In an earlier post I showed you my first attempt at felting, with a method that involved using pre-felt as a backing material and then building up strands of felt fibre on top. Today I thought I’d show you another method which does not use pre-felt at all, meaning you need even less equipment/materials.
Once again I was taught this method by my mum, you can see pictures of both of our creations in this post. Again, this may not be the most technical of instructions but it should give you a rough idea!
To start lay out a towel and some bubblewrap, choose a base colour (this will become the back of your finished piece) pull wispy strands of felt fibre and begin to layer them on the bubblewrap. With this method it is important that your layers of fibres are lying in the same direction.
Once you have a thick covering of fibres which you cannot see through build another layer of fibres going in the other direction – this is hard to explain, please see the images! Then sprinkle warm water and a little washing up liquid over your felt fibres and cover with a thin sheet of clear plastic or half a plastic carrier bag.
Add some more water and washing up liquid on top of the plastic and rub your hands all over the felt, it should begin to mesh together. Once your fibres have flattened and look like they are becoming one piece rather than separate fibres, remove your plastic and begin laying more felt fibres on top. This layer will be the front of your piece so you may want to try and incorporate a design into it, I chose autumnal colours because I was in an autumnal kind of mood!
Once you are happy with your design and have created a nice thick layer of fibres add more water and washing up liquid, cover with your plastic, get the plastic wet and soapy and start to rub over the felt once again.
Once you can see that the fibres have really started to mesh together it is time to wrap up the felt, bubblewrap and plastic into your towel in a sausage shape and begin rolling the whole thing backwards and forwards on the table. You will need to turn your piece every 5 minutes or so to make sure you have worked at it from each of the four sides/angles. You may need to unwrap the towel and rearrange the felt and plastic in order to straighten out wrinkles which form and to work out which sides need working on.
Remember that your design will always shrink with wet felting and may change shape slightly, it is not an exact science and it is hard to create something which comes out perfectly square or a pattern which is perfectly formed. I think that is part of the beauty of felting, what you end up with will be a kind of mix of all the layers/colours you put in but perhaps not in the way you expected it!
You can stop rolling when on inspection the fibres are all meshed together nicely and are now one sturdy piece of fabric, if you pull at the fibres slightly they should not come away easily. The last step is just to rinse your felt thoroughly, including one rinse with some vinegar in the water to make sure the soap is all washed out.
Here are our finished pieces! They don’t look like much but I have a plan to make some Christmas presents out of my little autumnal coloured piece. I will post about that soon I promise!
We’re going to a needle felting course next, I’m excited to make some 3D felt objects and see how the process differs from these wet felting methods!