8.09.2012

Needle Felted Nook Cover Tutorial

Well, after much kicking, screaming, and digging-in-of-the-heels, I have been dragged reluctantly onto the "e-reader" bandwagon.

My husband, a bit of a gadget geek, decided that we needed to get a Nook. He originally planned on getting a Kindle (my parents are huge fans of theirs), but the option of being able to use either the "E-Ink" screen (that looks like reading actual paper) OR the glowlight was the point that led him to choose the Nook Simple Touch. So now I can read in bed at night while he goes to sleep with the lights off, and everyone's happy.

(Disclosure: I'm an Amazon Associate, whatever that means. I've yet to see a check, but here's the link anyway.)

I must admit that, for all my protesting, it's actually pretty nice to have it. While I don't think I'll ever go entirely paperless (I love the smell, feel, and look of real books too much... Plus I'm a little suspicious of the "big brother" factor in having my library stored/managed in an online database that someone else controls....), it is a handy thing to have. The convenience of being able to instantly download and read a book is very nice, and it certainly makes traveling with a small library (as I tend to do) much....lighter. So, I do find myself using it.

Anyway.

Since we'll be taking the thing on trips and such, I decided that getting a protective case for it was in order. I looked at a few online and in stores, but most of the covers I saw were either terribly expensive, or they were designed to hold the reader while you're using it, with a "cover" that opened up like a book cover. To me, that sort of defeated the purpose of having an e-reader (which is super light and easy to hold since you're not straining your hand propping the cover open all the time), so I decided to make my own "sleeve" that I could pop it into when it's not in use. I took some pictures throughout the process, and I thought I'd share a little tutorial on how I made it in case you'd like to make something similar. The size could easily be adjusted to hold a Kindle, laptop, iPad, iPhone, iPod, small camera, or any number of other gadgets. So here you go....


Needle-Felted Nook Cover: A Tutorial

My first order of business was to raid my fabric bin. I found a few pieces of wool fabric that were large enough to do the trick, and I decided to go with this neutral khaki-colored piece. I simply folded it in half, placed the Nook on top of it, and "eyeballed" the approximate size I wanted it to be. In hindsight, I kind of wish I had factored in some extra fabric so that the "flap" section would be a double-thickness of fabric, but oh well... (You'll see why later.) Anyway, I cut out the shape (allowing for seams), and this was what I came up with....


Next, I pulled out my bag of batting scraps and found two fairly thick pieces that would add extra padding to the cover. I cut two rectangles that were slightly smaller than the wool to serve as the front and back padding for the Nook.


Next came the fun part! Always feeling the need to embellish things, I did a little needle felting on the front and back....

(If you're not familiar with the basics of needle felting, you might want to visit my tutorial video series or my simple description of needle felting, before you begin. You'll learn what tools you're going to need, basic safety tips, and a lot about technique.... which I won't go into much in this post.)

Here's how the front turned out, and I'll show you the step-by-step progress on the back.... I love birds!


As you can see below, I needle felted through both the wool AND the batting... this will help hold the batting in place once the thing's assembled. (Please note: you must do your needle felting before sewing up the sides of the pouch - if you try to do it once the pouch is assembled, you'll felt the front and back together, and you won't be able to slide your gadget inside....) Also, it's important to make sure that you're felting on top of something like a piece of thick Styrofoam or one of the special "brush" pads that they sell specifically for needle felting... You don't want to stab yourself or accidentally felt your pouch to a piece of furniture or something! You can see the block of Styrofoam I'm using peeking out in the photo below...


Here's a view of what it should look like on the "wrong side" so far.... Make sure you never do any felting with the two sides folded together, or you'll never get them apart!


And now, I'll show you how I go about felting a design like this.... First, I did a basic sketch with some chalk - you can kind of see it in the photo below, but I'll admit, it doesn't show up well on wool.

If you're not comfortable sketching a shape yourself, or don't feel confident about "free-handing" the design, there are several things you can try. I've seen people use cookie cutters as guides - simply place the cookie cutter shape you like in the correct spot, hold it down firmly, stuff some roving inside the cutter, and begin felting inside the cutter while holding it firmly in place. Push the roving up against all of the sides, and it will create the shape you want.... You could also get a copyright-free image online and transfer it to your fabric before felting.... I don't think I would use one of those "iron on" things though - they leave a "plastic-y" coating that would probably hinder the felting action.


You need to start with the "bottom" layer of color. I started with the bird's body color, which was green... Take a small wisp of your roving, and using your needle, "tack it down" in a few places along the edge of your design. Once you've gotten the basic outline established and locked in place, then you can go to town jabbing it down inside the design. This is where the "staying in the lines" coloring skills you learned in kindergarten will come in handy....


Jab away! Needle felting is a productive (and legal) way to work off some frustrations....

To save some time when felting larger, less-detailed areas, you can get a tool like the one below...


See all the needles inside? A tool like this comes in handy for large, less detailed areas, because it "jabs" the wool with five needles at once. It saves times, but it's certainly not necessary. A single needle will do the same thing and will give you more control over detail... it just takes longer.


After you get your base color down, you can start adding details over it. I decided to use some of this beautiful turquoise blue for the wing color... The same principle applies - guide the roving around the outline of the shape, tacking it down around the border. Once the shape is established, then you can start filling in the center... Incidentally, it's always better to start with too little roving than too much. It's a lot easier to add more than to try to remove some once you've started felting...


