Monday, October 22, 2007

Making felt: an attempt at a tutorial

Felting supplies and tools: roving (wool or silk), a bamboo mat, bubble wrap, tulle or some sort of netting, plastic bag, and towel.Slowly, pull thin layers of roving and lay horizontally on plastic (to keep the water from getting to0 messy). Lay a layer of roving (still in thin, wispy pieces) vertically on top of horizontal layers. Continue putting down layers, alternating between vertical and horizontal layers. I kept forgetting about the camera, so I'm not sure if I put 3 or 4 layers, but I was going for a thicker felt than the previous items.Decided to add a layer of yellow.I added one more layer of yellow , then some other colors on top.Cover with the netting. At this point, it is several inches high and very fluffy.Using VERY hot to boiling water (I used my electric tea kettle), and a few drops of liquid soap, begin wetting down all of the layers. You can apply the soap to the roving or into a bowl to which you add the HOT water as needed. Keep wetting until the surface if flat and thoroughly wet.After it is completely wet and flat, the soap will make your hands glide over the netting, helping the fibers to being attaching to each other. My hands were wet, and I couldn't take a picture of this, but you gently circle your hands over the entire thing to help the fibers adhere. Every once in a while, raise the netting to keep the fibers from felting to it.

Lift the netting, and pinch the felt--if the entire piece lifts up together, it is ready for the next step. This wasn't quite ready as the yellow lifted apart from the blue bottom layer. So I covered it with the net again and continued adding hot water and swirling over the top with my hands until the entire piece lifted when pinched.
The next step is fulling. This piece was larger than the bamboo mat, so I used the bubble wrap for the fulling.

Place felt on bubble side. I covered it both ways, then got the trusty old rolling pin and rolled it and rolled it and...
then picked up the felt and placed it the other way and rolled it and rolled it. It needs to rolled both vertically and horizontally, so you have to turn the piece. I continued the fulling until it was small enough to put on the bamboo mat (the hot water and the fulling shrinks the wool). One source said roll about 150 times. I have no idea how many times I rolled it -- either with bubble wrap or bamboo mat. Until it no longer stretched when pulled, though.

Then rinse all the soap out; first using hot water until the water runs clear, then with cold water.
Roll in towel to absorb most of water, then let dry naturally or throw in dryer with a load of towels . I tried the dryer with this piece because it was so thick.It would have been better to have the yellow layer thicker, but I did achieve a thicker felt that would be strong enough for slippers...if I had a big enough piece. :)
These are the instructions I printed out a year or so ago when I first tried felting. I wish I'd found them again before doing this last piece! I notice several differences between this and the method I used...not sure how much difference, but I'll be adding a few things next time.


  1. Now, that makes me want to play. Thanks for the tutorial.

  2. Nellie -- It IS like playing. Wet and messy and fun!

    Rissa -- Thanks! I'm having fun with all of the roving again. I may have to come and let you teach me how to spin!

  3. This is the exact same way I make the silk fusion but with a little bit of a liquid medium adding and of course it doesn't shrink the same way wool does...but I do have some wool roving and now I want to play :)

  4. karoda -- I have a little silk roving that I bought some time back (had to search it out because it wasn't with my other roving). Must try the silk fusion soon!


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