Landscape dyed and felted book covers

Creating felt for book covers is so easy when you use wool or wool mix batting and Landscape dyes. The easiest way to describe the process is in a tutorial form.

Start with a sizeable piece of batting – I use about half a metre cut in half or thirds.

Wet the fabric thoroughly by soaking for a few minutes in warm water, then scrunch into a microwave proof bowl.

wet fabric in bowl

Pour over some of the already prepared Landscape dyes, scrunch and massage the fabric to make the dyes move around and bleed into each other.  I used a pink, orange and yellow for this piece.

Then microwave for 4-7 minutes on high setting.  Time depends on how wet the fabric was to start with and how much liquid dye was poured over.

Start with 3 minutes, turn over fabric carefully with tongs and put back in microwave. Do this as often as necessary, but halving the cooking time  each time.

Everyone has different criteria as to when it has cooked enough, but my guide line is the colour of the water in the bottom of the bowl – when there is no more dye colour and the water is clear, then it has had enough time.

Of course, if the fabric was not wet enough in the first place, dry patches will burn very easily, so watch this very carefully.  This is what it will look like when it has finished cooking.

after microwaving

You will notice the colours have really blended together and are softer looking.

Now hang it out to cool and dry.  Be very careful handling the hot fabric, as it will be close to boiling temperature for several minutes yet.  Hanging or draping as soon as practical after the cooking also helps to smooth out some of the wrinkles which would be permament if left scrunched until dry.  Then on the other hand you might be looking for that effect anyway.

A good vigorous rinse will remove any surplus surface dye – and there is usually very little of that – add a splash of vinegar to the water, and hang to dry.  Or if you want it to felt even more, then wait until it is very cold and put into the tumble dryer on Hot for 10 minutes or so.

When it is dry it is time to iron the fabric.  A very hot steam iron is needed for this, and  you can really see the brilliance of your piece of felt.

Now it’s ready to cut and stitch.  I usually add a piece of iron-on cotton interfacing to give the fabric a bit more body, especially if the intended book has a soft cover rather than a stiff hard cover.

Sometimes, I machine embroider something simple on what will be the front of the cover, other times I’ll add a strip of ribbon or braid of some sort and stitch a row of fancy stitches either side of the ribbon as a decoration.

This is the stitched cover waiting for a book to be inserted.

And here is the finished product ready for a new owner.

Felted diary cover

Different colour combinations can create very interesting fabrics.

This is a blood red, orange and forest green.

Soft colours but very intense.  Here are the 2 pieces hanging to dry after the rinsing.

In reality, the two on the left are as brilliant as in the photo, the far left piece was used in the book cover.

I have a lot of fun and enjoyment with dyeing this way, I’m sure any one else who has already tried it feels the same.  Landscape dyes can be used on silk as well as wool, and the scarves which I have dyed this way are all very intense colours.  Results are very quick and there is little mess to clean up afterwards.

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