Felting Techniques: Part 1 – Basic Wet Felting

 

Felting Techniques Series

Part 1 – Basic Wet Felting – Felting a Piece of Fabric

Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com
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!
Also see….
Part 2 Cobweb Felting a Scarf
Part 3 Nuno Felting a Shawl

Part 4 Lattice Felting
Part 5 Resist Felting a Bowl

(This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, Fiberartsy may receive a small commission)


Supplies Needed:

Wool Roving (sheep, alpaca, goat, etc.)

How much roving you need 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 hand dyed merino 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:
2 Pieces of Bubble Wrap
Hot water
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
Old Towels

1. 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.

Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com
Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com
Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com

2. 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.

 

Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com
Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com

3. 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 1 & 2: Pull thin tufts and lay them on top of the first layer. Sprinkle and work the water in with your hands.

Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com

4. 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 2: Sprinkle and work the water in with your hands.

Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com

5. 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 1 & 2 – 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.

Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com

6. 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.

Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com

7. 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.

Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com

8. 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.

Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com

9. 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.

Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com
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! To see what I’m going to do with mine, come back next week :)

Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com

Update! Here’s what I did with my felted fabric. What would you do?

Where Can You Get Roving?

Here are some great sources for dyed and natural fiber









Comments

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