Wet Felting Basics – Part 1 Felting Series

Wet Felting Basics – How to Felt Wool, Wet Felting Method

Part 1 – Wool Felting Techniques Series


Wet Felting is one of my passions. I get completely lost in making a unique piece of colorful fabric from alpaca fiber or sheep wool roving. It’s like magic watching the individual fibers and hairs bind together to make fabric that you can cut or sew into clothing.

This is the first part of my Wet Wool Felting Series. Other felting tutorials in the series will include Nuno Felting, Cobweb Felting, Lattice Felting and Vessel Felting or Three Dimensional Felting.

Part 1 will show you the basic steps involved in wet felting wool. I will teach you step by step how to take the loose wool locks or wool roving and create a piece of fabric. Once you have the basics down, you can wet felt just about anything!


Wet Felting Techniques, How to felt wool or fiber, FiberArtsy.com


More Wet Felting Tutorials….
Part 2 – Cobweb Felting Technique
Part 3 – Nuno Felting

Part 4 – Lattice Felting
Part 5 – Part 5 Resist Felting

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


Wet Felting Wool Tutorial


What Is Wet Felting?

Wet Felting is the process of connecting or blending wool or fiber together to make a fabric. Here is how Wikipedia defines Felt and Wet Felting.

Wet Felting Supplies

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links which simply means if you click through and buy or sign up, this site may get a small commission, at absolutely no extra cost to you.

Wool Roving (sheep, alpaca, goat, etc.)
2 Pieces of Bubble Wrap or Matchstick Blind**
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

How much wool roving you need depends on how large a piece of felt you want to make. This felted piece will be about 20″ x 12″ so 2 ounces of alpaca or wool roving is plenty.

I’m using hand dyed merino wool roving for the front and light fawn alpaca roving for the other side. If you prefer, you can use just one color of fiber.

**If you’re going to do a lot of wet felting, a Matchstick Blind is a great felting tool. They are durable and last a long time. Bubble wrap is a more affordable option if you’re only doing one or two projects.


1. Lay Out Your Wool Fiber

Cover your table with the plastic and a large towel, then place the matchstick blind or one piece of bubble wrap on your towel. Take a piece of the roving (I used the dyed merino wool) and pull thin tufts from one end. Lay these fibers 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 wool fiber until your piece is about 30% larger than the final size you want to allow for shrinkage. Fiber shrinks as it is wet felted.


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


The basic Wet Felting Method, Felting Wool Roving to Fabric, FiberArtsy.com


Felting Techniques Series - How to Felt Wool, FiberArtsy.com


2. Wet The Wool

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 wool fiber.

Next, place your hands flat on the wool 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 wool is thoroughly wet because dry pockets inside the layer of wool 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 of wool is wet all the way through, add the second layer. In this piece, I used the light fawn alpaca roving for the back. The important thing to remember here is that the second 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 and 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 the Third Layer of Wool Roving

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 goes in the same direction as Layer 1)

Repeat Step 2: Sprinkle and work the water into the wool with your hands.


Wet Felting Methods, How to make Wet Felted Fabric, FiberArtsy.com


5. Add Layer 4

Since I want 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 wool fiber and flip the whole thing over. Layer 1 should now be at the top.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 – Add the final layer of wool the same as before, using the dyed wool 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. Is the wool roving holding together? If it is, 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 wet felting stage where the fibers shrink and harden. With your wool sandwiched between the two layers of bubble wrap, roll up one end and then roll the whole thing into another towel. Using 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. Finish Your Wool Felt

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 your wet felted fabric 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 :)

Here is a DIY Journal Cover I made with a piece of wet felted fabric. (Great DIY Gift Idea)

Get all of your wet felting supplies in a handy Wet Felting Kit


Felting Techniques, Wet Felt Fabric, FiberArtsy.com

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

Also see:
Wet Felt: Adding Color & Texture the Easy Way
How to: Lattice Felting
Wet Felted Easter Eggs
How to Make Felted Dryer Balls

Wet Felting Basics, Learn how to wet felt wool roving

Basic Wet Felting, How to make wet felted fabric with wool, a FiberArtsy.com tutorial

Comments

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