It was a wet and grey morning when we gathered at Craft house on the 6th of September, but the sight of Mary Ann’s creative baby jackets rapidly lifted our spirits. We felt fortunate to have such a high tutor: student ratio which meant our questions were rapidly dealt with as well as providing an environment to easily get to know each other. I chose to do this workshop as it provided an excellent opportunity to learn more about making jackets in a very manageable way i.e. a baby jacket might be just that, or it could be a sample for a bigger one. Either way, I thought a baby size jacket would be achievable in a one day workshop and being largely self taught, I was eager to learn from someone with Mary Ann’s experience.
Our first surprise was the size of the template Mary Ann had kindly prepared for us. It seemed enormous and only just fitted on one table! However after a closer inspection of her samples and a demonstration of laying out the jacket we were on the way to being persuaded that this was the size we needed to start with.
One of the tips I found really useful was the way in which Mary Ann prepared pre-felt using a dry felting method. This is such an easy way to build a collection of pre-felts and can be done while you are watching TV at night with no mess. Mary Anne guided us through the process of building in an overlapped front, and extending the sleeve for a roll back cuff for those that desired it. We all got down to some serious laying out of wool tops on the jacket template for an hour or so, at which point Mary Ann demonstrated a number of different ways to embellish the jacket. Of course we were all dying to get on to this part but some of us needed to finish the background first! By lunch- time we were all felting madly and trying to stave off hunger pangs so we could start to see some shrinkage. The rolling, and massaging continued until we were able to remove the template and cut the front open. At this stage we all still had fairly large jackets that would have fitted two baby Buntings, but there was a general air of satisfaction at the results so far. The embellishments were recognizable and even produced a few surprises such as three-dimensional flowers as the felt and lace shrunk!
We headed home eager to complete the task and delighted with the comprehensive notes and sizing charts Mary Ann had provided. For my part further felting was accomplished by hand, the washing machine and the dryer (I had a deadline). Finally the best measure of a workshop, even if it is after the event, is a completed article. My jacket departed for Melbourne the following Thursday for the grand daughter of a close friend. It’s hard to imagine it could shrink any more so might even survive a washing machine! I’ll have to make another one now to keep as a sample.
The professional presentation of this workshop and generous sharing of her highly developed knowledge of felting made it hard to believe this was Mary Ann’s first workshop. It was great value and if she runs it again I would highly recommend it.