Machine Embroidery With Felt: A Few Tips and Projects to Try
Felt is an ideal medium for so many machine embroidery projects. The texture provides a nice thickness and structure for projects as well as a strong base for machine embroidery stitches. I first started working with felt while making mug rugs for Halloween. It was so easy to use and gave me the texture, softness and structure that I needed for my mug rugs. This made me think about the many other ways I could use felt for upcoming holiday projects.
Felt is made of a variety of materials ranging from recycled water bottles to 100 percent wool. Often you will find wool felt as a blend of varying percentages of rayon and wool.
The felt I have used most recently is made from recycled water bottles. It is a bit thinner than the wool felt I have used in the past, but that lighter weight has some advantages. A primary concern for me is always how well my project will hold up over time and whether it is easily laundered. It is recommended that you check the care instructions when buying felt to be certain that it will meet the needs of your project. The ability to launder a project is especially important for things like mug rugs.
Here are some machine embroidery projects that would work wonderfully with felt:
These luggage tags, designed by Sew Inspired by Bonnie, will be stocking stuffers for my family. The pattern includes a blank tag so that one can add names or initials to personalize each tag. Get the pattern here.
Gift tags and tree ornaments
Felt would be a perfect fabric to use for these homemade gift tags. In the photo above, I used a gift tag pattern to make my own tree ornament. This is a wonderful way to add a personal, DIY touch to the holiday. Get the pattern here.
I used the same gift tag pattern shared above to make my own peppermint coasters to use for holiday entertaining. Get the pattern here.
Tips for working with felt:
1. Use a soft light to medium weight cutaway or tearaway stabilizer instead of batting.
Felt is thick enough that batting is not needed for projects like mug rugs and Christmas ornaments. However, it is helpful to use a light to medium weight cutaway stabilizer in place of batting if you are using a lighter weight felt, like the polyester made from recycled water bottles. When adding felt to the back of a project, the additional stabilizer may or may not be needed.
2. Use a water-soluble stabilizer for an in-the-hoop project.
When water-soluble stabilizer is needed, the water-soluble mesh stabilizer that stands up to higher stitch counts works best. A “plastic” type water-soluble stabilizer can also be used, but it may be helpful to use two layers of the lighter weight or one layer of the heavier weight.
3. Consider using a water-soluble topping stabilizer.
If the felt is very dense and the stitches sink into it too much, you may want to consider using a water-soluble topping stabilizer, just as you would on would embroidering on terrycloth or other plush fabrics.
4. Use felt and other types of fabric together in the same project.
Another option for in-the-hoop projects is to use felt only on the front or back of it, depending on the type of project. Printed fabrics can add a little pizazz, so go ahead and use two different kinds of fabric in your project. For example, Christmas coasters and mug rugs made with beautiful holiday prints can have felt on the back side, which will increase absorbency, but allows the beautiful fabric to be used.
5. When using felt for machine embroidery appliqué, use a design with a blanket stitch or lighter weight appliqué stitch.
And again, be bold and mix up the types of fabric that you use together. The background fabric for machine embroidery appliqué with felt may be a woven fabric or felt.