How To Felt

Materials Needed

  1. Felting kit (solar pool covering, polyester tule, pool noodle, rubber band or something to tie up the kit like a pair of old hose)

  2. Soap container (tupperware, clear plastic sheets, kiss my face olive oil soap)

  3. Wool roving (you can find this on etsy, amazon, at craft stores but a good source for merino is Mohairandmore.com)



How does felting work?

Wool fibers have tiny scales on them, visible through a microscope. These scales will open up and peel away from the fiber when wet. Soap is added to wet wool to allow the fibers to easily move around each other when agitated with the rolling mat or your hands. The fibers shift around each other and with the scales open, they begin to tangle and knit themselves together into a cohesive piece of fabric. The wool will shrink about 30% when felted. Felt is a very strong and versatile material!

Unroll your felting mat and remove the screen inside. Make sure you are working on the smooth side of your mat.

Unroll your felting mat and remove the screen inside. Make sure you are working on the smooth side of your mat.

Before you get started, you will need some hot water and a container for your olive oil soap. Place the soap and the sheet of plastic inside your container. Tupperware works great but a bowl or any container will do. Pour the hot water into the container holding the soap and plastic and set aside.

Before you get started, you will need some hot water and a container for your olive oil soap. Place the soap and the sheet of plastic inside your container. Tupperware works great but a bowl or any container will do. Pour the hot water into the container holding the soap and plastic and set aside.

Take your wool roving in one hand and begin to pull it apart into shorter pieces, the fibers should be spread thinly. Begin to place these pieces on your mat so that they slightly overlap and all the fibers go vertically.  Place as much wool down as needed to create the size and shape of your intended piece. This is layer one.

Take your wool roving in one hand and begin to pull it apart into shorter pieces, the fibers should be spread thinly. Begin to place these pieces on your mat so that they slightly overlap and all the fibers go vertically.

Place as much wool down as needed to create the size and shape of your intended piece. This is layer one.

Once the size and shape of your piece is established, start your second layer.  Continue pulling the roving apart into short thin pieces and begin to place them on top of the first layer. The pieces should be laid down going the opposite direction of the fibers in layer one. Layer two’s fibers should be going horizontally.  Completely cover layer with layer two.

Once the size and shape of your piece is established, start your second layer.

Continue pulling the roving apart into short thin pieces and begin to place them on top of the first layer. The pieces should be laid down going the opposite direction of the fibers in layer one. Layer two’s fibers should be going horizontally.

Completely cover layer with layer two.

Continue adding layers of wool, being sure to change the direction of the fibers with each layer.  Place a minimum of 5 layers on the mat. To create a thicker piece of felt add as many as 20 to 30 layers.  Once all the layers are placed, take the mesh screen that was removed from the kit earlier and place it on top of the wool.

Continue adding layers of wool, being sure to change the direction of the fibers with each layer.

Place a minimum of 5 layers on the mat. To create a thicker piece of felt add as many as 20 to 30 layers.

Once all the layers are placed, take the mesh screen that was removed from the kit earlier and place it on top of the wool.

Take the sheet of plastic out of the soap container and press into onto your wool. The best way to do this is to scrunch up the plastic in the container, swish it around in the container to pick up the soapy water. Squeeze the plastic out into the wool, press down and begin to scrub back and forth gently with the plastic sheet until the whole piece is flattened out.  If it seems like the the scrubbing is not flattening out the wool, redip the plastic in the soap container and continue the scrubbing.

Take the sheet of plastic out of the soap container and press into onto your wool. The best way to do this is to scrunch up the plastic in the container, swish it around in the container to pick up the soapy water. Squeeze the plastic out into the wool, press down and begin to scrub back and forth gently with the plastic sheet until the whole piece is flattened out.

If it seems like the the scrubbing is not flattening out the wool, redip the plastic in the soap container and continue the scrubbing.

Continue scrubbing until the entire piece is flat like the above image. There shouldn’t be any lumps or bumps or dry wool left. Be sure the soapy water has reached all the layers of wool.

Continue scrubbing until the entire piece is flat like the above image. There shouldn’t be any lumps or bumps or dry wool left. Be sure the soapy water has reached all the layers of wool.

Remove the mesh screen from your wool. You can check to see if all of your layers have been saturated with the water by lifting a part of your piece up and seeing if the first layer is dry or wet. If it is dry, put the screen back on and apply some more soapy water. If it’s wet, then you are all set to move on to the next step.

Remove the mesh screen from your wool. You can check to see if all of your layers have been saturated with the water by lifting a part of your piece up and seeing if the first layer is dry or wet. If it is dry, put the screen back on and apply some more soapy water. If it’s wet, then you are all set to move on to the next step.

Begin to roll the blue mat up over the pool noodle.

Begin to roll the blue mat up over the pool noodle.

Continue to roll the mat up until your wool is no longer visible. Continue to roll the mat back and forth applying pressure as you go. The mat can be tied up with the hose or a rubber band to keep it together as you roll back and forth.

Continue to roll the mat up until your wool is no longer visible. Continue to roll the mat back and forth applying pressure as you go. The mat can be tied up with the hose or a rubber band to keep it together as you roll back and forth.

Continue to roll your wool for 10 minutes for a small thin piece. For larger thicker pieces, roll for at least 20 to 30 minutes before continuing on to the next steps.

Continue to roll your wool for 10 minutes for a small thin piece. For larger thicker pieces, roll for at least 20 to 30 minutes before continuing on to the next steps.

Place the sheet of plastic from the soap container and lay it flat over the wool. Applying pressure use your hands to massage the wool. Scrubbing back and forth with fingertips, knuckles, heels of your hand or whole hand.  A good trick for this step is to flip your blue mat over so the bubble side is facing up. Place the wool onto the bubble side, plastic on top and begin to massage the wool using pressure. This way both sides of the wool get agitated at once.

Place the sheet of plastic from the soap container and lay it flat over the wool. Applying pressure use your hands to massage the wool. Scrubbing back and forth with fingertips, knuckles, heels of your hand or whole hand.

A good trick for this step is to flip your blue mat over so the bubble side is facing up. Place the wool onto the bubble side, plastic on top and begin to massage the wool using pressure. This way both sides of the wool get agitated at once.

Check your wool with something called the pinch test. Pinch the surface of your wool and try lifting the wool fibers. If you feel resistance then remove the sheet of plastic and scrub your wool with just your hands on the bubbly side of the mat.  If you pinch your wool and you can lift whole chunks of fiber off and you feel no resistance from the fibers, continue scrubbing the wool with plastic sheet on top until you feel resistance from the fibers.

Check your wool with something called the pinch test. Pinch the surface of your wool and try lifting the wool fibers. If you feel resistance then remove the sheet of plastic and scrub your wool with just your hands on the bubbly side of the mat.

If you pinch your wool and you can lift whole chunks of fiber off and you feel no resistance from the fibers, continue scrubbing the wool with plastic sheet on top until you feel resistance from the fibers.

Your wool will begin to shrink and feel pretty solid once it has turned to felt. This may take an hour or more depending on the size of your piece. Once the piece is fully felted, rinse your felt out in a sink until all the soap gone. If your rinse in hot water and throw your piece continuously against the sink, it will felt further. If you do not wish your piece to shrink anymore, rinse in cold water and do not toss the wool.

Mallory Zondag