For a while I’ve been thinking of ways to use up the leftover wool from the rugs I make. The idea to make cushions came to me by chance whilst I was cleaning the house recently. I happened upon some of my early rug experiments from the days when I was still learning how to make them. They were a bit funny looking, dog eared and strange shapes. My first thought was to consign them to the compost heap or perhaps cut them into strips and use them on the veggie patch. I decided on the veggie patch option and went to get some scissors from the kitchen drawer. On my way back, scissors in hand it suddenly occurred to me that I could cut these funny looking pieces into squares, sew a back on and make cushions. And so, the idea of felted fleece cushions was born!
Making Felted fleece Cushions
There are so many reasons why I love making these cushions, firstly I love cushions! The more the merrier, we already have a fair few cushions in the house but now we have lots and lots!! My husband is still not quite so sure about the cushion invasion but I am sure he will grow to love them in time.
One of the other reasons I find making these so enjoyable is that I’ve always loved sewing. I find it very relaxing and meditative, even darning, yes, honestly and truly, holey socks, jeans needing patches, coat pockets with holes, I just love it! As soon as I have a needle and thread in my hand I go into my own little world, it’s one of the few times I truly relax truth be told. Life on the smallholding can be pretty stressful at times so sewing gives me a bit of “me time” and time to reboot.
Using up odd bits of wool
Making cushions is also a great way to use up all the odd bits of wool that are left over from the rugs I make. In the past these bits of wool would be used on the veggie patch as a barrier to prevent snails from getting to the young seedlings. This is quite effective but unfortunately doesn’t stop the soil slugs from getting in from underneath. But that’s a whole other story.
So as I said, making cushions fits in very nicely with making rugs. In fact, it is the perfect way to use up every last bit of wool from a fleece. I even use up the scrappier bits of wool, the double cuts and the matted bits. Of course, these are not used on the actual cushions, but rather inside, as stuffing!! Don’t worry, the cushions don’t smell too sheepy, I wash the stuffing and then sift through it for any bits of hay, straw, grass or seeds.
Made with Natural Fibres
I love natural fibres and feel it is only right to pair our beautiful sheep’s wool with a good quality cotton or linen. I currently offer two options for the backs, “plain” or “sheep”. The plain fabric is Oxford (seeded) 100% cotton in a natural shade. The “sheep” fabric is 100% linen canvas in a neutral shade with a grey and white sheep pattern. The cushion covers are fastened with wooden buttons and the covers are completely removable for washing. For washing instructions please click here.
Finally, a note on sizing, each cushion is made individually and so the sizing varies slightly from cushion to cushion. This is due to the felting process as the shrinkage rate is different each time. Felting is like baking bread, you can use exactly the same ingredients and measurements but each felted piece comes out with its own unique character, shape and size!
You might notice the cushions all have slightly different prices so I thought it might be helpful to explain why this is.
Yes, you guessed correctly 😊 each cushion is unique! But there is more to this than simply using different fleeces to make each cushion.
Size: As a general rule, I price each cushion according to size which basically comes down to the square inches of wool used to make each cushion. However size can vary according to two things; shrinkage during the felting process, and type of fleece used.
Shrinkage: Even though I start out with the same sized frame in which to lay out the pieces of fleece, each type of fleece reacts slightly differently during the felting process. During the felting process there is natural shrinkage. This happens when the hot water, soap and agitation work on the wool fibres making them bind together and grip each other tightly. This natural shrinkage makes each felted piece come out slightly differently from the one before and the one after.
Fleece: Just as each sheep in every flock has a unique personality, so do their fleeces. Fleece quality can vary according to age, whether the sheep has lambed, the quality of the grazing, environmental stresses and general ups and downs in the sheep’s life. All sorts of factors can make the same sheep produce a slightly different wool each year.
As a general rule, young sheep, (“hogs”) produce the softest and longest wool. When they’re first sheared at just over a year old, they will have grown a whole year’s worth of lamb’s wool, plus about six weeks of summer growth. So, whenever you see “lamb’s wool” in the description, you will be getting a soft, longer locked cushion.
Equally, if I use fleeces from longer woolled breeds such as Herdwicks or Swaledales, I’ll also take lock length into consideration.
With this in mind, once the cushion is made and I measure it up to work out the price I’ll always include the lock length because the longer the locks, the more wool there is on the cushion.
A wee foot note here on lock length. On the off chance our older Coloured Ryelands were to log on and read this I wouldn’t want to give them the wrong impression. Glamorous as long locks are, short locks are equally charming. What the shorter Ryeland locks lack in length, is made up for in softness, springiness and bounciness. In fact, Ryeland wool is very special and in Victorian times it was one of the best wools you could buy. Read more about Ryeland wool and its attributes here:
So, although I price the longer locked cushions slightly higher than the shorter locked cushions, you are still getting a delightful cushion which is perfect for hugging, snuggling and cuddling.
Fabric: I also take fabric into consideration when pricing up the cushions. To make the backs of the cushions I use either a neutral Oxford cotton, or a linen fabric with a sheep pattern. I fell in love with the linen purely because of the sheep pattern, but truth be told it’s a bit of an extravagance, it does cost me a bit more than the plain cotton, but life would be very dull if we didn’t have the option of a linen fabric with sheep hopping about all over it, even if it’s a wee bit more expensive.
So there you have it, hopefully this explains a bit about the pricing.
I hope you love my cushions and take as much pleasure in having them in your homes as I do in making them 😊