Archive for March, 2009

Nuno Felting

March 25, 2009

Sewing with Nature

There have been some questions related to the technique I used for making the Field of Poppies blouse. I am new to this technique, so please correct me if I’m wrong in any of my instructions. Also please feel free to add any useful insight.

I used nuno felting technique to create the poppies as an embellishment for an otherwise plain sheer silk organza fabric.

To understand the processes I have chosen these definitions from Wikipedia because I couldn’t agree or describe this better:

Felt: “Felt is made by a process called wet felting, where the natural wool fiber is stimulated by friction and lubricated by moisture (usually soapy water), and the fibers move at a 90 degree angle towards the friction source and then away again, in effect making little “tacking” stitches. Only 5% of the fibers are active at any one moment, but the process is continual, and so different ‘sets’ of fibers become activated and then deactivated in the continual process.

This “wet” process utilizes the inherent nature of wool and other animal hairs, because the hairs have scales on them which are directional. The hairs also have kinks in them, and this combination of scales (like the structure of a pine cone) is what reacts to the stimulation of friction and causes the phenomenon of felting. It tends to work well with woolen fibers as their scales, when aggravated, bond together to form a cloth.”

Nuno Felting: Nuno felting is a Japanese fabric felting technique. It melds loose fiber, usually wool, into a sheer fabric such as silk gauze. This creates a lightweight felt that can totally cover the background fabric or be used as a single decorative design.

The Nuno felting process is particularly suitable for fine garment making, since silk-backed felt ensures a stable felt that will not stretch out of shape like normal felt. Because it is lightweight and easy to manipulate it can also be dyed more readily than traditional felt. Other fabrics or open weaves can be used as the felting background, resulting in a wide range of textural effects and colors.”

Needle Felting: “Needle felting is a popular fiber arts craft conducted without the use of water. Special barbed felting needles that are used in industrial felting machines are used by the artist as a sculpting tool. Using a single needle or a small group of needles (2-5) in a hand held tool, these needles are used to sculpt the wool fiber. The barbs catch the scales on the fiber and push them through the layers of wool tangling them and binding them together much like the wet felting process. Fine details can be achieved using this technique and it is popular for 3D felted work.”

Roving: “A roving is a long and narrow bundle of fiber. It is usually used to spin worsted yarn. A roving can be created by carding or combing the fiber, and is then drawn into long strips where the fiber is parallel. Roving is similar to sliver.”

When selecting the base material for nuno felt, look for a thin, lightweight fabric with a loose weave that you can breath through. If you can breath easily through the fabric, then the wool fibers will be able to pass through the fabric’s weave to the other side and entangle together to create an irregular weave over the fabric base.

I used a sheer crinkled silk organza for this project. I wanted to transform my plain sheer silk organza into something unique. So I experimented with nuno felting: wet felting with a sheer fabric base. The aim was to reduce the sheerness of the silk, by adding embellishments on a lightweight summer blouse.


  • Lightweight, loose weave fabric: cotton muslin or silk
  • Natural wool fibers in different colors. I used alpaca fibers for the blouse (pinks, reds, white, greens)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Bamboo table mat or blind for larger projects
  • Oilcloth – table cover. This is needed to protect your work surface from soap and water.
  • Synthetic mesh fabric
  • A rolling pin
  • Soap
  • Warm water
  • Spray bottle
  • Rubber Bands

The process:

Cover your table with the oilcloth.

Lay a layer of bubble wrap.

I did the felt only on one side of the fabric to keep it as lightweight as possible.The fibers do pass through the fabric and the design is visible on the backside, but it is not as pronounced.

If your design calls for a double sided felt, you can lay the fibers for one side over the bubble wrap, then the base fabric and the next layer of fibers.

If you are making a scarf and you do not want to hem the fabric, you can lay the fibers around the edge of the fabric on both sides. They will create a nice border of felt hiding the row edges.

Lay the silk over the bubble wrap. The felt has to be created before the pattern is cut from your fabric. The felt will shrink and it will shrink the fabric with it, thus modifying the shape of the pattern if you do the felt after cutting the fabric, distortions can occur and it may not be the effect you were looking for.

