Wet felting is an easy way to make a shaped piece of fabric. It requires little more than some clean, carded wool and can be done successfully by someone of any skill level. Because you are shaping the fabric as you go, it is also a great medium for making a seamless article such as a camera or phone case, a coin purse or, as shown here, little Christmas stockings.
Step 1: Materials
You will need the following:
a #2 plastic milk or juice bottle
clean, carded wool
a bowl or basinful of warm water with dishwashing soap
a towel to protect the counter and dry the felted pieces on
2 pairs of scissors, one for cutting plastic, and one for felt
Step 2: Make the Pattern
Draw your stocking design on the plastic bottle and cut it out. This one is about 3-3/4" from tip to toe, and 1-1/2" wide. The size was based on being able to stick a couple of fingers inside to retrieve the surprise. Feel free to alter it to suit your preferences.
Step 3: Wrap the Wool
Lay out a piece of wool large enough to wrap the plastic pattern. You can combine colors, as in this example using red for the body of the stocking and white for the cuff.
Wrap the wool around the pattern piece and hold it there.
Step 4: Wet Felting
Now comes the actual felting. Lower your wool-wrapped plastic pattern piece into the warm, sudsy dishwater. This will help open and close the barbed fibers in the wool, much the same as a washing machine set to warm will felt a sweater.
The other factor for felting is agitation: gently move the piece through the water, rubbing and handling it until the wool begins to shrink around the pattern. In a few minutes, you should begin to see a recognizable stocking.
Step 5: An Additional Felting Method
An optional finishing method is to place the wet, soapy stocking into a ziploc bag, seal it, and rub it vigorously back and forth over the towel or another textured surface. This weill continue the felting without having to keep your hands in water for an extended time. It's also a way that two people can work on stockings in a single sink.
Step 6: Finishing
Once the stocking is felted to your satisfaction, rinse it in cold water and set it on the towel to dry.
If the wool has felted all the way around the pattern, then you've done a great job. Just snip the top open and remove the pattern, which can be used again.
Step 7: More
You don't have to stop at the traditional red-and-white Christmas stocking. Play around with colors and patterns--my favorite turned out to be one made with different shades of undyed wool, fleecy at top and densely felted at the bottom. Or you can choose just a few colors to use and make different combinations--it's pretty hard to perfectly duplicate wet felting, anyway, as you are leaving much to what happens in the water.
If you make 24 of these, you can use them as an advent calendar, filing each one with a surprise or a note. You can also string yarn or ribbon, or sew felt or fabric, to the top and hang them on your tree or across a window or doorway.
Finally, as mentioned in the first step, this same technique can be used to make other objects in need of an opening: eyeglass cases, pencil holders, gift pouches or boxes, finger puppets...go to town and have fun.