When Martha wanted to surprise her daughter Alexis and new granddaughter Jude with a special tapestry for the nursery, she turned to "Martha Stewart Show" crafter Hosanna Houser. Inspired by the adorable carved animal sculptures of The Arctic Trading Company that she saw during her recent trip to see the polar bears in Churchill, Canada, Martha commissioned Hosanna to create a beautiful mural depicting scenes of northern life. The result: a stunning 138-inch-long felted tapestry featuring 89 different Arctic-inspired designs.
Create your own unique Arctic-themed tapestry with this how-to, adapted for the home crafter. (First-time felters, use this step-by-step guide on How to Needle Felt with Felt Cutouts, Roving, and Yarn.)
Tools and Materials
- Utility knife
- Foam core
- Large picture frame
- Vanishing fabric marker
- 100-percent wool fabric in light blue, darker blue, and white
- Fabric scissors
- Needle and thread
- Sewing machine
- Craft paper
- Pen or pencil
- Craft scissors
- 2-inch-thick foam pad
- Fine-weight felting needles
- Merino wool roving
- Cotton and/or bamboo fibers
- Arctic templates (Caribou, ptarmigan, and bison; whales, walruses, and seals; wolves and fox; polar bears; locals with fishing hole)
- Copy-weight paper
- 100-percent wool felt in gray and white
- Double-sided tape
- Craft knife
- Screw punch
- Duct tape
- Fabric glue
Arctic Tapestry How-To
1. With a ruler and utility knife, cut foam core 1/8 of an inch smaller on all sides than picture frame. With vanishing fabric marker, trace foam core onto light blue wool fabric (which will act as the tapestry's foundation and the sky), marking the edges of the frame. Trim fabric, leaving a 2- to 3-inch margin on all sides of marked area.
2. Cut darker blue wool fabric (which will act as the water) to desired size, and with needle and thread, baste water to foundation fabric. With a sewing machine threaded with matching thread, sew water to base fabric using a straight stitch, leaving a 1/8-inch seam allowance.
3. Cut landmasses of desired size out of white wool fabric, and baste and sew to tapestry where desired as instructed in step 2 above.
4. Create a template by drawing icebergs on craft paper with a pen or pencil. Cut template out with craft scissors, and with vanishing fabric marker, trace onto tapestry where desired. (Note: Marker should disappear within 48 hours. If not, simply dab with a lightly dampened cloth to remove.)
5. Place tapestry on 2-inch-thick (at least) foam, and using felting needles and merino wool roving, fill in marked iceberg areas. For variation in texture and color, apply bamboo and/or cotton fibers and felt over with wool roving. Do not felt bamboo or cotton on their own; they will not effectively bond to foundation fabric.
6. Download and print out templates (caribou, ptarmigan, and bison; whales, walruses, and seals; wolves and fox; polar bears; locals with fishing hole) on copy-weight paper. With double-sided tape, affix template to gray or white felt (depending on the animal). Cut out each animal with craft scissors, and with a craft knife, cut out detail lines as indicated on template.
Note: To create your own template, trace a 3- to 5-inch picture of an Arctic animal of your choosing. Cut out and use as template, following the instructions below.
7. Remove template, finish cutting detail lines, and expose openings for animal ears, tusks, etc., as indicated on template. Using screw punch, cut out eye-holes.
8. With fabric scissors, cut notches out of corners of tapestry to prevent bunching, and wrap around foam core, securing 2- to 3-inch overhang to back of foam core with duct tape.
9. With fabric glue, affix cut-out felt animals to tapestry as desired. Once glue is completely dry, remove glass and mat from frame and mount tapestry inside.
Ribba picture frame from IKEA. Vanishing fabric markers available from Amazon.com. Fine-weight felting needles and other felting supplies available from Clover. Merino wool roving and bamboo fibers from Blue Goose Glen. Wool felt available from Magic Cabin. Fabri-Tac fabric glue available from Beacon Adhesives. Screw punch from Martha Stewart Crafts.