I will start this blog post by saying how much I love Naomi Tabatha and her craft book Felt Friends from Japan! Like others, I was first introduced to her works by other bloggers out there. Somehow I came across Naomi's works and I was hooked from the word go. She has inspired me to sit down for hours at an end quietly sewing away. It all started with this little bambino:
Please forgive the Instagram format of nearly every photo haha... It's kind of addictive to say the least! And from there... I was hooked!
|I love him! He stands about 35cm tall...|
Let's take a tally of all the animals I've done so far...
Reindeer x 3 (The reindeer is not a design in her book, but it is the fawn which I have modified by bending and twisting some cake wire into an antler shape and creating a pattern from it. I have since repeated that same pattern with success for each subsequent reindeer, and enlarging it by eye for the larger reindeer)
Rabbit x 1 (Book 1)
Ballerina x 2 (Book with donkey on cover) and
Giraffe x 1 (Book with cat-girl in dress on cover)
Since becoming enamoured with Naomi's first book, I splurged and purchased her three other felt creatures books. Thank goodness for eBay :D Unfortunately the last three titles are not available with an English translation, but regardless of this they still indicate how many of each piece needs to be cut, and written instructions are at a bare minimum. It is entirely possible for someone who can not read written Japanese to successfully reproduce her creations.
.:Words of Wisdom:.
If you're keen to try your own, I would say go for it! It's a very cheap venture where your patience is rewarded generously with the cute little creations you will come up with! Warning: It is addicting! And people will attempt to bribe you for felt friends of their own hehe
Many of the designs you can make without enlarging the pattern, but if you have a photocopier you can enlarge if required. Most of the designs I have recreated are exactly as they are from the sizes in the book, but the larger reindeer and rabbit are at 141% and the giraffe is 200%.
Although not absolutely necessary for you, I've compiled a list of information that you may find useful...
- Embroidery Needle
- Embroidery Cotton
- Small sharp scissors
- Narrow blunt object for stuffing (blunt end of bamboo skewer is ideal)
- Pins (to pin the patterns to the felt/if needed to secure felt in position)
- The book recommended a marking pencil, hence it's appearance in the photo... However I found it useless (for me - it did not mark the felt for me at all) so I don't think it's a necessity, but you could still use it...
- Pay attention to the neatness of your stitches, and the positioning of each stitch. Namely here try not to put your needle through the felt too close to the edge as your felt may tear as you are stuffing if it it is too tenuous. Each critter has it's appeal in its hand crafted-ness, so don't worry if they are not perfectly spaced stitches! Believe me though that with each one you complete, you will see how you improve each time :)
|The one on the left is an improvement to the one on the right! And they were the 3rd and 2nd ones respectively that I have made|
- Ever since the first two creations which said to glue on the eyes, I decided to sew them on instead - for added durability. Each subsequent book appears to instruct you to sew on the eyes, so perhaps it is for the best :)
- I have experimented by putting wire into the legs of my 3rd reindeer (picture above), so ideally he will always be able to stand. This is not strictly necessary though, but it was like a back-up insurance policy as it was made for someone else. I would prefer not to use this, and I don't think it is 100% necessary...
- Don't be afraid to put your own touches to the designs! All of the animals I have made have a heart sewn onto them as one of their spots and the ribbons on the reindeer are also something I came up with to up the cuteness ante. I'm thinking of trying to personalise them even more by stitching the recipient's initial's to the heart... That will be perhaps more if the person requests it.
Cutting and Stuffing:
- Be wary when cutting out felt as some areas require a delicate touch, as I've had to re-cut some pieces because I'd gotten a bit close to another cut and it was an extremely fragile connection and not worth continuing with.
- When stuffing, try to avoid poking too hard with your skewer as you might poke through or distort the felt.
- Be careful not to overstuff which can distort your creation and particularly with the head as it can overballance your creation and it will not be able to stand on its own. All the designs have the ability to balance on their 4 legs, but sometimes it is by sheer will and mind power that I channel into some to make them stand proper hehe (namely my fawn and first reindeer)
And I think that's about it for my "words of wisdom"...