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I thought I’d start my first blog post by answering some questions that I get asked about my designs. The one I get asked most often is “how do you make everything so perfect!?”
The quick answer is “I don’t”. I just try really hard to make it look that way! Your projects can look just as “perfect” as mine, starting with this one huge tip: Take your time!
Hmm. Not terribly helpful was it? Ok…I’ll break it down a little and tell you what I do, step by step. I work mostly with felt and so far, all of my designs are made with it, so that’s the frame of reference I’ll be working with. I can’t comment on the use of these tips with other material like fleece or faux fur. If you experiment on other materials, leave a comment and let me know how it works–I’d be interested to hear about it.
1.) Pattern tracing. This is a big one. I ALWAYS print my pattern templates onto card stock. That way there’s a small edge to trace around. They’re just all around easier to handle this way.
2.) Once you have the templates printed, cut them out carefully! The more exact you are when you cut out the templates, the more accurate your felt pieces will be. This really is where a beautiful finished project begins. You can’t achieve that by being sloppy with the templates. If they’re cut crooked, your felt pieces will be too.
3.) That leads into the next tip. Trace your patterns onto freezer paper! If you’re unfamiliar with it–in the US at least–it looks like this…paper on one side, a waxy finish on the other. If you live in the UK, you may find this as “grease proof paper”. It’s worth every single penny of the approximately $6-$8 investment, depending on where you buy it. Even if you only make one felt project, you’ll find a million uses for the stuff. You might actually even use it in the kitchen! Lol! After you’ve traced your templates onto the paper side, roughly cut around the shapes. Doing that will allow you to make the best use of your felt because it eliminates big gaps between pieces.
4.) Iron the freezer paper onto your felt. Make sure you use the right iron setting for the kind of felt you use. I use a professional gravity fed iron and those suckers get HOT but I’ve never had it melt acrylic felt except when I’ve blasted it with steam. Don’t do that. Just sayin. Recently, I saw a spider while I was pressing wool blend felt. I ran. I am not ashamed. I also failed to pick up my iron first and it sat there on the felt until someone braver than me, could kill the damn spider! What!? Don’t judge me…I don’t like spiders and this one was the size of a VW bus! The felt was fine–it didn’t even scorch but I imagine I just got lucky. So anyway, my point is, use just enough heat to get the freezer paper to stick to the felt. Experiment on scrap pieces to find that just-right setting before you use the good felt you bought for your project.
5.) Now here’s where you’ll really want to take your time. Carefully cut out your felt pieces. Seriously–go slow and be exact. This is important. Put the babies down for a nap and tell hubby you need some alone time. Ok…maybe it won’t require quite that level of concentration but you get what I’m saying. Don’t remove the paper from the felt right away…I take it off as I use each piece.
There! Your project now has the potential to be outstanding! Your felt is all cut out and you’ve put it in a zippered sandwich bag for storage. You did that, right? Maybe it’s just me. It’s a really good idea though–everything stays clean and you don’t lose little pieces.
Next time I’ll get into the actual stitching–what stitches I use and why.