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.

February 2017 Toss ‘n Tell

February 2017 Toss ‘n Tell

Various  ingenious ways of making good quality cords were demonstrated by Sue Eslick.


  1. showed her reclining mermaid in which she used various techniques viz. woodblock surface design , embellishments of stitching and beading.


  1. A school of fish all made in 1 piece using numerous resists. The beading embellishment enhanced the piece and gave it an extra dimension.









showed off her very warm hat that she had made for herself . It is the first hat that she has made and was a great success.

Marie  had made a sample using black merino wool and silk lap.

Sue Eslick  her Rabbit Teapot that she made at Pam Mc Gregor’s workshop using Gotland wool. For the rabbit and carrot stopper she used merino.

Judith  showed off her beautiful blue hat / beanie

Sara  displayed her lovely delicate Uzbek silk and wool wrap. She also attended Pam Mc Gregor’s workshop and made a Fish Teapot using Finnish wool.


Vera showed us photos of various  lamps that she has made recently.

Alison Gomes   Showed us her latest wall hanging in wool and silk that is a work-in-progress. It is now at the pre-felt stage , having shrunk approx. 15%.  

Katrina showed us the brochure of the current exhibition being held at the Mundaring Art Centre which ends on 19 March 2013. She will be doing a demo for WAFTA on 15th May ( Mothers Day) on making of wire armatures

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.

Christmas Lunch & Nov Toss ‘n Tell 2016

Christmas Lunch & November Toss ‘n Tell 2016.

It was hard to believe it was already Christmas time again! A lovely group gathered for our annual lunch feast. Luckily this year the sea breeze gently kept the flies away and it wasn’t too hot.  We were incredibly fortunate Soosie volunteered to supply the Christmas Tree, having just made one for an on-line tutorial she is teaching.

img_1780. felt tree by Soosie Jobson   img_1777img_1786

We had and incredible feast, since we are all such good cooks!

Our new president Virginia Campbell introduced our new program for 2017. Lots of workshops and demonstrations are being planned as well as our annual retreat, two international tutors, and a group project to be announced early next year.  Keep your eyes on the home page of the websiteand our eNews bulletins. img_1779

We had our annual gift exchange and raffle which Sue Eslick won.img_1822

At our Toss ‘n Tell, Sue Harrington showed some very intersting sample pieces she made in Alison Gomes workshop, What lies Benneath, learning how to add resists to your work to add surface design.img_1758. sue harringtion img_1756-resize. detail sue harrington

Alison Gomes show an incredibly luscious new wall hanging she has been working on, with some wonderful hand stitching for embellishment.img_1770-resize. alison gomes img_1775-resize.close up alison gomes

Katrina Virgona showed off her talent for creating evocative jewelry using a limited palette of red and black, and a splash of yellow.

img_1800.katrina virgona

Sue Eslick had been busy re-purposing and old tea cozy into a gorgeous Meditation Bead necklace. She also found a leather worker to add leather strap onto oimg_1805-resizene of her fabulous bags.img_1762.sue eslick


Marie Marshall had been busy making scarves for family and overseas friends for Christmas. She did a wonderful job of folding her scarves in so there were no raw edges.

img_1810                       img_1806.marie marshall               img_1807.detail marie marshall

Marie Jacquier made a large wrap adding on a special piece of fabric to each end to add the ‘wow’ factor.

img_1819.marie jacquier

Beginners Workshop SEPT. 2016

REVIEW BEGINNERS SEPT. WORKSHOP taught by Sue Esclick and Alison Gomes.  We had a record crowd for the beginner’s workshop in September! Twelve  participants and two tutors really stretched the capacity of the studio but made for a friendly, sociable atmosphere as people made new friends while learning the basics of feltmaking.

Sue led people through the process of making a sample square, talking about the difference between pre-felt and quality felt.  Alison showed participants how to layout really finely and  got everyone to make a sample square of nuno felt.

