Instructions for nuno felting the scarves and shawls using the pieces found on "The Fabrics" page are available to purchase at the bottom of that page or free with a purchase of any materials. I also have a new teaching video that you can purchase for $9.95 which will help you understand the whole nuno process, including using a finishing sander! Just go to the tab titled "New!!! Teaching Video".
I also publish instructions on my blog. I just did a tutorial on making a simple nuno shawl. Here is the link! http://www.learnedlately.blogspot.com/2013/06/nuno-felted-lightweight-shawl-with.html
There are so many things you can do with silk and wool! Below are some free instructions for felting textures into wool prefelts. Here is a photo of a recent piece a student did using the process described below. Hope you enjoy felting! It is ever fascinating!
Nuno Felted Fabric using Merino Prefelts
Note: These instructions are for the everything kits or generally for felting silk and other textures into prefelts.There are several blog references at the end of these instructions which include photos of the process. Call or email if you have questions!
What is Nuno felting? Nuno felting refers to felting wool and light weight, usually natural fiber fabrics together into one fabric. During felting, the wool fibers migrate through the weave of the cloth. When the wool fibers shrink, the other fabrics shrink with them. The result is a wonderfully textured fabric that is light weight, drapes well and provides a beautifully finished cloth -- like nothing else you have ever seen!.
The merino prefelt is a lightly needled merino batt. Basically it lets you skip the step of laying out your wool fibers (although you can add another layer of wool fibers on top of the prefelt if you wish to add color variation or I find the additional layer of fibers helps the silk felt in). The prefelt makes a wonderful surface for making a nuno felted fabric, as you can easily add surface decorations, threads, etc. as well as make holes for that deconstructed look or to make an interesting pass thru for scarf or shawl ends.
Note: These kits can also be used to needle felt. Needle felting first will shorten the wet felting time. You can needle felt using a machine (such as the Baby Lock Embellisher -- See Jane LaFazio's tutorial at http://janeville.blogspot.com/2010/06/1.html ) or hand held needles and a piece of high density foam (available at most fabric or craft stores). See my tutorial at http://learnedlately.blogspot.com/2010/07/hand-needle-feltingwet-felting-tutorial.htm. I like the Clover pen style needle felting tool using the fine needles, but any needle felting tool will do. Once you have finished needle felting things in place, you can then go through the 3 steps of wet felting below. The times for each step can be shortened. Or if you are using your piece as a piece of art, wet felting is not necessary.
Here’s how to get started if you just wet felt or you want to wet felt your previously needle felted piece:
Find a surface to work on. The area will need to allow for water and runoff. A kitchen or other area with a water resistant floor works best.
You will need the following items laid down on your work surface in this order:
- If needed, a plastic drop cloth to protect your work surface
- A thick towel to absorb water.
- Something to provide agitation for the felt – this could be an undyed matchstick bamboo blind or bamboo table runner like you might find at Bed Bath & Beyond or Wal-Mart. Small bubble wrap also works. (Bubbles up) Whatever you choose, it should be larger than the felt by at least an inch on each side.
- Two layers of fine nylon netting or polyester fabric with holes in it. (Think tulle or sports fabrics). These pieces should be slightly larger than the felt you are about to lay out. One of these pieces goes on top of the blind or bubble wrap and the other will go on top of the felt you lay out.
Next, lay out your fibers:
First -- a note about edges: How you finish the edges of the top layer of fabrics is up to you, but needs some consideration before you begin. If you are using raw edged fabrics in some sort of collage fashion as the top layer, bias cuts on the fabric will help reduce future fraying. Adding wool over the edges will help seal them. Once the piece is fully felted, the edges are pretty well bound. There may be some fraying of the edges in the future, however. If you are planning a piece where the top layer of fabric hangs over the edge of the finished piece and you want a finished edge, you can fold the edge under and press before beginning, thus creating a finished edge for the piece that will be caught by the wool. Or, you might add extra width to the wool and fold the edge of the wool over the surface design and press and needle felt in place when dry.
I ususally start with a single layer of prefelt in a size which will allow for about 35% to 40% shrinkage. A firmer felt is needed for a piece that will get more friction such as the cuffs or purse (so they need to be felted down more--and will shrink more). For these, you might double the prefelt or add an extra layer of roving to make a heavier fabric.
