Feltwest 2017 AGM and August Toss and Tell

The Feltwest Annual General Meeting started by welcoming representatives from the Funds for Freedom Project for the presentation of   a cheque for $2,000 – the proceeds from our 50:50 scarf project.  These funds will be used to support women and children escaping domestic violence.

The retiring Committee members were thanked for their huge contributions over the years.  These include Virginia Campbell, Soosie Jobson, Nancy Ballesteros, Sue Harrington, Sue Espie and Christine Wheeler

The following people were elected as the new Committee:

Marion Finneran      Secretary

Chris Gray                 Treasurer

Committee members – Sue Eslick, Sara Quail, Liz Owens, Alison Higgins, Karen Wood.

Liz Odd was awarded a certificate of Life Membership in recognition of her contribution over many years.

The new Rules of Association were endorsed.

Sue Eslick reported feedback from a group meeting to assess a new format to Toss + Tell. –  it is suggested that we expand the monthly demo, into a mini hands-on workshop from 10am to 11.30, this would be followed by a short meeting, then we could have the whole afternoon, from 12.30-4.40 for uninterrupted felting. Proposals also include a new name for Toss+ Tell, a variety of demos or guest speakers,  sellers to be invited by the committee to each monthly meeting on a roster basis – approx. 2 at each meeting. General consensus supported the suggestions presented. The proposed format will be referred to the new Committee for decision and action.

Martien van Zuilen showed the FibresWest Calendar 2018 which had been presented to each participant at the FibresWest Forum. The excess were being sold at $15 each being a charity fundraiser. Martien also donated to our library a copy of a newly published book on needle-felting that she had reviewed in the recent edition of the Felt Magazine.


Toss+ Tell Report

 Pat has knitted a fine white shawl onto which she felted beautiful wild flowers – a botanical delight !


Liz Odd has made 27 scarves  that she will be taking as gifts on her forthcoming visit to Canadian family. She showed us how she used the same design of silk fabric and produced  very different scarves by nuno felting them with different colour wool.

Marion made a muslin jacket in Jan Manning’s workshop and discussed the various things that she had learned in the process regarding shrinkage, preparation of the prefelt and fit of the garment. The jacket was in an abstract pattern of shades of green and peach/orange on the cream muslin.


Judith Walsh   made a muslin jacket in Jan Manning’s workshop and discussed her difficulties with applying prefelts to the muslin fabric. Her jacket design was in broken stripes in shades of blues and purple on the cream muslin, worn here by Jill.

Fern  made a muslin jacket in Jan Manning’s workshop and discussed her sizing ie that when it was properly fulled it was too small. Her jacket, modelled here by Alison,  was in shades of brown and cream.


Ann Bonnie made various jackets but used her own fabric patterns. One was felted on muslin with a matching scarf. The others were nuno felted on silk. They all were most attractive and fitted extremely well.


Vera showed us her bag that she was wearing. She had converted it from another project that had not been successful.


Alison Gomes displayed her latest wall hanging  – a beautiful , balanced mix of geometric colours reminiscent of floor tiles.

We ended the day with a delicious chocolate cake presented to Lyn Lukich on the occasion of her 85th birthday


50:50 Scarf festival ends

Well done and thank you to all of you who donated scarves to the 50:50 festival at the Gesha Cafe, and to those who regularly dropped in to check on it and to keep the display looking good.  A special thanks to Soosie Jobson who organised the project but due to surgery, was unable to see the fruits of her labours.  Thanks also to Daniel, Martina and the staff from the Gesha Cafe for letting us use their Cafe, and providing such great support and assistance throughout the month.

We had 32 Feltwest members contribute scarves, and reached our target of 50 scarves.   By the end of the project on 31st July, we had raised $2,000 for the Funds for Freedom project.  There were a few scarves left, and the Funds for Freedom project will be able to use these for future fundraising activities.

Feltwest Planning Workshop June 2017

On Sunday 26th June, ten Feltwest members met to discuss past, present and future options for Feltwest activities.  Discussion was lively, constructive and wide ranging, and we all came away enthused with new ideas to be implemented or further explored.

We started off looking at the membership and attendance figures, membership has remained steady for the last 3 years at 140.  Attendance at monthly Toss and Tell is around 30, and at the monthly Tuesday Group, is around 10.  We hold approximately 8 workshops per year, plus 3 beginner’s workshops.