Lay the fibers over the silk in thin layers. Pull the fibers from the roving in small chunks.  If you use roving, then the hairs are already aligned all in one direction. Place them over your fabric and pull them apart so the layer is thin, but not so hard as to have large empty spaces between the fibers. Make sure the hairs run in one direction, then apply another thin layer with the fibers at a 90 degree angle to your first layer. This will allow them to felt together easier. You can also manipulate the fibers by hand first to give them a specific shape if you want it to be more defined, by rubbing them together or tacking them together with a felting needle, just enough to keep them together, do not felt all the way. You can use coockie cutters over a plastic brush or styro foam to create the shape with the felting needle.

Try to apply fibers of different colors on top of each other, to create highlights or shadows, like you would with paint. The colors will blend together during the process. The wool fibers can be combined with other fibers like shiny rayons or silk fibers but in moderate quantities, they will become entangled with the wool fibers and will be part of the felt. I added ribbons of bias cut fabric remains from the silk organza in between the fibers that created the grass. The edges remain raw and some ribbon ends are loose, creating movement and interest.

When your design is done, stop worrying about it. It will not have the exact shape it does now after the whole process, but will be similar. Remember, these fibers will melt together with the fabric so there will be change in shapes. The fibers will force the fabric to crinkle around the design as the fibers shrink during the process.

Lay the synthetic mesh over the design carefully.

Spray wet the design surface with soapy warm water. With the palm of your hand start to rub the fibers slowly and lightly at first and then adding more pressure, in circular motion. Do this for about 10 minutes until you see the fibers entangled.

Then remove the mesh and add the bamboo mat over the design.

Roll the bubble wrap, fabric, fibers and the bamboo over a rolling pin. Tie with rubber bands to keep the roll tight.

Roll about 100-150 times in one direction.

Unwrap and reroll in the other direction, rolling for another 100-150 times. Unwrap.

Screw up the fabric into  a ball and throw it into the silk or over a towel. Repeat this until the fabric begins to crinkle. This will make the felt stronger.

Let it dry and the felt is done.

Now you can use the pattern to cut out the embellished fabric if it was meant for a garment.

To add more accents I used free motion embroidery on top of the wool fibers. You can add more embelishments like beads, pearls, sequins for a richer design.

I’m sorry I didn’t take pictures during the process, I promise I will next time I do this.

In the meantime, since pictures do speak more then words, you can have a look at this tutorial from flickr:

Make sure you click this link for extraordinary felts as inspiration:

Boye Interchangeable Knitting Needles

March 21, 2009

In the same order of events, for all my knitting needs, I got the Boye interchangeable knitting needles, on the cheap from Amazon.

So far, I’m thrilled that I have all these sizes…but I have been struggling to joggle my combination knitting way with US instructions and having a hard time figuring out the increases and decreases from Debbie Bliss Yoke Sweater to get them to lay the right direction. I’m also lost following written instructions, instead of those charts or schematics…

If anyone has a drawing for the Debbie Bliss Yoke Sweater motif, I’d be really grateful!

Yarn Heaven

March 21, 2009

Yarn Heaven, originally uploaded by fmirela.

My shipment from Elann arrived this week! I’m in yarn heaven and feel like getting started on all projects I had planned for them, but I’m putting them in storage for now and finishing up all other things I’m working on. Let’s take things one at a time…or…maybe 2…

Go to my flickr page to see detailed photos of these amazing yarns. One is 100% Bamboo, all others are cotton and cotton blends.

Swim this Summer?

March 20, 2009

I just cut out 6 bathingsuits yesterday! Yes, 6! And there will be more to come. I’m on my way to JoAnns today to shop for thread, a bright orange that I ran out of. I hope to sew them in a streamlines way 🙂 thinking of all the similar seams and prepare them ahead of time.

I’ll add the pictures later…

Sewing Techniques for Beginners

March 13, 2009

with Huskvarna.

See Sewing Room link on the bottom, and then go to Sewing Techniques.

You will find animated and written step by step clear instructions for:


  • Fly front zipper
  • Centered Zipper
  • Invisible Zipper
  • Open end Zipper
  • Lapped Zipper
  • Exposed Zipper


  • Patch Pocket
  • Front-hip Pocket
  • Pocket Flap
  • Side Seam pocket
  • Pocket reinforcements
  • Inside pocket with flap

Hems and edge finishes

  • Double Hem
  • Pant Cuffs
  • Blind Hem
  • Bias Strips
  • Piped Hem
  • Mitered corners


  • Front piece and facing in one piece
  • One piece front placket
  • Placket band opening
  • Shaped neckline
  • Bias facing


  • Rolled Collar
  • Shirt Collar with a Stand
  • Ribbing
  • Chinese Collar
  • One Piece Collar
  • Flat Collar

Buttons and other fasteners

  • Sew on Buttons
  • Bound Buttonhole
  • Placing Buttons
  • Hooks and eyes

Darning and Mending

  • replacing a zipper
  • Mending a small hole
  • Patching under a tear
  • Patching over a tear
  • Repairing a torn belt loop


  • Topstitched Waistband
  • Straight belt
  • Casing
  • Belt Loops
  • Straight waistband

Ruffles and Gathering

  • Gather fabric
  • Flounce
  • Circular flounces
  • Finishing ruffle – tapering ends into seamline
  • Finishing ruffle – into cross seams
  • Finishing ruffle – narrow hem

Tucks, Pleats and Darts

  • Side Pleats for Skirt
  • Plain dart
  • Tucks
  • Side Pleats for Trousers
  • Pleat with separate underlay

Sleeves and Cuffs

  • One Piece Cuff
  • Double Placket opening
  • Shirt Cuff with Placket
  • Shirt sleeve
  • Raglan sleeve
  • Set-in sleeve


  • Shirt Yoke
  • Yoke for Skirt

Another tutorial with videos – sewing a men’s sirt:

Tools of my Trade

March 12, 2009

I’ve read a lot of lists with supplies for sewing, and I understand that to begin sewing you don’t need all of these things…

I’ve been sewing for years and my list grow in time, so I’m sharing it with you.

From the pages of my favorite magazine

  • Big room with lots of light 🙂
  • Desk Lamp

Sewing supplies
The package
Sewing machine

  • I have a convertable sewing machine Brother HE120. It converts into an embroidery machine
  • a simple machine is ok if you also have a serger, otherwise one that does a straight stitch and a zig ziag is ok

Embroidery machine

Embellishing machine – on my wish list…

Serger – nice to have especially for stretch and for sheers but not mandatory

  • Singer Quantumlock will also do a wide, narrow and triple coverstitch
  • if you are willing to spend more
    • look for automatic thread tension adjustments
    • look for coverstitch capability

Cutting table

  • I got a fold over table on wheels – saves space but it is not very stable

Sewing table – I prefer a corner table with the sewing machine on the right and serger on the left

Dress form

Notions storage

  • shelves for magazines and sewing books
  • transparant plastic drawers bins – for my fabrics so I can see through
  • tin bins from cookies for different notions
  • plastic case for sewing machine threads
  • plastic case for bobbin threads
  • wood wall hanger for overlock threads
  • jar for pencils

Misc Notions
Orange Ribbon

  • seam reaper
    • for serger seams
    • for button holes and sewing machine stitches
  • tracing pencils, tracing paper
  • a tracing roll – I never use this…
  • pencil sharpener
  • zippers
  • buttons
  • snap fasteners – I love Dritz pearl decorative snaps
  • snap fastener tool – I got one from Dritz, looks like a plier.
  • grommets and tool for attaching them – for corset lacing
  • fasteners for skirts and pants
  • magnetic fasteners for bag closure
  • buckles for belts
  • ribbon flowers for lingerie items
  • thimble – for hand sewing protects finger tips
  • rulers – for precise measuring, curved french rulers for pattern drafting
  • measuring tape
  • pins – glass tips for ironing over them with ease, choose them thin and change them often as they become blunt
  • pin cushions and magnets
  • ribbons – for marking the dress form main lines, for neat seams
  • tissue paper – I use it for my patterns
  • cardboard and hangers – for patterns
  • loop turner
  • pipping
  • cords for pipping
  • tape – for marking sheer fabrics
  • sequins, beads, pearls for embellishments
  • pin bulletin board – for planing future projects and inspiration
  • magnifying glass
  • oil for machines – check your manual, only specific parts need to be oiled
  • toothbrush, vacuum cleaner and air pressure spray for cleaning machines

