Felt – the versatile textile

As felt is one of the textiles that I use to produce my items I thought I’d let you know a bit about this amazingly versatile fabric.  I chose felt as my main medium because of its vast colour range and the fact it is a forgiving, easy to use fabric. I can gently pull it into shape should I need to (although it isn’t elastic, so over pulling means it can completely mis-shape), it’s easy to cut and needs no hemming making it the perfect base for layering fabrics and embellishments.

Customers requesting commissions have a choice of felt colours for their creations.

Felt is a man-made fabric which has been created from natural materials and is thought to be one of the oldest textiles around. Said to have been created in Asia, the Nomadic people are still using traditional methods to product felt for practical uses including tents and clothing.  There are tales of St. Christopher and St. Clement, when fleeing from persecution, stuffing their sandals with wool to ease their feet and finding the wool had turned into felt socks due to the mix of continuous movement and sweat.

The traditional process of making felt is a combination of matting, condensing and pressing the fibres together.  When I was home educating my two children, we went along to a workshop where we turned wool roving into felt using hot soapy water and rubbing the fibres in a circular motion with our fingers to eventually end up with a small pieces of felt (you can read my blog post about it here).  It was a time consuming but worthwhile exercise with an end result of colourful artwork having combined felt and roving to make patterned pieces. An easier way is to pop an unwanted pure wool sweater or similar in the washing machine on a hot cycle – the heat and water will shrink and combine the fibres to produce felt.

Being a popular medium, felt is now manufactured to use in many areas of life, including the automotive industry, musical instruments, home construction and fashion, to name just a few, and there are different types of felt for different types of use.

Synthetic felt, mainly acrylic, polyester and viscose.

100% synthetic is a man-made felt using mainly acrylic, polyester and viscose (rayon).  As it is widely available and produced in an array of fabulous colours, including glittery and self-adhesive, it is ideal for general crafting.  This felt is stiffer to the touch, strong and easier at keeping its shape.

Blended felt, a mix of wool and viscose.

A blended felt is a mix of pure wool and viscose making it softer than synthetic felt.  Again, you can source a good selection of colours including “heathered”, an effect produced from wool fibres being interwoven.  The majority of my items are sewn using this type of felt as it has the softness of wool felt combined with some strength of synthetic.

“Heathered” a type of blended felt.

Eco-friendly 100% wool comes in a choice of thickness and has a lovely soft feel.  The different thicknesses mean this natural textile can be used for different mediums with thicker felt being good for sturdier creations like wall coverings or art.

Beautiful needle felted bear by Nicola at Nosey Toes Creations, Etsy

100% roving is wool that has been combed and twisted to hold the fibres together ready to be used for needle felting, a process where fibres are combined using a continuous stabbing with a very sharp needle to produce delightful ornaments, decorations and dolls.

Cute little duck, needle felted by Grace at The Rocking Felter, Esty.

I mainly use a blended felt (usually 30% wool, 70% vicose) with a good weight to create my items, occasionally using synthetic should I fall in love with the colour or need to make something sturdier.  I will be adding 100% wool felt items in the near future and, if I am happy with how these work for me and able to find a good selection of colours, aim to move over to this eco-friendly felt in the long run.

hand sewn embellished felt hare bag charm, hare key clip by Ellie's Treasures





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From beginning to end

Thought I’d give a little insight into how my items begin life and evolve to become a finished product.  This journey can take several weeks, especially once I reach embellishment stage and my own quote, “an artist can’t art unless they feel artistic” rings true many times!

Although I’m not a night bird, never have been and most probably never will be, I do find my brain gets a spurt of energy around 9:30 in the evening and it starts to fill with new ideas, colour schemes and what not.  It’s a little annoying to be honest as there’s no way the rest of my body can start to put these thoughts into practise as I’m physically too tired. Before hitting the sack I’ll jot down any light bulb ideas and perhaps pull out a couple of fabric squares or embellishments to remind me to pick up the inspiration the next day.

Sometimes a new product will come from something I’ve seen or heard that day, or perhaps from a client with an idea for a commission.  My first port of call is either the felt colour or the fabric choice, or perhaps the combination of both. I have a cheerful selection of felts to choose from and an even bigger collection of fabric which has surprisingly stayed in it sorted divisions by colour.  The vast majority of fabrics have been donated ready to be recycled into something new but I can’t help but buy a few pretty offcut squares or fat quarters to add to my collection.

Once the initial colour scheme has been decided and the charm or main feature has been picked, then it’s down to finding embellishments and having a good old play around to get a feel for how I’d like my new piece to look.  This will include ribbons, lace, buttons and seed beads, perhaps with printed words too, but I’m toying with idea of including other media in my work in the near future – building up the confidence for this one.

Neatly sewing everything in its right place is the final stage, often with additional stitching or further decoration as I move things along.  I love the process and how everything gradually comes together, producing a totally unique item with many hours of love and attention given to it.

hand sewn textile oriental cat pin brooch by Ellie's Treasures

Christmas market time

The year has whizzed by so quickly and I can’t believe Christmas is just a few weeks away.  Popping along to local Christmas markets and fairs is a great way to get into the festive season and do a little shopping from small independent sellers, providing you and yours with unique lovingly made gifts.

hand sewn cat in Santa hat bag charm

The last couple of months have seen me busy sewing at every available opportunity, building stock levels for the busy season, in particular, two forthcoming Norfolk based Christmas Markets. 

