I know it is only October, but I thought I would try making something with a Christmas theme. We haven’t even had Halloween or Thanksgiving yet, and though I love seeing those holiday makes with all the pumpkins, it is difficult to get excited when there are no young children around and you live in a country where they don’t really celebrate those holidays. Although Halloween seems to have made an appearance over the years, it is still not a big thing and will most likely be cancelled this year.
So, I decided to do something with a winter/Christmas theme. But what to make, and how to make it were two questions I needed to figure out. The most popular would be something like a Santa or a snowman. Or maybe both? Having recently made a mini-me, I thought I would try to make something along those lines. When ever I make something new, I like to google and see what other people do. I always did this when making a painting and then I would put my own spin on things. It is not copying. That is just so wrong. What other people do is out there to inspire. So, I looked at a lot of needle felted snowmen and Santas. There aren’t many wet felted ones out there. I drew up a design and enlarged it for a template. Having learned a few things from making the mini-me, I went a bit large as it is a bit easier to layout the wool on a bigger template as the arms and legs are quite fiddly to work on.
I decided that I was going to make a template that could be used for both a snowman and a Santa. It took me a few hours to come up with this design. Designing something simple with a dual purpose is not easy. The Santa is on the back of the snowman, but you will have to wait until next year to see it. I decided to make the snowman first as there were limited colors and the design is more simple.
I made sure I took some process photos this time. I put the paper template on the table, covered in thin plastic, and put the resist on top of that so that I could see where to lay out the design. The design is laid out first. I had orange prefelt for the carrot nose. I used white prefelt in Lightning from World of Wool. Their super white prefelt is nice and thick. I cut out two pieces at the same time. I used a light blue merino batt for the mittens and the cuff on the hat. Leftover bits of blue merino roving was used for the main body of the hat. Once the design was in place, I used white merino roving in lightning to lay around all of the white edges. I wetted out and soaped and did the same on the other side. I checked my design and added more wool where required. Doing this takes a lot of time as you need to make sure it is secured tight on the template and is why I add extra roving around the edges. The next two layers were 21 micron merino in natural white that I got in my Woolly Wednesday deal. This also took a long time to do as I did the layers in sections because I didn’t want to make any cuts around the arm and leg areas. It involved a lot of flipping over. I have to say that the laying out stage of making soft toys is not my favorite part. Once both sides were finished it was on to the rubbing stage. I did not use a sander. I used my hands for a change. Once the merino passed the pinch test, I rolled the snowman 40x all around and on both sides. When the felt starts to crinkle on the resist, I used a fulling tool I have to straighten out the fibers before rolling on each side. This helps to stretch the fibers and actually aids in felting. Here he is after taking him out of the resist. I cut his belly where the buttons were going to be placed.
Because there is not a lot of room to get my fingers into his arms and legs, I turned him inside out. The prefelt and batt felt quite quickly and at this stage he is already quite sturdy.
You can see already how much he has shrunk after the template was removed and after he had a bit of a rub to make sure there were no loose fibers and to sort the edges out. The shrinkage rate is approximately 30%, although I could have made him smaller. I didn’t want him to lose his chubbiness, and it is also easier to work on a bigger piece as the mini-me was quite fiddly in comparison. I carried on rolling and checking to see that the inside wasn’t sticking to itself. Once he was the size I wanted, I gave him a good rinse and a soak with some vinegar and then gave him a spin in the washing machine. I then stuffed him with bubble wrap to dry.
He was a bit crinkly, but that is ok as some of it would get smoothed out once he was stuffed. I used hollowfill fiber stuffing so it could be washed. I had to needle felt some blue batt in some areas around the hat and mittens. I then stitched on his eyes with vintage buttons and stitched a mouth. I am not really happy with the mouth placement even though this was the second attempt. I shall try again, so maybe third time lucky, although it will be more difficult now that he is completely stitched up! I needle felted the pink cheeks with corriedale. The vintage buttons on the belly were done last. Sewing his belly is like surgery. I filled him up with fiber so he is nice and sturdy. Here is what he looks like from the back.
I made his scarf from a nuno felted project that was a bit of a fail. I don’t throw away failed projects as they tend to come in handy.
On the whole, I am quite pleased with how he turned out. Although he is made on a resist and is technically a 3D object, he is really 2D in design, and I needed to take this into consideration when working out the template. I still may not be ready for Christmas yet, but at least this simple snowman makes me smile. 🙂