I held an inspiring and creative workshop with a group of Dorset felt makers recently. And in turn they motivated me to further explore shibori stitches on felt. I bought some metres of prefelt from World of Wool and got to work.
Working with felt is clearly different to sewing on cotton; it is so thick, the structure is looser and it is difficult to get the fabric marker to make any impression! I tried using both a normal weight polyester Guttermann thread (that I always use) and a thicker linen thread as well. Surprisingly the normal weight polyester thread produced better results. All the samples you see were done with polyester thread except the small mokume sample, where I used the linen thread.
Each piece is cut to 10 to 12” or 27 to 30 cms square. All the designs are dyed with indigo.
5 simple shibori stitches on felt
1. Paisley pattern
A tear drop shape was drawn on the wool and two rows of running stitches made around the shape. Both pulled up and the inner line bound with a thicker cotton thread, an example of maki-age shibori.
2. Mokume shibori
Here I used the linen thread to sew 6 parallel rows of stitching, pulled it up and the effect can be clearly seen. The thread thickness has resulted in the shadow of the rows of stitching to be visible. OK but not what I wanted to see.
3. Felt flower
This example shows that it is difficult to get sharp edges in felt. I came up with a little flower design of two petal halves and some stamens but the result is a little woolly!! I stitched around the shape and gathered it up and bound it, maki-age shibori. I like the effect of the small beads tied in, called ne-maki shibori.
4. Pretty pomegranate
I am pleased with this design. Here I have again used maki-age shibori to create the fruit and guntai shibori to make the top (rather stylised).
5. Miru shibori circle
The wool felt is folded in half and I stitched rows of concentric stitching, parallel to each other. The result is quite pleasing but the nature of felt means it has not come out a perfect circle.
This has been fun to do. My favourites and requiring a little more investigation are the paisley pattern, the pomegranate and the miru circle. If you are a felter I hope this persuades you to have a go with shibori on your own felt and see what you can achieve.