Shape the edges of the prefelt as you want the finished piece to look. Add holes to the prefelt if you wish. Then lay this down on the netting or polyester fabric and lay out the surface design. Start by shingling a layer of roving onto the prefelt for color or interest prior to adding any other design elements. (This will make your finished fabric heavier and is not manditory, but I find it makes a nicer finish and makes the fabrics felt in better). The next layer could vary from a single piece of very lightweight silk or cotton to many small pieces of lightweight fabrics or fabrics and prefelt cutouts. Very lightweight ribbons or threads down the length add interest, or you could add them just at the ends as a fringe. The key thing to remember is your base wool needs to be able to penetrate and hold the next layer, so the fabrics you are felting in need to be porous and lightweight. The more dense or heavy fabrics might also felt in, but you have to anticipate this taking more work. Each piece needs to be next to wool (i.e., wool then silk then ribbon won’t work. Wool then silk then wool roving then ribbon will probably work). On pieces where you might want to layer the silk for design purposes, be sure to add a reasonable amount of wool over the first layer of silk to give the next layer of silk something to felt into.
The final step is to add some roving on top of your design to help hold the surface layer in place. This is very important as the wool on top and bottom will help “lock” the fibers in place. The surface roving can be done with tiny wisps, so as to be almost transparent, or as thicker pieces to add interest to the design. I generally add very thin wisps in my designs to make the silk more visable. I add small bands of roving over the edges of the heavier or dense fabrics such as the velvet and habotai to make sure it felts in. The surface roving doesn’t have to cover every bit of the top, but should be added carefully to help keep the design in place and keep fabric edges from fraying.
Next, begin to felt:
Carefully cover your design with the other piece of netting or polyester. Begin to gently add room temperature (not hot) soapy water to the top. (A few drops of Dawn dishwashing detergent mixed with water works, or grated ivory or olive oil soap mixed with warm water into a gel.) Pat the wet fibers gently into place. If you want to observe your design before you begin, remove the top fabric and observe and adjust your design. Then cover and gently begin to rub the surface in a circular motion with either a small grocery bag wadded up in your hand or with plastic (grocery bag) covered hands. Rub the top side for about 5 minutes, then turn the whole package (the two pieces of protective fabric and the inside layer) over. Lift the top piece of protective fabric often to make sure your fibers are not felting to it. If the protective fabic sticks, it is OK -- just gently tug it away from your work. Continue to rub the other side. Add soapy water and work the surface progressively harder for about 5 minutes. Turn the package back over and try the pinch test in several places. Continue to flip the piece and rub the fabric with the bag until there is a skin on your work and the fibers hold together when pinched or touched. Estimated time for this stage is 15 minutes, but it will depend on how much pressure you are using. Everyone felts differently!
Next, felt by rolling:
Keep the piece wet and roll the package, including the blind or bubble wrap, into a jelly roll. If using bubble wrap, it helps to insert a wooden dowel or pool noodle into the package to roll around. Bind the jelly roll with several knee high hose or pieces of lycra. If using a bamboo blind, the package is less slippery and you will not need the dowel or bindings. Begin to put pressure on the package and roll it back and forth on your work surface. You can use your hands or forearms or feet to roll. Putting your weight into this process at this point is a good thing, however you need to watch your posture and do not hurt your back. Roll the package about 100 times, then unroll and roll the package up in the opposite direction. Turn your piece and roll in all 4 directions, if possible, at least 100 times or until the piece begins to shrink and has stability. This could take 15 to 20 minutes. Your goal is to see the wool fibers migrating through the silk before you go to the next step. Sometimes the tiny fibers are hard to see when everything is wet, but try the pinch test again and make sure everything is stable. Note: the wool shrinks in the direction you are rolling, so if you want to change the shape of your piece, roll in that direction. (ie a rectangle can become a square if you roll the long end more.)
Next, finish by fulling.
This is where you will see the greatest shrinkage and bubbling of the silk. Some people like to scrunch the felt into a ball, add very warm water and toss the felt onto a waterproof surface. (Throw about 10 times, stretch the piece out and neaten the edges, and then throw again as needed.) Others scrunch it into a ball and add very warm water and squeeze or roll it around in their hands as needed. Either way, you need to work the felt briefly, then open the felt and stretch it and neaten the edges. Continue this process until the felt has shrunk to your desired size and the piece seems fairly stable. Less felted pieces are more subject to pilling and stretching, but how much you shrink the fabric depends on your final use. If any design elements are loose at this point, it will be easiest to needle felt them in later (with a small amount of roving). You can trim the edges of your piece if you don't like how they are shaped.
A quick vinegar rinse will get rid of any soap remnants. (Two T. of white vinegar in 2 cups of water.) You may want to block your piece with a steam iron at this point, or shape the edges in an irregular pattern. You might also add decorative stitching, beads, buttons, buttonholes, slits or any other design elements you wish. This is a great surface to needle felt on. Enjoy your one of a kind piece of art!
Here are some photos of recent classes which will help you understand the process:
Lots of creativity going on out there!