Tips for Beginners

Types of stamping

Solid Lines
(picture of plain ol’ felt goes here)
This is what comes in most kits you could buy in a store today such as Plaid Bucilla kits. The lines are very thick and easy to follow, but do require you to cut carefully to get all the border off the front of the finished applique. Typically they don’t give margin for cutting inside the lines easier, so if you are not extremely precise in cutting close to the line but on the inside of it, you’ll have a hard time with sequins near the edge of the fabric. Older kits from before the photocopier era often are printed with dotted lines instead of solid. The dotted lines are nice because the thinner weight of the line makes it easier to cut off the marking completely. The downside is sometimes the marks can seem to “vanish” on their own. Unstamped kits require you to lay out pattern pieces onto the felt and cut them out yourself. This can be tricky because it is hard to draw thin lines on felt. Most felt tip or markers smear or bleed too much, but pencil will only draw well on really stiff felt and requires a soft lead. Paint works good at marking lines–if you can find a brush or paint pen with a fine-enough point. Typically on unstamped felt, it is best to only draw your lines on the back of the felt so that they don’t show on the finished project if they smear.

Check out the brand chart if you’re buying kits off ebay and want to know if your kit brand includes stamped or unstamped felt.

Where to Buy

Felt ornament kits can be tricky to find in stores (try craft stores like Micheals or Beverlys or other stores with large crafts sections like Walmart). It is much easier to buy them online.

PlaidOnline the website for Plaid sells Plaid-Bucilla ornament kits directly, having the full selection of all their current year’s designs plus overstock of less popular designs from previous years.

Mary Maxim Catalog sells Plaid-Bucilla kits as well, and their stock may vary slightly from Plaid’s current available choices in having different slightly older kits avalable.

Ebay has not only a huge selection (varies seasonally, many more to choose from near the holidays) but also carries lots kits that are no longer in print or from brands that have gone out of business. Plus the prices are really reasonable unless you’re bidding on a rare-and-popular old kit (eg. Bucilla Alice in Wonderland kit)

Other Supplies You May Need

Stuffing. A big bag of polyester fiberfill is inexpensive. You’ll definitely want to pick up a bag of this to go with your kit.

Sewing scissors. Really. They’re smaller and sharper and cut through fabric and floss better than “normal” scissors.

Sewing Wax. If you’re having a hard time keeping your thread from tangling and knotting, this will make the thread stiffer while you sew so it tangles less.

If your kit doesn’t include pre-stamped patterns, carbon paper for fabric is needed to transfer the patterns to the felt (you can try without but its a lot harder)

Avoidable Pitfalls

Possible Pitfall: Getting a kit that is not pre-stamped.
How to avoid it: Look for brands such as Bucilla, Paragon, Disney. Avoid Titan or Design Works (“decorations en feutre”) kits.
When to be concerned about this: If you’re a beginner, get the pre-stamped one. Ones with un-stamped felt are tougher and better done after you’ve practiced a bit on stamped kits.

Possible Pitfall: thread gets knotted
What to do: stop immediately, do not continue stitching, and undo the knot. Use two needles to pull the knot apart if needed. If the knot is not completely pulled tight it will be easier to pull back out
To make the thread knot less buy a container of sewing wax and lightly run the floss through the wax before stitching. Wax may slightly discolor dark or brighly colored floss, but generally not so much that you would be