Results of the recent survey of members did not identify any clear trends or major issues, but did provide a number of useful comments and suggestions.

At the planning workshop we reflected on this information, and identified the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to Feltwest.  With this in mind we looked at the 4 objectives of Feltwest:

  • To promote quality felt
  • To share feltmaking skills and information
  • To support members and encourage fellowship
  • To make contact with other feltmakers.

In small groups we talked about how we can better achieve those objectives.  The suggestions were then grouped into themes, and turned into an action plan. An abbreviated version of this plan is below.

Strategies for the future: Promoting Quality Felt:

  • Consider options for changing the format of Toss and Tell
  • Enhance our use of social media including the website, Facebook, Pinterest.


Strategies for the future: Sharing Feltmaking skills and information:

  • Ensure the Tuesday group is regularly advertised in the monthly enews.
  • Promote Feltwest to students and tutors at TAFE and Colleges and community art galleries
  • Promote Feltwest activities in local newspapers, radio


Strategies for the future: Support members and encourage fellowship:

  • Identify options for supporting new members
  • Explore opportunities for selling work


Strategies for the future: Make Contact with other felters:

  • Participate in the themed project of the annual International Felt Day. 2017 theme is Collaboration
  • Link with Bunbury Felters, FIGS and interstate groups. Offer to set up billet exchanges
  • Increase links with WAFTA
  • Encourage inactive members to re-engage
  • Have a re-union at the November Christmas party
  • Share the list of member’s contact details amongst the membership

We would love to have your involvement in any of these exciting actions. Contact a Committee member with your ideas and let us know which group you would like to participate in.

Launch of the 50:50 Scarf Project

The launch of the 50:50 Scarf Project on Friday 30th June at Gesha Cafe was very successful. It was lovely to see so many Feltwest members, old and new, and friends there.  We had a delicious cake to celebrate Feltwest’s 21st birthday, and also took the opportunity to celebrate Jen Blair’s 80th birthday.

Bernie Sermon from the Women’s Council for Family and Domestic Violence Services came along and spoke about the Funds for Freedom Project that the proceeds of the scarf project will be donated to.

Scarf sales got off to a roaring start with over 20 scarves being sold on the morning.  More scarves were donated as the month progressed and we reached our target of 50 scarves, making a beautiful display.  By the end of the end of the month, we had raised $2,000.  Well done everyone.

Bagstyle workshop by Sue Eslick, review by Marion Finneran

The first day started with 7 enthusiastic members who were all oblivious to the cold and very wet weather outside. Another member only came for the second day due to injury.

Sue started by explaining the technical construction of various bags on display. All the bags are made on a resist and used variable layers in the process.

Once a design had been chosen, a resist pattern was drawn from which a resist was made. Thereafter the resist pattern was referred to once the actual resist was covered with the wool.

Sue guided the group through the various stages of  laying the wool including the options of applying the surface decoration at the beginning or at the end of this stage.


The work was then wet down and rolled until it had reached  the pre-felt stage. Many tips and much advice was shared en route.

Once the felt had reached the stage at which the resist could be removed, then the exciting part of cutting the felt  began. Gradually the bag was stretched, massaged and manipulated into shape until the felt was very firm and the bag was a pleasing symmetrical shape.






The 2nd day was  devoted to the final fulling, and hardening of the felt, as well as the fitting of  handles, clasps, cords and the final shaping.

It was a very successful workshop.  Each participant was thrilled with their own very individual bag and left having learned many new techniques in the process.

Review of Chris Wheeler’s Beads for Impact: Basics and Bling workshop, by Sue Harrington


Despite the beautiful autumn day outside, participants happily spent the day concentrating on precise placement and stitching with colourful beads and sequins, using a range of techniques. Chris provided stunning examples of her own work and some prepared samplers to illustrate the day’s teaching, as well as a range of reference books.


A huge range of seed beads, elongated bugle beads, sequins and fancy beads are available at different prices, but all have their uses depending on the overall impact wanted. Chris generally uses ordinary polyester thread, but glove thread is also useful.  Threads can be waxed with beeswax if desired, to improve tension and reduce thread wear.

