Sewing

Tips for sewing with felt

felt cats

Sewing with felt always reminds me of the very first felt plushie I sewed. It was a little yellow stuffed elephant. I was about 12 years old and I found a pattern in a magazine. My mom bought me some felt and helped me to make it. I had that little elephant for many years. After my mom passed away I ‘inherited’ her fabric stash and lo and behold, I found the yellow felt I used for the elephant! I was thrilled and inspired and decided that I wanted to rekindle the joy I experienced making that little yellow elephant!

Along the way I have learnt a great deal by trial and error (oh yes! …and Google!).  Today I will share my best do’s and don’ts as far as sewing with felt is concerned.

Types of felt

  • 100% wool felt
    Definitely the best and longest lasting felt to work with, but can be expensive.
  • Acrylic felt
    Cheaper but tends to pill over the long run.

Glue

I use glue to hold the felt pieces together when I sew my finger puppets. Pins tend to move the pieces around. I also make use of bulldog clips when I sew the front and back parts together.

  • Glue sticks
    Work well on 100% wool felt but pills acrylic felt.
  • White glue
    I use small dots to hold the felt pieces together. Be careful not to squash the white glue into the felt, since it will show up as white spots on the right side of the felt when it dries. It dries reasonably quickly.
  • Fabric glue
    I have tried to use fabric glue but the brands I used made a mess or did not dry properly, so I have abandoned that idea – white glue is more versatile and cheaper in any case.

Hand vs machine sewing and types of thread

Hand sewing

Thread

  • Cotton or polyester thread
    If I don’t have the right color embroidery thread I often use normal thread; and depending on what I am sewing I might use a single (attaching a nose or moustache) or double thread (when sewing back and front pattern pieces together or using the French knot stitch to sew eyes – although using embroidery thread is advisable for facial features).
  • Embroidery thread
    Looks better against the felt than normal thread and again I use a single or double thread depending on what I am sewing.
  • Transparent nylon thread
    Works very well if you have to attach two different colored pieces of felt, but is very difficult to work with and to see!
transparent thread

Machine sewing

Thread

  • Cotton or polyester thread
    Polyester thread works better and tend not to break so easily when sewing with a sewing machine. However, it can be very cumbersome to keep changing spools and bobbins to match the felt colors!
  • Transparent nylon thread
    Now this is a winner when you have many different colors of felt in the item you are sewing!

Useful embroidery stitches

  • Whip stitch
    for attaching pieces of felt and to sew different parts together. (Use a single or double strand depending on what you are sewing.)
  • French knot stitch
    I use the french knot stitch to sew eyes. (Use embroidery yarn) Use two or three strands and twist 3 times around needle.

Cutting out and holding together pattern and felt pieces

Holding pattern pieces in one place on felt; especially when sewing small items; can be a serious headache. I found the following options work best:

pinned felt
  • Pins
    Pin bigger pattern pieces without too many nooks and crannies.
  • Staples
    Too small to pin but too big to for tape or not too many nooks and crannies? Use staples – just take care when removing to not damage the felt. It is okay to use on wool felt, but sometimes get snared in the fibers of acrylic felt.
  • Scotch tape
    My favorite way of cutting out small pattern pieces.  The tape holds down all the small pieces so you can cut with precision.  An added advantage is that it does not leave pattern pieces full of holes like pins and staples do, and it preserves (the pattern piece) better since it is now covered with the tape!
  • Laser
    Works like magic with acrylic felt; just remember since it melts the felt a little the cut pieces might be about a millimeter smaller, all round, than the pattern. 
    I would not advise using laser to cut 100% wool acrylic felt; it really stinks – like hair burning!!!
  • Bulldog clips
    I use bulldog clips instead of pins to hold together the front and back parts of my finger puppets when I sew them together, since using pins tend to shift the parts.
using bulldog clips
using bulldog clips
  • Scissors
    Use small, very sharp pointed scissors!  Make sure to get a good quality pair of scissors with a comfortable grip.
cutting hair from felt
Cutting

Stuffing

  • Polyester cluster fill
    I use this for my stuffed key chains and soft toys or plushies; it gives a soft squishy feel to the items.
    I don’t, however, like using it for stuffing soft toys since it tends to bunch up and create a lumpy feel and look to the toys.
  • Polyester cluster fill
    I use this for my stuffed key chains and soft toys or plushies; it gives a soft squishy feel to the items.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *