A Fool for Felt

I was mad for felt before I could lisp “Mama.” Was it because of the colors? The soft fuzzy texture? They way it’s fray-free? Nope. It was because it stuck to itself.

When I was a baby there were these cool felt cut-out sets with a plain background and a stack of cutouts — farm animals, flower gardens, cars, airplanes. A kiddy could place a brown cow on a green felt field and it stuck there! All by itself!  But tiny fingers could pick off the cow and put it in the corner of the field and arrange a flock of felt geese in the foreground. And they stuck!  They were primitive Luddite Colorforms.

In the past few years I’ve become a fan of Zakka, which is practical Japanese needlework, mostly for the home. It’s a philosophy too. I lifted this from Wikipedia:

Zakka (from the Japanese ‘zak-ka’(雑貨)or ‘many things’) is a fashion and design phenomenon that has spread from Japan throughout Asia. The term refers to everything and anything that improves your home, life and outlook. It is often based on household items from the West that are regarded as kitsch in their countries of origin. But can also be Japanese goods, mainly from the fifties, sixties and seventies. In Japan there are also so-called Asian zakka stores; that usually refers to Southeast Asia. The interest in Nordic design or Scandinavian design, both contemporary and past, is also part of this zakka movement. Zakka can also be contemporary handicraft.

Zakka has also been described as “the art of seeing the savvy in the ordinary and mundane”. The zakka boom could be recognized as merely another in a series of consumer fads, but it also touches issues of self-expression and spirituality. “Cute, corny and kitschy is not enough. To qualify as a zakka, a product must be attractive, sensitive, and laden with subtext.”

Hot dang! That’s Everything Me! A quick trip to Amazon and two-day One Click brought me the UPS man and this charming book: “Zakka Sewing: 25 Japanese Projects for the Household.” Because I had odd bits of felt in my stash, and zero presentable coasters on my sideboard I fell on this project with the childhood joy of a baby pressing a pink piggy into her fuzzy farmyard.

Those are some cheap and cheerful coasters! Cut out any image you please, using 2 colors per coaster. Snip out shapes from the top layer to get the contrast pattern, like the centers of the flowers. Then machine stitch through both layers in a vaguely artistic freehand manner. (Hand stitching would be even more Zakka.)

As you see, I went a little nuts that afternoon. Man, it was fun.

A note on felt: 100% wool is the most desirable, of course, and the price per yard rivals cashmere. I went with a wool/poly blend which comes darn close to the good stuff in the hand. I’ll stick with the blend until I’m rich and famous and can buy 100% wool felt with the abandon of a sailor on shore leave standing beer for his fifty new friends.

When you drop by, I’ll be ready to offer a frosty mug and a coaster.



Filed under A yard of fabric, About a buck, Home, Needlework

4 responses to “A Fool for Felt

  1. I came over from Rachel’s blog, and I was not disappointed. But, I take her recommendations very seriously. I went through you other posts, as well. I tried the origami…cute! Have you ever seen the books that show how to do the origami with a dollar bill? That always fascinated my children…and was a clever way of to make giving a 5 dollar bill just a little more exciting!

    • Tonja: Welcome! Any friend of the Divine Ms. R. is a friend of mine. Re: The dollar bill origami book. Do I own it? Do bees be? I love that book, and thanks for giving me an idea for a future post.
      — Maggie

  2. Finally a word for my decorating style, which I have always termed Seedy Elegance. Combined with a little Industrial and a little of what the Japanese wabi-sabi. Oh, and leopard, which is my neutral.

    Got to buy a nice yd. of felt Christmas season when V. needed it for under the model railroad under his tree. I hadn’t looked at bolts of felt in YEARS. Made me want to look at them a LOT more often. I got the mostly wool blend too, it was very nice.

  3. Those felt cut-outs (I’m of that generation) weren’t just Luddite Colorforms. They were an introduction to perspective — a standard, for better or worse, that this designer used to judge every bit of art since first grade.

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