I like to decorate my felted coats, dresses, jackets (on the top and sleeves) and even purses with this kind lovely ruffles! In almost every item you can find small or big, short or long, one or a couple of such interesting details! they look so great and it is so easy to make them. They add a feminine look and elegance - that is why I love making them! No another technique gives you such great and fast result as the felting technique!
So in this Tutorial I will demonstrate and give a description of how to make these ruffles on the example of a grey coat! You will see how to work with plastic resist, how to make the most complicated version- symmetrical ruffles and how to decorate them with other fibers, at which stage of the felting and layout you should make this kind of decoration to make your designs looks very professional.
You can apply this knowledge in your future felting experiments and will have great results!
Here we go!
I continue sharing my methods with you, and this time I will focus on the technique of decorating the fronts of felt coats or jackets. I also use these elements for dresses/gowns and purses. I am so fond of these frills – moreover, it is quite easy to make them, as you will see/judge for yourselves.
If you are a beginner, I would recommend applying this technique (frills) at first to a felt purse or using it as an element for a dress or jacket, where frills need not be placed symmetrically. Both fronts and frills can go askew in the process of felting when the wool layout is not 100% uniform. A symmetrical decoration is always more difficult to create than a more random ornamentation, which makes it easier to conceal differences or flaws and use them to the best effect later. Let us say that if plain sailing is not for you, then you will be interested in what I do. Well, let’s get started!
One-piece felted Frills/All-felt Frills, or Ruffs for decorating felt clothing
Irena Levkovich May 2016
To start with the layout of an article or a garment with more than one piece, ( like this coat), you should lay out the coat itself, namely the back and one front. All decorations, which are to be made of woolen fibers like frills and ruffles, we prepare first thing. Once we finish working with wool, we can proceed to work with fibers of viscose, silk, bamboo, linen, etc, and decoration with silk fabrics or laces. I start laying out all my jackets and coats with the back because the fronts will be affixed to the back. Since I wish to apply the ruffles to the fronts, let's start with the right front and make the fronts one by one.
Before I start decorating any piece, I always cover the wool layout with a synthetic net/mosquito net and rub the surface, while gently pouring soapy water on to avoid displacement of the fibers
of the layout. You basically need to moisten the surface evenly and make it flat. It is good to do for two reasons: first, the wet layout once again allows you to correct it and make it even – you can see visible flaws, and you get a chance to add more wool where it is needed. Second, it will be easier for you to decorate the surface. Even if you don’t like an element after adding it to your layout, you can easily remove it or move to another place without damaging the surface itself.
I would recommend, especially for beginning felt-makers, that you cut resists, elements to prevent fibers from adhering, at the very beginning of your work, before you start laying out wool. However, I do it when the front is laid out. I use a moderately dense oilcloth (100-150 microns), I put it over the jacket and draw a ruffle directly on it as I would like to see on the coat. You see the jacket proportions and the breast width, so you can easily see exactly where you wish to place your ruffles and what size they should be. You also need to know whether you want to place buttons, snaps or other closures on the jacket or coat, because in this case you have to make a setback from the front edge.
That is how I make these frills:
those fibers that extend beyond the jacket contour are viscose fibers, which I have already used to decorate the sleeves and arm-pit area.
Since I decided to place two ruffles on either of the fronts, I cut out two similar ruffles. Of course, frills can have different length, width – whatever your imagination tells you. My idea and the client's requirement was: "I want something both smart and casual". Therefore two frills had to be of the same length and shape. Once you have decided on the shape and placement of your frills, you will need to cut out similar ruffles for the other front, which you will do next.
I will not tell you how many rows of frills you should make. The experienced felt makers know that it depends on wool you work with. Beginners may wish to learn that it depends on the length of wool hairs (and hence skein/hank), and on microns. Today the finest wool contains fibers of 18 microns (factory-dyed), and it is very short. The wool which contains fibers of 35 microns will be three or even four times longer. Therefore you will need fewer rows of frills for your piece layout.
There is another issue in the process of creating frills: the number of rows impacts the frill width, the number of layers impacts the frill density and amplitude of its wave. With a little practice, you will be able to easily make frills of any size and lightness.
