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How to make Wet Felted Fish in a Tumble Dryer.

Updated on August 20, 2016
sallybea profile image

Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker. Her tutorials & techniques are as individual as she is, unique, experimental and always interesting

Close up of 'Gobby' the Felt Fish

Close up image of 'Gobby' the Felt Fish
Close up image of 'Gobby' the Felt Fish | Source

Full length image of 'Gobby' the Felt Fish

Full length image of 'Gobby' the felt fish
Full length image of 'Gobby' the felt fish | Source

A Shoal of 'Gobby' Fish

What a lot of fishy 'Gobs'
What a lot of fishy 'Gobs' | Source

Things you need to complete this Felting Project-

1 - 10 Party balloons. Small round ones work best.

Waste Merino wool fibers or Wool Roving/Tops which can be purchased especially for this project

Wooden wool carders (only necessary if you are blending your own waste fibers)

Hot Soapy Water (Grated Olive oil soap mixed with hot water which is much kinder to the hands)

A spray bottle

Used tights or stockings

A Tumble Dryer

1 Small sheet of bubble-wrap

A pair of sharp scissors

For the Decoration

Embroidery threads in matching or contrasting colors for sewing on the buttons.

Small quantity of white roving which will be used for needle felting the whites of the eyes

Needle felting needles plus needle felting tool.

Needles in various sizes for sewing the lips, eyes, and fins

Buttons for the eyes.

Knitting yarn for the 'Gobby' fish fins

I used a large skein of silk and wool mix) (Manos Silk Blend) made in Uruguay along with some waste Mohair yarn to add a feathery look to the fins. The color I used was called Lava.

Manos Uruguay (The hands of Uruguay) is a non-profit organization which assembles over 400 artisans in cooperatives scattered throughout the countryside of Uruguay. The aim of the organization is to bring economic and social opportunities to rural women.

Manos silk blend is a luxurious blend of merino and silk. Hand dyed in large kettles to create a marbleized subtly striated effect that forms a rich palette of glorious colors which were perfect for the hair on these fish. No two skeins are exactly alike and there are no dye lots so you may have to choose your own particular blend from an image.


Close up image of a 'Gobby' the Felt Fish

'Gobby' the felt fish
'Gobby' the felt fish | Source

Merino Wool Waste Fibers suitable for Wet Felting

A quantity merino wool waste wool fibers
A quantity merino wool waste wool fibers | Source

Getting Started

Begin by preparing the waste merino fibers. Combine the colors of your choice and blend using a wool carder or use merino wool roving which has been purchased especially for wet felting.

Wool Carders and Waste Merino Fibers

A close up of the wool carding brushes
A close up of the wool carding brushes | Source

Blend the Waste Merino Fibers together

Blend the woolen fibers together as desired and then carefully extract the blended fibers from the brushes. I use a long knitting needle.



The combed and blended waste woolen fibers on the brushes.

Blending the waste fibers together.
Blending the waste fibers together. | Source

Getting the little Pods the right size for this Project

One medium size polystyrene ball and one which is slightly smaller, around 30 percent smaller is ideal.
One medium size polystyrene ball and one which is slightly smaller, around 30 percent smaller is ideal. | Source

2 Polystyrene Balls/A simple way to get the size right!

On the image shown above, there are 2 polystyrene balls. The party balloons used for this project should be blown up to match the diameter of the larger one shown here.

The circumference of the ball to the left measures 10 inches (25cm)

The circumference of the one on the right measures 9 inches (22cm)

On completion of the felting process, the resulting felt pod should match the dimension of the smaller ball.

You may wish to simply measure the balloon without having an example to hand.

Remember that shrinkage is likely to be around 30%. If you would like to make large frogs, blow the balloons up to the required size.

A note on using balloons in a tumble dryer.

Always add a little water to the bowl of the balloon before inflating them if you use them for felting in a Tumble Dryer. Heat expands the air inside the balloons but without the water, the balloons will soon find a way to escape from the fibers which cover them. Inevitably this will enlarge the opening which is something you do not want to happen.

Allow the fibers to felt right up to the knot on the balloon.