People left keen to go home and practice and to sign up for more advanced workshops.  We hope to see the new felters showing their work at future Toss and Tells , and signing up for next year’s workshops.

img_3647   img_3643   img_3644


Review Oct 2016 Toss N Tell

October 2016 Toss and Tell by Sara Quail

Our demo this month emphasised the importance of fulling felt completely. Nancy Ballesteros illustrated a variety of surfaces one can use for final fulling. Optimum shrinkage was illustrated with samples comparing partial and fully fulled felt in different weights, as well as related experiments with nuno felt.  Hairiness can be avoided by not allowing the felt to dry out during the fulling process. Re-fulling after allowing the felt to rest and relax, is beneficial.

Sue Eslick explained how different wool breeds when laid out in the same size, using the same weight of wool, all reduced to the same size eventually. Some quicker than others. She then demonstrated some more extreme ways of fulling, especially suited to more bulky pieces where the inner layers may still be soft and require more fulling. These included very hot water with lots of vigorous hand rolling and stretching, hot vinegar solution soak, wrapping and rolling in a cloth, rubbing with wrapped stones and her pièce de résistance – the hammer!

Toss and Tell:

  • Our new president, Virginia Campbell, opened the meeting with a request for input from members for workshops for the coming year, ahead of the planning meeting on 13 November 2016.
  • Additional copies of the last Retrospective are available for $5 each.
  • The Xmas party is 19 November. Members are asked to bring a plate to share and exchange of a wrapped handmade gift. The Raffle will also be drawn. More details to follow in the newsletter nearer the time.
  • With no stall available this year at the Fremantle Bazaar, other alternatives for 2017 are being sought and members’ input is welcomed. Christine Wheeler made mention of various possibilities.

Members again illustrated the group’s diverse interests with their Toss and Tell items:

Brenda Edney tried out a piece of cobweb felt, inspired by Liz Odd’s recent demo.20161015_134107

Kerry Bertucci had made a pair of beautifully fitted gloves with guidance from another member, Jill Jodrell. With a current focus on small vessels / pods, Kerry had also created a unique shaped vessel by stitching prefelts over a form.20161015_134243 20161015_134323

Sue Eslick had crafted another beautiful bag with the intention (and challenge) of attaching leather handles. She had also made a dainty small box-shaped purse.

Katrina Virgona is still in fetish mode and we were able to handle the components of what may become ‘hairy handcuffs’   comprising  hair,  jute and flax fibres– possibly to be used on members guilty of incomplete fulling. She said she uses a sort of dry felting technique on  hair to matt it in to a net which she then overlays on the wire armatures she makes, and that she also felts a lot with a mixture of wool and hair.

Judith Shaw made use of some donated Alpaca to produce a hat. With a brushed and rustic appearance, she said it was light and warm to wear.  Made many years ago, she also brought along a mask constructed by moulding over a form. Despite it having been used as outdoor décor all this time, there was virtually no sign of deterioration.20161015_141544

Marie Jacquier had a work in progress from Nancy’s ‘Shifting Shapes’ workshop and was now inspired and excited about the concept of realistically being able to make and wear felted pieces using the technique.20161015_141831

Sara Quail had been to a hat and vessel workshop with Dawn Edwards (USA) at the Geelong Fibre Forum The vessel used a ‘cracked mud’ resist technique and intense fulling. She modelled 3 of the 5 hats made, one of which featured beaded silk.  She also showed how the recycled aluminium from drink cans can be annealed, stitched and embossed, sometimes incorporating felt.20161015_142324 20161015_142234 20161015_142300

Nancy Ballesteros is experimenting with techniques to create striped fabric. Her design concept is influenced by Fibonacci principles. Her samples utilize silk mesh with a little hand stitching to complete the look.  As the layout of wool fibre is only in one direction it is even more important to be aware of directional shrinkage. Other wool only samples illustrated a very subtle plaid look achieved by laying stripes of fibre on one layer, and then in the opposite direction for the 2nd layer.  Watch this space for more stripes in coming months …….img_1277


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


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










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


Review of Heartfelt Mandala workshop

The Heart Felt Mandala – with Martien van Zuilen, July 2016

Feltwest members were fortunate to learn the involved process of creating a felt mandala rug or wall hanging from Martien van Zuilen, a national and international felt making tutor, but also a member of Feltwest. There was an evening introductory presentation, followed by three full days of felting.
ShanaDavies  Mandala 9Mandala 7
‘Mandala’ is a word from the Sanskrit language meaning circle, with a symbolism reflected in many different cultures of the world.

