Saturday, 17 July 2010

Work in Progress - Embroidered Cuff

This will be an on-going post for as long as it takes - probably at least two days. Extracts are being posted on the Folksy Forum.

The back ground for the cuff will be hand made felt - produced by the wet felting method. This was the subject of an earlier blog post so please forgive the repetition.

-  On draining board lay out: rafia mat, bubble wrap, layer of net, then first layer of wool fibres (horizontally), next layer of fibres ( mainly wool - introducing colours) vertically, next layer (some silk and mohair 'spot' colours) horizontally, final layer of fibre (wool - random dyed in this case, also, in this case, with no 'skyline' same colour throughout), top layer of net.

-  Gently soak with cold water - keeping layers in place.

-  Pour on boiling water, sprinkle dilute washing up liquid over, rub gently with fingers (careful of heat - rubber gloves help).

-  Turn over 'net sandwich' so that first layers of fibre are uppermost. Repeat previous stage.

-  Turn sandwich back over. Pour on cold water, then more very hot.

-  Roll rafia mat - swiss roll effect with bubble wrap and net sandwich as filling.

- Roll mat back and two over textured surface of draining board.

- Un-roll. Gently ease off top layer of net to release fibres. Replace. Turn sandwich. Gently remove other layer of net.

- I tend to produce thin layers of felt which I 'bond' to a backing fabric with stitching. At this stage my fibres may be adequately felted. If not repeat soaking, soaping, rolling. Gently rinse by pouring cool water over net sandwich.

- When felted pat net sandwich dry between layers of towel. Gently release felt from net and dry flat out of direct light and heat.


( A few hours later)

The felt has now dried and I've trimmed it to what I hope will be the right size.  I've decided that this first cuff will feature the daisy design which has been quite popular and which I am now comfortable with stitching. 

When making my brooches, and pendants, I stitch the felt to a backing fabric - first catching it in place round the edge and then continuing to stitch rows of 'stabilising' stitches over the surface. Threads are chosen, either to blend with the felt, or to provide an element of the embroidered design (waves on the sea, stems of plants etc). The backing fabric I use is stretchy, loosely knitted (allows for the passage of a crewel needle with ribbon or thick threads), and can be easily gathered round the 'former' (bottle top etc) once the embroidery is complete. I back the design with felt and frame the design (and neaten the edge) with complimentary yarn couched in place.

The structure of a cuff needs to be slightly different. I have assembled the following and the first one will be trial and error  (please be sympathetic if it ends in failure).

In the foreground the piece of felt. Then :

-  I have often used fleece fabric for backing. The surface holds the felt in place easily. Will it be too thick for a cuff?

-  The mohair yarn (centre) is a brilliant match for the felt. Might frame the design - shouldn't protrude over the edge - might 'tickle'. The other yarn might be better against finished design. I'll decide after embroidery.

- Cuff could be backed in felt - would then be fully hand stitched, or in a cotton print (perhaps not the one shown) in which case I might machine it round the inside of the interfacing and then apply the embroidery on top.  I think I shall try this - it might make the design more durable and comfortable. 

- I could couch the yarn in place I like the appearance this gives - but would it be durable for a cuff - don't want it to pluck. Could place couching stitches closer together than usual. Could crochet an edging in the yarn and then stitch in place - I'll decide later.

- Need to choose best weight of interfacing, or perhaps a felt which I sometimes use as batting (not shown). I don't want it too thick, nor too stiff but I think the  cuff should have some shape independantly of the wearer.

Quite enough musing for now. I shall complete the embroidery, back the interfacing and then get back to you (if you can cope with any more).


I have now stitched the felt to the backing fabric. Yes, I know the purple backing looks odd - it won't be visible in the finished item. Green mad the green in the felt too intense and cream 'shone' conspicuously through any small gaps. Purple seems a strange choice and yet it produced the effect I wanted on the felted part. ( Sorry about poor quality photo. I missed the end of the decent daylight whilst driving 8 miles to school to collect daughter only to find she is stationary on the M6. I could have left it until tomorrow but I wanted to carry on stitching).

Sunday (7pm)

13 Year old only returned to school, from France, at 11.15pm yesterday (problems with the M6). We're all tired today. Cherries need picking and stoning (done about half), and red and black currants need picking and freezing, also had to do a mega shop. Have yet to see daughter's photos! 

Anyway - enough excuses. I have embroidered the daisies on about half of the cuff. French knots, to suggest buds and distant flowers have been embroidered down the entire length. I have been pleased to discover that the embroidery and 'background stitching' have made the work much firmer. I no longer think that interfacing will be necessary and now think that I will choose to back the cuff with felt.

Monday (3.40pm)

I have now finished the embroidery, trimmed the backing fabric slightly and blanket stitched a felt lining to the backing fabric.

The remaining tasks are the fixing of a button, construction of closure loop and couching yarn round the embroidery to frame the design -Nearly there!

Tuesday (11 am)

Its finished!



  1. Wow - what fun! Looks gorgeous already! Keep us posted!

  2. OOh I can hardly wait for the next installment!

  3. That is fab. Keep it coming!

    What a shame your daughter's school couldn't have called you to say they were delayed, instead of letting you go all that way. My D's school has a contact tree - one parent is contacted, then they contact another and so on - each parent has one or two to notify if necessary.

    Still, even with the 16 miles round trip it looks like you're getting loads done!!

  4. Keep it up!! Looking brilliant, and I'm seriously jealous of your skills!

  5. A really nice clear tutorial. Well done! Now wouldn't a set of napkin rings be a lovely gift! (does anyone do napkin rings anymore?) or a little collar on a very special outfit for a litttle girl. Looking forward to the finished product! Shame the traffic was slow - stationary would have been better!( if you had the embroidery with you)

  6. Excellent Sue and the finished item is stunning!

    You are a clever thing!

    Natalie x