Bra Supplies
Stretch Black Tulle with Velvet Lilac Roses Bra

  • underwire
  • fluffy tape to cover underwire
  • bra cups
  • bra hook fasteners
  • plastic circles for straps
  • elastic tape for straps


  • fancy lacy elastics – for lingerie
  • fold over elastic – for finishing knit seams, lingerie, swim suits
  • transparent elastic – for stabilizing shoulder seams in knits, for shirring
  • elastic thread – mentioned before – for shirring, hand wind it to a bobbin and sew by machine, select a longer step straight stitch.
  • online sources for elastics

Scissors – my preference


  • polyester
  • cotton
  • topstitching thread
  • elastic thread for shirring
  • embroidery thread
  • wooly nylon thread for sergers
  • ribbons, yarns for decorative stitches
  • dissolve away thread for basting – find it in the quilting isle
  • pearl cotton thread – for buttonholes – used under the stitches for stabilizing stretch fabrics and giving definition/height to the stitches
  • floss for hand embroidery

Hand sewing needles

  • for tracing on sheer fabrics
  • for basting
  • larger eye needles for decorative hand stitching and embroidery

Embroidery loop

  • for hand and free motion embroidery

Sewing with Nature

  • for stabilizing fabric to prepare it for embroidery
  • iron on
  • tear away
  • water soluble – also can be used for creating interesting lacy fabrics by sewing ribbons and remains together sandwiched in a double layer of stabilizer
  • Spray Adhesive – to stabilize fabrics together for appliques, before sewing and for mounting layers of fabrics in the embroidery frame


Serger/Overlocker Needles:

  • make sure you have the correct kind of needles for your serger, check your manual
  • not all sergers work with sewing machine needles, some need a longer needle type
  • available in different sizes just like regular sewing machine needles

Serger Presser Feet:

  • blind hem foot
  • pipping, cording and sequins attachment foot
  • shirring foot
  • lace insert foot

Sewing Machine Needles:

  • knowhow
  • 60, 70 for thin fabrics
  • 80 in between
  • 90-100 for denim
  • ball point needles for knits and lycra
  • embroidery needle – has a larger eye and prevents the thread from breaking
  • metallic thread needle – larger eye
  • double needles or twin needles – for coverstitches and embroidery – have a variety of widths on hand
  • needle for leather – has sharp cutting point that cuts into the leather instead of reaping it

Sewing Machine Feet:

  • buttonhole foot
  • for sewing in buttons
  • lace attaching foot
  • open toe applique foot
  • darning foot or a free motion embroidery foot
  • zipper foot
  • invisible zipper foot
  • narrow hemmer
  • magnet seam guide – DO NOT USE on computerized machines, use a seam guide foot with a ruler instead



  • I like to copy mine from the magazines on tissue paper for packaging
  • I keep mine organized in transparent plastic pockets and inside binders
  • Every binder for a category of patterns – dresses, shirts, pants, jackets, accessories
  • other binders for crochet patterns, knit patterns
  • I save the pictures from the magazines and store them on my computer, photo browsers help me search easily.


  • steam iron
  • ironing board – stiff
  • sleeve ironing board
  • ham or a towel to iron on
  • point presser
  • manilla folder for pressing for templates
  • a silicone glove to iron on and protect your hands, also to press seams when they are still hot
  • a white cotton cloth to iron through on sensitive fabrics
  • a velveteen cover or a plush towel to iron over velvet…carefully!
  • Here’s a cool tutorial as to why pressing is important that shows the tools you need. I do believe it is what sets professional looking garments from “made at home…”

Knit and Crochet

  • A variety of yarns to keep me busy while watching TV or traveling
  • Crochet thread size 10
  • Wool for shawls
  • Cottons for crochet blouses and dresses
  • Bamboo for a dress
  • wish I had more,  building a stash

