Saturday, 13 March 2010

How To: design and make a felt brooch



This is a slightly unusual "how to" as it's not just a tutorial for making the flower brooch shown in the pictures but more a beginner's guide to making things with felt, which will cover lots of things I get asked by my blog readers and customers who buy packs of felt squares from my shops.

If you're new to felt crafting, I hope you find it useful and it inspires you to get sewing!

The first step when designing a brooch or anything else is to get doodling. You don't have to be a great artist to design brooches that are your own original creation (and copying other peoples designs is never cool).

I decided to make a flower brooch so I started out drawing lots of different flower shapes.



Once you get a rough design that you like, the next step is to turn that doodle into a pencil drawing of how you want your brooch to look. I often draw and redraw things half a dozen times before I get them how I want them. For this design I wanted a symmetrical flower so I used rulers and circle templates to help me keep the petals the same lengths.


When you've got a sketch that you're happy with, use a black fine liner to draw in the final lines over your pencil scribblings. I added an extra circle and some detailing on the outer petals at this point as I thought the flower needed a bit of extra detail. Never be afraid to tweak your design as you go along or to try out two different versions to test how they will look!


The black pen lines help finalise your design but they are also a great help with the next step - tracing over your drawing to create your pattern pieces. Take a piece of plain white paper, place it over your drawing and trace each shape involved in your design. When you've drawn all your pattern pieces, cut them out.



Now you have the fun part of choosing colours! You could do a drawing of your design and colour it in to plan out colour combinations beforehand but I think there's nothing quite like seeing the real live felt colours together. I wanted to use satsuma orange felt as an accent colour in my flower, but when I cut the pieces out and laid them on top of each other as I'd designed I realised I wanted more orange visible, so I changed the design slightly.





Cutting out small fiddly felt pieces can be tricky, so take your time! I recommend buying a pair of embroidery scissors, the small blades make it much easier to cut out small shapes.



Pin larger shapes in place, and hold very small pieces in place against the felt between your thumb and fingers while you cut around the pattern. I always roughly cut off any excess felt around the pattern piece to make it easier to cut round fiddly shapes.

Now it's time to sew your pieces together. There are lots of guides to different stitches on the internet... but some things to think about are how the stitches will add to the pattern and texture of your design, and whether you want to use matching thread (thread the same colour as the felt you're stitching) or contrasting thread (to create extra decorative details).


I stitched my flower onto a backing piece of black felt. The wool blend felt I use and sell in my shops is lovely and soft but this softness means an extra layer for added sturdiness is sometimes needed.

Having finished the front of your brooch, you need a matching back piece to sew your clasp to and to hide your stitches. Use your brooch as a template to cut out a piece that exactly matches.



Turn the backing piece over (so the side which will be the back of your finished brooch is facing upwards) and use a double thickness of sewing thread to sew on a brooch clasp. If you don't have any clasps you can use a safety pin. Use a small piece of felt sewn over the fixed bar of the pin and a crisscross pattern of stitches to sew the safety pin in place - I've used bright felt and thread here to show this clearly:



Finally, sew the front and back pieces of your brooch together (I used a running stitch in black thread around the black edge) and finish your stitches neatly at the back. Then start wearing your brooch and start planning more fun felt things to make with your stash!



P.S. is there anything I've missed from this beginner's guide? Let me know in the comments :)

P.P.S. Making stuff from your own patterns is great, but if you'd like to sew the flower featured in this tutorial fear not! Double click on this image to print out the pattern pieces (print at 100% to make a flower the same size as mine). I think this design is a great one for experimenting with colours and the use of different stitches.
This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it for as many flower brooches as you like for yourself or as gifts for friends but please don't make any for sale. Please feel free to borrow photos if you want to blog about this project, but remember to credit me and link back to the original source, and do not reproduce my entire tutorial on your site. Thanks!

32 comments:

Tiffany said...

Ooh thanks for sharing this Laura. I think I shall try this out now...

GG With A Twist of Lime said...

Your work is incredible. I've never seen such even and perfect stiches. You are a master at what you do!

Wendy said...

Thank you for this helpful tutorial! Your brooches are so beautiful and most important original.

Little Green Doll said...

Very interesting!! your explanations are very clear! Thank you!

