Sunday, 17 July 2011

Wet Felting

Today I opened up a stash of materials from various craft fairs and shopping trips and we tried wet felting. Here's what you'll need to make some felt:
  • wool fibres
  • yarn
  • bubble wrap
  • plastic (we used a bin liner)
  • swimming noodle (cut to size with a bread knife)
  • non slip matting
  • a towel
  • a plastic bottle with a couple of holes in the lid
  • soap
  • hot water
  • net
  • some scraps of stretchy fabric or old tights for ties


This is how the felt starts out; as bundles of wool fibres purchased from a craft shop. We also found this rather funky yarn which is a mixture of many different threads and textures.

Wool fibres

Before you start make sure your air conditioning is switched off. Any breeze will blow wool fibres everywhere. First lay down the non slip mat. On top place a layer of bubble wrap, bubbles facing up, then a layer of plastic. Gently tease the fibres out and place a layer over the plastic, all running the same direction. Thin layers work better than thick ones. Make sure the fibres all overlap.

Making the first wool layer

Repeat the process again to make a second layer running in the opposite direction. If you want a stronger, thicker felt, repeat again to make more layers. We just did 2.

Completed first layer

Second layer running in the opposite direction

Then add any decoration you want to the top surface. We made lines and spirals with yarn and added smaller pieces of coloured wool.

Adding decoration

The finished wool pile ready for felting.

Lay the netting over the pile gently to help keep the fibres in place. Fill the bottle with hot soapy water and sprinkle it over the wool. It should be wet all over but not soaking.

Adding soapy water

Adding soapy water

Next gently pat down the wool making sure the water penetrates all the way through the layers.

Patting the water into the wool

Add a second plastic sheet over the netting and finish the sandwich off with another layer of bubble wrap, bubbles down towards the wool. Use the swimming noodle to help you roll up the whole sandwich (excluding the non slip mat). Secure the roll with scraps of stretchy fabric or tights.

Preparing to roll the sandwich of wool and plastic

Now you need to roll the whole thing 100 times. Next untie the roll, rotate the pile 90 degrees, roll it back up and roll another 100 times. After the first 200 rolls you can probably remove the netting as the wool is starting to felt. Rotate and roll another 100 times, rotate and roll again. Reshape the felt each time if necessary and smooth out any wrinkles. We did 400 rolls in total, the more you do the stronger the piece will become. You should start to see some shrinkage. You may need to tuck stray fibres back into the piece around the edges.

Roll at least 400 times

Once you are sick of rolling, open the piece up and massage the felt with your hands. Take the felt to a sink and rinse in hot water to remove the soap. Scrub the felt against itself under the tap. Squeeze out most of the water. Now comes the fun part. Throw the felt onto a hard surface or into the sink lots of times. This will firm up the felt and shrink it further. Then open it out and leave it to dry.

Throwing the felt

Finished felt - front

Finished felt - back

To find out more about felting techniques visit They have some great video tutorials.

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