Beads can be attached using simple running stitch or back-stitch. generally with double thread. Single and double needle couching allow several beads to be laid down, perhaps in non-linear shapes, and then held in place by stitching back and forth across the initial thread line. Whip stitch is perpendicular to the line of travel, resulting in the beads being on an angle. 

Sequins can create a great effect on felt as they don’t sink in and disappear and can be stacked, along with beads to create a sense of height. Possible stitches are backstitch or stab stitch. A selection of sequins and beads can be lined up on the needle and secured to achieve a raised loop.

Chris taught the complicated methods of attaching large sequins or feature beads using the Even-count Peyote  technique, and of creating a rosette of sequins. Once completed, these intricate ‘jewels’ certainly create a very impressive focus point on any piece.

Towards the end of the day Chris discussed, by reference to her sampler, how the stitches taught so far could build up to complex designs.

Important techniques learnt during the workshop include:


  • When threading the very fine beading needles, take the needle to the thread, not the other way around. Sounds crazy, but it works!
  • Avoid stitches that are too short as this can lead to the beads sitting up awkwardly.
  • Every few stitches make a securing stitch. This prevents the loss of lots of beads if the work is accidentally snagged.
  • A tidy reverse side to your piece can be achieved by sewing on a backing and binding the edges, or beads can be attached on both sides of a piece, or using a thread the same colour as the fabric will make stitching less obvious on the reverse of the piece.

The scene in the hall was one of contented, quiet concentration and gentle conversation along the tables. Everyone went home happy and full of inspiration for adding spice to future textile projects. Thanks Chris for a wonderful day of learning.

Review of Susan Swain’s Wearable Art Wraps workshop by Sara Quail

A dedicated group of 9 ladies braved an incredibly hot day to share Susan’s passion for felted wraps that drape well on the body, are simple, lots of fun and quick to make.

She provided inspiration for at least 7 distinct styles with diagrams and modelled many samples. All the wraps could be made with 2 metres of silk and 100gm or less of fine merino wool. Presented with such varied options, choosing a style was the most challenging part for some participants. There was plenty of advice and assistance to help them make their decision. A wrap needs to ‘drape’ onto your body, so patterns were based on curves and asymmetrical design.

Once decisions were made, patterns were laid out using 2 tables. There was no bubble wrap involved.  Susan shared tips on working on large projects which included an efficient way of laying out the plastic film on which the silk was placed.

Depending on the design chosen, there was some optional cutting of the silk for shaping and armholes. Nothing was wasted and any offcuts were re-attached to enhance the design. She showed us how to neaten cut edges and reinforce armholes with roving.


Then laying out the body of the garment commenced using her suggestions of:

  • Using a lesser amount of wool to make the finished garment more flexible; even a small amount of wool will always keep you warm
  • Keeping the laying out of the roving random – leaving spaces so the fabric can move to conform to the body shape
  • Not trying to be perfect – let the felting process help you learn what it can do all by itself  e. – have fun let it happen!

All the wrap layouts were very individual which was accentuated by the different fabrics, amount of wool laid out and colours used.

With some tips on which nets to use and how to use them effectively, we wetted out the work before commencing the initial rolling. One of her great tips was the use of tee-shirt strips to tie the bundle for rolling.

After removing the net, correcting anything that had shifted and applying another layer of plastic film on top, the hard slog of rolling commenced – at least 800 rolls. There was discussion on fulling options including the use of a microwave or tumble drier.

Unfortunately, the extreme heat precluded most of us from finishing completely – but Susan looks forward to a fashion parade at the next Toss ‘n Tell.

Review of Pam MacGregor’s Teapot Redefined workshop by Niki Hynes

Eleven Feltwest members came bright and early to the first of the three day Pam McGregor’s teapot workshop. After a couple of hours of going through some slightly unusual felting techniques, some ideas about decorations and a plethora of new tools were also explained: balloons, pipes, small rollers, back scratchers, wooden spoons, weird shaped needles, mini doffers and others!


Soon,  everyone was keen to get started    everyone chose their design and teapot shaped resists were laid made.

Pam explained the difference between different wools, and in the class there was mostly Finn wool, but a smattering of Icelandic and Gotland wools: the coarse fibres of these wools make them very suitable for vessels but the way in which they felt is different from merino.. so Pam recommended NO rolling! Instead a lot of hand working, rubbing and use of various tools was recommended.

