Tutorials

How to Cut Felt with a Die Cut Machine

Posted by Renae Bradley on 15 June, 2017 0 comments

 how to die cut felt

Two questions I get asked all the time: "How do you cut your shapes so perfect?" and "Can I die-cut felt?!" Yes, I say while nodding my head enthusiastically! You can die cut felt -it creates perfect edges every time and makes Benzie's felt even more versatile and production friendly. 

Make felt flowers quick and easy

It is important to first note that there are two categories of machines: electronic and manual. Manual machines have been the most fool-proof option for our felt crafting uses and we will talk about them today. 

kind of die cuts for felt

There a several different brands of manual machines and dies available and most are are interchangeable using a combination of platforms and shims. We really love Sizzix's brand of machines and dies. The machines feel substantial and have held up to thousands and thousands of cuts (we cut A LOT of felt here!). We love them so much we offer our favorite machines and dies right in our shop!

There are two main categories of dies: wafer thin dies and steel rule dies. Wafer thin dies are the flat silver ones shown in the above photo -they have a little raised border that cuts the felt when rolled through a die cut machine. Steel rule dies are approximately 3/4" thick dies encased in foam (the black die shown in the photo). Both dies work with our felt -but we have found the steel rule dies are a bit more friendly to felt... and you can cut multiple layers of felt at one time -it's magical!

how to die cut felt

To get a perfect cut you will first need to make up a 'die-cut sandwich'. The basic level sandwich starts with a cutting pad, a steel rule die, a sheet of felt and is topped with a second cutting pad. Cutting pads are clear acrylic rectangles that the die cuts into as they cut the felt. Don't let this alarm you -they last for hundreds (and hundreds!) of cuts but you can alway purchase replacement ones when they wear out! Benzie's wool blend felt is a great match to die cuts -use our 6x9" sheets -they fit in the machine perfectly! 

Using thin dies to cut felt

To use the wafer thin dies -you'll need the addition of the 'multipurpose platform'. This will give you just the thickness needed to cut the felt! Occasionally you will find that the thin dies are not cutting well -we have found adding a card stock shim in addition to the platform provides just enough pressure to give the felt a clean cut!
 Die Cut Machine for crafters

Now take your sandwich and roll it though the machine.

Die Cut felt flowers

Remove the sandwich from the machine and see what you have! We used the Camellia steel rule die to make these fun flower shapes! 

How to make felt flowers

We turned the flat petals into dimensional flowers by forming the flowers around a felt ball using a little hot glue! This die has a lot of possibilities!

Easy die cut felt flowers

You'll be making full felt bouquets (or bows or garlands or animal friends) in no time at all with a few time saving tools! Happy crafting friends! 

Get Started Needle Felting

Posted by Renae Bradley on 15 May, 2017 0 comments

Learn how to Needle Felt

Needle felting is one of those overlooked crafts -supplies are non-existent or hidden away in a back aisle and the actual process can sound a little strange and tedius... A sharp needle? Sheep's wool? But I can't have you missing out on your next favorite past time -so let's break it down and start with the basics. 

Beginner Needle Felting

What is needle felting? Felting occurs when wool fibers are agitated together with a special felting needle. Continually jabbing the roving back and forth will condense and form the fibers into any shape you would like. It's like soft sculpture! Felting can be one dimensional or three dimensional too. And the best part? You only need three items to get started! 

Wool Roving for Needle Felting

What do I need to get started? Number one -wool! In needle felting -you will need sheep's wool that has been combed and carded. There are different types of wool based on how the fibers have been prepared and can be called tops, roving, sliver or batting. Tops have the longest fiber length and run a single direction while batting has the smallest fiber length and runs amok. This may be a little too much information so for the beginner so let's just focus on roving for now. The term 'roving' has become an overall term to cover any wool used for felting but it is important to note that there are differences.

When I was looking for a roving to add to our shop -I fell in love with Corriedale Sliver. It comes from Corriedale sheep and is technically called a sliver. I love it because its length works great for spinning, weaving, wet felting and needle felting -really, it's an all purpose fiber! I know how crafters like to dabble and try out new techniques and a sliver is workable for all. 

