Tag Archives: artwear

New Advancements in Surface Design with the FeltLOOM

What an exhilarating time to be a feltmaker, a felt women’s and men’s fashion designer, and a designer of felt home fashion! In our last post  we covered the exciting trend sweeping the runways worldwide – felt. Today we want to talk about the element that draws many artists and designers to the wondrous world of felt – surface design. 

FeltLOOM, Needle Felting EquipmentFeltmaking is the ultimate textile design playground, affording you free reign to experiment with color and texture, to satisfy your creative goals to your heart’s content. Whether you are interested in developing color stories for your collection of home décor goods, or in exploring the drape of various fibers for your outerwear collection, the FeltLOOM line of needle-felting, fabric-making machines makes your tasks easy, accessible, and enjoyable. FeltLOOM, Fiber Conversion EquipmentWith FeltLOOM, you can easily combine different colors of wool fiber to study how the colors blend together in the finished fabric. You can also dye the fabric created on the FeltLOOM. You can combine a variety of fibers, including wools, alpaca, and silk, and explore the drape and tactility of the finished fabric. Whether your signature style is abstract and minimalist, or realist and colorful, you are able to create felted fabrics with floral, geometric, or free-form designs, using either naturally colored fiber or dyed fiber.

Artist: Sharon Janda

Artist: Sharon Janda

Sharon Janda of Wild Plum Designs creates exquisite felt art-to-wear. Her jackets, scarves, vests, shawls, and other accessories, many of which are created with the FeltLOOM, are vibrant, elegant, and completely original.

At Stramba Farm Alpacas & More natural, undyed colors are used to create sophisticated yet earthy FeltLOOM-felted fabric appropriate for use in clothing or home décor.
Artist: Sharon Janda

Artist: Sharon Janda

At Whispering Spirit Alpacas loosely spun yarn is added to the surface of wool to create subtle and intricate surface design patterns in this handsome vest.

Whispering Spirit

Whispering Spirit

Whether you are developing an entire line of products out of felted fabric, a capsule collection for a fashion show, or just researching and experimenting, our machines offer convenience, flexibility, and save you time.

Stramba Farms Alpacas

Stramba Farms Alpacas

With a FeltLOOM machine at your beck and call, you no longer need to be at the mercy of third-party fabric producers – you can produce fabric samples of various sizes on your own machine. Neither must you rely on the laborious and often inconsistent results produced by the wet felting method. The fabric you create on a FeltLOOM is reliably consistent and produced at a fraction of the time.

FeltLOOM in the MediaWhatever your surface design aspirations are, guided by your imagination and with beautiful fiber at your fingertips, your creative design process will flourish with the help of a FeltLOOM machine in your studio. With four kinds of machines in the series, you choose the size and other parameters that suit your needs best. The main differences among the machines in the series are the size, needle density, and speed. All FeltLOOM machines felt consistently and give high quality results.

Felt Hits the Runway in 2014

lex2As major international Fall/Winter 2014 fashion weeks wrapped up their runway shows in recent days, and as fashion houses began to fill orders for the world’s department stores, boutiques, and online fashion shopping portals, we are doing our own bit of trend-spotting and trend-forecasting. Guess what trend has emerged in haute couture and ready-to-wear fashion in recent seasons? Loud and clear, front and center, the trend we have spotted on many runways is FELT!

lex1The world’s top designers, from Balenciaga to Chloe, Marni to Christophe Lemaire, and beyond, a number of the most talented and innovative designers have embraced felted wool as a fabric essential to their collections. Fashioned into oversized coats and capes, crop tops, trousers, full skirts, and fanciful jackets, felted wool fabric is paired with other luxurious materials long at home on the world’s top runways — suede, silk, leather, chiffon.

Felted wool affords today’s emerging fashion designers and established couturiers infinite possibilities for sculpting interesting forms, shapes, and lines in their garments. Felt’s unique texture and sumptuous tactile feel exude warmth and luxuriousness. Felted fabric lends itself beautifully to being lavishly embellished and richly embroidered, serving as the perfect canvas for major established fashion designers, as well as for independent surface designers and wearable fiber artists. Felted wool need not be relegated to niche markets that fly below the radar of the international fashion community. Instead, felted wool fabric’s rightful place is among today’s highest prized materials, as it inspires esteemed designers and the fashion world’s next generation of talent.

