Felt Tomato Slice Tutorial

Tomato 1 Heirloom Tomato

Step 1: Research! (actually step 0 was make a bad tomato I think…) Have you ever really studied tomato slices before? They are surprisingly not that symmetric. Do you slice your tomato through the stem? I slice mine through their equators. If they are squatty tomatoes. If they are lumpy heirloom tomatoes I cut them in chunks and them slice them any which way. I had a point somewhere. It was that tomatoes look so many different ways that you have a lot of freedom to play with the inside shapes. Don’t think there is some ‘right’ tomato slice or that they have to be perfectly symmetric.

I did make some funny looking tomatoes that no one could tell what they were… so there *is* room for bad tomatoes, but there’s a lot of leeway. And you could tell what they were if they were part of a sandwich set, but the first guess was ‘flower?’. I originally made the flesh red and the pulp pink and I left out the seeds. They were okay, but not very convincing I guess. The pulp of a real tomato is actually darker than the flesh, and the seeds seem to be pretty important. Here’s what I finally came up with:

Finished Tomato

This tomato only uses two felt colors, if you wanted to go for extra realism you’d have to make the mushroom-y bits that the seeds stick to a lighter color than the rest of the flesh. [There's an example of that at Akiyo's amazing gallery in the lunch section. If you want to read the text you can use Google's translation, it works pretty well.] But since I was needle felting the whole thing together I didn’t want to deal with the overlapping and shrinkage calculation of two ‘top’ layers, and I didn’t want them to overlap. Onward.

Tomato circles

First cut out four circles, two large circles in the tomato flesh color, and two pulp colored circles 1/8″ smaller all around. If you want perfect circles you can trace a drinking glass or something, but tomatoes aren’t really circles anyway, so just cut them out freehand. Mine are pretty lumpy, aren’t they! But I trim them at the end.

Do make sure the two large circles are the same shape, and once you have everything cut out and lined up, mark the circles near the edge so that you can line them up again. While they are lined up mark one on the front and one on the back, one on each side so that you can put the marked sides inward and you won’t see them on the finished tomato. (Or use a water-erase marker, I -shockingly- just used a permanent marker.) Mark the smaller pulp pieces in the same spot too. You want to be able to put the whole stack together so they fit neatly. If you do cut out perfect circles then you can skip this step, because they will line up no matter how they are turned.

Cut Flesh

Next cut out holes in the larger tomato flesh circles for the pulp to show through. Decide how many holes you want, 3,4,5… then use a pen to divide the circle into sections and draw a C shape for the pulp hole into each of them. Make sure to leave a 1/4″ border around the outside of the circle with no holes, so that it will overlap by 1/8″ with the pulp circles. Otherwise you will have a hole through your tomato. Cut out the marked holes with a sharp pair of scissors. Once you cut out one side you can match it back up against the other large flesh circle, marked sides together, and use it as a template to mark the holes for the other side. Then cut the holes in the second tomato flesh circle.

stacked tomato

Put together each inside pulp circle with one cut out flesh circle, lining the marks up. (You should have two pairs, don’t put the whole thing together yet.)

Felted down halves

Either needle felt the flesh cutout to the pulp circle or use a running stitch or applique stitch around each of the cut out holes to join them together. Or, heck, you could use fabric glue if you’re in a rush. I needle felted mine.

Seeds

Now that you have two hopefully solid tomato sides it’s time to add the seeds. Scatter them around, try not to space them too uniformly. I used two methods here, lazy daisy stitches in an ochre thread and green-on-the-inside clear seed beads. I’m not sure which I like better, what do you think? Looking at them now I think there are too many seeds and they are too small, but some varieties of tomatoes have lots of small seeds, so that’s okay. (^_^) I think it would also be interesting to try painting the seeds on with acrylic craft paint, but that might be more likely to be eaten off? I haven’t tried painting felt yet, I’ll have to add that to my imaginary list. Does acrylic stick to wool felt, or do you have to use acrylic or polyester felt? Questions to research.

Finished Tomato

After you have your seeds on line your tomato sides up back to back so that the flesh patterns match up. At this point you can needle felt them together, being careful to only go through the flesh sections so you don’t mess up your embroidery or break a needle on your beads, or you can stitch them together around the edge. After you felt them or before you stitch them trim around the outside edge to neaten it and make sure the two pieces line up perfectly.

Yum! (And am I glad to be done, this tutorial took forever to write up for some reason, and I’m not that happy with the pictures, I really had to force myself through this one and not wait for nice light. But moving on into the new year, let’s be more positive.)

So what do you think, embroidered or beaded seeds?


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