Thread Sketching on Felt Tutorial

Lay out your wool and wet down to felt. You need to do a thin felt as really thick felt won’t fit under the sewing machine. I used three layers but it was almost too thick. Thinner felt is much easier when you are first trying this technique.

You can use a hand held sander to felt. Just cover with a plastic bag but allow air to escape so it won’t get too hot. Then finish felting and fulling in the sink.

Here’s my finished piece of felt ready for thread sketching.

This is the photo from which I drew a simple sketch. You could trace your design if you’re not comfortable sketching. For your first try, I would suggest something more simple than this.

I used the copy machine and enlarged my sketch by 150%. I added some mountains behind the mountain goat.

Here’s the sketch on the felt to make sure it would fit and that it was placed well.

Then I covered the sketch with water soluble fabric. You don’t need any extra around the edges, just the size of the sketch.

Then I used a water soluble pen to sketch the design on the water soluble fabric. Don’t use a permanent pen as it may stain your felt.

Here’s the sketch after it’s all done.

Pin it in place on your felt.

Normally for thread sketching, I have been using black thread. But I decided to look at what grey threads would work best as this piece was so white and I didn’t want the stark contrast. I used the middle grey thread.

Put your piece under the machine with the feed dogs down, use a darning foot and the stitch length to zero. Bring your bobbin thread up to the top surface, stitch in place several times to start and then stitch following your design. This is sketching so you do several passes over all the lines. Don’t worry about being exactly on the line. It is supposed to look like a sketch so you don’t have to be perfect!

I usually do a section at a time and go over it at least three times for the major outlines etc. I do only two passes on the less important features. When you need to move from place to place, just
stitch in place several times before moving your needle and when you start to anchor the thread.

For the mountains, I used a lighter shade of grey to let them fade into the background and only did two passes of sewing.

Here is the piece completely stitched. You need to snip all the loose threads where you moved from place to place. I left the loose threads on the back to provide more security of the end threads.

Then I cut off all the extra water soluble fabric.

You’ll need small scissors for the tighter areas. You can skip this step and just dissolve all the fabric but depending on the brand you use, it can get kind of sticky and not dissolve easily.

Here is is after I’ve cut off most of the water soluble fabric.

Follow the directions on your water soluble fabric to dissolve it. Some use hot water and others can use cold. I just put mine in the sink and soaked it a bit. The pen lines and the fabric dissolved away.

And here’s the finished product. You can click on the photo to see it better.

Here’s a close up of the stitching. If this doesn’t make sense, please let me know and I’ll try to explain it better. It’s a really fun project, give it a try!

18 thoughts on “Thread Sketching on Felt Tutorial

  1. This is a really nice tutorial for thread sketching on felt – thanks for posting it! I also love the idea of putting the sander in a plastic bag – I’ve been covering the whole piece with heavy plastic but your method is much easier- great tips!

  2. Hi Ruth, not sure how I discovered your blog but I’m enjoying the posts I’ve read so far and have added you to my blog side bar.This tutorial is tempting to try…if I do, I’ll try to remember to give you a holler back. Thanks.

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog and entering my giveaway Ruth. Great tutorial for sketching on felt and I love seeing your sketchbooks from a couple of posts ago!

  4. I really appreciate your clear explanations! I've been wanting to stitch on the felts I make but thought they would clog my machine. What type of thread did you use please? Thanks so much!

  5. Pingback: Free Motion Machine Embroidery | feltingandfiberstudio

  6. I learned an embroidery technique in Grade 8 Home Ec
    Thread the bobbin with 6 strand embroidery floss
    Stitch with wrong side up(you would trace the design on the wrong side of felt)
    The embroidery floss is ” couched” on the right side of fabric
    In beautiful Niagara Region,Ontario,Canada

    • Yes Phyllis, you do need to lower the feed dogs. I did mention that in the tutorial. With an old machine, you can cover the feed dogs with a special plate but I doubt a 1940’s machine has such a plate. But I have seen some really old instructions (1890-1910) that were doing free motion stitching even with the feed dogs up. Your piece won’t move as freely but if you have a darning foot, you should be able to move the fabric around under the darning foot even without lowering the feed dogs.

Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear your comments so please let me know what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.