Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Braided bangle bracelet needle felt tutorial

Above is the end result of this tutorial .
I had originally hoped to offer more tutorials in this blog but was constantly forgetting to bring my camera to work to take pics of each step . I also have to apologize for the poor color quality of pictures as they were taken at night with only a regular light bulb . If you would like to see more realistic colors of this gorgious merino please check out Yarnahoy on Etsy . I purchased the 2 pounds of 5 different colors and they are all her own beautifully blended merino . Shipping and prices are reasonable and delivery was fast considering it is coming from over seas and arrives here several days before another US order !
http://www.etsy.com/listing/50857337/20-percent-discount-for-2-lbs-of-pure


To begin....I used two contrasting colors of roving and measured the length at about 10-12 inches counting on about 50% shrinkage . Although you could just needle felt a straight rope and add closures , I really like the convenience of a slip on bracelet . I use rather thickly carded roving for this but you can create a thinner bangle by splitting roving in half and making two similar covered "stacking" bangles . As with more needle felting.....the thinner the piece , the more likely you are to poke yourself, so I would save this for when you feel more comfortable with the needle .

-tack the two roving strips to felting mat or use some sort of clamp to hold it in place as you braid .
-divide your chosen primary color into two sections and place on each side of middle color(accent color) and braid sections together .
-the tighter the braid, the faster this project will felt as it forces the sir pockets out .
-Begin at one end and very lightly poke the fiber from all side lifting it off the mat as you go .
-be sure to poke at all angles so that you get an even end result . One trick is to think of the needle as pushing the fibers in the direction you want them to go . Although you often see people recommending that you keep your needle at a 90 degree angle to the mat so you don't break it , this rule is only true when you are poking fiber into something very hard . The reality is that you should move your needle in all directions and angels and putting needle almost parallel to the fiber surface will result in a much smoother result and keep you from ruining your fiber mat to quickly .



Although it is natural to have fiber migrate to the back of the surface you are felting, if you want crisper colors you want to keep this to a minimum . The above illustrates what happens if you poke to hard and at a 90 degree angle . Not only do you end up with muddier colors but can result in pieces of your felting mat attaching to your fiber . Should this happen, you can pull foam pieces off fibers or even trim the fibers off before you continue felting .

-trick one is to very lightly tap the fiber with only the tip of the needle.....light hand is important when beginning to felt item
-trick to is keep needle parallel to the surface
-trick three is keeping the item slightly elevated off the mat surface and poking fibers into the item and not through it .
The first step of this project takes about an hour and will result in a fully felted outer "skin" but soft core . Your not done . You could wet felt at this stage but will end up with much duller colors and not as soft a surface . Faster but not as soft result for something that will be on a very sensitive skin area....inner wrist .
Take your semi-felted "rope" and measure where to attach ends to each other by placing it around your flat open hand and hold onto fiber ends at the estimated size . This is hard to explain and may just take some experimenting to find a size that works for you . If you find that you have made the rope to small you can take additional fiber and wrap it around the end piece to connect them . This can add a decorative center piece if you want to add another color at this point .

-tack end fibers together and into each end. This is your weakest link so don't scrimp on the fiber here and add more if it feels to thin . This is one area where you will have to use some 90 degree poking .

-once you have the right thickness , you should also poke fibers into both ends of the circle .

-once you have a complete circle it will require about another hour of felting from all sides to make the core solid and clean up any remaining stray fibers . The end result will be a very solid bangle with vivid colors . Most of the felting at this stage is done by holding bangle between your fingers and felting in different directions to get smooth surface .

-trick....squeeze fibers together a little as your are felting to felt a bit faster .

-When are you done? When the item feels like one more poke will result in a a broken needle it's a good time to stop .
Above I used two contrasting colors and below two blending colors which results in a more subtle pattern .
There are several more things you you can do at this point to get interesting accents .
-add beads
-wrap small sections with copper or silver wire
-sew on small fabric sections to add more texture or color
-wrap small sections with wool yarn or silk fiber and felt into bangle

Lastly, given that you are felting much of this between your finger, there is more likely hood of poking yourself . It would be a good project to wrap fingertips with electrical tape .
Have fun and this does get easier the more practice you get .

4 comments:

  1. Great tutorial!
    Still wondering what needle you use. I hopped to your Etsy store too and share some love. Thanks for sharing!

    http://handmadenest.blogspot.com

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  2. Your tutorial is an awesome inspiration! Many thanks for sharing. I would like to feature your designs at http://www.handmade-jewelry-club.com/

    Contact me here if you have a concern.

    Jane
    http://diylessons.org/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dita...I use 38 star...(my favorite needle), and 40 triangle for all of my felting . It is a bit slower then the larger gauge needles (36, 38 triangle( but gives much smoother results.

    ReplyDelete
  4. HJC....your web site looks awesome and I will be putting it on m own blog so other DIY can find it . Your welcome to use any of my tutorials and feel free to clean up all my miss-spellings and typos :)

    ReplyDelete

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