How to Felt Wool – Nuno Felting Method

How to Felt Wool with the Nuno Felting Method. Welcome to Part 3 of my Wet Felting Wool Techniques Series. This tutorial will show you how to felt wool or fiber into a felt fabric such as silk chiffon.


Nuno Felting Part 3 of the Wet Felting Series of Tutorials


Here are the other Wet Felting Tutorials.
Part 1 Basic Wet Felting
Part 2 Cobweb Felting a Scarf
Part 4 Lattice Felting
Part 5 Resist Felting a Bowl


What is Nuno Felting?
Nuno Felting is a fabric wet felting technique developed by fiber artist Polly Stirling where wool or fiber is felted through an open weave type of fabric such as silk chiffon. The “felting” is accomplished by applying water, heat and friction to the sheep wool or alpaca fiber.

The fiber you use must be a protein aka animal fiber. Synthetic wool or wool roving will not felt.

Almost any open weave fabric will work for nuno felting but obviously, the heavier the fabric, the heavier your final felt fabric will be. I usually use silk gauze or chiffon which yields a lightweight fabric that drapes well.


How to Felt Wool – Nuno Felting Method


Wet Felting Supplies:

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Wool or Alpaca Roving
Silk Gauze/Chiffon
Silk Sliver or Roving for Decoration- optional
Matchstick blind or Bubble wrap
Water
Dish Detergent
Plastic bottle
Plastic sheet
Nylon Hose or Scrap Yarn

How much wool fiber or roving you need obviously depends on how large and elaborate your piece will be. I used about 2 ounces. If you plan to cover your entire piece of silk, you will need more wool. This was a large shawl so my piece of silk fabric was approximately 8′ x 28″.

Since this is a large project, I will use the bamboo blind for rolling. If you don’t have one, no worries, bubble wrap works just fine. It’s just a bit fussier since the plastic tends to slip and slide.

If you decide to buy a matchstick blind for wet felting, make sure it is natural, non-stained. (Mine was stained which bleeds a bit but so far it hasn’t stuck to the fiber).


Nuno Felting Supplies


Bubble Wrap and Matchstick Blind used for Wet Felting Wool


Drafting Your Wool Roving or Fiber

Cover your table with plastic and lay down the blind or bubble wrap. This has to be larger than your fabric. Lay the Silk Chiffon or Silk Gauze on top.

Now you need to decide on a design. If the edges of your fabric are raw and not hemmed, you may want to cover them with fiber on both sides. This is not necessary for raveling, but it looks more polished. Other than that, the rest is up to you. You can do swirls, straight lines, whatever you want.

Begin by drafting or thinning out your roving. I’m using merino wool which comes in a pretty thick roving so it needs to be drafted. You don’t want a glob of thick fiber as that will felt to itself rather than felt through the silk gauze.

Take a piece of roving and firmly hold it with one hand. With your other hand, take a hold of the roving about 12″ away and gently pull to thin it out. This takes a bit of practice to get it even. If it breaks, no problem, you can use small pieces, too.

Lay the thinned out roving on your fabric in whatever design you want. I prefer curves to straight lines so I made swirls.


Drafting Wool Roving, the process of thinning the wool for felting


Nuno Felting Tutorial, Fiberartsy.com


Laying out the roving in a design


Add The Silk Sliver

Once you have finished laying down your roving, do the same thing with the silk sliver, if using. This is completely optional but silk gives a nice sheen and luster to the finished nuno felt fabric. Note, pure silk sliver will not felt by itself so you must lay it on top of the wool.


Nuno Felting Tutorial, Fiberartsy.com


Wet The Wool Roving

Fill your bottle with hot water and add a few squirts of soap. Partially cover the bottle opening with your thumb and generously sprinkle the entire piece. (You can also poke holes in the bottle cap).

Place a piece of bubble wrap or plastic on top of the roving and with the flats of your hands, begin working the water into the fiber. Add more water as needed. You want the fiber to be completely saturated with water. Dry fiber won’t felt.


Wetting the wool roving


Nuno Felting Tutorial, Fiberartsy.com


Rolling the Felted Piece

If you’re using a blind, place a plastic sheet on top of your piece. Beginning at one end, tightly roll up your shawl. If you’re using bubble wrap, place a second layer on top of your shawl and roll it up from one end. Tie in 2 or 3 places with the scrap yarn or nylon hose.

Place your hands on the rolled matchstick blind or bubble wrap and begin rolling back and forth, all the way from your fingertips to your elbows, gradually increasing pressure. Continue rolling your felt for a good 15 minutes or so.


Roll up the felted piece in the matchstick blind


Felting Pinch Test

Unroll the package and check the felting progress by doing a pinch test. (I forgot to take a pic of the pinch test so here’s an old one.

With your thumb and forefinger, pinch a bit of fiber and gently pull up. Is it holding together? If yes, move on to the next step. If no, continue rolling.


Felting Techniques, Cobweb Felting, FiberArtsy.com


Fulling the Wool by Throwing

The next step in nuno felting is the fulling or throwing stage. This will full your fiber, meaning it will shrink, harden and complete the felting process. Don’t start throwing your felt until your piece has passed the pinch test. Make sure all of the fiber is holding on to the fabric.

Pick up your shawl GENTLY, wad it up and let it fall on the table. No force here, just gently let it drop. Pick it up and drop it again. Do this about 50 to 100 times. After a while, you’ll notice the fibers firming up so you can increase pressure.

Now, carefully lay it out and pull apart any areas that are not supposed to be sticking together. You’ll know it when you see it. Continue throwing your scarf until it’s starting to crinkle and pucker. At this point, your shawl is finished. If you want your felted piece to have more crinkles, you can continue to throw it. Just make sure to check it every minute or so.


Fulling stage of wet felting


Finishing the Nuno Felted Shawl

Rinse out all of the soap with room temperature water and then hang your new shawl up to dry. That’s all there’s to it! Make sure to only hand wash your nuno felted piece. It is unfortunately not machine washable


Nuno Felting Tutorial, Fiberartsy.com


If any of these steps are unclear, please let me know. And if you try this tutorial, please send me a photo of your creation!

More Wet Felting Tutorials:
Part 1 Basic Wet Felting
Part 2 Cobweb Felting a Scarf
Part 4 Lattice Felting
Part 5 Resist Felting a Bowl
DIY Felt Dryer Balls


Nuno Felting Tutorial Learn the Wet Felting Technique of Nuno Felting
This is a Nuno Felted Scarf I made using dyed sheep wool, yarn, silk sliver, silk chiffon and alpaca fiber.


Nuno Felted Triangle Shawl made with white Alpaca Fiber and White and Gold Mohair Locks


Nuno Felting Tutorial. A Wet Felting Technique

Comments

  1. What a beautiful piece of wearable art. I had no idea how it could be created!

  2. Wow! Very beautiful! What a talent you have and you also have a talent for explaining how to make it happen for others.

  3. What a great and very clever idea! This is beautiful!! I love the colors, fabulous job!!!

  4. Martha Manigross says:

    Thank you so much for sharing – you make it look like even I can do this – I’ve been wanting to try, but shy away. Now I really want to!
    Where do you get your silk chiffon scarves? I love the size of it – could be used for a scarf or shawl.
    Thanks !
    Martha

    • Annette says:

      Thank you Martha! I get my chiffon (scarves and fabric) from Dharma Trading Co. online. Give it a try! And let me know if you run into any problems. Have fun!

  5. Great tutorial! It would be more awesome if you could add a video to this post.