The first event will be  Pensthorpe Natural Park:

Pensthorpe Christmas Market, Fakenham, Norfolk 2018

followed by a return visit to Deepdale Christmas Market:

Deepdale Christmas Market 2018, Dalegate, Burnham Deepdale, Norfolk

If you are in the area and fancy a trip out to either of these lovely venues, do come and find me for a chat, I can assure you your day will not be wasted as each venue will have a wonderful Christmassy feel.

Hand sewn mini felt brooches by Ellie's Treasures

Both venues will be offering a good selection of stalls including food, drink and gift ideas as well as refreshments to keep you going throughout the day.  There is also free parking and free market entry at both of these events with Pensthorpe also offering a reduced entry fee to the park on the day – a popular place for nature lovers and those that wish to stretch their legs in beautiful surroundings.

hand sewn Christmas brooches and bag charms

Many of my new items have been sewn exclusively for these two events and are not currently available to purchase online.  If a particular little lovely catches your eye in this post, please do get in touch so I can reserve it for you (just hit that “Contact” button above and leave me a message or click over to my Etsy shop and leave me a “Conversation”).

If you are venturing out to fairs and markets this winter, wrap up warm, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy your day.

Hand sewn mixed media Christmas mini canvas snowflakes and icicles by Ellie's Treasures
Ellie's Treasures

Self employment – the importance of getting out of the workroom

As much as self employment is liberating, it is also hard work!  There are so many positive aspects to starting your own business: the chance to do what you love, learn along the way, progress and reach your personal goals, but there are downsides too.  One of these, and it is often talked about, is the feeling of isolation – those get up from your desk for a catch up in the coffee room with fellow workers kind of situations are missing when you work from home.  Social media can be a fantastic way to chat with others from so many walks of life, but many of us still need face to face contact that can be absent in the world of self employment.

indieroller meet up stamford oct 2018

Last Saturday I had the opportunity of meeting a wonderful bunch of local indie business owners and found it was the perfect time out solution.

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Organised through the Facebook Group The Indie Rollercoaster by Kate of Clumsy Kate and Small Biz Straight Talk, I had the pleasure of also meeting Beci of From Little Greenwoods, Rudy of Roodles Runique and Hannah, together with her adorable son, of Apples and Pips and Budding Smiles blog.

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Colourful vinyl sticker by Rudy.

We met at Cosy Club in Stamford (Lincolnshire) and got to know each other over a delicious lunch (or in my case a cooked breakfast).  As each of us is at a different point on our business path it made for an enjoyable, interesting and informative few hours where we could pick up tips (so many tips), bounce around ideas and get inspired to continue keeping our businesses ticking along.

After lunch we headed off to The Meadows, a large green area positioned alongside the River Welland. It was a warm and sunny day so the perfect opportunity to take a few product shots surrounded by picturesque scenery.

“BEAUTIFUL” framed print by Beci, t-shirt by Kate and pin brooches by Elaine (oh, that’s me!)

It will be fabulous to get together with these ladies again in the near future and hopefully encourage the group to grow so we can begin to support each other on a regular basis.
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King’s Lynn craft fair – kick start to Christmas

Belles at St. Nick's craft fair
Ellie’s Treasures kicked started the run up to Christmas with our first fair of the year on 9th September organised by Creative Orchard Events at St. Nicholas Chapel in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.  It was a most beautiful venue and although small, the Belles at St. Nick’s event with its friendly and welcoming stall holders was the ideal market to find that unique perfect treat or gift.  With stalls selling vintage goods, jewellery, pottery, jams and chutneys, leather ware and garden ornaments, I was thrilled to be part of it selling my accessories and artwork.

This was my view for the day – stunning don’t you think?
Craft fair at St. Nicholas Chapel King's Lynn
A little history.  According to the ‘net, St. Nicholas, built as a chapel of ease for nearby St. Margaret’s, is the largest chapel in England (200 feet long).  With the stone tower dating back to c.1225 and the spire being a 19th Century replacement, history dates the original chapel, probably made of wood, as being built between 1146 and 1175.  The amazing stain glass window shown in my photo is just one of many delights.  The late medieval oak vaulting and carved angels, engraved stone fonts and a memorial dedicated to “Robinson Crusoe” are just a few of the many features worth viewing .  My stall was pitched to the side of a set of benches erected to form a medieval church court where the Archdeacon would have the say on divorces and marriage issues!

Ellie's Treasures at St. Nicholas Chapel King's Lynn
We had flurries of customers throughout the day but by early afternoon things dried up a little so the stall holders were invited to learn about the chapel bells (a peel of 8 that are still in use), and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to help ring them!
St. Nicholas Chapel bellsTo top the day off nicely, a gentleman came into the chapel and began belting out tunes on the Willis organ – that was quite something!

If you are ever in King’s Lynn, a town steeped in history, do try and pay a visit St. Nicholas’ Chapel to marvel at the architecture and learn more about its history.  Although still consecrated, the chapel is cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust with events taking place throughout the year including the Jingle Belles Christmas Fair in early December.

References
http://www.stnicholaskingslynn.org.uk/index.html
https://www.britainexpress.com/attractions.htm?attraction=4090
http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/lynnnicholas/lynnnicholas.htm

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