Knit picker – for running knit stitches, also great for embroidery

Knitting needles

  • assorted sized
  • interchangeable sets
  • straight
  • circular
  • double pointed
  • huge – for broomstick lace

Crochet Hooks

  • assorted sizes

Hairpin lace loom – adjustable

Knitting machine – the Bond Ultimate Sweater machine

Yarn-tainer bin – for mobile projects on the go

Sewing with Nature

  • Wool fibers for felting – assorted colors
  • Felting needles
  • Felting tool with multiple needles
  • Felting Pencil tool
  • Felting mat
  • Bamboo table mats
  • Bubble wrap


  • dyes from fabric store
  • natural dyes – coffee, tea, saffron, tumeric, etc…
  • beads for shibori dye
  • buckets
  • vinegar for rinse


Jewelry making
Painted Maple Leaf Pendant and Earrings

  • silver wire
  • PMC
  • plastic cutting mat
  • fire resistant brick
  • torch and gas
  • pliers
  • protective goggles
  • masks for respiration
  • files and sand paper for silver
  • Primo clay for molds
  • Pearls and glass beads
  • Beading wire
  • ribbons
  • earring wire, clasps, loops
  • rubber stamps
  • dried leaves
  • olive oil
  • deck of playing cards
  • PVC pipe for rolling

Did I forget something? Did I get all the names right?

If there is anything that you don’t know what it means and you can’t find it on google or inside BurdaStyles SewPedia, then ask me about it.

Seraphina Shawl

March 5, 2009

Seraphina Shawl, originally uploaded by fmirela.


Yarn: Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool – 2 skeins

Hook: 3.5 mm (need to double check)

I fell in love with this pattern. It is very well described here and has a chart:…

This is my second shawl based on the pattern and it turned out to be a simpler pattern than I first thought. The important thing to remember is to do the increases only at the beginning and end of each row and on both sides of the point.

I will try the increases technique next time in a more precious yarn with a different stitch to see if I can reproduce the shape.

Seraphina Shawl

This keeps me warm in the office even if we are in Florida, the wool is breathable so it is perfect over a thin long sleeved blouse.

I would pair it with jeans for a poncho like casual wear or over a little black dress for a chillier evening.

Lotus Smock Camisole

March 5, 2009

Lotus Smock Camisole, originally uploaded by fmirela.

Yarn: Elann Sonata, 4 skeins
Pattern: Stitch Diva’s Lotus Smock Camisole

I’ve wanted to make this one for sooo long. It’s amazing to see a crochet pattern that is so interesting, modern and really unique. I enjoyed how the yarn took shape after taking it of the loom. This is a lot of fun to make since it can be tried on after the first row. It really is really fast and really easy to make!

The walnut wood hairpin lace frame was a Christmas gift from Marius. I love it! It even smells like walnuts! Yum!

The speed of this project is simply incredible and the instructions are crystal clear. I would like to see one of those diagrams for it though…otherwise there’s a whole lot of reading, but in all the pattern is actually simpler then described.

I might even have the courage to give this another try in a different yarn as a dress.

I do love this yarn especially for crochet because it is woven and can be handled easily. I would prefer a drape-ier  yarn for this pattern though, this is just a little stiff, but just a little.

See a gallery of creations based on this pattern here:

Field of Poppies Blouse

March 5, 2009

Field of Poppies Blouse, originally uploaded by fmirela.

The poppies are alpaca fibers nuno felted onto olive green crinkled silk organza.
I used embroidery thread to sew over the poppies in free motion.
I adore this little blouse although it seem to look childish to me…maybe that’s a good thing, feeling young. Or maybe I’ll simply never grow up 🙂

Field of Poppies Blouse

P.S. This is me with my hair “straightened”, the way I had it before I was 12.
What do you think? Marius hates it…I think it’s simply a matter of getting used to and I also think I could use a better cut

Irises Top Take 2

March 4, 2009

Irises Top Take 2, originally uploaded by fmirela.

Remember the first Irises top? I decided to redo it to fit me, since the other one shrunk a lot and is only fit for the manechin. I will be listing the small version on my Etsy store.