Needle Felting Needles

The second item you will need is a needle felting needle. This is not like a sewing needle but includes tiny barbs or notches up and down the sides of a needle -these barbs agitate the roving in such a way that binds the fibers together. The higher the number of the needle the finer the detail but a great starter number is around a 38. Don't let a number stress you out though -this needle felting pen has just what you need. You can use the needles individually or together in a pen (it makes the felting process faster!). Needles are somewhat fragile -have a backup in case they break! 

Needle Felting Foam

And lastly -you need a cushion. Always needle felt on a soft surface such as a foam pad. It is essential to the safety of your lap and your fingers! And speaking of fingers -always keep an eye out on the location of your fingers to your needle -jabbing your finger hurts! 

How do I start? An inexpensive way to get started is to find a needle felting kit you love; our cactus kits include all the tools you need. Or try these if you are an animal lover! We also have loads of fun free tutorials on our Pinterest board! You can purchase the supplies in the shop.

Needle felt a cactus.

But let's start out felting a ball. I suggest beginning with something simple so you can get a feel of how wool felts.  Let's start with a basic sphere -like the one I used for the Desert Rose cactus above! 

To start any needle felting project you will need to first divide the roving fibers. To separate, gently pull to separate the fibers -you may need to spread your hands further apart to get the fibers to separate. Never use a scissors -the raw edges needle felt better.

How to Needle Felt

Then roll the roving into a very tight ball -the tighter you roll -the less felting you will need to do! Continue to felt by rotating the ball and jabbing with the felting needle until a nice sphere is created. Get comfy -it takes a little bit of of time! And watch those fingers! I find the most comfortable position is to hold the cushion in my lap and felt from there. The more you felt the smaller, more dense and smooth it will become. You can see the progress of the ball above!

It's sometime hard for beginners to get the roving firm enough -you want it pretty firm! It may take some time to get it this way but don't give up! You don't want it to feel (or look like) cotton candy -but more like a chewy sugar cookie! If you find your finished piece extra fuzzy -I have some tips: 1) Gently scrape the surface with your felting needle -it helps to hide the dimples. 2) Use a little bit of additional roving to cover the surface and lightly needle felt into place. 3). Use a scissors to give the finished piece a trim! But you may not have to do anything at all! 

Think outside the box -you don't have to use all roving either! For larger dimensional designs, use styrofoam ball as the base or add details like Benzie's felt or embroider with floss! Congratulations on learning a learning a new skill, have fun!  

Poppy Headband Tutorial

Posted by Renae Bradley on 30 January, 2017 1 comment

Poppy Headband TutorialSing, dance and hug like a sweet happy troll in our new DIY Poppy headband! 

Supplies for Trolls Party
Supplies to make 2 headbands:
12x18" sheet of Clover Felt
9x12" sheet in Peacock Felt 
A sharp Scissors
Optional: Freezer Paper & iron
Not shown: Sewing machine or embroidery thread

Pattern for Flower Headband

Step One: First make the base of the headband using a this tutorial. We used a sewing machine but we also offer a no-sew option too! 

Step Two: Print off your pattern. You can use basic copy paper and pin the paper to the felt and cut out around the pattern. We really like using freezer paper as it is printable and gives a smoother cut! To use print just like printer paper and lightly iron to felt (waxy side down). You can even reuse the pattern by ironing again! The Clover Felt we used for accent greenery and the Peacock felt for the flowers.
Crafts for Troll Party
Step Three: Cut out six flowers total. We layered two flower cut-outs together to give the headband a bit of dimension. 
Poppy Troll Felt Flowers
Step Four: 
Sandwich the green accent pieces between the flowers. Here you can decide to glue or sew the flowers together.  (Sewing tip: we like to mark the exact center with a disappearing pen -it helps us to sew more even lines!). Attach to the headband with glue and you're ready to be Princess Poppy!
Poppy Troll Costume diy

 

Felt Headband DIY

Posted by Renae Bradley on 23 January, 2017 0 comments

Felt Headband DIYYou know you're going to want one in every color -and you might as well! These felt covered headbands are simple to make a great base to embellish! You can assemble these using a sewing machine or by using glue -both methods are described below. 

