I love that embroidery is growing once again in popularity, rediscovered by modern crafters. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with felt applique as an alternative to filling in large spaces with color in needle-art. I’ve never had the patience to embroider, but by using blocks of felt cut to size I’m able to fill large areas with just a few stitches and finish entire wall hangings in one or two sessions instead of days or weeks.
In this tutorial, I’ll be demonstrating how I made this mountain scene ornament from felt and embroidery. I just love the color pallet that came together for this piece and the modern, kinda hipster-camp feel. I made this particular piece without an embroidery hoop- but it might make the process a little easier to start on a hoop until the layers build up enough to create some rigidity in the piece.
I created this mountain scene ornament for outdoor-loving friends who were married over the past holiday season. I used the finished piece to adorn a card, but also added a loop and loosely affixed the ornament, so they could remove and use as an ornament on a christmas tree. (Incidentally, I recently discovered wool-felt makes a superior diffuser for essential oils, so using something like this as a car air freshener is a perfect use too!)
Mt Baker in Washington state was the inspiration for the mountain in the backdrop of this woodsy PNW scene. You can use your favorite mountain if you create this project for yourself. Just print and resize an outline of your mountain and cut out of felt, substituting for the mountain shown on the pattern.
Step 1. Cut Pattern
Cut your pieces from felt. We always recommend wool felt for both durability and the availability of a large color palette. In this project, I used columbia blue, cloudy day grey, moss green, seagrass green, and white felt to create this scene of mountains and trees on a blue sky. Wool felt made it possible to create a muted color pallete- something that was never possible to do using the kool-aid-bright felt colors available at craft stores.
Step 2. Layering
Begin layering. It will appear that there are extra layers, this is to create an even-ness through the entire circle. If the could/mountain upper half has more layers of felt than the lower grass/road half, then the trees that bridge these sections will look askew as they traverse the difference in thickness. Prevent this by building up layers as needed.
Use tiny stitches to hold things in place as you build up layers. It can feel like an easy cheat to just use glue to hold felt pieces in place, but if a later step requires a stitch in that area, pushing the needle through the glue can be really difficult. If in doubt, use basting stitches (really long, semi-loose stitches) to just hold pieces in place until fine stitching is added)
Step 3. Add Details
After your backgrounds are blocked in, add details like the trailing road, snow on the mountains, and the trees.
Feel free to experiment with stitches- the really lovely thing about working with wool felt is that you can remove stitches and restitch over and over. As long as you remove your stitches gently (cut and pull the thread, don’t rip!) and massage the felt gently after removing, you’ll be able to experiment with stitches without any mistakes showing.
Step 4. Add Stitching
You can add find detailing over the felt color blocks using traditional embroidery. You don’t need to know any fancy stitches, just a few stitches can add detail and depth. For my ornament, I added brown tree trunks:
Step 5. Finish Back and Edges
When you are happy with the front of your felt applique art, apply the last piece- the full-circle – to the back of your piece to cover up the backside of the stitches.
If you want your piece to be more rigid, pause here and cut a small circle of heavy paper or lightweight cardboard to place between the faux-embroidery piece and the backing.
Stack your layers, and begin stitching around the edge. You can overcast stitch but I prefer this simple-blanket stitch using a cord of thick embroidery floss. Add a large loop for hanging at the top and your piece will be ready for hanging, display, or gift giving!
Lindsayanne is a professional artist, writer, and serial-DIY-er with a knack for solving problems creatively at home, in the studio, out in the garden, and even online. Learn more about Lindsay, her training, and her background here.