Zabielski2Designing and producing large garments and especially entire collections that feature felt prominently, however, presents a challenge. Industrial felt production isn’t for everyone, and it doesn’t afford sufficient customization and flexibility. Hand-felting (or wet-felting) is extremely labor-intensive and can produce inconsistent results. It is best reserved for one-of-a-kind or extremely limited production runs. FeltLOOM delivers an ideal solution to the challenges of producing beautiful, stable, and strong felted fabric, and doing so quickly, and on a large scale, if necessary. The FeltLOOM original fabric-making equipment was developed and perfected thanks to our company’s founders’ years of experience in engineering and working with fiber. The FeltLOOM family of needle-felting fabric producing machines includes several models, each specifically designed for the end-user, be it a fashion or interior designer, individual fiber artist, fiber mill, or textile & fashion design educational institution.

Zabielski1We invite you to explore each model’s features — Artist Series, Pro-Series, Lab-Series, Light Industrial Series. Then simply contact us (855 335 8566 or info@feltloom.com) anytime for an in-depth consultation on your specific needs and requirements. Like the fashion world’s most valued and sought after garments, each FeltLOOM is bespoke — custom-built to your specifications to enable you to produce the perfect felted wool fabric to incorporate into your next fashion collection.

Designers of regional and national stature already have championed the possibilities of creating stunning felted fabric on the FeltLOOM. Prominent textile artist and designer Laverne Zabielski, whose work was recently the subject of a feature in Fiber Art Now, international contemporary textiles & fiber arts magazine, has used FeltLOOM-made hand-dyed fabric widely for her line of magnificent coats and jackets.

PetrovichJudy Petrovich, an early FeltLOOM adopter, has fashioned richly textured women’s and men’s clothing and accessories out of naturally hued felted wool fabric created on the FeltLOOM. All FeltLOOM models are perfectly suited to handle a variety of fibers, including wools, alpaca, and almost any other fibers. If it has a barb, the FeltLOOM can felt it.
lex3Artwear made from fabric created on the FeltLOOM was highlighted at the Lexington Fashion Collaborative, Future of Fashion V Show in fall 2013.
These impressive and incredibly diverse examples represent only a small sample of the possibilities of using FeltLOOM-made fabric for garment and accessory design. With interest in felted wool rapidly growing, the demand for our unique FeltLOOM machine is also booming. We undoubtedly will see many new exciting fashion collections made possible by the FeltLOOM in 2014. We are immensely excited to work with the global fashion industry. If you are an emerging designer or a fashion world all-star interested in utilizing luxurious felted fabric in your next capsule or full-season collection, don’t delay contacting us for a FeltLOOM consultation.

Catch the Spirit!

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“Behind every successful ranch is a good job in town.” Every rancher in the country has probably heard that one. Lee and Sandy Liggett of Whispering Spirit Alpacas in Sandia Park, New Mexico have heard it, and they’ve lived it. But their experience with their FeltLOOM is showing them a profitable road ahead for this young industry through the manufacturing of clothing. Lee says that when he and Sandy got into the Alpaca business five or six years ago the industry was mostly a show ring operation based on raising and selling animals and collecting stud fees.

DSC_6158 They saw that model as more of a hobby than a business. But Sandy is an artist and was interested in the fabric. “That’s really what compelled us to go into Alpacas because it has such a nice fleece.” They started offering yarns and roving, but Sandy wanted to get into designing and manufacturing clothing. That direction also especially appealed to them for philosophical reasons. Lee says. “So much manufacturing in this country is gone. It’s offshore.”

They liked to idea making a contribution to bringing some of it back. Sandy had her eye on the FeltLOOM for some time. They took the plunge and purchased the largest model in 2010. Lee now works on the loom, creating fabric and experimenting with blends. Sandy creates the prototypes for their clothing, which is then constructed by three local seamstresses. They sell mostly through juried craft shows, but also through some galleries. Lee says, “I really think the use of the fleece is going to drive the industry. If a person believes that they can shear an animal and at least cover their costs . . . that’s going to help everybody.” Lee says that one thing that they’ve really enjoyed is, “getting a business started where there really is no blueprint.”

WhisperingSpiritAlpacas_copy They like the challenge of solving problems and creating their own road forward. Sandy still has a good job in town, but maybe the day is coming when that won’t be necessary because Lee says the business is gaining traction.