Martien explained how mandala designs could be inspired by completely unrelated things… a wine label, postcard or even an ornate plaster ceiling!

She talked about her experiences in Mongolia and the importance of the community working together on felt making for their yurts, as for every aspect of their lives, in order to survive the harsh conditions. Functional possessions are made beautiful with decoration as there is not the luxury to own additional items that are purely decorative, as there is in our settled culture. The decorations often include imperfect, repaired or misaligned features, which add to the beauty.Mandala 8Mandala 2

Martien brought along a variety of well-catalogued samples (both raw fibre, and its corresponding felted sample). This gave us an insight into the different animal fibres available to felt with, including Polwarth, Corriedale, Cashmere, Camel and Merino, to name some. It was very useful to see how different fibres yielded different textures of felt.

The desirability of creating a calm, uncluttered work space for making the mandala was emphasised. Organise a colour pallet of only the wool tops, pre-felts, threads etc to be used for the project and remove other competing materials that will deflect the eye and the creative mind.

As prefelts played a big role in the creation of these mandalas, Martien spoke of the advantage we have as felters, in being able to create our own ‘fabric’ – prefelt – something not common among textile arts. It would therefore be a good idea to customise our handmade prefelts, both in colour and by adding decorative bits of our choice.

It was empowering to learn how to correct ‘mistakes’ or to change parts of the design that we didn’t like anymore, even after they had been partly felted in. Martien spoke of felt-making as a forgiving process, if built up gradually, and not rushed through.

There are many approaches to decorating the mandala. Wool top colours can be mixed to create particular effects in the pre-felts. Fluffy yarns can be stitched on, extra wool or felted cord can be added to raise the surface. Stitching with threads applied in the pre-felt stage should be far apart to allow for shrinkage.     There were plenty of very useful tips that Martien shared throughLizOddout the workshop, on everyRenDeverything from laying oJuliaAndrijasevichut wool tops, to geSaraQuailtting an even edge around the mandala, at the end.

Participants applied themselves to the process of laying out wool, stitching, rolling and completing the all-important finishing and edging. The result was 9 individually stunning mandalas.

All in all, it was a fantastic learning experience for our mandala-makers. Not to mention a very satisfying workshop, as everyone went home with a beautiful, unique mandala they were happy with.

Review of 3D workshop – using complex resists taught by Soosie Jobson written by Chris Gray


REVIEW of Soosie Jobson’s 3D WORKSHOP by Chris Gray.

What a fantastic workshop it was.  Soosie started the workshop with the showing of her wonderful and interesting 3D objects….Cactus, Fish, other creatures…


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese made us eager to know all about how to construct our projects that we had mentally prepared. We were so keen to get started.

Soosie showed us the different techniques and templates to be used, giving different shapes and sizes. Sounded daunting, but after a few questions here and there, it came we got it!

Soosie explained clearly and effectively the method we need to use for our projects. I straight away had light bulb moments.

As usual Soosie was very generous with sharing her knowledge and time with all of us, she made herself available at all times, through the weekend of the Retreat.

Many projects were worked on by those who attended the workshop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have to say, the sky is the limit in what can be created.

I was very impressed how effective and easy it is to use the techniques to make 3D objects. I am sure that everyone feels the same way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASoosie has given me the taste to be creative again. I started my projects for the Exhibition and I do not want to stop, thanks to Soosie.

Thank you Soosie for a great insight in the 3D workshop.