Nuno Felted Purse
Gika Rector demonstrates her nuno-felting process to create a colorful and lightweight purse.
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Gika Rector teaches felting classes to others, and particularly loves nuno felt because it’s lightweight and great for the Texas climate.
Materials and Tools:
merino wool roving (combed top)
mohair (kid mohair locks, dyed)
button and snap
magenta and lavender silk chiffon fabric
30" x 72" bubble wrap (or a solar cover for pool or spa)
30" x 72" nylon voile
swimming pool noodle
clear plastic (dry cleaner bags)
knee high or leg from panty hose
needle and thread
large square sponge
1. From each fabric cut out a parallelogram that is approximately 45" x 20". Cut this on the bias, so that the raw edges don’t ravel. Square off one end of each piece by cutting off a triangle shape (figure A).
2. Lay bubble wrap (or solar cover) on a table with bubble side down. If you’re using a blue bubble wrap and find the color distracting, you can cover the table with clear plastic and transfer the project to the bubble wrap just before wetting.
3. Outline the dimensions of the fabric on the plastic with a water-soluble marker.
4. Lay the wool onto the plastic. Gently pull small amounts of wool from the roving and lay them onto the plastic (figure B). If the wool is hard to pull apart, hold your hands farther apart.
5. Lay small amounts of mohair randomly on top of the wool.
6. Lay one piece of chiffon (magenta) fabric onto the wool (figure C).
7. Lay the wool down along the center of the fabric, approximately 11 inches wide (figure D). This is the area where the two fabrics will be felted together.
8. Put strips of plastic down on each side of this center wool (figure E).
9. Lay down the second piece of chiffon (lavender) fabric, with the triangular end at the opposite end from the triangular end of the first fabric.
10. Lay small amounts of mohair randomly on the second fabric (figure F).
11. Lay the wool onto the fabric as before. Mohair should have small amounts of wool laid over it. Mohair will not felt into the fabric by itself, but the wool fibers will trap the mohair fibers into the felted areas.
12. If necessary, carefully transfer the whole thing on top of a strip of bubble wrap. It’s OK to just slide the clear plastic onto the bubble wrap, keeping the bubble side down.
13. Cover the whole piece with the nylon voile. This keeps the fibers in place, as they’re wetted.
14. Carefully wet the fabric and fibers with soapy water. Use enough mild detergent to make the water feel soapy/slick. Drip water onto the nylon voile and press down with your hand to spread the water to dry sections (figure H).
15. Place the pool noodle at one end of the bubble wrap and begin to tightly roll it all up like one big jellyroll (figure I).
16. Tie the roll securely with a knee-high or a panty hose leg (figure J).
17. Roll the roll, back and forth 100 times.
18. Unroll and check the piece. Make sure that it hasn’t formed any weird creases.
19. Roll it up again, but this time start with the noodle at the other end.
20. Roll the roll 200 times. Check. Remove the nylon voile.
21. Roll another 200 times. Check.
22. When you can gently vibrate the fibers with your fingertips and the fibers are beginning to stick to the fabric, you can remove the piece from the bubble wrap.
23. Fold the piece up and gently drop onto the table 15 times (figure K).
24. Unfold the piece, refold and gently drop it another 15 times.
25. Keep dropping, unfolding and refolding the piece. Be sure to unfold the edges.
26. Gradually the fabric will begin to crinkle where the fibers are felting into the fabric.
28. Rinse out the soap and roll it up in a towel to remove the excess water (figure M). Lay it flat to dry.
29. Sew the side seams by hand, leaving the wide edges of the silk chiffon loose.
30. Make felt cording for the handle. Using a piece of roving approximately 20 inches long twist it along its length. Lay one end on a sponge and drip soapy water over it. Creating a tunnel with your fingers, roll it back and forth on the sponge, until it begins to hold together. Lay the next section on the sponge and repeat until the whole length is a soft snake. Keep rolling it on the sponge or between your hands or on the table until the cording is strong and firm (figure P).