Visit their website at www.whisperingspiritalpacas.com to see more images of Sandy’s designs.

Holiday Possibilities

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Heather Blanchard says that she and Norris McAuslan, owners of Edy’s Mills Fine Fibres in Oil Springs, Ontario, Canada have had their “48″ since March of this year. As she puts it, the FeltLOOM gives them another option that they can offer the fiber farmers whose fleece they process. She says that, as the customers learn more about the loom, they’re starting to get excited about its possibilities.

But their processing customers aren’t the only ones learning about the possibilities. Edy’s Mills also organizes and offers FeltLOOM workshops for others to enjoy. They have worked with people to create wall hangings, purses, slippers, scarves, and many other creative items.

For the wall hangings they provided a base background for each participant as well as colored roving, yarn, and other interesting material. Heather ran the machine. She says that workshop was a big hit. “Everybody had lots of fun and every creation was absolutely different from the next. That’s always the fun part.”

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They organize some of the workshops, but also allow others to put together their own groups. Some bring their own materials and are only renting time on the machine; others ask Edy’s Mills to provide materials, such as slipper and tote bag bases. They must have a minimum number of participants and Heather always operates the machine.

We got the scoop on an upcoming holiday workshop that hasn’t even been announced yet. Heather laughs when she tells us, “I’m letting the cat out of the bag on this one. We’re going to host a Christmas tree skirt workshop, so people can create their own tree skirts.” When asked if we could post her plans, or if they wanted to keep them under wraps, she replied that she was willing to share. She said, “That’s one thing that we all appreciated when we were at the feltLOOM gathering, everybody sharing what creations they’re making.”

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Do you have plans for creative holiday projects on the feltLOOM? You can share them by posting them in a comment. We’d all love to know what you’re up to. Learn more about Edy’s Mills Fine Fibres on their website.

Developing a Fiber Business: A Conversation in Three Parts

This is the first of a three-part conversation about developing a fiber business with fiber artist Laverne Zabielski whose experimentation with the blending of fabrics and use of color on the loom has greatly influenced the FeltLOOM and fiber art communities.

Part 1: Two Paths for Your Fiber Business

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Working on a FeltLOOM opens up a new kind of territory for people. They quickly see that there are many paths to follow going forward with their fiber business, but there are no maps to guide them along the way or show them where those paths might lead. With the FeltLOOM it is now reasonable to create fabric, which might lead to creating many different kind of products, or just as many types of art. The sheer number of alternatives can be overwhelming.

Fiber artist Laverne Zabielski has been using the FeltLOOM almost since its inception and she also has extensive experience in selling her fiber work. We asked her if she had any words of wisdom for FeltLOOM owners and users as they venture into this new territory.

She said: “To be able to sell your work, you have to figure out what your forte is, what you want to specialize in.” She immediately zeroed in on the plethora of possibilities a FeltLOOM owner confronts, “When you get the LOOM you begin to see all kinds of possibilities and you want to do it all. But you can’t do it all.” She urges people to figure out “what represents them most, what they enjoy most, and what they can continue doing over and over and over again.”

b2ap3_thumbnail_FL_LavernGreen1Laverne sees two distinct approaches to creating on the FeltLOOM—as an artist or as a producer of something that can be created pretty much the same every time. To illustrate the artistic path she quotes her teacher Arturo Sandoval, who says that “art is responding.” The artist attempts something and is open to responding to the result. Work created in that way is complicated, layered, and time-consuming. It needs to be sold at a price that reflects that time and one-of-a-kind effort. Galleries and boutiques attract customers who understand that value and are willing and able to pay for it. Producing something that can be replicated is more traditional. It is not as experimental, can be made in less time, and sold for less. There are many more places that the traditional work can be sold.

Art and craft shows are where many “makers” first introduce and begin to sell their work to the public. Laverne was no exception. She learned from experience that those shows must also be chosen according to the type of work that you are creating as well as how it is priced. Work that takes time and must sell at a price that reflects that time, will not sell at a show filled with much lower priced items. The opposite is also true. A craft show filled with high end items will not be a good venue for work that is not one-of-a-kind.

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When you are ready to begin selling your creations, visit b2ap3 thumbnail FL LaverneRust1shops and galleries in and near your community and attend art and craft shows. Take note what is displayed and the price range represented. Is every piece unique or are the racks with multiple examples of a style in various sizes and colors? Would pricing your work to fit in there be profitable? Use this information to decide what shows to enter and what shop owners to approach with your work.

