Embellishing Machine

As I mentioned in the post Play Day, my mom recently bought an embellishing machine. Personally I call it a needle felting machine but that seems to confuse some people. Basically the machine uses up to twelve felting needles to, well, felt things. It seems to work fine as long as one of the things being felted is wool. For example, you can use roving to make a design on denim jeans, or you can affix a shape made of wool felt to denim, or cotton or more wool. I tried a bit with two pieces of cotton fabric or some lace on top of cotton fabric and the two pieces just pull right apart. Of course if you’re not going to be manipulating the piece, like if it’s on a wall hanging, that’s not a big deal, but I prefer more durable stuff. Most of the experimenting I’ve done has been with colored roving on a backing of wool or cotton fabric. I played a bit with yarns on felt and really liked the result.

This is plain wool roving on denim. It’s supposed to be the beginning of a flower but the petal on the left was my first attempt at making a shape with the embellisher machine so it looks a bit funny.

This is a bit of yarn on cotton. I think the yarn is actually acrylic, not sure cause it’s just stuff I had sitting around, but it seems to stick quite well. It seems that the fluffy-ness of the yarn makes up for it not being wool, gives it more fibers to be tangled together.

I tried using yarn to make the design on the fabric look like a bunch of flowers but the yarn kind of overpowers the design. Something similar might work better with a more subtle yarn and a stronger design on the fabric.

The work with the bunch of flowers gave me the idea of using strips of yarn to create a tree complete with branches. Then I decided I want leaves, and this is the result. I like it but I think the fuzzy yarn for the leaves obscures the branches underneath more than I want.

You can see the branches under the leaves a little better in this close up. I think the branches would show up more if the yarn for the leaves weren’t so fuzzy but at the same time it also might look less tree-like. This will require more experimenting, oh darn! (and that last bit was sarcastic, which is hard to convey in writing!)

You can see the lines of yarn laid down next to each other in the trunk here. You can also see that the last piece of yarn I felted on didn’t just go straight. The crooked piece seems very visible to me which is something important to note. I think I’ll play with lines of yarn like this more, it could be quite interesting.

The machine also has this fancy little place that you can feed yarn through the top and it’s supposed to be fed right under the needles

.

It’s supposed to make using yarn to make lines easier, but as I discovered it works better in theory than practice. I just fed the yarn by hand to make the tree and designs above, which worked fine. Then I was over at my mom’s house, and saw some pearl cotton sitting there. So I figured I would try feeding that through the machine and see how it went. It fed through pretty easily, except getting it through the presser foot, cause you have to try and manipulate it when it’s in the middle of all the needles, but I got it threaded. I was, however, very disappointed at how it felted. If I went over the thread several times I could get it to stay, but then the line was rather jittery. And if I just moved the machine like I would if I were feeding the thread by hand, then the thread wouldn’t get felted down at all. So hand feeding the yarn it is, and now I know that is not an important feature to have on a felting machine.

See how it’s all jittery? That’s cause I had to move the piece back and forth a lot under the machine to make the thread felt down. And even then it didn’t stick the best.

This is what happened when I tried to move the machine smoothly and steadily like when I feed the yarn by hand. I was basically just dragging the yarn around and not felting it at all so I did stop on a spot occasionally which is where you can see it stuck down at the edge of the picture. But then it ended up with little felted spots and big loose bits of yarn between. Overall, an unsuccessful attempt.

The difficulty felting the pearl cotton also probably had to do with it being so smooth, rather than fuzzy, and small, so the needles didn’t really have anything to grip. But the thing is that any yarn that is thicker or fuzzier than the pearl cotton is impossible to feed through the thread slot, so that’s not really an option.

And one last little bit of experimenting I did. My mom likes the look of a style of felting called nuno-felting. I think it’s a neat look but not that amazing, and definitely not worth the usual price of the pieces to me. Nuno-felting is done by wet felting wool roving onto a sheer fabric, often nuno-felted silk scarves are what you find for sale. Wet felting tends to be very time and labor intensive, I just don’t have the patience for it. So at my mom’s suggestion I played with needle felting a sheer scarf to see how it goes. Sheer fabric is used a lot with embellishing machines to add texture and a bit of color on top of other pieces or to add ruffles cause it scrunches up when you felt it, but I’m not much of a ruffle person and don’t like the texture you get from really felting it down on top of other fabric. Not to mention I hadn’t researched nuno-felting at all so I just assumed it was needle felted. Apparently nuno-felting is wet felted but the results I got sure look like nuno-felting to me. Maybe I’ll make more and sell it for large profits at regular nuno-felt prices. But probably not.

My “faux” nuno-felting experiment. It doesn’t look bad, but the look just doesn’t thrill me.

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