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How to Wet Felt a Shoulder Bag on a Ball

Updated on October 29, 2016
sallybea profile image

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

The Completed Wet Felted Shoulder Purse

A wet felted shoulder purse and recycled purse frame made on a Gertie ball
A wet felted shoulder purse and recycled purse frame made on a Gertie ball | Source

Detail on a Recycled Purse Frame with a Felted Flower

Felted flower and purse frame
Felted flower and purse frame | Source

About This Project

This charming shoulder bag was made by covering an inflatable Gertie Ball with woollen fibres. In this case fibres from some Jacob's fleece were used along with a little decorative Merino Wool fibres. A tumble dryer was used to felt the wool.

Alternatively, the project could be bounced on a hard waterproof surface until the wool inside the tights felts firmly together.

An alternative might be to use Merino Wool fibres for the whole of this project. Merino wool will produce a firmer felt.

The plain brown shoulder bag shown below was made using one layer of Jacob's fleece and one layer of merino wool fibers. The finish from the Jacob's fleece has a little fluffy appearance. Merino wool will provide a smoother surface. I recommend that you use Merino wool roving, especially if this is your first felting project.


Things You Will Need to Complete This Project

Merino Wool Roving

A Gertie ball

A felting needle

Matching embroidery thread

A needle felting sponge (if decorating your bag with needle felting)

Hot soapy water (Dish washing liquid or Olive Oil soap, grated and dissolved)

1 Recycled purse frame - alternatively you can use a new one which should measures about 20 cm

A large bowl similar to the stainless steel one below

A tumble dryer

Method

Remove a purse frame from a suitable bag - I used an evening bag which I bought cheaply on e-Bay with a curved frame.

Gather the items required together and place them on a suitable waterproof surface. A small marble table was used here.

Jacob's Fleece and a Gertie Ball

Inflated Gertie ball and Jacob's fleece
Inflated Gertie ball and Jacob's fleece | Source

A Note on Using Jacob's Fleece for This Project

I recommend that you use Merino Wool Roving for this Project. It is much harder wearing and a lot easier to felt. Jacob's Fleece tends to be difficult to felt and the end product is too soft for everyday use.

How to Start

Begin by flattening out the Merino wool fibers - the Jacob's fleece shown here were professionally done in preparation for spinning, rather than felting but you can easily flatten our your wool roving.

Wrap a piece around the ball and pull it off with just a little overlap as shown below. Needle felt the piece together with a felting needle. Don't let the needle touch the ball - use the needle sideways as shown below, just a few pricks of the needle should secure it enough to keep the wool together.

Needle Felting the First Piece Together as Shown

Needle felting the join in the fleece
Needle felting the join in the fleece | Source

Needle Felting the Fibers Together

When you attach the fibers to the one another, take car not to overlap the layers too much. You don't want to create thick areas.

1st Layer - Needle Felting the Wool Together

Needle felt the wool together, without touching the surface of the ball
Needle felt the wool together, without touching the surface of the ball | Source

Twice Around the Ball, Keeping the Layers Even

Two lengths of wool which have been placed right around the ball
Two lengths of wool which have been placed right around the ball | Source

Fill in the Areas Which Were Left Exposed

After having wrapped the wool twice around the ball, fill in the gaps, overlapping the edges but not covering over the wool so that areas become too thick. The idea is to keep the layers completely even throughout this project.

Almost Covered in Wool

Fill the gaps so that the wool covers the ball evenly, just the gaps, not over the whole area so that the wool becomes uneven in thickness
Fill the gaps so that the wool covers the ball evenly, just the gaps, not over the whole area so that the wool becomes uneven in thickness | Source

The First Layer

The first layer is now complete. Smooth it down with your hands, needle felt the odd pieces which stick out and then cover the first layer with another layer in exactly the same way.

One Layer of Wool

The first layer covering the ball
The first layer covering the ball | Source

The Second Layer

As can be seen here, the first layer has been completely covered with the Jacob's fleece. Remember to flatten out the wool as you go along. Make sure it covers the ball evenly. Putting the layers down evenly, determines the thickness or thinness of your layers - gaps mean that could end up with holes or thin spots on your bag.

