How to Make Wool Felt
by Kerstin of Chimera.etsy.com
Elephant by Oritdotandolls
So many of my favorite toys are made of wool felt. It’s not always easy to find nice felt in your local store, but it is not hard to make yourself. It’s a fun and soapy ( and sometimes soggy!) activity that your kids might want in on too. You need only a few simple things to get started: wool roving-a fine wool like merino is best (NOT superwash), a sheet of bubble wrap, a piece of tulle or netting, soap and water. Two rubber bands and a towel to soak up extra water are a good idea to have on hand as well.
1. Lay the bubble wrap bubbles side down. Pull thin wisps of wool off the roving and begin laying it on the bubble wrap with the fibers running horizontally. Begin at one side of the bubble wrap, but keep roving 2 inches from the top and bottom and 4 inches from the side opposite the starting point.
2. Make another layer of wool with fibers running perpendicular to the first layer. These fibers should be running vertically. Continue layering wool, alternating the direction of each layer of fibers, until you have 5 to 8 even, thin layers.
4. Get hands wet with soapy water and rub one hand vigorously across the top of the netting for 15-20 seconds, while holding the netting in place with the other hand. Put a little extra soap on your hands to help it slip.
5. Starting at the edge the wool is even with, tightly roll up the bubble wrap, keeping the netting on top of the wool…like a plastic and wool burrito. Keep it rolled up by putting two rubber bands around it. Begin quickly rolling the bubble wrap bundle back and forth on a counter or table, exerting a little pressure.
6.After you have rolled for a minute, unroll the plastic and check your felt. Remove the netting and carefully flip the felt over and rotate it 90 degrees so you will next be rolling it in a different direction. Stretch out any wrinkles, add more soapy water if it is dry. Tightly roll up the bubble wrap again, leaving the netting out this time. Secure with elastic and roll for another minute or two.
7. Unroll the bubble wrap and check the fiber by pinching across the top of the fabric. The fibers should be sticking to each other and you should be able to pull up the whole fabric without separating the layers. If this is not the case you must re-roll the wool until it is so. If the fabric passes the pinch test you are ready to get rough with the felt!
8. Rinse the felt with hot water, sprinkle with more soapy water and rub the fabric back and forth across the rough side of the bubble wrap. Really rub vigorously, changing direction and flipping felt over frequently. You will feel the wool getting thicker the more you agitate it.
9. When the fabric is at the thickness you desire (1/16 -1/8 inch), rinse in cold water and throw the felt against a hard surface a few times. This is fulling and should make dimples appear in the surface of the wool. Rinse wool again, roll in a towel to get out excess water and set it out to dry. What kinds of decorations or toys will you make?