Felt Headband Supplies
Grab your supplies:
-rotary cutter & mat or scissors
-glue or sewing machine (not pictured)
How to Cut Felt
Step one: 
You will need two strips of felt 1/2" by 16 1/2" long to make one headband (or go ahead and cut a bunch to make a rainbow!). You can vary the width of your headband by how wide you cut the strips. We find that the best way to cut long strips evenly is with a rotary cutter and ruler -but you can also mark your felt with a disappearing marker, a sharp scissors and a steady hand. 
Felt Headband Craft
Step two:
Here you can choose if you want to make this a no sew project or add the extra details of stitching! 
Sew a Headband
Sew method: 
You can hand stitch with embroidery floss but we used a sewing machine! Carefully line up the two strips of felt. Start at on end and stitch all around leaving the end open -making a sleeve for the metal headband to slip into. Place the headband in the open end and slide felt over the metal headband. Stitch felt closed (careful not to sew over the metal band!) and trim to size.
No Sew Felt Headband
No Sew: 
Glue one side of the strip of felt. We like using Tacky Glue. You only need a little bit to get a strong but flexible hold. If you use too much it will soak through the felt making your headband stiff. Carefully sandwich the headband between the two pieces of felt -pinching the length of the felt together to adhere. It's time to try it on! 
Felt Headband

Magnolia Holiday Wreath

Posted by Renae Bradley on 16 November, 2016 0 comments

Felt Magnolia Wreath

Get holiday ready. Deck your wall and warm your heart with our DIY Merry Magnolia Wreath. At Benzie, we love it in Moss colored felt trimmed with our white handmade poms but Benzie's Meadow felt with accents of Zucchini would give it the true Magnolia wreath feel. A no-glue and no-sew project too! Grab your supplies below.

Supplies for felt wreath

Supplies needed:
12-14" foam wreath base 
Stick pins
1 1/2 yards of wool blend felt or 12 bags of leaf felt-fetti 
1cm or 1.5cm felt balls, 25 in white

how to make a felt wreath
First, grab your stack of felt leaves (skip the scissors and use our precut shapes) or cut your own almond shaped leaves out of yardage. Our large leaves are about 3 1/2 x 2 inches wide and our small leaves are about 2 1/2 x 1 1/4" inches wide. To give the wreath a full appearance we folded the tip of each leaf over each other and use the stick pin to attach to the styrofoam wreath. 

Felt Greenery How ToContinue to place the leaves row by row -pinning each leaf about 1/2" to 1" apart from each other. You will only pin leaves to the front and sides of the wreath. The back side will remain unfinished. 

Craft a wreath from felt.

Continue until the wreath is completed. Use leftover leaves to fill in empty spaces. 

Mistletoe Wreath from FeltLastly, grab the felt poms and stick the pin through the edge of the pom and carefully pin to the wreath hiding the pin in the back side of the pom. A beautiful full wreath to decorate! Merry Christmas!

Felt DIY Greenery Wreath

 

Felt Cactus DIY

Posted by Renae Bradley on 16 August, 2016 3 comments

Felt Cactus DIY

Our favorite desert darling — the cactus! Craft your own prickly plants with our handy diy below! 

felt cactus supplies and tools

Grab your materials:

Cactus Pattern 
Wool Felt -Our Cactus Palette is perfect! 
Felt Poms in an assortment of sizes -we like the colors Brown and Stone
Fabric Paint
Terra Cotta Pots
Polyfil
Scissors
Hot Glue Gun
Stick Pins
Sewing Machine (not shown)

cactus pattern

Print out the pattern (or freehand your own design) on basic copy paper and cut out the cactus you want to use first. Grab a 6x9" sheet of felt, fold in half and pin paper pattern in place. 

cactus tutorial craft

(1.) This is where you'll take out your sewing machine and sew right on the paper pinned felt -it's so easy! We love this method for tracing and sewing patterns, just make sure to leave the bottom open for stuffing! (2.) To remove the paper just gently tear the paper away from the felt. (3.) Grab a sharp scissors and trim about 1/4" inch around the stitched line. (4.) Finally -grab some fabric paint and stipple dots over the cactus. We used a sheet of paper to help us make even lines. Let dry over night and repeat on opposite side. And just a shout out to this fabric paint -we tried several different kinds of paint and found we loved the flow and puffiness of this paint the best! 

cactus fabric and paint

Keep a steady hand and you'll have a whole prickly forest soon!

how to make a fabric cactus

Gently fill your cactus with polyfil. 

succulents and cactus felt craft

Heat up that hot glue gun annd stuff the bottom of your pot with a little polyfil. Then do a little bit of mix & matching to find the best prickly pairs (did you get that pun?!) and hot glue the bases together for a bit more stability. Strategically glue poms in place around the cactus and base of the pot. You're almost done!

cactus succulent felt craft

Grab the pattern to cut out the accent flowers. I used about 5-7 flowers per pot placing them on the tip of the cactus or accents in the felt rocks. Our fine tipped glue gun is perfect for detailed work like this! 