Covering the First Layer with Jacobs's Fleece

Adding the second layer of wool
Adding the second layer of wool | Source

The Completed Second Layer

Smooth down the wool. Needle felt the odd pieces which stick out and take care not to puncture the Gertie Ball.

The second layer covering the ball

The second layer of wool covering the ball
The second layer of wool covering the ball | Source

Add a Little Color

Add a little color as desired. Alternatively make a little flower later and attach it to the shoulder bag once it is complete.

Alternatively, felt the purse in the tumble dryer until it is felted. Cut the opening as shown below. Remove the ball and needle felt as desired. . Remember to insert a piece of felting foam in the cavity before you start sticking the needle through. You don't want to needle felt your fingers.

Insert the Gertie Ball and inflate it whilst it is inside the felt bag but don't inflate it completely. Leave a space around the ball. Place it into the stocking, tie it up and put it back into the tumble dryer. The wool will shrink down to the required size around the ball.

.

Adding a Little Color/Or Alternatively, Keep It Plain

Wrapping a few stripes around the Gertie ball to add a little color to the shoulder bag.
Wrapping a few stripes around the Gertie ball to add a little color to the shoulder bag. | Source

Another Way!

Add some colored Merino Wool fibers as shown.
Add some colored Merino Wool fibers as shown. | Source

Getting the Ball into Those Tights/The Easy Way

Put the wool covered ball on a chair as shown and lift the ball up into the stocking as shown.
Put the wool covered ball on a chair as shown and lift the ball up into the stocking as shown. | Source

Pull the Tights onto the Chair and Push the Ball Right up into Them

Putting the wool covered ball up into a pair of cut off tights
Putting the wool covered ball up into a pair of cut off tights | Source

Ball in the Tights, Unknotted at This Stage

The ball in the tights,, not knotted at this stage.
The ball in the tights,, not knotted at this stage. | Source

Oh Dear! All Trussed up like a Chicken!

Only one way to go how, towards the tumble dryer
Only one way to go how, towards the tumble dryer | Source

Knot the Loose Ends Together (Loosely)

Knot the tights loosely together.  Do this loosely as you will need to retie them shortly.
Knot the tights loosely together. Do this loosely as you will need to retie them shortly. | Source

Hot Soapy Water

Fill the bottom of a stainless steel bowl with hot soapy water and dunk the project in the water.

Press down on the fibers until the ball feels firm underneath your fingers. Tie the knots so that the project is now firmly placed into the tights.

A Stainless Steel Bowl and Some Dish-Washing Liquid

A stainless steel bowl, dish washing liquid and the project.
A stainless steel bowl, dish washing liquid and the project. | Source

Dunk Project into the Hot Soapy Water

Dunk the ball in hot soapy water, wet and massage the outside of the stocking until the wool has flattened
Dunk the ball in hot soapy water, wet and massage the outside of the stocking until the wool has flattened | Source

Open the Knots and Tie Again Firmly

When the wool is completely wet through, open the knots and allow the project to hang over the bowl, The ball will sink lower into the stocking, knot it firmly and insert it into the tumble dryer.

Holding the Project over the Bowl Before Tying the Knots Again

Wet and re-tie the knots to ensure the project lays firmly inside the tights.
Wet and re-tie the knots to ensure the project lays firmly inside the tights. | Source

Squeeze out Any Excess Water

Squeeze any excess water from the project and remove any excess water with a towel.

If you don't wish to use a tumble dryer, bounce on a waterproof surface until the fibers have felted together.

Children love bouncing the ball on a table-top but when they get bored and tired - the tumble dryer will felt the ball in no time at all.


Bounce on a Waterproof Surface or Put It into the Tumble Dryer

Bouncing the ball on a waterproof surface or place in a tumble dryer until the wool has felted.
Bouncing the ball on a waterproof surface or place in a tumble dryer until the wool has felted. | Source

Find the Center for the Bag Opening

Use a tape measure and mark a distance of around 20 cm. Measure the curved distance on your recycled bag frame - this should give you about the correct distance.

