Felted Finery – Sea Change

Full fathom five thy father lies:
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

The Tempest, Shakespeare

Sea Change

I have no idea why, but I’ve had polka dots on the brain for a few weeks now. I even combed through fabric stores looking for dots that didn’t overlap and were spaced in such a way that I could free motion quilt between them. Well, I never found any. Then, while working on another quilt and rummaging through piles of prospective fabrics from my own stash, low and behold I found just what I was looking for.

For this fiber play, you will need any print that has shapes into which you can felt organza. Owing to the rounded configuration of needles on felting machines, simple shapes without sharp points work best. Of course, on some machines and attachments you can remove needles. You will also need polyester organza that matches or compliments your fabric. I used the additional embellishment of glass beads for the little dots in the star fish.

Fabric and Organza

Cut your fabric to any size you like and back it with a heavy stabilizer or interfacing such as Decor Bond. Next, lay your fabric wrong side up over a light box (or hold it up to a window) and mark the outlines of all shapes you want to felt. Remember that the color you use to mark your shapes could migrate to the front of your project, so choose a matching color or use chalk.

Cut your organza several inches wider than your shapes or hoop your fabric and organza together. Machine needle felting compacts fibers and your organza will shrink rapidly under the needles. Beginning in the center, slowly tack down the organza while securing it with your fingers (if it’s not hooped). Then lightly needle felt the shape. For this project I used the Bernina Needle Punch Attachment, and it didn’t take more than a few seconds to do each circle.

Felted Organza

As you finish your shapes, cut away excess organza with a pair of appliqué scissors or small craft scissors.

Cut Away Excess Organza

I did one more felting around the circumference of the circles after each trim.

Felting Circumference

When all of your shapes are complete, sandwich your top with batting and backing and then free motion quilt between the felted shapes.


Felted Circle

I needed an edge trim for my felted piece, so I gave it some thought and decided to cut circles out of organza with a heat tool. I use this method when I embroider on organza, so I assumed it would work just as well on simple shapes.

First, do this in a well ventilated area. Place a Teflon pressing sheet or heat resistant liner on a secure surface (I use a Silpat purchased from a cooking store). Pick out some metal or wood shapes as your patterns. Lay one shape on top of the organza and trace around it with your heat tool. The organza should melt immediately, leaving a non-fraying edge to your shapes.

Heat Tool

There are many decorative things you can do with these organza cutouts. I cut circles in two sizes, layered them, and then attached them to the edge of my project with beads.

I hope you will look through your fabric stash and use this technique to transform a plain print into something eye-catching and unique. Have fun!


N. Rene West
Time Treasured

1 Comment

  1. Waltraud said,

    March 17, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    Your work is very interesting and beautiful.

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