As I wait for this years’ peonies to find the courage to rise and bloom, I am inspired by a picture of last years’, and so I pulled out some wool, some roving and decided to needle punch a bouquet of peonies. If you are not familiar with needle punch, it is the process of using needles to insert colored fabric into another fabric. The process of punching the roving into the wool actually creates a whole new fabric because both fabrics become one.
Here’s an example of some roving, which is essentially semi-processed wool or cotton fibers.
Samples of dyed roving.
Needle punching on the sewing machine.
Using special needles on a machine and a needle punch foot, you can use your sewing machine to “punch ” the roving down into the wool fabric below. You’re not using any thread, and if you have thread sensors on your machine, you’ll want to turn them off. After that, the process is a lot like painting with watercolor, or more precisely, like charcoal drawing, using the different colors of the roving to create shading, shapes and color.
My intent was to capture the carefree way the flowers moved and “relaxed” into the group. I always want to loosen my style. Sometimes my art is uptight. One of the reasons I enjoy working with fiber over paint is the amount of control that one must give up to the medium. That’s exciting and unpredictable. (Some people love precision and this may be frustrating for you.)
After punching out the basic shapes, just add some background texture.
Adding texture through small quilting patterns. Add batting to the back for stability.
What it looked like before topstitching.
As the final touch, add topstitching to the whole arrangement. This brings a bit of dimension, with a “pen and ink” feel. All of this is very textural. Interesting to look at, interesting to touch.
Anyone can do this with a little inspiration, some wool, and some roving. You can purchase hand needle punch kits at any craft store and I’m sure most sewing machine manufacturers have some form of needle punch accessory. (Bernina does, for certain!) After that, the sky’s the limit.
Machine tip: Be sure to clean out your sewing machine really well after doing needle punch.
Now get out there and have fun!!
Final piece. Not sure if I’ll turn it into a pillow cover or garment or something else entirely!