Friday, January 14, 2011

Valentine Brooches

Christmas is over, mitten making and selling on etsy are slowing down, and that means I can breathe again. Well, just for a moment, because now I am making brooches for Valentine's Day at my second etsy store (fabriq). But I thought I would take a little time to share a sample of the brooches here on my blog.

Above: This is an enlargement of one of the more traditional Valentine brooches. Actually, the little pins measure only 2—2.25 inches across.

Below: Here is a photo of nine of the brooches so you can see a greater variety. The brooch shown above is in the upper right hand corner of this photo.

Background info: When I was cutting felted wool this fall and winter for mitten making, I saved scraps in a paper bag beside my chair thinking I might find some use for bits and pieces. In addition to this scrap bag, I have two trash bags of sweaters that felted up too much to use for mittens. I thought I might also find other purposes for these. I don't like to toss materials out if I think I can repurpose them in some way.

I didn't have an idea in my head for using the scraps but, as my husband quotes from time to time, "Luck is preparation meeting opportunity." Opportunity happened in the "From Trash to Treasures" group on ravelry when some of the group members signed on to participate in a Valentine Swap. As Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday, I sort of promoted the swap and was glad when others came forward to moderate the event and still others embraced the idea. Okay, so back to luck, preparation and opportunity....

One of the possible swap suggestions was to create something wearable in a Valentine theme for our partners. Before being assigned a partner, I started knitting a pair of red, wool mittens but when assignments were made, I learned that my partner (Jenn) was allergic to wool. Okay...I guess that wouldn't work so I decided I could list them on my etsy mitten shop after I embellished them with felted wool hearts cut perfectly using my Sizzix machine. Worked like a charm! If you don't know what a Sizzix machine is, it's just a little manual die cutter with a handle to to cut shapes. I happened to have one die with four different size hearts on it. Here is the pair of Valentine mittens I knitted and the heart embellishments.

Well, since I couldn't include the mittens to Jenn, one thing led to another (luck, preparation and opportunity...) and I was inspired to create a Valentine brooch for her piggybacking on the embellishments I made to put on the mittens. Of course, I had to make a brooch for Jenn out of fleece but most of the brooches I have made are of felted wool.

Materials: Felted wool (or fleece), beads, satin roses, embroidery floss, thin ribbon, buttons and other plastic embellishments make up the creative part. On the backs are pin clasps. (See below.)

Tips: Above are two felted wool pins, one face forward and one from the back. The brooch on the left is made of fleece. I found the fleece more difficult to work with compared to the wool, in this regard: I can crochet lacy edges on the wool but have to embroider the edges of the fleece because even a tiny crochet hook will not penetrate the fleece.

The main reason for sharing the above photo is to show the clasps. I always check the clasps first to see that they open and close easily, that they are not bent or misshapen, and that they are right side up. I hand-sew the clasps to the largest heart before assembling layers so I can hide my stitches and knots on the reverse side. At first I was using regular thread but found that by stitching with embroidery floss I don't have to make as many individual stitches because there are multiple strands of floss. I was using three strands and that meant it was like making more passes of stitching through the clasps with one stitch. I matched the floss to the color of the felted (or fleece) heart. It is best NOT to glue the clasps because the dried glue will make your pin stiff and the clasp will not be as secure.

I did use glue, however, to attach the satin roses. I used glue intended for fabrics (Liquid Stitch) but didn't want to use it to attach the heart layers or the pins would have been rigid to the touch. By embroidering layers together, the brooches are soft and more visually and tactilely appealing. To secure the roses in place while the glue is drying, I use little plastic clips to hold them. The clips are not as strong as clothespins and therefore do not smash or flatten the satin roses.

To visit my second esty shop that features these brooches for Valentine's Day, Click Here
(The name of my second shop is called fabriq.)