Make sure you plan your pattern placement so that they're both "right side up" when the pouch is sewn together.... the bottoms of both images should be towards where the fold of your fabric will be....


Continue adding details, working from back to front... To get small details like the eye, eye ring, and beak, you only need a tiny amount of roving....

Hello, birdie!


Continue adding to your design until you get all the elements in place. Just remember to work from back to front - the largest "base" areas go first, then add the smaller details on top. Be sure to felt each layer thoroughly so that it doesn't get pulled out...


For the mushroom, I started with the white stem, then added the khaki colored base layer for the underside of the top, then the dark brown "gills," then the red layer, then finally the white spots. You can get as detailed as you'd like... you can add shadows and highlights if you want to go all out....

It's starting to take shape....


On a side note, for my friends who believe I'm a total OCD freak, I've included a few pictures of what my house often looks like "mid-project."

Wool roving everywhere...


...and my studio room looks like a bomb went off in Hobby Lobby! Don't worry though... it's all cleaned up now. :o)


OK, so once you get your felting done, you can start assembling the cover... I chose some chipper red gingham to make the lining, then raided my button stash to find the perfect candidate for the closure.


For the lining, I simply created a small pouch with the right sides in. The opening on the top is hemmed, and the sides got zipped through my machine for a simple straight stitch. I also used a zigzag stitch to stitch up the sides of my exterior wool layer. You'll be sewing both pouches "right sides together," but only the outer pouch will be turned right side out. The lining you want to leave facing "in."

(On a side note, you could extend the back side of the lining to serve as a lining for the "flap" part, if you didn't double over the wool when you cut the flap section earlier.)

Before you sew in the lining, it's a good idea to make sure your Nook or other device will slide inside both the lining and the exterior shell...


Once you've tested the pockets for size, simply slide the lining into the pouch, and whip stitch around the top, attaching the lining to the exterior all the way around. (If you used the interior lining to extend up the flap area, you'd need to adjust your sewing to tack that part in...) I used a snazzy red wool yarn to do all of my visible stitching.

I sewed on my button, cut a button hole in the area of the flap that lined up with my button placement, then whipped around the raw edge of the button hole with the yarn. Then for some extra flair (and also to help anchor the batting around the inside edges), I did a blanket stitch around the edges of the pouch and the raw edges of the flap to finish it off....


And there it is - the finished Nook case!


And here's the back.... The birdies make me smile every time I look at it...


Here you can see a closer view of how I attached the lining, and finished off the edge of the flap and button hole.


And - yay! - my Nook fits snugly inside when I'm not using it!




I hope you've enjoyed this little tutorial and that maybe it has inspired you to try your hand at needle felting! This was an example of 2-dimensional needle felting, and it can be applied to just about any fabric item you'd like to use it on... (Hats, gloves, scarves, ... your couch??? I've even seen it done on jeans!).

If you'd like to learn a little more about 3-dimensional needle felting, please check out my tutorial video series on how to make a needle felted Teddy bear!

Thanks for reading!

10 comments:

  1. You've definitely inspired me to pull out my needlefelting materials. Your work is just so pretty. I always balked at the idea of electronic books until I borrowed my daughter's Kindle. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks :) But then again, e-readers will never "smell" as good as a book

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    1. Thanks, Jodi! I know what you mean - I've been a scoffer on the whole e-reader thing too. However, after reading a couple of books on ours, I've got to admit, they are handy. The lightness is a real plus - much easier than holding one of those giant hardback books.... So I grudgingly admitted to Josh that it is, indeed, pretty nice.... It'll never replace the real thing entirely for me though. I hope you have fun with your needle felting! Post some pics on your blog when you're done! :o)

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  2. Lovely!!! I love your design...never done felting..maybe i should watch your tutorial...;)

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    1. Thanks, Jenni! You should try needle felting - it's easy, and so much fun! Plus, it's a nice break from other needle work that involves counting stitches and following patterns. I think you would like it! The videos I made will tell you what you need to get started... :o) Let me know if you try it!

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  3. This is adorable!! What a fantastic tutorial, Beth. I don't have any of the supplies... but it looks like fun! My studio looks like a bomb went off 95% of the time. lol

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer! It's a lot of fun - you should try it. When I first attempted it, I bought a little pre-made "kit" off the internet that had the supplies needed for one little felted rabbit. Once I decided I liked it, then I started buying my supplies more in a "bulk" form... but the kits are good just to test it out to see how you like it. I'd definitely try to get your wool from a "fiber shop" or sheep farmer or something though. I saw some wool at Michael's for sale today - they were charing around $3 for 0.25 oz. of wool, and I had bought a 3 oz. ball of wool roving from a fiber store for the same price! Unbelievable difference! Let me know if you decide to try it!

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  4. Thanks for posting this as I never knew how this was done. As a young girl/woman I enjoyed needlework very much. It is lovely. And the unexpected encouragement from your studio pic! Us creatives do our best work that way. God bless you and keep your the work of your little hands serving Him and glorifying Him.

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    1. Thanks, Stella! Yes, I'm generally a very neat person, but mid-project, things always get a little crazy... It just helps to be able to see everything at once. :o) You should give needle felting a try! God bless!

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  5. I'm going to give this a whirl for my hollow books and journals. Can't wait to get all my supplies. Excellent instructions!

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    1. Thank you! Good luck with your felting project! I'd love to see pictures when you finish!

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