Tie a strip of bubble-wrap into each knot to facilitate easy opening of the balloon

Tie a strip of bubble-wrap into the knot for easier opening.
Tie a strip of bubble-wrap into the knot for easier opening. | Source

Matching size with size!

Checking the proportions of the balloon against the polystyrene ball.
Checking the proportions of the balloon against the polystyrene ball. | Source

Spray or dunk the balloon into a bowl of warm soapy water

Source

Covering the Balloon with 1 layer of Combed Waste Fibers

Covering the balloon with waste fibers.
Covering the balloon with waste fibers. | Source

Gently roll the Wet Fibers on the Bubble-wrap

Rolling the wet fibers so that they fit snugly around the balloon
Rolling the wet fibers so that they fit snugly around the balloon | Source

Repeat with the 2nd and 3rd Layer of Fibers

Once the 1st layer has been covered, continue adding the 2nd layer and then the 3rd layer of fibers until they are smooth but not are as yet, not felted.

One fiber covered Ball, a Polystyrene Ball and several Water/Air filled Balloons waiting to be covered

Covering the balloons with fiber
Covering the balloons with fiber | Source

Fiber covered balloon has now increased in size

The fiber covered ball is now larger than the biggest ball.
The fiber covered ball is now larger than the biggest ball. | Source

Save time and energy costs

Making things in bulk or in groups not only saves time but keeps energy costs down to a minimum. Felting by hand will take much longer but it is possible, especially if you are only making one frog at a time. However, felt which is made in a tumble dryer, will keep its shape much better and feel much firmer.

A group of Fiber Covered Balloons

Fiber covered balloons
Fiber covered balloons | Source

Place the Fiber Covered Balloons into Cut off Tights or Stockings

Fiber covered balloons inside the cut off stockings.
Fiber covered balloons inside the cut off stockings. | Source

All knotted and ready to go into the Tumble Dryer

Ready for the tumble dryer
Ready for the tumble dryer | Source

Place the fiber covered balls into the tumble dryer

Allow the balls to toss and tumble in the dryer. Keep checking the contents to make sure the wool does not attach itself to the stockings. Once felted, remove the stockings and release a little of the air, leave a space around the balloon to allow for further shrinkage.

Put back into the tumble dryer, this time without the stockings and allow the felt to shrink back further until the fibers are once again touching the balloon.

Releasing a little of the air

Releasing a small quantity of air.
Releasing a small quantity of air. | Source

Knot the Balloon

Retie the balloon.
Retie the balloon. | Source

No need to put the Balloons into the Stockings

Simply put the balloons back into the tumble dryer and continue felting until the felt has shrunk tightly against the balloons.

Cut the Knot and Release the Water through the Hole

Cutting the knot and releasing the water.
Cutting the knot and releasing the water. | Source

Cut across the opening

Cut across the opening as shown in the image below. Allow to dry thoroughly and continue assembling the felt fish.

Felt pods ready to be made into 'Gobby' Felt Fish

Felt vessels ready to make into 'Gobby' felt fish
Felt vessels ready to make into 'Gobby' felt fish | Source

How to complete the Fish

  • Needle felt two circular shapes using the white wool roving and use a needle felting tool for making the eyes.
  • Neatly sew on 2 buttons for the eyes.
  • Blanket stitch around the face of the fish as shown here.
  • Cut off lengths of the wool and using a large eyed needle sew on the side and back fins. Stitch between the thick layer of felt rather than leave a mess inside the fish mouth. Add a little feathery wool such as mohair wool which will give the fish the appearance of movement.
  • Tie bows around the strands of wool or add just tie them off so that little fingers cannot pull them from the body of the fish.
  • Knot a length of wool and secure one fin with a couple of knots or bows.
  • Secure a length of wool to the body of the fish so that it can hang somewhere securely. The knot should be tied securely inside the body of the fish.


Detail of one of the completed 'Gobby' Felt Fish

Looking at the detail of a felt fish
Looking at the detail of a felt fish | Source

Hang the fish

The fish can be used up in groups or alone. It makes a very decorative mobile hanging for both adults or child.

These fish are extremely decorative and the mouth of the fish can even be used as a secret place to hide away little trinkets or gifts from prying eyes.

