Fleeced

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img_4319Pretty gorgeous, isn’t it?  This has been the latest project, made from felted alpaca fleece.  Yup, those wonderfully cute critters with the incredibly soft fur and long eye lashes.

This was an experiment in conjunction with GTF Alpacas in Pinedale AZ.  I used to work with one of the owners in another life.  Over a year ago, they sent me some fleeces that had been cleaned and felted.  What could I do with them?

We exchanged pictures – could you make something like this?  Or that?  Basically they were looking for something wearable to show in their boutique, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to try making something different.

Unfortunately 2015 intervened, and I wasn’t able to do anything with the fleeces until recently.  I thank them profusely for their understanding and patience.

Alpaca fleeces are big!  They covered the whole cutting table.  They are also uni-directional.  No nap to worry about.  And thick.  And soft.  And the Hellboys liked them A Lot!

Which meant the actual pattern layout and cutting had to be done when they were napping, lest I have the most rambunctious cat weights imaginable.  (The boys get to play with the leftover cuttings).

There was stitching experimentation required.  A regular seam was much too thick.  A lapped seam with a triple-zig stitch worked best.  Then I could carefully trim any excess from the back.  The stitches sunk into the fleece delightfully.  Almost invisible.

I didn’t have to bind the edges, since this is a felt, but thought it would give a more professional look.  Some were bound, some weren’t.  I was after a little bit of everything, while still staying within the style parameters.

In all, two fleeces yielded four vests, two of which are short, like the one pictured, two which are longer with shawl collars.  This particular fleece was my favorite.  I liked the brown patches (undyed, came straight from the ‘paca that way).

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