The SCA-style Wool Felt Applique-
How I do wool felt applique on viking dresses and caftans
I mean, they're gorgeous right? Those dresses with the massive deer leaping about the hem or peacock draped along the bottom of an apron dress but....
They’re not period.
Mostly. They seem to have developed from archaeological telephone, where grave finds were described with having animal shaped applique in wool and silk and metal embroidery.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t do it. I’m a huge believer in knowing the rules, then figuring out how to break them.
Ordinarily I would look at runestones and Celtic manuscripts like the Book of Kells for inspiration.
But in this case I knew I was going to add massive moons to the dress as wool felt applique. I found the following image online and followed a few basic steps.
I look the image and blew it up in my good friend MS Paint, printed it out to scale and tape the bits together to make a template.
For less defined bordered images I find that if I print out the image, Sharpie around the outlines I’m going to use and then enlarge it with a copier it works best. I make several copies, so I can cut out pieces to use as templates.
Say I were really doing this image:
|Dog from the Book of Kells c. 800 C.E.|
I would have one piece for the background of my wolf, then pieces for each color. I label each section on a smaller "master" version of the image and then each piece with not only a number but with the color.
I use wool felt from Jo-Ann’s. Polyester felt pills and doesn’t hold shape the same way and if you’re going to the effort of embroidering around the edges, go for the wool felt.
***You could use linen, flannel or other fabrics but you will have to deal with the raw edges, generally by folding the edges under and stitching over it that way. If you choose to use iron-on adhesive web, you will need to cut the pieces individually approximately a quarter of an inch smaller around the edges. Don’t be a martyr unless there is something very specific you want to create.
Now, meet your friend – Heat n Bond Lite
See how that is in bold and underlined? IT’S THAT IMPORTANT. Different fusible webs have different weights and different instructions. I like Heat n Bond Lite best, it doesn’t require steam, it’s not that finicky and especially important: it allows the fabric to still drape.
And if you take nothing else away, take this away – Fuse your web onto your felt FIRST, then cut out your shapes.
You will ruin your iron, your ironing board, and your peace of mind if you don’t do this.
Doing a simple image like the moon I only added fusible web to the gold felt. If I were doing the above dog from the Book of Kells, I would fuse my colors then add them of a gold or ivory background, embroider, then cut out something similar to the background and add that to it and embroider around.
Sailors Jupiter and Venus both made this mistake with oak leaves and hearts and their appliques took a little longer.
|Moon applique in progress|
I then blanket stitched around the moon in blue with whipped contrast of red. I was trying to make sure that I had as much contrast as possible. Our mid-level service award in the East is called a Silver Crescent and I didn't want anyone thinking I was implying a level to which I have not been formally recognized.
The Butt Bow: the pièce de résistance
I also patterned a large swirling ribbon butt bow out of red felt. Sadly, the images are on my iPad and not my phone so I only have an in progress shot of it being done at my desk.
|The inspiration sketch|
|Working at my desk, because I have a cat to feed|
I didn't want to do the blanket stitch on this portion, so I went back to the whipped stem stitch on the Mammen finds. Well. I hate stem stitch, but I do a mean back stitch, and if you whip that it looks very similar and it comes out GORGEOUS.
|Whipped Backstitch with special guest Hoity Toity|
Again, better pictures to come, as they are on the iPad.
This is how it came out:
|The finished back applique at EKU April 2015 in the Barony of Endewearde (Bangor, ME)|
I had many many compliments on it and my fellow Sailor Senshi were a vowing to add butt bows to their creations.
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