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Fundamentals of Wet Felting

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Wet felting wool is a centuries old craft used to make everything from tents to clothing. This tutorial will teach you the basics of how to felt wool roving into a beautiful piece of fiber art.

Supplies

Felting supplies

For this project you'll need:

  • a sheet of bubble wrap, larger than the size of your project
  • a towel, larger than the size of your project
  • netting or tulle, larger than the size of your project
  • assorted colors of wool roving
  • a spray bottle
  • a large wooden dowel, rolling pin, or piece of firm pool noodle
  • soap
  • two elastic pieces

1. Laying Out the Project

Step 1

Lay out your towel and bubble wrap, bubble side up, on a water-safe work surface.

Towel with bubble wrap on top

Step 2

Next, gently pull your roving into "drafts". Pulling lightly will give nice 10-15 cm (4-6 inch) long pieces.

pull your roving into drafts

Step 3

Arrange each draft on the bubble wrap. Lay each draft in the same direction for the first layer. Try to make the layer as even as possible, filling in thin spots.

Layer of red wool roving on bubble wrap

Step 4

The next layer should be laid in the opposite direction. Make this layer even and consistent as well.

Yellow layer in opposite direction

Step 5

Add another one to three layers of roving, alternating fiber directions.

Add another one to three layers of roving

Step 6

Once you have completed layering the drafts of roving, you can add any design elements or embellishments to the top layer.

Add designs to the top layer

Step 7

Carefully place the netting/tulle over the top of your project, making sure not to displace any of the designs you have made or the structure of the roving layers. 

place the nettingtulle over the top of your project

2. Felting the Project

Step 1

Fill the spray bottle with hot water and liquid soap. Use plenty of soap, so that the water is quite sudsy. The exact amount will vary depending on the volume of water and the type of soap.

Spray the mixture on the wool. Thoroughly wet the wool, but try to avoid using so much water that it begins to pool. If you add too much water, just carefully blot the excess water with a towel.

Spray the mixture on the wool

Step 2

Once the wool has been sprayed, gently start rubbing the your hands over the project. You will notice that soap begins to foam as you rub. Continue to rub for at least 7 to 10 minutes. This rubbing will begin the felting process.

gently start rubbing the your hands over the project

Step 3

Once you have rubbed your project, place the wooden dowel/rolling pin/foam noodle at one end of the towel. Carefully begin to roll the project up around the item you are using. Continue rolling until the whole towel and project are around the tool.

roll the project up around the rolling pin

Step 4

Take the elastic pieces and tie them securely around the rolled up project.

Rolled up project with ties around it

Step 5

Once the ties are in place, begin rolling the whole parcel back and forth. Make sure to roll in long strokes so that the whole parcel is evenly rolled.

rolling the whole parcel back and forth

Step 6

After rolling for 10 to 12 minutes, untie and unroll the towel. Carefully lift the netting from the top of the wool. Gently pinch the top—this is called a pinch test. If fibers pull up, your project has not felted enough. 

Rotate the piece 90 degrees and repeat steps 3 to 5 again. Try the pinch test again. If very few fibers pull up, your felting is complete on this side. 

Gently pinch the topthis is called a pinch test

Step 7

Turn the wool over and repeat steps 3 to 6 for the back side of the project.

Same process on the back side

Step 8

Once both sides have been rolled, peel the wool off both the bubble wrap and netting. Fold into quarters or thirds.

Fold into quarters

Step 9

Prepare two bowls, one with very cold water and one with hot water. Place the folded wool into the hot water.

Place the folded wool into the hot water

Step 10

Remove the wool from the hot water after a few seconds, gently squeeze the water out, and then place the wool into the cold water. Allow it to set in the cold water for a few seconds and then gently squeeze the cold water out. Repeat these alternating hot and cold dunks four or five times. 

Make sure that all the soap is rinsed from the wool. The hot and cold water might need to be changed if too much soap builds up in them.

alternating hot and cold dunks

Step 11

Once the wool is completely rinsed, lay the finished felted wool out to air dry. You have just completed your first wet felted wool piece!

finished wet felted wool piece

In this tutorial you have learned how to turn basic wool roving into a lovely piece of wet felted art. Please share your comments and results below!

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