Felt Cactus DIY

Enjoy your new desert darling!

Succulent Cactus Felt Tutorial

 

 

Felt Wildflower Tutorial

Posted by Renae Bradley on 29 July, 2016 0 comments

Handmade Felt Flowers
Felt Flower Bouquet by Benzie
I definitely have a favorite felt craft -and I bet you can guess! Flowers are always beautiful and I love being able to use all the colors of Benzie's rainbow! These remind me of wildflowers -pretty, bright and whimsical -you'll be crafting up a whole bouquet in no time!

We made these flowers use our favorite oval felt-fetti in both small and large size -there are so many things you can make with this basic shape! Another alternative is cutting ovals out of felt using our favorite scissors and freezer paper. Either method you select will work great! We used the felt colors Fern, Foxglove, Guava and Periwinkle.

Felt Flower DIY

Some additional supplies you will need are:

Benzie PomPoms in Foxglove, Lemonade and Fern, 1cm & 2cm size
Wire Flower Stems
Hot Glue

Easy Felt Flowers

Once you have a pile a ovals in both large and small sizes and a warmed up hot glue gun you are ready to roll!

To make filler stems and leaves on flowers you will use the large oval die -place a dot of glue on the bottom of the oval and pinch around the floral wire. Space to your liking. 

These little flowers remind me of Cosmos -I love all the colors! We use our small 1cm felt balls and attach to floral wire with a little hot glue (you may want use a needle or an awl to pre-pierce a hole). We use 4 small ovals -place a bit of glue on the bottom and pinch along the base of the felt pom. 

Our large flowers used 12 large ovals total -but this can be varied to adjust the look and style of your bloom. The first layer uses 4 ovals -we pre-pinched each petal before attaching to the base. This helped form the flower.


To finish the flower keep adding ovals around the pom-pom -add a green leaf or two to finish it off!

Felt Flower DIY

Felt Succulent DIY

Posted by Renae Bradley on 12 April, 2016 5 comments

DIY Felt Succulents

We all love succulents, thick petaled plants -smooth, symmetrical and in a beautiful array of greens and blues -natures bouquet. These little beauties also translate well into felt -and these will fare well in all types of weather too!

Succulent Centerpiece 

Succulent Supplies

To make quick work of these we suggest using our precut ovals -or felt-fetti as we like to call them! You'll want to have both the large and small sizes.You can also freehand cut circles or trace them using freezer paper. Regardless -you'll want a big pile of ovals to work with! 

Succulent Felt Supplies

The materials we used:

Felt! Sweet Succulent palette or go for our Felt-fetti.
Felt Pom Poms, we used a variety of our sizes in the color Stone.
Moss accents
Hot Glue Gun
Item to decorate, we used birch tree stumps. 

 How to make a felt succulent

To make the succulent center take one small oval -fold in half twice and use just a bit of glue to secure. Then take 3 ovals -fold in half and form around succulent center. Continue attaching ovals on the underside of the plant to form your succulent. You can make them large or small by selected fewer or more ovals to attach.

Felt Succulent Flower Centerpiece

To make the centerpiece I used 3 various sizes of birch logs -glued on some moss -arranged the succulents and placed felt pom poms to resemble pebbles that succulents often grown in. I also scattered a few around the base of the centerpiece. A great focal point for your table -or how about try a felt terrarium or decorate grapevine wreath? Let me know what you make!