In the afternoon of the first day, everyone chose their design, thought about adornments such as beads, folds, colours, where and how the handle might go, the shape and design of the spout as well as the design of the stopper. Then it was straight to laying out: Pam recommended no particular thickness of laying out, but instead emphasized weighing the wool.

By the end of the first day all the wool was laid out, and felting was due to start in earnest the next day. On Day 2, Juliet joined, and did a rapid catch up of laying out and starting to felt her teapot. Day 2 involved lots of slow felting by rubbing (did I mention no rolling earlier?), and some of the tools that Pam had shown us including tubes with corrugated outsides. Handles were designed and loops added where needed, and as the teapot began to take shape balloons and tubes were inserted early on to help keep the shape. Decorations such as folds, buttons, beads, embroidery, loops, were added on. Day 2 was also teapot legs day: how to cover and felt the legs required for the teapot. Again, this involved some very inventive use of piping…

And finally on Day 3 the focus was on creating teapot stoppers made to fit exactly. The creative ideas of feltwest members were not lacking! Stoppers were generated in all shapes and sizes from otherworldly green lumps to a small red hat, others were more teapot shaped!




Finally, Pam spent time explaining the finishing required to make a teapot ready for display: this involves a great deal of time: picking out of small felt lumps that might have been lost in the fulling process, adding extra embroidery or beads, or any other adornments. At this time new tools emerged: doll-needles can be used to attach things, as well as tiny curved needles to attach tiny small beads!

Pam’s background in a wide variety of arts meant she was able to bring lots of tools from different backgrounds to the world of felting: her experiences with wood, basketry, sewing, doll making etc all brought new techniques to the design and making of the teapots. Thank you Pam for a great workshop.

Review – Nancy’s Shifting Shapes workshop

REVIEW of Nancy Ballesteros’s SHIFTING SHAPES Workshop by Sue Eslick – Twelve keen participants gathered for a three day workshop on felting with silk hankies to create fabulous new fabrics.  People attended from all over WA, and one person came from Queensland!  It was good to meet with some new Feltwest members who had joined up specifically in order to attend and we hope to see more of them in the future.

This 3 day workshop  was full on and not for the fainthearted!   Nancy expertly guided participants through the detailed and complex process of making beautiful felted silk garments and wraps.


Nancy brought along a wide variety of sample garments for people to try-on and find the shape and colour palette that best suited them.  Everyone appreciated the availability of extra wool, fabric and other materials from Treetops, which allowed people to change their plans on the day.

Patterns were traced and adjusted to the individual. day-3-fiona-layout


Everyone had a different approach to design. Whilst many people had a firm idea that they worked too, others laid out silk hankies in a random riot of colour. Nancy advised on how colours interact in the felting process and coached participants through the decisions on design, colour and layout of the silk hankies and wool.  A few people decided to practice using silk hankies by making a wrap or length of fabric rather than a garment.day-2-leaday-1-kathy


Nancy explained that in order to make a finished garment that fitted, everyone needed to use the recommended wool in the stated quantities.  Too much wool and it might end up too big, too little wool and it might be too small. Everyone heeded Nancy’s advice and weighed their wool, making sure to use the same amount on the front and back.  There were also loads of helpful tips and advice on nuno felting and handling large projects with relative ease.


People were very pleased to hear that they could take their pieces home to felt in the dryer instead of rolling them.  On Sunday morning it was magic to see how the pieces had transformed after their time in the dryer the previous evening. day-2-vivday-3-viv-jea






Participants were shown how to fit the garment to their body shape, and how to full the felt to make quality fabric that fitted in all the right places.day-3-maeve










On Sunday afternoon, Nancy spent some time teaching different options for closures, fasteners and hemming the garments to create a neat and professional finish. day-3-stitching-lesson





At the end of the three days, everyone went away very happy with a spectacular piece of felted fabric, and if they hadn’t already finished, they left with the skills and knowledge to finish the rest of the garment at home.  Nancy was very generous with her sharing and help making it a fun and productive workshop.  She also offered to provide further help to people if they drop in at Treetops.  Thank you Nancy for a wonderful workshop.    day-3-kathy day-3-jill