Mark the Cutting Line

Measure and cut a line which is exactly in the center of the bag
Measure and cut a line which is exactly in the center of the bag | Source

Measure the Cutting Line

It should be around 20 cm - the distance across your curved purse frame.

Mark the Cutting Line with a Tape Measure

Marking the cutting line with a tape measure, felting needle indicates the start line
Marking the cutting line with a tape measure, felting needle indicates the start line | Source

Cut Through the 1st Layer

Cut carefully with a sharp pair of needles. Try to cut through the first layer without cutting through to the ball. The next step is to expose the ball without making a hole in it.

Cut Through with a Pair of Sharp Scissors

Cut along the tape measure, not completely through, just sufficient to mark the line.
Cut along the tape measure, not completely through, just sufficient to mark the line. | Source

Wet the Ball in Hot and Cold Water

Once the ball is exposed, wet the ball with hot soapy water. Massage the cut edges until they begin to harden, rinse in hot and cold water. If you are not using the tumble dryer, hit the ball on a hard surface until it shrinks back and becomes smaller.

If using the tumble dryer, wet, massage the edges, insert the Gertie Ball, inflate the ball so that it sits quite loosely into the bag. Put the stocking on and put it back into the tumble dryer. It will soon shrink to the size of the ball and you will then be ready to sew on the metal purse frame.

The Gertie Ball Inserted, but Slightly Deflated

Deflate the Gertie ball slightly before putting back into the tumble dryer.
Deflate the Gertie ball slightly before putting back into the tumble dryer. | Source

The Tumble Dryer

Once the deflated ball is inserted into the felt base, put into the stocking and inserted into the dryer, the wool will shrink back against the ball. Once this happens you can deflate the ball, remove it and complete the purse by sewing on the frame.

Two Wet Felted Shoulder Bags - Made Using a Gertie Balloon

Two wet felted shoulder bags which were made on a Gertie ball
Two wet felted shoulder bags which were made on a Gertie ball | Source

Recycle a Purse Frame!

Remove the frame and sew it into the opening of the shoulder bag with matching or contrasting embroidery thread as desired.

Removing the Metal Frame from the Old Purse

Removing the metal finding from the evening purse.
Removing the metal finding from the evening purse. | Source

Choosing the Right Type of Frame for the Purse

The purse frame should be one which has perforated holes through which one can sew on with thread. It should not be one which needs to be glued to the bag.

If you want to add a bag lining, please see the simple bag lining below which was removed from the bag.

Sewing on the Purse Frame

Fold the felt bag in half and draw around it to get the right shape for your lining. Sew around the fabric as shown, turn the lining inside out and sew a row of stitching on the right side so that the bottom edge is over-sewn for strength.

The Recycled Metal Purse Frame Removed

Recycled purse clasp taken from an evening bag
Recycled purse clasp taken from an evening bag | Source

A View of the Holes

The metal holes through which the bag can be attached with a needle and embroidery thread.

Metal Shoulder Purse Finding (Close-Up) Stitching

A close up of the metal clasp and chain.
A close up of the metal clasp and chain. | Source

Bag Lining/An Optional Extra

Shows the inside of the optional lining
Shows the inside of the optional lining | Source
Showing the outside of the optional lining
Showing the outside of the optional lining | Source

The Inside of the Lining

Put the fabric right sides together, cut the shape from the drawing made previously, sew around the edges and turn it inside out.

Top stitch the bottom edge and fold in the top edges and sew down - attach after you have attached the outer bag.

The Completed Shoulder Bag

The completed shoulder bag
The completed shoulder bag | Source

Felting Tutorials

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I Love Hearing from You

I love hearing your comments. I am happy to answer any questions you have regarding this or any of my other wet felting tutorials.

