Needlefelting Puppet Faces

This week, students in both of my Family Learning Program clases began a project that will span two weeks.

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Using recycled or upcycled wool fabric harvested from fulled sweaters as their base, these students needlefelted Harrisville wool to create features for puppets. Harrisville is an ideal wool for needlefelting because it has lots of crimp and the fibers are not aligned, as in many rovings sold as a sliver. It also comes in a wide array of colors and can be quickly blended with your fingertips to create even more combinations.

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The students traced a cardboard outline onto two pieces of fulled wool, then cut along the contour lines. Next, they worked on adding faces to one piece of felt. This student is making a cyclops with a red mouth and fangs.

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This student preferred to be the set decorator, creating backgrounds for the puppets he overhead various students describing. The mixed blues were going to be an ocean for another’s mermaid. He offered to make a tree for my sample owl puppet and a cave for the cyclops.

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Adding surface embellishment to fulled fabric is an easy introduction to felting for young children. Working on a foam pad, they can keep track of where their fingers are, reducing the chance of accidental puncture or snapped needles. The best part for many children is the ultimate flexibility of the method. Don’t like that eye placement? Rip it off and put it somewhere else. Don’t like that color? Rip it off and choose another. Can you think of another medium better suited for those paralyzed by commitment anxiety? This is also a perfect way to allow children to experiment with color and texture.

Ooh La La!

What is more French than a baguette smothered in Brie? A wool beret, worn at just such a jaunty angle says ‘I’m confident’ in a most nonchalant way.

As soon as I saw this pattern in Simple Sewing with a French Twist by Céline Dupuy, I was gripped by the impulse to run downstairs. Since the family was away for the afternoon, I forced myself to flip through the rest of the book before jumping out of my chair, but it was a struggle. Perhaps it was because the pattern calls for recycled felt, or perhaps it is photograph of the author wearing her beret, I could not resist trying the pattern.

The instructions calls for topstitching the pieces with the seams on the outside, however, one of the illustrations shows the band seam on the inside. I decided it looked better with only one exposed seam. On my next iteration, I’ll turn the whole thing around so the seams are all on the inside, just for a little variety.

The wool fabric for the red and orange beret wasn’t felted when I pieced it together. Though it looked lovely when I finished it, I thought it should be felted, so threw it in the washer for a couple of cycles along with some other sweaters that were waiting for the same treatment. Unfortunately, the brim felted to itself in some places, and in other spots firmly felted like a pair of smiling lips.

While I had planned to put both berets in my etsy shop, the defect is too noticeable for me to sell with pride. For now, I’ll post the navy beret, and sew another version of the orange & red to post tomorrow.