Lots of magazines are featuring felted pumpkins this fall. Being very frugal with my time and energy, I have combined a fairly common wet-felting technique and needlefelting to make these purdy punkins. The technique is so easy that you can make them in multiples. This tutorial shows eight pumpkins being made at one time.
Along with being frugal with my energy, this project has a little frugality in terms of materials:
Materials: For these pumpkins I used polyester fiberfill (gasp), and wool fleece in natural, brown and a b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l hand dyed , handpainted orange wool. I bought this at the Hemlock fiber festival two weeks ago. It was made by Lisa Ann Merian .
Equipment: Felting needle, foam pad to lay work on, cut-off leg from a pair of pantyhose, access to a washing machine, laundry detergent, sharp scissors.
Method: Begin by pulling off a piece a piece of fiberfill a little larger than a golf ball. Cover the fiberfill with the natural-colored wool. I used the natural-colored fleece because it is significantly cheaper than the dyed fleece.
Wrap the natural fleece with the orange fleece. Take the cut-off leg from a pair of pantyhose and carefully put a fleece ball into the toe of the stocking. Knot the pantyhose close to the ball. Insert another ball and knot. Repeat until all the fleece balls are in the stocking.
Sooo... Take this arrangement and toss it into the washing machine with 3 or 4 bathtowels. ( I told you it was easy!) I used only about a quarter of the liquid laundry detergent you would for a usual load. I set the machine for a small load, hot wash, cold rinse. When you pull the whole arrangement out of the machine, you should see that wool fibers have "migrated" and are visible on the outside surface of the nylon stocking. This doen't show well in the picture, but it is obvious in real life.
Snip the knots and carefully peel the now-felted fleece balls from the stocking. They should be nicely felted. Take a small amount of brown wool and roll it in your fingers. Take this wool and affix it to an orange felt ball with the felting needle. The dot you make should be about the size of a dime. Repeat this on the opposite end of the ball. You could think of this as the North pole and the South pole. This marks the top and bottom and aid in the placement of the ridges. Again, using the felting needle, create the ridges of the pumpkin by poking along in a straight line. ( To extend the geography metaphor, these lines would be longitude lines running from the North pole to the South pole). Each line will take a few minutes to complete, as you have to go over it a few times to get nicely defined ridges. Six or eight ridges look great for these little pumpkins.
After spend a few pleasant minutes making the ridges, you are ready to appy a stem. Roll a small amount of the brown fleece between your palms to create a rope two inches long and a little thicker than a pencil. Lay this on the foam and needle it so it will hold together. Leave one end un-needled so it remains fluffy. Place the fluffy end on one of the brown dots and needle it in to create a stem. This is really fast and easy. It took less than twenty minutes per pumpkin. ( I didn't use the multi-needle felting tool on this project, but isn't it cool?)
The camera didn't capture how pretty this orange wool is. It looks luminous in the Autumn sunlight.