Benzie Iron-On Glitter & Gold

Posted by Renae Bradley on 01 September, 2015 0 comments

Gitter and Gold Felt

Ready to make your felt go glam? Add on a layer of glitter -or go metallic -with Benzie's iron-on sheets. It's crazy easy -and doesn't leave you with paintbrushes to clean or fairy dust to mop! 

diy glitter felt

First, grab your supplies: Benzie's felt, iron-on glitter or iron-on metallic (we used our glitter in Julep here), a light cloth (we like a layer or two of tissue paper), hard surface (we used a cutting board) and an iron. Trim your felt and iron-on material to the size you would like. 

On a hard surface, layer your felt, iron-on material and light cloth. Heat your iron to the highest setting and press firmly for 15-20 seconds, slowly shifting your iron as you go. 

After the felt and glitter (or metallic) sheets have fully bonded remove protective sheet. We have found it's much like removing a sticker -sometimes it peels off quickly and sometime you need to work at it a bit! 

Glitter felt by Benzie

We offer 12 colors of glitter and 4 metallic hues -all ready to be ironed on and crafted with! Manual die cut users can expect to roll it through the machine 1-2 extra times and punch out design due to the extra thickness of the fabric. Craft just as you would regular felt -but now with more glam!  

We've been using our iron-on for a while now and have learned some important tips for success which we have outlined below:
-it is vital to iron on a hard surface such as a wood cutting board
-we have seen best success with a 1600 watt iron
-our glitter irons on easily with just 15 seconds of heat -our metallics take more like 20 seconds
-our metallic iron-ons work best in small batches

Can I wash felt? A tutorial about felt applique.

Posted by Renae Bradley on 24 June, 2015 1 comment

Felt Star Shirt DIY // Benzie

This is a craft question that I get asked quite often -can I wash wool blend felt? And as you can see from the felt star appliqué -yes you can! But before we get to care instructions let's talk first about fiber content.


Our felt contains both wool, ranging from 20-35%, and rayon. Rayon, or known as viscose, is made from wood pulp -a renewable source too! Most of us know what happened to our adult sized wool sweater when we tried to wash it -it shrunk down to a child's size! Wool should be treated with much care or it will shrink. We suggest dry cleaning or spot cleaning to keep our wool blend felt in its original condition. It's easy and already looks great!

But there are times that a toy or a t-shirt just needs be washer friendly. Before cutting into your design or appliqué -the felt must first be washed. Prewash in a sink of hot running water -immersing the felt completely. We use soap and gently squeeze the felt into a ball, rinsing and repeating until the water runs clear. This process does two things to the felt. First the hot water gets any excess dye out. Not all colors bleed -but this bright Carmine did! Second, the combination of hot water, soap and gentle squeezing is further felting the fabric -binding the fibers even closer together and causing the felt to shrink. Lay flat to dry -or use a blow dryer to speed things up. A washing machine on the delicate cycle is a great alternative to prep large batches.

Can I wash wool felt? // Benzie

In the image above you can see the difference between our original felt and felt that has been pre-washed. The washed felt is bubbly or wrinkled -and is thicker then its un-washed partner (this can be flattened by ironing though). Also it has shrunk. The 6x6" square shrunk to about 5 3/4x 5 1/2". Now you're ready to craft!

DIY Felt Applique // Benzie

Grab a t-shirt and your favorite color of Benzie's felt. To make cutting ultra easy we used the Nesting Star die from Lifestyle crafts -but old fashioned pattern and scissors will work just as well. We also found that we really liked Wonder Under's fusible adhesive. It's didn't make the felt appliqué stiff and it made a permanent bond to the fabric.

Felt Applique T-Shirt  // Benzie 


But before you do any of these steps -your felt and your shirt must be prewashed! Follow the washing instructions for felt above.

1) After the felt has dried -iron your fusible adhesive to your felt.
2). Use your favorite die to cut a shape our of the felt -adhesive side up. We explain how to use a die machine and dies here.
3. Peel off the top layer of your fusible adhesive -you can see the transparent paper star in the above photo (throw that away), carefully place your star where you want it and iron down. Iron from both the front and back of the shirt to ensure a permanent bond.

Can I wash felt? // Benzie

It's not necessary -but I think the added machine stitch adds detail and helps the star to stand out among the stripes. To care for your felt appliqué shirt and prevent further felting we suggest washing inside out, cold and delicate with a gentle dry.

4th of July applique shirt // Benzie 

I want to see what you are making too -hashtag #benziefelt and have a Happy Independence Day!

Originally posted June 2014