Monday, November 29, 2010

Custom Floor Pillow / Pouf

A floor pillow or pouf is a great way to add casual seating to your home.  They can be made in any size, many different shapes, and can be quite plain, or have some great trim or fringe!  A pouf is just a taller version of a floor pillow, usually round.

I had 2 yards of some beautiful leopard print cotton velvet that I decided to use for a pouf.  I wanted to be really substantial- more of a piece of furniture than a pillow.  I cut 24 wedge shaped pieces- 12 for the top, and 12 for the bottom. The angled part forms the flat top or bottom, and the straight wide part of the wedge forms the sides.

One half:  all 12 pieces sewn together. They didn't quite meet perfectly in the center, so I hand sewed the gap closed.  The edges that curve under form the sides.

The finished pouf!  I inserted a solid black piping in between the top and bottom, and made sure the seams matched, leaving about a 14" long opening.  I stuffed it with halfway with some old down bed pillows, then sewed a button on top and bottom in the center, attaching them to each other to dent the pouf in the center.  I then finished stuffing it, and hand sewed the opening closed.  It's quite large, and is stuffed with 10 pillows!  The one that is made in class will not be this big!

View the class schedule at

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lined Tote Bag and Zippered Case

Since disposable plastic bags are now verboten, and everyone should take their own reusable bags to the grocery store now, I thought it would be a good idea to offer a class on making tote bags.  I never seem to have enough bags to haul my stuff around town!

I like to use oilcloth for tote bags. It is shiny because it is treated on one side to be waterproof, and is also washable and very durable.  It comes in great colors and patterns too!

I chose 4 different black and white prints.

I cut the pieces of the bag from the different prints- front and back, sides, bottom, outside pocket and handles.

I later decided that oilcloth handles would be too stiff, so I used a nylon webbing instead.

I cut the same pieces out of black broadcloth for lining.

The finished tote and coordinating zippered case!  They can be made in any size that would you'd like, and more colors and patterns of oilcloth can be found at or

I can supply the black webbing, in widths of 1" and 2".  Other colors of 1" can be found at
You can register for this class right on the website:

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Handmade (nuno) Felt

Making felt the wet method (not by knitting or needle felting) is such a fascinating process.  After all the felted garments, bags, and scarves I made, I'm still so excited by this process. It is almost magical!

I start with a piece of silk chiffon that is about 30% larger than the finished size I want.  Then I layer predyed wool roving, which is unspun wool fiber, over it in 2 layers, each layer perpendicular to the other.  Then I layer on whatever embellishment I want- but it has to be something that will felt into the base layer of roving.  Yarn that is composed of mostly wool will work, as long as it is not superwash, which doesn't shrink when washed.  Other animal fibers such as silk and alpaca work also.

Below is my 24" square before I wet it down.  I used shades of brown, tan, grey, and cream.  The shinier bits are actually unspun silk fiber.

I then cover it with a nylon curtain, which doesn't absorb water, and wet the whole piece thoroughly with soapy water.  Then the felting process begins- lots of agitation, which makes the fibers migrate into the weave of the silk, and interlock with each other.  It's like putting a wool sweater in the washing machine- except it's done by hand so that the placement of the fibers isn't disturbed.

Below is the piece after felting, when it's still wet. It shrunk down to 18"!  I'm going to make it into a pillow.
 You'll have to take the class to find out how the magic happens!
Class schedule is at

Here are a few more examples of nuno felt

The wool is on the inside! I left the edges unfelted so they ruffle.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild Holiday Sale

I'm a member of the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild, and our annual holiday sale is this Saturday, November 13 at The Matthaei Botanical Garden.  There will 40 artists selling their work- weavers, knitters, dyers, spinners, felters, sewers, and dollmakers.  There are some incredible skilled artists in the guild!  Buy handmade holiday gifts for friends and relatives, and support local artists!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Exhibiting at Holiday Art Fairs

I'm selling my wearable art at a few holiday shows this season-the first of which is November 3rd and 4th in Bloomfield Hills at The Village Club.  I might be the only artist there- most of the vendors will be selling goods that they purchased wholesale.  It's hard to compete with the prices on some of that merchandise if it's made overseas, but I'm sure there will be holiday shoppers who will appreciate hand made goods.

Some of my hand dyed and wet felted silk chiffon scarves