Hand-made felt and the right surroundings for a sunburst

Would you believe it, I found I had six more tags than I thought – so I can do 16 bookmarks before having to think of ordering more! Here are the six different colours all made into bookmarks, and the first three bookmarks to use sunburst stitch instead of dove’s eye.

All six colours made into bookmarks The first three bookmarks with sunbursts

More about the sunburst stitch later, but first the tags. It’s been really enjoyable making these bookmarks, and I’d love to make some more, but there are a few things to consider before I put my order in. First of all, much as I love these bookmarks, will other people love them enough to buy them? After all, they are meant to raise money for charity. Secondly, are all colours equal? Are the pink bookmarks going to appeal as widely as the dark blue or purple ones? And what about that unknown green? Thirdly, am I or am I not going to produce Felt Bookmark Kits? I’m tempted to put together at least one set of twelve, as my project for next year’s Knitting & Stitching Show – it would make a nice change from the needle books, which I will have used twice already by then. Fourthly, how many do I get? The difference between an order of 16 and an order of 60 is 8p per tag. And finally (and rather importantly), are the tags up to the task?

There is a reason for that last question. You may remember that one problem was that the little hole in the tag (or rather, the felt around the hole) wasn’t strong enough to hold the tassel; but that could be got round by trimming the tag and taking the tassel through with a large-eyed needle. A bigger worry is that, being hand-made, the felt isn’t equally thick throughout. In most of the sixteen tags that I have the irregularity isn’t big enough to matter, but in at least one it looks as though over time and with a fair bit of use it may start to come apart.

Thin areas in the hand-made felt

Now this was just one out of sixteen; and it will probably be all right. But if I were using these tags to make up kits, I’d probably choose to discard this one as not being up to scratch, which means the money spent on that tag has been wasted. So here’s what I’ll do: write to Blooming Felt (who have been very helpful in answering my previous questions) and ask whether there is a way of guaranteeing that I’ll get only usable tags, and then place an order for sixteen (the maximum number I can get at their lowest postage) including one Apple Green.

I promised you more about the sunburst stitch and here it is – my experiments with different bars. The easiest one to work is the sunburst in woven bars, and it looks great when the sunburst is worked in colour against white bars (1st picture). White on white it gets a bit cluttered, even though I pulled the woven bars quite tightly so they were thinner than usual (2nd picture). Working a sunburst in wrapped (3rd picture) and double wrapped bars (4th picture) is more fiddly, because the loops around the bars aren’t anchored (with woven bars the loops go through the bars rather than around them, so they stay put). This makes the double wrapped version more effort than it’s worth as it really isn’t any less cluttered than the woven bar version, which is much easier to work. That leaves the wrapped bar version, which is the one I will go for if these do make it into kits – a bit more work, but a nice open, airy look.

Coloured sunburst stitch in woven bars

Sunburst stitch in woven bars

Sunburst stitch in wrapped bars

Sunburst stitch in double wrapped bars

More about bookmarks

Three more felt tag bookmarks have been finished – they really are very quick which is just what I want. True, I pre-tasselled the tags and pre-cut the threads and fabrics, which makes the whole process a bit quicker still (quite a production line, in fact), but I do think that an experienced stitcher could put together one of these, start to finish, in about 2 hours. Ideal for charity stitching, or indeed for swiftly producing a good number of small Christmas presents. It might be an idea to put some kits together!

Three more felt tag bookmarks

As straightforward running stitch is not quite secure enough for my liking in attaching the patch (the first bookmark has been unpicked and restitched) I tried two different patterns: a zigzag (below right) and running stitch turned 90 degrees – perhaps you could call it perpendicular running stitch (below left). Both use more thread than ordinary running stitch but both definitely look and feel more secure. Another observation: the slightly stiffer Hardanger fabric (left) behaves better than the softer, floppier Oslo (right).

Two different ways of attaching the patch

On the whole I incline towards perpendicular running stitch as it is quicker to do, and also a little less noticeable. Both methods, if pulled fairly firmly while stitching, make the patch “puff up” and give a slightly padded effect. Both methods should not be looked at too closely on the back of the bookmark, but I hope people won’t mind that. One way of making the back neater is to attach the patch with thread the same colour as the tag, but unfortunately that would make it stand out rather on the front, and I’m not sure it would look as good as with white securing stitches.

Talking of colours, the Blooming Felt tags come in eight different shades; one of them is Ivory, which wouldn’t work unless you used coloured fabric, then the six colours I’ve got, and one more called Apple Green. The picture on their website, however, looks more of a mossy green. A very pretty colour, but not particularly apple-y. (It didn’t help that the picture of the Turquoise tag looked quite a different shade from the turqoise tag I’d just been using, making me think they might have changed the colour since I last ordered from them.) So I wrote to ask what DMC shade Apple Green was closest to, and quickly got a very helpful reply saying that they sell DMC soft cotton in shades to match their felts, with a link to the one that matched Apple Green. Well, what can I say.

Blooming Felt's Apple Green felt tag Blooming Felt's Apple Green soft cotton

With such a difference between the two pictures it would be anybody’s guess what Apple Green actually looks like, but fortunately I remembered that some DMC’s soft cotton shades match their stranded cotton shades, and both this one and the turquoise soft cotton happen to be shades I have in my stash. Turquoise is definitely like the tag I already have, and Apple Green is bright rather than mossy. In a way that’s a shame as I rather like mossy green; and this bright green will probably not go with any of the Anchor Multicolor perles. What it comes down to is that I’ll just have to order one to see what, if anything, it will go with.

But first there’s six more tags to finish. So far I’ve used woven bars and dove’s eye for all of them, and I’ll do one of each colour that way. The other four, which are duplicate colours, I’ll vary a bit; especially if I’m going to make them into kits, it would be good if the patch wasn’t exactly like the Mini Kit ones. I’m leaning towards using sunburst stitch (as used in Floral Lace: Forget-Me-Not and Song of the Weather: November) but haven’t quite decided yet what bars to surround it with. So far I’ve only used it with woven bars, but I’ll try it out with wrapped and double wrapped as well, plus perhaps some slightly different backstitch motifs.

Sunburst stitch

Worrying thought: I haven’t actually tried out any of these bookmarks in a book…