Once a FeltLOOM owner or user has found his or her focus and is producing items for sale, they will begin to develop a following. In the second part of our conversation with Laverne we talked about how she developed her following. Join us here to learn what she had to say.

Make Artful Fabric with the FeltLOOM

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Many newcomers to the FeltLOOM world don’t realize is the ease with which they can create amazing artful fabric for their projects. We have seen the non-woven fabrics made on a FeltLOOM used for clothing, upholstery, equestrian accessories, and rugs, just to name a few applications. Here is one project that shows how to create one-of-a-kind fabric from roving.

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Download the instructions for Making Artful Fabric with the FeltLOOM.

Developing a Fiber Business: Part 3

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In this third installment of our “Developing a Fiber Business” series, Laverne Zabielski talks about style, community, and color.

Laverne’s experimentation with the blending of fabrics and use of color on the loom has greatly influenced the FeltLOOM and fiber art communities.

Laverne first met Lanette Freitag and encountered the FeltLOOM when they shared a booth at Kentucky Crafted. She was so taken with the LOOM that every week for the next year she drove three hours to Lanette’s, worked on the LOOM for four or five hours, and drove the three hours back home. That continued until Kentucky University, only two hours from her home, purchased the FeltLOOM that she now uses. “So you want to talk about driven,” she laughs as she recalls that period.

As a trained artist who dyes silk using the Shibori technique, she began experimenting with dying the material she was creating. As Laverne recalled that period she expanded her comments on creating a style. She said, “To develop a style you make rules for yourself.” She explained that you can, of course, break those rules. She then used her distinctive use of color as an example of creating rules for a style. “One of my rules is to always follow color theory. One of the reasons is that, if something doesn’t turn out the way I expected, because I follow color theory, the colors will blend in such a way that they’ll still be beautiful.”

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A second personal rule about color that she shared was that she always uses three colors. “That gives me a lot more depth and movement in my pieces. I may want to use all turquoise, but I’ll use three shades of turquoise. Or I’ll use analogous colors, which are the colors that are side-by-side on the color wheel, so I’ll use turquoise and green and blue.” She explains that color theory has other combinations which could also be applied successfully.

Laverne then explained that movement and flow, which require a light material, are also important elements of her personal style. That fact prompted her to begin combining materials. Instead of felting two quarter pound batts together to produce a half pound material, she felted a single batt to silk to produce material of half the weight. When asked if she ever works with other designers, Laverne answers that she does. She sometimes provides materials to other designers, often through trades, and participates in runway shows. She says, “That’s part of building a community and building your following and participating in events, in shows, again getting your name out there. Get people to see your work … (and) get to see your work in action.”

Visit Laverne’s website to be inspired by more of her beautiful work or to contact her with questions.

Designing with Felt: Natural Edges

Here is an idea from the FeltLOOM desgin vault:

Design your felt so that there are nature edges that do not require sewing. For example when making sleeves, or jacket edges, design the batting with the colors you want at the end of the sleeve and felt the color and edging to your desired look. After felting, the edge can be sewn and the end left alone, because it will not ravel and will provide an artful look.

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The Hats of Hardgrove Studio

Carol Frazer has worn many “hats” in her life. At home at River Bed Ranch in Heber, Utah, she has raised alpacas since 1991. She also once owned a small computer store, where she taught programming. She produces hand printed letterpress note cards, stationery, and art books through her Garden House Press. After moving to Heber, she studied fiber at the University of Utah where she completed their certificate program and, as a fiber artist, she has worked in weaving, spinning, sewing, and felt making.

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For more than two years now she has focused much of her prolific creative energy on—what else?—Designing, making, and selling one-of-a-kind hats.

Carol took delivery of her 36-inch FeltLOOM in May of 2010. She experimented with the machine for about nine months. “I made a lot of stuff first that I didn’t really like, and I decided I didn’t want to get into clothing because sizing is the issue.” Then she thought of hats. She made her first hat from felt created on the FeltLOOM, using a commercial pattern, and wore it to a conference in Durango, Colorado in early 2011. There a woman wanted to buy it right off her head. She recalls her response, “I thought, ‘Oh, other people like this’ so I started making more.”

She made another hat for the woman she had met at the conference, and quickly graduated to creating her own patterns. “Once I had the concept of the hat, which came from a commercial pattern, you know you have a crown, you have a brim and you have a top, then I could take that and create something different.”