Another Completed Shoulder Bag Made with a Gertie Ball

A completed shoulder bag with a felt flower
A completed shoulder bag with a felt flower | Source

A Felt Flower

A removable felt flower, onecould be attached to the shoulder bag
A removable felt flower, onecould be attached to the shoulder bag | Source

How to Make a Wet Felted Flower

© 2015 Sally Gulbrandsen

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    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      FlourishAnyway

      You so clearly understand what it has taken for me to define my niche. I know that both the financial effort and time spent will reap rewards for a longtime to come. Best of all, I have had a lot of fun inventing new projects such as this bag on a ball felting project. Your comment is valued and appreciated.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      You've really defined your niche and are stretching it to its bounds. Very admirable! The investment that you put into building your hubs certainly shows up in their quality.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      tillsontitan

      I try not to, guess I have to assume that this is the first time a visitor has visited one of my tutorials or even tried wet felting for the first time. If I do it this way then I know they are more likely to come back:)

      Thanks for the vote up, useful and interesting, it is appreciated as always.

      Sally

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Sally you don't leave anything out. You are so detailed oriented it is easy to follow along. These little bags are adorable too. Great how to hub as always.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Glimmer Twin Fan

      Yes I have been busy lately. Summer is just around the corner and I perhaps won't get as much time then.

      I agree bounding the ball is fun, especially if you are making this with children.

      Thanks for your comment which is always valued and appreciated.

      Sally

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      You've been really busy lately! This is a great purse and another beautiful hub with great instructions. I think the fun part would be bouncing the ball for a while and then eventually getting a purse out of it. Well done!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      FatBoyThin

      Nice to have you grace one of my pages.

      Do you know why your felting went wrong? Insufficient felting, too much shrinkage! There is always a reason for things going wrong. Happy to answer any questions if I can on felting. I love this art form and I have written a lot of tutorials. I don't do things the conventional way - I experiment with new ways of doing things so I won't guarantee you that I do them the way your tutor did.

      Try the cute little polka dot purse tutorial. I am preparing two more projects at the moment - look out for them - am sure even these you could get right. They look amazing - one can't help but find this creative art form interesting.

      Thanks for the visit.

      Sally

    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 2 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      Hi Sally

      Just skimming through your Hubs and noticed this. I attended a felt-making workshop a few years ago. The very first thing I produced (a wizard's hat) was absolutely perfect and I immediately went out and bought loads of materials. Unfortunately, since then everything I've attempted has gone wrong. Maybe if I follow your instructions...?

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      DDE

      You are too kind Devika. I would say a bag too but it seems that I may be a little old fashioned but then, this was always my way of describing a handbag. I love how diverse HubPages is - reaching out to people all over the world. I hope you are enjoying your day in Croatia. I confess I have been looking at travel sites which include the area you live in. How beautiful it looks. I would love to see it.

      Thanks for the vote up, interesting and useful.

      Sally

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I love how your creative mind works. A wonderful idea for me I would say a bag. Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      peachpurple

      Thank you, is it a purse or is it a bag, now that is the question?:) I know that here in the UK we call it a bag but in the states I believe it is called a purse and yes, these shoulder purses would definitely make a great gift even on valentine's day.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      beautiful purse, should make a wonderful gift on valentine's day

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      MsDora

      Lovely to hear from you. My book is not in the making yet but in my mind I am planning one. I have so much other writing I want to do as well:)

      It is always a such a pleasure to have you grace my pages.

      Thank you for your valued support MsDora.

      Best wishes,

      Sally

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great tutorial as usual. Hope your book is in the making. Thanks for sharing your incredible creativity.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      DJ

      You

      always know how to make me smile. I love receiving your comments and I am so glad you enjoyed this tutorial.

      You have a wonderful day too my friend,

      Sally

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      Sally, this is an amazing tutorial. You start our with a bit of wool fleece

      and end up with an adorable , functional purse.

      I must tell you that the I am still trying to wake up. When I saw the brown fleece, I thought, "Good Lord! She's making men's toupees!"

      Have a great day, my friend.

      DJ.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      colorfulone

      The shoulder bags sure would make a great gifts, easy enough for a young person to make for a loved one too. Glad you enjoyed this tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Sally

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      These would be a nice personal gift to create for loved ones. It would be a keepsake to me to get one as a gift. Great tutorial, Sally!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Hi Billy,

      Thank you very much, that really is a very nice thing to say. I hope I can get back to your challenge later today, I was too busy trying to finish this one off.

      Sally

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This should be required reading for anyone who wants to know how to write a "how to" or craft article. Well done as always, Sally.

      bill