Felting wool really is easy!

Gather your supplies......check
And fun, and versatile. It also takes very little in terms of supplies and equipment. You know it's true - just think about that last favorite sweater that was totally ruined in the washer. No effort, right? The only things needed to felt wool are hot water, soap and agitation. Easy peas-y. To get started you'll need some combed wool, plastic wrap, rolling pin, dish soap, water, some string, and an old towel.

Set up workspace, begin layers....check

Setting up your workspace

Step 1: Lay your towel out on your work space - I recommend doubling it up, there will be sudsy water squishing around and you'll want clean up to be somewhat easy. Now add a layer of plastic wrap. If you want a felted piece bigger than the plastic sheet just overlap a few sheets of the plastic wrap. Make sure you have enough plastic wrap to fold over your planned felt size. Keep in mind that the felting process will reduce the size of the raw fiber to felted fiber by about 30% (remember that sweater? shrinkage will occur).

Finish layering fluffy fibers....check

The puffy layers

Step 2: Take your combed wool and start adding your layers. Layer 1 will start in one direction and following layers will be placed 90 degrees to the previous layer. The amount of layers you add will depend on the thickness of the felt you need. Thicker felt = more layers. The photos show two really thick layers. You may want to start with four thin layers if this is your first project.


Now the fun stuff

Just add soapy water!
Step 3:  Add some hot, soapy water to the wool and press gently. This is the time to tuck any ragged edges under and neaten up the edges. Once the wool is saturated, fold the plastic wrap over the long edges towards the middle. You should have enough plastic wrap for the edges to either meet or overlap in the middle. Fold the plastic wrap on the short edges towards the middle. Use your hands to rub the layers in small circles. Don't press too hard at this point - you don't want the layers to separate.

Wet, soapy wool all packaged neatly

Let the agitation begin
Step 4: Starting on a short edge, roll the plastic wrapped wool layers around the rolling pin and secure with string. Now start rolling. I didn't time how long it took but I'd say after about two minutes of firm, steady rolling you should be able to see your piece beginning to change. Carefully unwrap your plastic and pick up one of the edges - you should see a nice layer of felt fabric. I like to take my pieces out at this point and work them by hand. I usually work the felt on both sides. This gives me a chance to see how my wool is doing.

Voila! Fabric!


More hot water please!

Step 5: Once I've decided the piece is finished, it's time to start the dunking process (I know, technical). Put your felted wool in the sink and run hot water over it to rinse out the soap. Once the soap is rinsed, you can start dunking your wool in a bath of hot water. Keep dunking until the wool starts to dimple and harden. Your felted piece is still shrinking at this point as all the fibers become more compact, making a very stable fabric. Once you have your piece just the way you want it, gently squeeze the out the excess water. Don't wring it out or twist it - you want that piece to retain much of its shape. Then hang it up to dry.

New material for new projects!

Project time!

After it's dry you can use your felted wool for any number of projects. Your newly made fabric can be needle felted, cut, sewn, and painted. Buntings, hot pads, slippers, wall hangings are just some of the things you can make.

Why make your own?

You may be wondering why would I make my felt when there is so much to buy at the craft store? Many reasons. First and foremost, I like making stuff. To take something from raw material to finished product is an amazing feeling. Second, I know what's in the product I make. Not all craft felt is made from wool or natural materials, some of it is made from synthetic materials. Which leads me to my third reason, synthetic materials are not bio-degradable. My final reason? I can make exactly what I want without combing through shelves, walking up and down aisles or endless web browser searches. I think about it, I make it - how cool is that?