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ach hat is one-of-a-kind and as such is very creative work, but is also very time-consuming. She explains her process, “When I create a hat I start with just a raw batt. I have to layout a pattern that I’ve chosen onto that batt before I felt it, to make sure I’m going to have enough fabric. I’m working with a 36″ machine so I have limitations as far as the final fabric product, size wise. … Then, when I know that it will fit, I go to the effort of trying to figure out what design I want on the top, or the brim, or do I just want it just on the edge, and I lay that all out on the fabric before I run it through the FeltLOOM. That takes a lot of time and it’s a hit or miss, allowing for shrinkage and all that. It’s a bit technical. It’s quite creative.”

She says that the hats are a joy to make. “They give me many hours of pleasure and mental release.”

Carol says that her hats have evolved. At first she used one-pound batts. She says, “I have some of my reject hats from early on. They were very heavy, and so I changed. I had my mill do half-pound batts, which made a thinner fabric … that makes a nice winter hat.” She is now experimenting with various materials as scrims to add body to quarter-pound batts in order to design hats that are even lighter, and so suitable for spring and fall.

Marketing, Carol explains, is not her forte, but she is pondering additional steps to get her hats seen. Now customers come mostly from word of mouth, friends of friends and friends of other customers. She has also sold hats through the farm stores of other alpaca farmers and is planning to try them in some boutiques. She is contemplating opening an Etsy store and she has begun posting on Pinterest with positive results. “That (Pinterest) takes them to my website and that can lead to a sale.”

One thing is certain, Carol will continue to make her charming hats. “Each piece I make stirs up my creative juices to try something different.” To see more of her work visit her website at: http://www.hardgrovestudio.com

Getting Over Winter at LanMark Farm

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Spring on LanMark Farm always lives up to its name. It’s when the farm really “springs” into action. Besides planning their crops for the year and “getting over winter,” as Lanette puts it, spring is lambing and shearing season

This year Lanette and Don were kept busy overseeing the birth of 47 lambs from March 22 through the middle of May.

One fruitful ewe dropped four of the little darlings, another had triplets, and one decided that she didn’t choose to mother her lamb, so Don and Lanette took on extra duty bottle feeding the four youngsters who weren’t getting meals from their mothers.

The lambs are a source of entertainment as they develop from dependent newborns to cheeky teenagers in just four to six months time. Lanette describes their rapid development, “They’re born and they get up almost instantly. They stay very close to Mom. And the mom has this little hum that she says to them as soon as they’re born and they’ll bleat back. You’ll hear this little conversation between Mom and the lamb.” She explains that lambs stay pretty close
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by the moms for a few weeks. Then they get FL AlbumDiningRoomenough confidence to leave her side for a little bit, but when she calls them they come right back. Or, if they don’t see her, they will call her. At about a month and a half of age, they get real brave and they’ll run with other lambs. They run and jump in circles, but when Mom calls them, they come right back. At about three months of age, though, things change. Lanette says, “All these little lambs buddy up and they run off. Then if Mom calls them it’s like, ‘I don’t have to listen to her’ —Teenagers!”

The rest of life on the farm might stutter a bit as all the ewes and lambs take precedence, but it doesn’t come to a halt. Spring is also shearing time, which is still to be done this year. Ordinarily Don and Lanette shear before lambing because the lambs can have a detrimental effect on the mothers’ fleeces. Don explains, “A lot of times I’ve gone into the barn where the ewes and lambs are and you’ll see a mom laying down and the lamb is standing right on her back. He may lay down there. He may stand there. He may jump up and down. These mothers take a whoopin’ from the little lambs.”

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Once the shearing is complete they can begin processing the fleeces from the many types of breeds that they raise. This year, they have an English Leicester Long Wool Ram, a breed that is classified as rare, numbering only 2,000 worldwide. Lanette is relishing the Leicester’s luxurious, shiny curls. She says, “We use the curls for embellishments and rugs. We love our long locks and carefully wash them to keep their shape.”

It seems the two are never idle. Recently Lanette finished a shawl/cape made from their own wool and also used some carefully washed curly locks for the beautiful one-of-a-kind wool tablecloth shown above. Makes the room look great, doesn’t it!

Explore more photos here:

Spring on LanMark Farm

More FeltLOOM Creations