Side view of the wet felted fish

Side view of the wet felted fish
Side view of the wet felted fish | Source

Wet felting with Party Balloons and a Tumble Dryer

Would you like to see more Tutorials like this?

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Fabulous Wet Felted Coin Purse

© 2016 Sally Gulbrandsen

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    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 6 months ago from Norfolk

      kenneth avery

      You can find a list of all the staff on HP and I am not one of them:) Thanks for stopping by to comment Kenneth. It is appreciated. I hope your grandchildren enjoy this project.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 6 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      sallybea,

      Yep. It's me. Sorry for taking so long in getting around to your works. This hub makes me glad that you are not only following me, but a talented person who has so much talent.

      I have two granddaughters who love crafts and do-it-yourself kits they can work on at their home.

      And this one fits the bill. Thanks.

      Shared this with my other followers.

      Peace. Keep up the great work, sallybea.

      And all of this time I thought you were an editor at HP. You could be with no problem.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 6 months ago from Norfolk

      vespawoolf

      I am sure that carded wool sheep would work perfectly, even raw wool if you wanted to try some. You could use the same principal and make some tiny coin purses or even large bags the same way. I hope you have a go sometime. I would love to hear how you get on.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 6 months ago from Peru, South America

      These are adorable fish and this is a well-written and instructive article. I wonder if I can find this type of wool in Peru? I know they hand-card sheep's wool in the country towns before spinning it into yarn. It would be fun and rewarding project.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 10 months ago from Norfolk

      FlourishAnyway

      Now there is an interesting idea! Thank you for taking the time to comment, it is much appreciated as always.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 10 months ago from USA

      Hobby is adorable and demands a series of creative stories to bring him/her to life.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 11 months ago from Norfolk

      Stacy Birch

      Thank you, I loved making my school of Gobby Felt Fish.

    • Stacy Birch profile image

      Stacy Birch 11 months ago

      Really cool looking stuff.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 12 months ago from Norfolk

      Kristen Howe

      Glad you liked Gobby the felt fish. I appreciate your visit and comment, thank you.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 12 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Sally, that gobby fish made out of felt is pretty darn cute and cool, too. This is another great idea for your felt craft hubs. Bravo!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 12 months ago from Norfolk

      Hi Dave

      Glad you liked 'Goby' my felt fish.

      I am so looking forward to going down to the river with my camera though things have been so dull and wet for so long, even the daffodils are asking what they have done to deserve the no 'Spring' weather. It seems that as soon as their petals are open the wet comes and ruins their appearance. Mind you the little birds have decided that rain or sunshine they are going to make an attempt to nest and bring up a new generation.

      I hope you are well and looking forward to the warmer weather as I am. I appreciate your visit as always. Thank you.

      Sally.

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 12 months ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi Sally, I am always amazed at the way you create things and I admire especially the way you create your hubs. I am unlikely ever to make one of your great 'Gobby' fish {love that name}. If only everything on the net was explained so wonderfully life would be a lot easier for all. Amazing hub. Well done.

      Ps, the weather should improve now and you can get down to the river with your camera..

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 13 months ago from Norfolk

      Hi Devika,

      Glad you like my whimsical fish, thanks for taking time to comment on this hub.

      Sally

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 13 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      So lovely! A beautiful color and you shared a useful hub.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 13 months ago from Norfolk

      MsFora.

      Yes, I think the wool is gorgeous, definitely fits the brief for the fins and I am all for helping people help who want to better themselves.

      I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 13 months ago from The Caribbean

      Impressed that you intentionally want to help the Uruguay women by purchasing their wool. Now your product have physical as well as social and emotional beauty. Good job!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 13 months ago from Norfolk

      Aawww, way to cute a comment, thank you, Billy, I figure I will expose that crafty bone one day. Hope you are having a great week Billy

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I was laughing when I saw the phrase "felt fish." It tickled my funny bone...then I saw the pictures and I said "awwww"....way too cute, Sally! That's the kind of thing I would make if I had a crafty bone in my body, which I don't. :)

      Have a stupendous rest of the week, my friend.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 13 months ago from Norfolk

      purl3agony

      Glad you enjoyed it Donna, thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Sally

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 13 months ago from USA

      So cute and creative! I, of course, love the yarn for the fins. Thanks for sharing another great project and tutorial!

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