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★ Needle Felting & Wet Felting Instructions | Beginner's Tutorials On How To Felt Wool By Hand ★

Updated on February 10, 2015
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Felt Making Techniques & Creative Project Ideas

If you would like to learn how to hand-felt wool roving into a variety of lovely objects and decorations, you've come to the right place!

Below you will find beginner's guides to needle felting, wet felting and machine felting, plus easy projects you can try straight away. You can then progress onto more challenging tutorial and design your own creations.

Felting is a fun technique and can be used to embellish soft knit bags and clothes as well as crafting 2D art images and 3D dolls and ornaments. It's a very versatile method of making charming small-scale objects.

I hope this page inspires you to give this great craft a go :-)

Wool Roving

This lovely soft wool is what you need to felt.
This lovely soft wool is what you need to felt. | Source

A Brief Intro

The Different Felting Techniques Available

Felting involves matting wool fibers together into a more tough and durable material called felt. As you are felting, you can manipulate the wool into lots of different shapes and designs.

Hand felting is either wet or dry:

- Dry felting is where the wool fibers are tangles/matted together using a special barbed felting needle (called 'needle felting'), and you have a lot of control over the final shape and more detailed designs can be made this way. Needle felting can produce 3D shapes or 2D art.

- Wet felting is where the wool is manipulated whilst in hot soapy water, and is a popular way of making simple shapes like felt balls, or flat pieces from which you make other items like toys, coasters, decorations etc.

Wet felting can also be done in a washing machine to save time, although you can't guide the shape of the felt this way unless the wool put into the machine is pre-knitted into a shape. If you can knit, you can turn your knitted bags, purses etc into felt using a washing machine. A popular way of creating flat felt pieces is to put wool sweaters into the machine at high temperature, then cut up the sweaters into workable pieces which you can sew together into whatever item you like.

RESISTS: These are flat shapes cut out of a non-porous and flexible material. Examples include corrugated cardboard (which is flexible when wet), plastic sheet (e.g. tarp, bubble wrap, laminate flooring underlay) and rubber (or even something porous like foam - wrapped in plastic bags to make it non-porous.)

Resists are used to create a hollow object such as a bag, pod/vessel, boot/slipper etc. The flexible cut-out is used to help the wool keep it's shape whilst you are wet felting the roving around it, and it also means you don't need seams in the felt. After felting, shrinkage will mean that the resist doesn't really fit inside anymore, so it is cut out. This means that most resists can be reused.

NUNO FELTING is a form of wet felting from Japan. What makes it different is that the wool fibers are felted onto a fabric which is usually sheer and light such as silk gauze, organza or cotton voile. Nuno felting is used for fine clothing as well as accessories like scarves. The fabric backing means that it won't stretch out of shape. The resulting felted item is lightweight, has a nice drape and is easy to manipulate, rather than the regular traditional felt which is usually bulky.

Both the fabric and the wool will be on display in the final piece, and you could also add embellishments of beads, sequins or embroidery.

REMEMBER: Felting creates shrinkage so if you start with a 24" square for example, it will shrink by about 20% to a 20" square.

And to make this 20" square of felt you would need 5-6 oz. (140-170g) of pure wool roving.

Felted Ball Bunting

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Best Felting Books - Full Of Creative Projects

Little Felted Animals: Create 16 Irresistible Creatures with Simple Needle-Felting Techniques
Little Felted Animals: Create 16 Irresistible Creatures with Simple Needle-Felting Techniques

Learn how to felt 16 adorable animals from wool - including dogs, cats, a fox, birds and sheep.

 
Felting - The Complete Guide
Felting - The Complete Guide

Ideal for beginners to felting, this spiral-bound book covers a wide variety of techniques including how to felt knitted and crocheted items. 35 tutorials are included and range from easy to difficult.

 
Uniquely Felt
Uniquely Felt

This 5-star rated book goes into great detail about wet felting to produce your own fabrics, as well as providing instructions for turning this felt fabric into a variety of beautiful objects including bags and curtains. A must-have for any textile artists or keen crafters.

 
Wool Pets: Making 20 Figures with Wool Roving and a Barbed Needle
Wool Pets: Making 20 Figures with Wool Roving and a Barbed Needle

20 needle felting DIYs showing you how to sculpt a range of animals and people, including ideas for how to use your creations in home decorations such as mobiles.

 

Christmas Decorations

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Gingerbread Man

Felting the wool roving inside a cookie cutter is a clever idea for easily getting a perfect shape.
Felting the wool roving inside a cookie cutter is a clever idea for easily getting a perfect shape. | Source

Needlefelt Dog Portrait

Why not try to replicate your own pet in felt?
Why not try to replicate your own pet in felt? | Source

Felted Duck Pond

What a lovely creation!
What a lovely creation! | Source

Halloween Wreath

Made with felted ghost and pumpkin ornaments.
Made with felted ghost and pumpkin ornaments. | Source

Embroidered Fiber Art

Needlefelt wool on felt with art yarns and embroidery.
Needlefelt wool on felt with art yarns and embroidery. | Source

Woolhenge

Such a fun idea, and the blocks are quite easy to make too!
Such a fun idea, and the blocks are quite easy to make too! | Source

How to Make Felt Balls

how to make felt balls
how to make felt balls

This is a popular and relatively quick way to wet-felt wool roving into ball shapes:

What You Will Need:

* Cheap nylons/stockings/pantyhose/sheer tights

* 100% wool roving

* Washing machine and gentle detergent

* Scissors

* Twisty ties, thread or yarn (optional)


- Take your pantyhose/stockings and cut them so that you are just left with the 'legs' i.e. tube shapes with open ends.

