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Insider Tips on Needle Arts

Needle Felting and Embroidery with Wool on a Foundational Fabric

Choose your foundational fabric wisely

Needle felting as decoration and embroidery with wool yarn are two         newly popular needlework techniques. My fiber art is considered "flat work" as I needle felt onto a flat foundational fabric. Other fiber artist make sculptural pieces with needle felting. I most often use organic linen as my foundational fabric, as I am looking for a casual, eco-luxury finish for my Nestle and Soar home décor items. My top tip for selecting foundational fabric is to make sure the weave of the fabric you choose is the right density for your project. As Goldilocks would say, you don’t want a fabric that is too loose, or too tight: you want one that is “just right.”

Too Loose: An open weave will not keep the work stable; too much of the needle felting will transfer to the back side of the foundation or the show-through with embroidery will ruin the look of the front of the needlework.

Too Tight: A heavy-weight fabric like a tightly woven canvas is harder to work with because each dry felting needle punch leaves a visible hole in this type of fabric. When embroidering with wool, like crewel yarn, a too-tight foundational fabric strips the crewel yarn of fibers as it passes back and forth through the fabric as you sew.

Just Right: I use a number of grades of linen in my needle felting and embroidery designs. The weave is quantified by threads-per-square-inch. Many of the organic linens are nubby in texture and have an inconsistent thread count – some are even hand-woven! When I purchase a large quantity of linen for a series of designs at Nestle and Soar, I have to be particular about the thread count, and honestly, only handling it on my work table gives me the true measure of its “rightness”. If I adore the color of the linen and I cannot find a replacement, it helps to iron a light-weight fusible web to the reverse-side of the fabric. This solves it when an open weave is the problem. If the weave is too tight, I know I must save that linen for one-of-a-kind work: it would be too time-consuming to create even a limited-edition with tightly woven fabric.

Copyright 2012, Georgianne Holland exclusively at Nestle And Soar, Colorado USA