Friday, July 17, 2009

Wet Felting - A Tutorial

Wet felting is a lot of fun and all you need is: 1.) a piece of bubblewrap 2.) wool 3.) a piece of netting, rug underlayment, shelf liner, screen, or any type of fabric with holes in it.

First, lay your bubblewrap down on your working surface. I am using a pool cover in this picture. I called a local pool store and found a remnant piece for free!!! I was able to cut it to the size of my table.

Lay your wool out in approximately 25% bigger than you want your finished piece to be. This is a very rough estimate and if you are a perfectionist then you can felt a small piece to see what your actual shrinkage is. I like to felt on the fly :)

Layer your wool by placing a very thin layer in one direction and the next layer in the opposite direction and so on until you have 3-4 layers depending on how thick you want your finished product.

Here comes the fun part and I have my very capable assistant to demonstrate the rest of the process. Cover your wool with your netting, we are using shelf liner here. Fill a bowl with hot water and a little bit of liquid soap. Take a sponge and drip the water over the wool until it is completely wet.

Next, use a bar of soap (I find that glycerin based soap works best) and aggressively rub it across back and forth over the wool.

Once the surface is slippery you can set the soap aside and rub with your hands. Every once in awhile, pull the netting up to make sure the wool isn't felting to it :)

The wool should start sticking to itself and beginning to felt. You can pull the netting off and rub the wool directly.

He is so serious :)

Roll the wool up in your netting and roll back and forth. I find rolling REALLY boring, so I do this for a very short period of time. I roll a couple times from one direction and a couple times from the other.

Pull your piece of felt out of the netting and scrunch it up and abuse it :) Throw it on the table, rub it against the bubble wrap.

Now we need to get rid of the soap and finish the process. Put it in hot water first and continue scrunching it up under the water.

Next to the cold water. Repeat this 2 times - hot, cold, hot, cold. You will feel the surface texture change when you go from the hot to cold - I love this part.

Sometimes I will throw the finished product into the dryer and sometimes I will lay it out in the sun. Here is my son's finished piece...

and here is mine. They are both going to be used for vests. He is going to make one for his teddy bear. We used Navajo Churro wool and it felts beautifully. Not to be worn against the skin but great for rugs and masculine vests.


  1. Awesome tutorial Shannon, thanks for posting it in case I forget! ;) I love the look on Theron's face and I can tell he really is very capable!

    I'm really enjoying your new blog -- love the fiber posts. Didn't use my picker yet today, maybe tomorrow... I need a nap today after being up early and cleaning up our downed oak in the pasture.

  2. Thank-you for posting this! You and your assistant have made it very clear and I will be felting next week!

  3. Ohh lovely, great tut. Fab (and cute) assistant and nice looking final product!

    Loving the doggie too - mine like fleece sorting too - Sculptures have to be stored away else Mia will check how well they are felted (or rip their heads off)