02.19.14the felted cuff how-to…

Whether you’re out braving the cold or sitting at your computer, these extra fine merino and silk cuffs are super warm and cozy.  They’re a rather quick project, easy to make and once you put them on, you won’t want to take them off…

IMG_7629 IMG_7639 Materials:

  • warm soapy water- some folks only use olive oil soap to felt.  I like dish washing soap like Dawn, it works great!  Add few drops into a spray bottle of warm water, that’s all you really need.
  • tulle netting- for intricate designs, you can lay the netting over your work.  This will hold your details in place before you start adding water.
  • a bamboo place mat- this makes life SO much easier.  It help keep your bubble wrap in place once you start to roll and speeds up the process A LOT!
  • roving- about 2-3 ounces will do, I find that extra fine merino works best and results in a nice soft to the touch cuff.  Other fibers for adorning and details like silk or mohair boucle’ are good to have around too.
  • a towel

IMG_5291 step 1:  With your merino wool in one hand, pull tufts and start to place your fibers down for your cuffs.  I find that thinner layers of extra fine merino work best.  Do not cut your fibers with a scissor, you want to hold your fibers in one hand (between your palm and your finger tips) and gently pull with the other, keeping your hands about 5 inches apart.  The bottom layer should be placed with the fibers running vertically, while the second layer runs horizontally, or visa versa.  You want to make sure you end up with 3 layers in total, each one criss crossed on top of the other.  I use extra fine merino and top it with silk, mohair, and all sorts of other blends, (trial and error basically- see what you like working with over time).  The most important thing is that your final layout isn’t too thin.  You don’t want holes in your cuffs (well maybe you do, but now isn’t the time to do it).  You want your final piece of felt to be about 1/8″ – 1/4″ thick, so don’t be shy when pulling your tufts, it needs to be thick enough for a button hole… cuff thumb step 2: Finish designing your layout. This is your last step before adding water. Remember, you want 3 layers in total.  Felt shrinks about 25-30%, so keep that in mind for sizing.   Typically, my layout for a cuff measures approximately 4″ wide x  10″ long.  That felts down to a nice size…

step 3: Start to sprinkle your cuffs with water. If you have an intricate design, you can lay netting over your piece to keep your fibers in place. I just hold my hand over the fibers and sprinkle through my fingers, adjusting as I go. After your pieces are wet,  lay a piece of bubble wrap over them and start to press, even distributing the water throughout.

step 4: Once your piece is wet and you’ve rubbed it under the bubble wrap, carefully lift the wrap. Now it’s time to tuck the sides underneath along with any loose ends.

step 5: After you’ve tucked and tidied up your piece, you’ll cover it again, rubbing the bubble wrap in a circular motion with the palm of your hand and adding pressure. I add a bit of soapy water on top of the bubble wrap to lubricate it, this way my hand can circle around with ease.  This step requires a bit of patience.  You’ll be rubbing circles for about 10 minutes or so before you perform the “pinch test”.  To see if your piece passes the pinch test, lift the bubble wrap and pinch your felt between your thumb and index finger.  If the felt stays in place, you’re ready for the next step called the fulling stage.  If the fibers pull apart, place the bubble wrap back on  and rub for a few more minutes until your piece is solid.

step 6: This step is called “fulling your felt” which means the fibers continue to move and entangle around each other.  The space between the fibers will now start to diminish and your felt with start to shrink.  To start fulling your felt, roll your piece sandwiched between 2 sheets of bubble wrap for extra agitation like you’re rolling sushi.  After a few rolls, you can remove that top sheet of bubble wrap.  You’ll want to re-roll it with one sheet of bubble wrap, rolling that within a bamboo place mat.  This keeps it in place and makes it a lot easier to roll, and you’re going to now roll this another 50-60 times.  The more you roll, the more it felts.  Keep checking your work and roll it until you get it where you need it to be for strength and size.

step 7:  How tightly felted you want your piece to be is up to you.  Like I mentioned earlier, you want it to be solid enough for a button hole.  Once it’s a solid piece, you want to rinse it under hot water, then cold, then hot again.  This is called shocking the felt.  After you’ve rinsed it, you want to throw it in the sink 10 times, with force!  It seems so strange, but it shocks and locks the fiber into place.

step 8: Press the excess water out with a towel and let it dry.  Once it’s dry, cut a button hole.  I wrap my cuff around my wrist and eyeball it.  I use a scissor and make a tiny slit, just under the size of the button, allowing room for the felt to stretch, but not too big for the button.

IMG_7632 IMG_7654 These cuffs are waiting patiently to be featured in my shop.  Felting isn’t the issue, it’s the shooting and editing of my pictures, that’s another story…  But this Friday I will shoot them, I’m hoping to post some new items this weekend.  Hope you enjoyed this quick how-to, and happy felting!!!

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