Zohar said...

ha! that is so awesome - I love this guide, I also love that you show us how you make things :)

fridica said...

So wonderful of you to share this! Thank you!

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Ooh it's beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing. I can't wait to try this. I'll be linking in the Daily DIY as well.

Mary said...

Thanks for this how-to post. I always find it extremely helpful to see the process of crafters I admire. You make lovely things!

pyesquire said...

Thank you this helps a lot i do have one question are you hand stitching these? Thanks again for taking the time to teach
I am a cutting artist and always looking to learn new crafts ,if you have time take a look at my shop on etsy www.cuttingart@etsy.com I would be happy to donate to one of your giveaways
Pye
www.cuttingart@etsy.com

desi said...

Hey there! :)

it's a lovely tutorial....but i'm REALLY new to this. where can i learn more about different stitches? or do you have or can you make a tutorial for that too? :)
thanx!
desi
x

creativejewishmom said...

Love it! We're both on one pretty thing today and so glad to have found you. I'd be so happy if you'd drop by my crafty blog linking party every Sunday -Tues, it's international and I need some representation from England! Plus your project is great! Hope to see you there, all the best! Sara

BugsandFishes said...

Pye - yes, this flower was hand stitched! Thanks for the offer of an item for a giveaway but I'm afraid I only give my own things away at the moment :)

desi - I might try to do some basic sewing guides in the future but in the meantime try searching online for tutorials and videos for sewing stitches like running stitch, blanket stitch, whip stitch, back stitch... The videos are particularly useful if you're just starting out!

Gorfou breizhou said...

Du tonnerre ☺♫♪♥!!☼
Jolie fleur. Clap clap clap

♥ Nia said...

Beautiful!!!
thanks for sharing :)

Miss Jo said...

Thanks for sharing this tutorial! ((:

Poppet said...

this is a really good tutorial, thanks for sharing. I really liked seeing the shot of all your flower doodles, it's obviously worth planning your design carefully.

nic @ nipitinthebud said...

so simple and so effective - thanks for sharing Laura. Delighted with the effect on a plain green bag (chosen intentionally to resemble grass!)
http://nipitinthebud.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/making-felt-flowers/

gothee said...

Thank you for the tutorial, I tried to make this felt brooch combining many colors.... thank you

C.R.A.F.T. said...

this is the cutest flower brooch ever! come on over and link up to MMM :)

Sawdust and Paperscraps said...

It's just pretty. Plain and simple!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your step-by-step guide to creating your own design. I always wondered about the process of designing your own craft using felt and now I know how! I'm now off to sketch my own designs, your website is genius! Thank you again :D Nik

TheSherbetPatch said...

Absolutely gorgeous. Love the colour combinations in this flower.

Chandra said...

Do you use a machine to cut multiple pieces?
I love looking through the archives...you've a lovely talent!

BugsandFishes said...

Thanks Chandra! I don't use a machine, I cut all my felt out with scissors :)

Melissa said...

This is a great tutorial! I just featured it on my blog at http://www.ontheragmag.com/category/pad-diy/. Thank you so much for sharing this project. I really appreciate all your hard work! Very cute.

BugsandFishes said...

Thanks Melissa! :)

ramblinginthegarden said...

I found this post through an internet search and have been busy making brooches for Christmas presents. They are delightful and the way you presented it was excellent - I shall post a link on my own blog as I have mentioned them with pictures of the ones I have made. Thanks very much.

BugsandFishes said...

Ramblinginthegarden - Lovely to hear you've been making some brooches from this tutorial! x

Anonymous said...

Hi I love your flower idea thanks for showing us how to make it, I might use it for hair bands, as I'm looking to make some hairbands for my baby daughter and have seen many different flower design made from felt. Can't wait to get started. Thanks again.

BugsandFishes said...

No problem! I hope you have fun making your flowers :)

Anonymous said...

HI YOU say the felt you use is soft so to double up ...can you get different thickness Celts then I'm very new to this ...I've also looked at fabric stiff stuff have you ever used it ...many thanks in advance .

BugsandFishes said...

Felt comes in lots of different thicknesses... and there are lots of different types and blends available :) I've never tried using fabric stiffener with felt, sorry.

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