- Tear the wool roving into thin strips and spread out the fibers a little. Don't cut the roving with scissors; only pull the fibers apart with your hands.

- Take pieces of the roving and wrap them into a ball shape, winding more and more roving around the ball until it's the size and shape you want. Make sure you randomly orient the fibers so they aren't all going in the same direction around the ball shape (because this would mean they won't mesh together properly).

- Make as many balls as you want. Remember that you should make each ball 1/3 larger than you want the final product to be, because the roving will shrink when it's felted.

* You can add strips of differently colored roving to the outside of the balls if you want different patterns rather than having plain felt balls. However, if you would like to add more detailed patterns and designs onto the balls you are best making them with needle felting rather than wet felting methods.

- Tie a knot at one end of the stocking tubes.

- Put one roving ball into the tube, then tie a knot in the stocking to trap the roving tightly in place. If you have yarn, twisty ties or thread, using these to tie around the stocking rather than using a knot might make it easier to be accurate.

- Repeat this along the length of the stocking; inserting a roving ball, making a knot, inserting a roving ball, making a knot etc. until you can reached the end of the stocking.

- Make sure that the knots are tight and the roving is all in neat ball shapes inside.

- Put the stockings into the washing machine on the hottest setting, with detergent. Next, use a rinse cycle and then a spin cycle to remove all of the detergent and then remove some of the water.

- Whilst the stockings are still damp, carefully cut the balls out of stockings and roll each one between your palms to make sure they are nice and round. If you want, you can rolls the balls into slightly different shapes at this point; making them more conical or more like oval shapes.

* If you take the first felt ball out and realize it hasn't felted, tie it up again and re-do the wash cycle.

- Leave to dry overnight.

- You can embellish felt balls with embroidery stitches, sewn on beads, glued on sequins, other felt shapes, needle felting onto the outside etc. It's totally up to you!

Embellished Bag

This bag was hand knitted in wool, then (washing) machine felted. The bird and flower embellishments were needle felted onto the bag.
This bag was hand knitted in wool, then (washing) machine felted. The bird and flower embellishments were needle felted onto the bag. | Source

Merino Wool Vessel

Lovely bowl wet felted with merino wool and ribbons.
Lovely bowl wet felted with merino wool and ribbons. | Source

Felted Birds Sweater

I think the bird pattern felted onto the back of this cardigan is amazing - and it makes the sweater look so expensive too!
I think the bird pattern felted onto the back of this cardigan is amazing - and it makes the sweater look so expensive too! | Source

Felt Acorns

A great beginner's project which kids can join in with too.
A great beginner's project which kids can join in with too. | Source

2D Felt Art

You can manipulate the wool into flat images of anything you like, including gorgeous landscapes like this one.
You can manipulate the wool into flat images of anything you like, including gorgeous landscapes like this one. | Source

Felting YouTube Videos

Needlefelted Waldorf Fairy

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Have you ever felted?

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    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      The "woolhenge" was pretty clever. I especially liked the felted duck pond and the Merino wool vessel.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 5 years ago from Iowa

      So many cute and clever ideas. Beautifully done.

    • profile image

      klaird 5 years ago

      I thought the needlefelt dog portrait was really cute! I've added your lens to my "50 Craft Ideas for Adults" page. Great job!

    • bikerministry profile image

      bikerministry 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens. I felt wool bags, and I've done some needle felting and felted balls, you've really tackled the art in this lens. Beautiful. Blessings.

    • profile image

      WhitePineLane 5 years ago

      Great lens! I will bookmark it as a resource, as I've really been wanting to start felting!

    • jpapadpapa profile image

      jpapadpapa 5 years ago

      Great information here! I especially love "Woolhenge" and the felted acorns...so cute! Thanks for the work you put into this. I have done a little felting and want to do more with my daughter. This will be a good reference.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 5 years ago

      i love felting wool but have not attempted to do dolls and other 3D projects. This lens gave me a lot of ideas. Thanks for sharing.

    • ResearchAddict profile image

      ResearchAddict 4 years ago

      These are just gorgeous! Love the acorns, the cute santas...Just lovely!

    • purplesheep lm profile image

      purplesheep lm 4 years ago

      Wow, this is an impressive lens! Nicely done.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      The duck pond is amazing. I love felting small hearts which I don't know how and where to use. maybe for the Valentine's day...

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      nice as visit

    • tazzytamar profile image

      Anna 2 years ago from chichester

      I came on here to get one or two ideas and now I have more ideas than wool! Thanks for all the great suggestions :)

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Felting is on my "new crafts I want to try" list - thanks! Pinned

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