Introduction: Felt Ball Rug

I first saw this type of rug in a design magazine, it was called Hay Pinocchio Rug. It was gorgeous the felt balls were made from brightly coloured wool that made them look like gum balls.  I had to have it, but the price tag was ~$1000 Cdn.  I've made a few felt balls before so I figured I can make this type of rug myself. Although the process of making this rug was fairly easy, it took a lot of time; first felting the balls then sewing them together.  When I check the date of the first process pictures I took, I had started in May 2011, so it took me almost a year to put this together.

I decided against using the bright colours that the Pinocchio Rug had because frankly it wouldn't really match the decor in my apartment.  I used mostly shades of brown and white.

Step 1: Stuff You Will Need

The rug that I made is 55cm  in diameter the felt balls are on average 2cm in diameter. For a rug this size I needed roughly 1lb of wool.  At first I started out buying wool roving on Ebay.  It wasn't too expensive but when you include shipping the costs did add up.  Then I found a local store  that sold wool from which I bought a pound of fleece for $10.  Fleece is a bit harder to felt than roving because you will need to comb it out first.  I also used some fur from my cat and my friend's golden retriever, Toby.  Pet fur felts just as nicely as wool (and cat fur is even softer) as I've shown in one of my previous instructables. Left over scraps of yarn can also be felted, but they must be natural fibers (wool, cotton, bamboo, alpaca etc).

  • Wool, etc
  • Dish soap and water
  • Plastic containers
  • Paper towels
  • Nylon thread and needle
  • Patience and time

Step 2: Making the Felt Balls

  • Squirt some dish soap into your container and fill with warm water, fill the other container with cold water.
  • Grab a tuft wool, bunch it together into a ballish shape and dip into the warm soapy water, remove and squeeze out the excess water.
  • Place the soggy tuft of wool in the centre of the palm of one hand, place your second hand over top and roll in a circular motion.
  • Once the tuft of hair is felted into a ball, dip it in the cold water to rinse (the longer you roll, the smaller and denser it gets).
I tried to make the balls even in size but I found that the different types of wool/pet hair felted differently.  Most of the felt balls ranged from 1.5-2cm in diameter. I kept them in a paper bag until I had enough.  Periodically I dumped them on the floor and spread them out to see if I had enough for a rug.

Step 3: Stringing the Felt Balls

It is easier to poke holes in the felt balls when they are still wet but at that point I hadn't decided how I was going to put the the rug together.  At first I thought that I would string all of the felt balls, wind it in a spiral then sew the rows together. However I didn't like the idea of having a long string of felt balls since my cat would surely try to play with and I would end up with a tangled mess. What I did instead was to add one ball at a time connecting it to the previous felt ball and the one in the row beside it (see image 3 above). 

Comments

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Igioteno made it!(author)2015-05-29

Great idea

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StyleOfCivil made it!(author)2015-03-27

Do you use 1 really long piece of thread? If so, how long was the piece? If not, when do you knot and start with a new piece?

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ChrysN made it!(author)2015-03-27

No I didn't use one long piece, I just use regular lengths of thread (about half a metre) otherwise it would tangle too much, it doesn't really matter at which point to start a new piece as long as it is knotted well.

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ohbejoyful made it!(author)2015-02-18

Is it washable? How do you keep it clean?

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ChrysN made it!(author)2015-02-18

I haven't washed it, i just shake it out. You can probably spot clean.

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feltballrugs made it!(author)2013-12-16

Hi,

This is from Nepal. Your rug picture is very good. The color combination is very nice. We have a collection of very beautiful and elegant felt ball rugs in various color combination. We also make custom rugs.  Please visit our store here : www.feltballrugs.com for more details.

author
TracyBunny made it!(author)2013-09-07

You can make coasters this way, too. Just make smaller balls. I like to use unwaxed dental floss because it never breaks: just string the balls on the floss, then sew or felt the balls together once you have a long enough string of them.

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ChrysN made it!(author)2013-09-08

Great idea, thanks for the tip.

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TracyBunny made it!(author)2013-09-09

You're welcome. Your rug is stunning, and I'm amazed at your patience! Your friends and relatives must be very lucky people indeed.

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grannyjones made it!(author)2012-06-04

I wonder if this would work with raw, unwashed wool.
We're planning a trip through sheep country.
Some farmer could probably welcome a better price for the raw material.

author
TracyBunny made it!(author)2013-09-07

Yes, this will work, but the lanolin in the wool will be nasty because it will attract dirt and dust like crazy! The raw wool will also stink of sheep, so you should soak the wool in soap like Dawn and super-hot water first to draw the lanolin and dirt out. If the wool is clean but still has a sheep smell, you can use Febreeze or something similar to mask the odour.

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grannyjones made it!(author)2013-09-08

Maybe a little spray of Ozium?

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TracyBunny made it!(author)2013-09-09

That's new to me, but whatever works! Thank you for the tip, and I'll look this one up. I use the new unscented Febreeze that either takes the odour away or masks it completely. It leaves it smelling like nothing, which is my goal.

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security16 made it!(author)2013-04-29

You could also have a knitted backing and felt the balls to the backing for extra strength

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security16 made it!(author)2013-04-29

Yes you can felt raw fleece! just have to make sure it's clean first.

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q.piper made it!(author)2012-04-27

I love your rug - the natural colors are beautiful!

One caveat, though: not all "natural" fibers will felt. Animal fibers felt when the scales on each hair shaft lock with the scales of its neighbors. But plant-based yarns like cotton and bamboo do not have scales and will not felt.
Also, yarn labelled "superwash" is animal fiber treated to remove the scales so the garment can be machine-washed. By definition, these wools are not supposed to felt.
Just a heads-up :)

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ChrysN made it!(author)2012-04-29

Thanks, that is good to know!

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susanrm made it!(author)2012-03-10

LOVE the photo with the kitty! I may have to try this. It's lovely, and I have a lot of roving.

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sunshiine made it!(author)2012-03-05

Wow! Wow! Wow! I love this. I can't decide which one I like the best, they are so pretty. Bet you cat had a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing.
Sunshiine

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bajablue made it!(author)2012-03-05

This pretty rug looks warm and cozy on the toes!

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ChrysN made it!(author)2012-03-05

Yes it's really soft and cushiony.

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sofiadragon1979 made it!(author)2012-03-04

Tribbles!!!!!!!!!!!!

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ChrysN made it!(author)2012-03-04

I only wish they multiplied like Tribbles, it would have made this rug a lot easier to make!

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sofiadragon1979 made it!(author)2012-03-04

LOL, just remember if you feed one they will breed forever.

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Bio: I like sewing and crafts,and trying new things. I'm vegetarian and always looking for new recipes. My cat's name is Mirko and ... More »
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