In my case, I used 21-micron wool, made in England. First, I like it because of its properties, and it is good for producing outer felt clothing. Second, I like its colour. To predict the outcome as accuratly as possible (which is a must if you create tailour-made pieces), you have to select wool of the same fineness for the whole piece. Nowadays we have a wide range of wools to choose from. This will allow you to avoid many ‘surprises’ that may occur later.
If you want your frills to be also nice and smart on the inner (wrong) side, then you can decorate the first layer with fibers (silk, viscose, bamboo, etc.) before you layout the wool. Here I have used various shades of gray (identical to those I used in the coat layout).
You have to make sure that 1/3 of the hank or length of the fibers (half is even better) stretches onto the jacket base. The frill should not be hanging in a vacuum, it should be part of the fiber to be felted to the base. (Here you can see the layout of the second frill. I made photos of the process - please, do not be confused, because the method for making both frills is exactly the same).
At this point I decided to make ruffles in two rows. Such a ruffle will be perfect for outerwear.
Beginners should note the wool properties that make a frill what it is. We lay out the layers only in one direction, which allows us to create such a wave. The layout should be done very carefully. If wool is laid out non-parallel, and overlaps, there will be no waves in that place.
You are also supposed to place ‘blunt’ ends towards the frill edge. Then, it will be easier to hem the frills. Diffusive ends are spread on the jacket base, which they will subsequently be matted with (felted with).
Before decorating the ruffle with a viscose fiber, you have to sprinkle it with water. It will make decoration technically easier. You leave it without hemming also because it is easier. However, later you will
need to cut it/clip/trim. ???and then all these ‘tails’ and a wool groove will stay on the jacket base???Personally, I do not like it, therefore I tend to get frills hemmed.
Note that first you have to turn up/hem the edge, and then proceed to decorating a frill with viscose(or other kind of decorative fibers such as the rayon) . If you do it the other way round, the frill edge will remain just woolen, because you tuck viscose inside, between the layers of wool.
I tuck/turn up/ hem the frill edge until I see the edge of the cloth (plastic resist) blocker. You have to lay out your piece evenly at the very first, because if you turn up a lot, it can block a ruff and you will hardly be able to convert it into real frills.
after the edge is hemmed, you can decorate the frill with decorative fibers. In my case, I have used viscose fibers, produced in Germany. It boasts a moderate luster and interesting texture.
Next, you have to cover the frills with an air bubble film/bubble wrap and start processing it with a sanding machine. If you don’t have a sanding machine, you can cover the frills with a mosquito net and agitate over the net.
After processing the frills for 5-10 minutes, you can remove the plastic. Gently lift the frills from the oilcloth-blocker, and decorate the surface underneath as well as everything else you have planned to decorate with viscose or silk.
Here are the pieces I decorated with similar ruffles. Of course, the shape of an oilcloth-blocker differs, depending on a jacket silhouette. But I hope after this lesson, it will not be difficult for you to draw any shape for your piece!
In this case, the direction of decorative fibers does not matter. But I always decorate the seam, when working with fronts. That's why the fiber stretches beyond the mould, which allows me later to place them on the back when they are matted/felted with the front.
That's how I did the frills for these pieces:
To create the dark blue jacket, I used a wide oilcloth-blocker which was fit for two or even three rows of trusses (18-micron merino wool)
Here we have only one ruffle with a small blocker on one front and two frills on the other front (a rare case of asymmetry):
here is the element for the dress:
The pink jacket has one general blocker for the back and for the fronts, of three different sizes
In this case, you have to start laying out frills while decorating the back.
There is something else I would recommend you to do: when you have made frills on the first front, be sure to take a picture of where there are placed or even measure how far they are placed from the front edge or armholes. This will help you decorate the second front symmetrically.
The gray overcoat I described and presented here with the photos is currently being felted on a roll. Pretty soon I will happy to demonstrate it to you!
I hope that everything I said is clear and interesting, and it will inspire you to create beautiful and stylish things.
Thank you for your attention!
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Attention! Woolwonders LLC and Irena Levkovich take no responsibility for any damage or injuries occured due to improper or unsafe use of any tools used in this lesson (including, but not limited to wooden block, glue, hook, finishing sander etc.). A student takes full responsibility for proper and safe use of tools and familiarizing her/himself with manuals and safety guides.