What is a feltie?

By on January 24th, 2022
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What is a feltie? Perhaps the term is one you’ve heard around the machine embroidery water cooler, but you may not be sure exactly what it is or why you would use your embroidery machine to make one.  To be honest, I owned my embroidery machine for a LONG time before I even knew what a feltie was.  But now that I do, I can understand why you would want to make them and how you can do it.  In this post, I’ll explain what a feltie is, show you how to make them, and provide further inspiration for future feltie projects.

What is a feltie? 

A feltie is a (typically smallish), flat item usually made comprised felt, that is cut in a unique shape.  The top layer may have some decorative stitching on it or other layers of fabric appliquéd on top.  Generally felties are comprised of at least two layers of felt to give it a bit of body. 

Felties are also considered an in-the-hoop item because you can make the entire within your embroidery hoop.  If you have never made an in-the-hoop project, a feltie is a good place to start as they are typically quite easy to make. 

For most of the felties I’ve made, I’ve attached the back layer of felt to the front decorative layer by taping it to the back side of the hooped water soluble stabilizer so that the back side of the decorative stitching is not shown, and my feltie has a nice, clean backside.  However, if the back side of your feltie will not be seen, then there is no reason to assemble the feltie in this manner. 

What are felties made of?

While, most of the time felties are made of felt, they can also be made in other non-fraying material like marine vinyl.  Sometimes they incorporate materials like clear vinyl to make a see-through area.  Clear vinyl can also be used as a dry erase area so that you can write on them and then wipe it away. 

What are felties used for?

Trinkets

Felties can be used for both decorative and functional purposes.   For example, digitizer Sue Taylor, is known for her feltie gingerbread men. She has digitized feltie patterns of just about any type of ginger-person you can imagine.  And people LOVE them.  She has a created a ginger person of almost every profession, doing just about any activity you can imagine. These types of trinkets can easily be used as Christmas ornaments or other home decor. 

ginger feltie by Sue Taylor

There are also a lot of very small scale feltie trinket designs available.  These can be stitched out and used for trading or attached to larger items. So, they are not the most practical items, but these little feltie doodads are super cute. 

Toys and games

Felties can be made for much more than just collectibles. There are tons of different toys and games that are essentially felties.  Just imagine – you can make a toy with a few pieces of felt.

feltie matching game

Other functional feltie uses 

But, now I’ve come to see that there are actually some really neat and practical ways you can use them.

How do you make a feltie?

Instructions for each feltie project may differ quite a bit.  But since, ultimately, they are just a flat element, there is not much to them. In order to show you what I mean, below, I’ll demonstrate how to make a feltie heart designed to slide onto a barrette.  

You can get this embroidery design for FREE in my resource library

Supplies needed 

Steps

Hoop a piece of sticky back stabilizer

You can see in my example below that I already had a piece of sticky back stabilizer hooped from a previous project.  So, I just patched the back with a scrap and used it again. 

If you are starting with a fresh piece of sticky back stabilizer, just hoop it, score around the inside edge of the hoop and peel away the paper.  

Usually when I make in-the-hoop projects, I use water soluble stabilizer. But, in this case, since the back would not show, I figured I could just use sticky back tear away stabilizer. 

hooped sticky back stabilizer

Load in the embroidery design and start stitching it

Start stitching the first thread color. This serves as a placement line to show you where to stick down your first layer of felt. 

placement stitching on hooped sticky back stabilizer

Float the first layer of felt

Lay down the felt on the sticky back stabilizer and start stitching the next thread color. The heart shape serves as a placement line for the next layer of felt.  The rectangular shapes are like button holes. You will cut slots in these rectangles after finish stitching so that the barrette will just go through the back layer of the felt and not the top. 

first level of stitching on feltie

Float the top piece

Lay down another piece of felt over the heart you just stitching out. Start the stitching the next thread color. The final round of stitching is a decorative heart outline.  

finished stitching for feltie

Finishing touches 

When you are done with all the stitching, you are ready to remove the project from the hoop. Gently tear away the heart from the tear away stabilizer.

Trim around the outside edge of the heart. 

Cutting the slots for the barrette is a little tricky.  Squeeze the heart together to move the back of the heart from the front. Carefully cut a slot inside of both of the rectangles. Feed the barrette through these slots. 

finished feltie hair clip

Frequently asked questions about felties

How do you attach felties?

Some felties have an attachment element built into the design.  For example, for my heart barrette topper, I incorporated button holes so that you can just slide the barrette through and the heart will stay put.  But, if the feltie you are making does not have something like this built-in, you can use other means to attach your felties to just about anything.  

For example, you could stitch in a ribbon or tie as you are stitching your feltie front and back together. This is a common technique for making in-the-hoop feltie Christmas ornaments

What machine do I need to make felties?

You can make a feltie on any type of embroidery machine. Your only limitation is the size of your embroidery hoop.  If you are lucky enough to have a large embroidery hoop, you can actually stitch out multiple felties at the same time. 

Can  you make felties with a sewing machine?

While you can make felties with a sewing machine,  you are pretty limited with what you can make and the amount of detail you can incorporate.  For example, it would be impossible to recreate the embroidered detail of one of Sue Taylor’s ginger persons using just a sewing machine. 

Can you make felties with a Cricuit?  

A lot of people use their Cricuts to pre-cut appliqué fabric.  You could also use your Cricut to pre-cut your feltie shapes which would give you a nice, clean finished edge.  In my experience, however, I have had a difficult time cutting felt on my Cricut.  So I, personally, wouldn’t bother. 

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