Introduction: Felting Techniques Series - Part 1 Felting a Piece of Fabric
Part 1 of my new Felting Techniques Series
A Fiberartsy.com Tutorial
Wet Felting is one of my passions! I get completely lost in it! So, I decided to share with you the many different wet felting techniques I’ve learned.Part 1 will show you the basic steps involved in wet felting fiber. I will teach you step by step how to create a piece of fabric. Once you have the basics down, you can felt just about anything!Future Tutorials will cover Cobweb Felting, Nuno Felting, Resist Felting and any other wet felting technique I can think of so check back often!
Step 1: Supplies Needed:
Wool or Alpaca Roving – how much depends on how large a piece of felt you want to make. This piece will be about 20″ x 12″ so 2 ounces of roving is plenty. I’m using a hand dyed merino roving for the front and light fawn alpaca roving for the other side. If you prefer, you can use just one color of roving.
You will also need:
Bubble wrap – 2 pieces
Dish detergent (if your piece is white, use white or clear detergent)
Squeeze bottle (a soda bottle is fine – partially cover top with your thumb)
Plastic for your table
Step 2: Lay Out Your Fiber
Cover your table with plastic and a large towel, then place one piece of bubble wrap on your towel. Take a piece of the roving (I used the dyed merino) and pull thin tufts from one end. Lay these down in a row, overlapping the layers by about 1/2″. Make sure all the fiber is going in the same direction. Add a second row, again overlapping the fiber about 1/2″ and overlapping the rows. Add more rows of fiber until your piece is about 30% larger than the final size you want to allow for shrinkage. Fiber shrinks as it is felted.
Step 3: Wet the Fiber
Fill your bottle with hot water and add a few squirts of the dish soap. Gently shake and then generously sprinkle the water on your layer of fiber. Next, place your hands flat on the fiber and move them slightly back and forth. You want to work the water into the fiber without moving the actual fiber too much. Add more water if needed. Make sure all of the fiber is thoroughly wet because dry pockets of fiber will not felt.
Step 4: Add the 2nd Layer
Once the first layer is wet all the way through, add the second layer of fiber. In this piece, I used the light fawn alpaca roving for the back. The important thing to remember here is that this layer needs to be perpendicular to the first. Ex: If the first layer of fiber was laid down horizontally, the next layer needs to go vertically. Repeat Steps 2 & 3: Pull thin tufts and lay them on top of the first layer. Sprinkle and work the water in with your hands.
Step 5: Add Layer 3
Using the same colored roving (light fawn), lay down Layer 3 the same as before, perpendicular to the previous layer, overlapping all rows. (Layer 3 fiber goes in the same direction as Layer 1) Repeat Step 3: Sprinkle and work the water in with your hands.
Step 6: Add Layer 4
Since I wanted the outside of this fabric to be colorful and the inside plain, I now need to flip the piece over. Place the second piece of bubble wrap on top of your fiber and flip the whole thing over. Layer 1 should now be at the top. Repeat Steps 2 & 3 – Add the final layer of fiber the same as before, using the dyed roving, place tufts of fiber perpendicular to the underlying layer. (Layer 4 fiber needs to go in the same direction as the fibers from Layer 2). Sprinkle and work the fiber with your hands.
Step 7: Pre-Felting
Now the real work begins! Place the second piece of bubble wrap on top of your fiber and begin rubbing with the flat of your hand. Work the entire piece – don’t forget the edges – in all directions, gradually increasing pressure. Do this for about 5-10 minutes.
Step 8: Pinch Test
Carefully peel back the top layer of bubble wrap and with your thumb and forefinger, pull up lightly on the top layer. Are the fibers holding together? If they are, move on to the next step. If not, sprinkle with more hot water, replace the bubble wrap and continue working the fiber.
Step 9: Fulling
Fulling is the final felting stage where the fibers shrink and harden. With your fiber sandwiched between the two layers of bubble wrap, roll up one end and then roll the whole thing into another towel. With your hands, roll the package back and forth. Do this for about 5 minutes. If it comes apart, just roll it back up and continue.
Step 10: Almost Done!
The last thing you want to do is throw your piece down on the table. That’s right, throw it! This is where the shrinking occurs. Throw it 30 times and check it. Stretch it out, throw it some more. It’s really up to you at this point and how you want your piece of felt to look.
That’s it! Rinse it thoroughly and hang it to dry. What can you do with your piece of felt? Anything you can do with fabric! Here's what I did with my piece of fabric.
Just finished Part 2 - How to make a Cobweb Felted Scarf. Check it out and let me know what you think.