creations, making use of the amazing colors of the disposable items.

Very proud of her work she says: “Whenever someone hands me a bag of bottles I feel like a kid on Christmas morning!”

In addition to earrings she also makes bracelets, necklaces, brooches, pendants and soon to be key chains!

Her work is not just jewelry, it is wearable art.

Her eco-friendly package materials create a fun eye-opening experience for her customers.

Check out her shop: www.artworkbykd.etsy.com

and her blog: http://artworkbykd.blogspot.com

she has her own site as well: www.kevinandkathy.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Coral, a textile mixture,

In this wall hanging “coral” I experimented with different textile techniques, ( as usual) to express the feel and the look of the coral.

I started with dyeing the wool with fiber reactive dyes and than felted the main image, fishes, starfish and some of the coral included. I did use a bit of needle felting to secure some of the pieces in place and the rest was done with wet felting.

I wanted to add some more coral, so I tried some crochet until I was satisfied with the texture.

Quilting was a good way to give the whole piece a bit of relief. When I was happy with the result, I did sew the crochet pieces onto the rest.

I than hang up the whole panel onto a beautiful piece drift wood.

This wall hanging would look lovely in your beach home.

See more detailed pictures of coral, a felt wall hanging in my etsy shop.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How to make a piece of felt.

Are you familiar with how to make felt? If not, following is a very basic felt making tutorial for beginners and suitable for adults and children, exited about learning a new technique.

Felt making requires a few tools, already available in most households:

-a table

-plastic to protect your table

-an old towel

-a piece of bubble wrap, at least 40cm x 50cm or a beach mat or bamboo stick window blind

-50g wool slivers merino wool or other good felting wool

-a piece of fly screen at least 40cm x 40cm

-a spray bottle with hot soapy water

-tape measure

-some rags

Put the plastic on the table for protection and put the towel on top of the plastic. Now put the bamboo window blind or the bubble wrap on top of the towel, the nobs facing upwards.

Mark off an area of 30cm x 30cm.

Take the wool sliver and divide into 4 equal parts.

We are now ready to lay down the wool for our piece.

Take the wool sliver into your left hand (left handed people in right hand).

With your right hand, gently pull a piece of wool and put it in a corner of your square, the side that you hold in your hand goes on the edge, except if you want very irregular edges.

Repeat this with a second piece of wool and put it next to the first one, just overlapping a bit. Repeat until the row is finished.

We are now ready to start a new row. This time we let the loose bits overlap the first row. Every piece we lay down is now overlapping the wool of the first row and the previous piece.

When we have covered the total surface with wool, we spray water over it.

We repeat this whole process in the second layer, which is placed at an angle of 90 degrees on top of the first. We keep going with 2 other layers, each time changing direction and wetting with the spray bottle after each layer.

After wetting the fourth layer, we put the fly screen on top of the wool. Push down the fly screen and make circular movements with your hands over the fly screen until the piece is flat. If you can't get the air out completely, means that the wool isn't wet enough. You can spray on some more water on top of the screen until the wool is wet enough.

If there is water coming through the screen, when you push down the wool means that it is too wet. Now the rags will come in handy, use them to soak up the water.

When the wool is flattened, carefully take off the fly screen and roll the wool in the bubble wrap.

Roll up and down for approx. 5 minutes for a start and than check. If the wool is still very loose, keep rolling. You can test that by carefully lifting the fibers.

Roll again for 5 minutes and do the previous test again. If the wool is still a bit loose, keep rolling. Turn the piece on an angle of 90 degrees and roll again for another 5 minutes.

When the wool has felted enough, this means the whole piece holds well together, we can go over to the next stage, called the filling. This can be done as long or as short as you want. The longer you do it the harder and stronger the felt becomes.

The filling can be done by more rolling in the bubble wrap or the bamboo roll. Another method is by rubbing it over the sink, which goes faster and makes it harder as well.

When you are satisfied with the felt piece, rinse it and dry it flat on a towel.

Happy felting!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What is Felt - an overview

Maybe you have already asked yourself the question “what is felt” after seeing my work and work from other felt artists. Felt is the oldest fabric known in history, before weaving and knitting was initiated. Felt is non-woven.

The felting technique originates from Central Asia, where nomads felted wool and other animal hair into tents (yurts), clothing, rugs... It is still practiced in these areas.

Felt and felt making are gaining popularity all over the world now and the possibilities are endless, the results often a surprise.

I would like to give a short overview of the different felting techniques and I will post some tutorials soon, so that you can give it a try if you haven't already.

There are different techniques in feltmaking.

Wet Felting:

To make wet felt, layers of wool are spread out onto a plastic piece of bubble wrap, wet with hot soapy water and agitated until they hold together as a fabric. What happens here is that the wool fibers have scales, opening up with hot water and soap and through friction they will hook into each other. This is called felting.

I used wet felting to make this kangooroo rug


Dry Felting or Needle Felting

Another form of felt making is the dry felting, also called needle felting, where special felting needles are used to felt the wool together. The needles, which have hooks, are moved up and down into the wool. This created the friction and the fibers hook into one another, which makes them felt together. Needle felting creates a much more softer and fluffier felt than wet felting. You can however make harder items by using courser wool and felt it really long.

In this wall panels "clefts" I used both wet felting and needle felting.

Nuno Felting

Nuno felt is made using one of the 2 techniques above and instead of using only wool, a sheer fabric is used in between the wool layers. With nuno felting it is possible to make a much more thinner felt, because the fabric holds the wool together. You can cover the fabric everywhere so that you don't see the fabric anymore, or you can add bits of wool here and there and it is possible to create wonderful textures with this. It is a big favorite of mine.

Check out this purple nuno felted scarf in my etsy shop.

Come and check out soon for tutorials about feltmaking or follow my blog.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Highland Fairy chooses organic shopping

Highland Fairy is the blog of Heidimoon, a fellow etsian. She reclaims and recycles fabrics to create one-off garments and accessories.. jewellery out of clay, gemstones, and found objects..
Her shop http://heidimoon.etsy.com is definately worth a visit.

I was featured on her blog in her favorite shopping list for organic and natural items, along with two other etsian artists whos work is quite amazing.

Go to http://highlandfairy.blogspot.com/2009/03/organic-shopping.html and check it out for yourself.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Eco Etsy: March Madness-Free and Green

I'm a member of the EcoEtsy Street Team (www.ecoetsy.com), a group of artists and crafters who create and sell in an eco-conscious manner on Etsy.

During the whole month of March our team is having a month long promotion, March madness-free and green. Anyone who buys from one of the participating shops and includes the promotion code at checkout will receive a freebie from that shop.

You can find all the information, as well as the links to the participating shops here:


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