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Instructions for Making Wool Felt and Easy Needle Felting

Roving is wool that has been washed and carded into long, ropey lengths. Both Artgirlz and Clover Wool Roving is perfect for making pompoms, punching appliqué, and many other handicraft applications. It is available in 20 colors, packaged with a total of 20 grams 0.(7 ounces) of wool roving.

Use the instructions below to make Wool Felt, or learn Needle Felting. Use Artgirlz Felting Needles to make your own projects.


Wool Roving

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Make Felt Using a Wet Felt Technique

What is Felt?

Simply put, felt is matted wool. Wool becomes felt when it is subjected to moisture, heat, and pressure. Hot soapy water makes the wool slippery, and causes the fiber scales to "open up". The scales prevent the fibers from backing up again after they slide across each other; with agitation, the fibers get hopelessly tangled together. When cooled and dried, the scales close and lock the wool into the tough, durable material called felt.

Making Felt

To make your felt, you will need to use a small pan about 9" long, some liquid dish soap, and a sink with both hot and cold water. This process takes about 30 minutes.

First, lay out the wool. Use a small package of your wool roving (1/2 ounce to an ounce) and divide it into three equal portions. Spread out the first portion so that the wool evenly covers the bottom of the pan, with all of the fibers running in the same direction. Place the second layer on top of the first with the layers at right angles to the layer beneath. Repeat with the third layer, arranging the fibers crossways to the layer below. (While this only is using three layers, you can make more layers by repeating the steps above. The more layers, the more wool roving you will use and the thicker your felt wool will be when finished.

Now you are ready to wet the wool. Squirt a small amount of liquid detergent over the top layer of wool. Then gently pour about a half cup of HOT water over the wool. Next, press straight onto the wool pile so that the wool compresses into a mass on the bottom of the pan. Add more hot water until all of the wool is wet. Work around the edges, pressing down until all of the wool is matted down.

Gently work the wool, holding the pan in one hand, while you gently massage the edge of the wool with the fingertips of the other hand. Use your palm to gently agitate the center. Slowly rotate the pan as you work. Keep rolling the edge of the wool slightly inwards to give it a smooth, finished shape. The soap will squish up between your fingers and the wool will matt together.

After about 5 minutes the wool will begin to firm up, and you can begin to work with a more vigorous circular motion. After about 10 minutes, the felt will hold together well enough to turn it over. Tip the pan and gently flop the wool out into your hand and place it upside down in the pan. Add more soap or hot water if necessary, and continue working the wool as before. Run warm water into the pan and pour off the soapy water.

Finally, run cold water over the wool and press the water out of it. It should be round, about an eighth of an inch thick, and a little smaller than the pan. It should be felt! If you continue working it, it will grow thicker and smaller, because you are losing air space, not wool.

Pulling the felt is not necessary, however, if you want the felt to be strong, continue working the felt by running more hot water over it, and rolling and squeezing it in your hands. The more you do this, the "fuller" (thicker and stronger) it becomes. When you're finished felting, use an iron (set at "wool") to speed up the drying, and also allowing it to flatten out nicely.

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Easy Needle Felting Instructions

NOTE: Felting needles are extremely sharp and you can really hurt yourself if you aren't paying proper attention. The felting needle is a thin piece of hardened steel that is very sharp and also has tiny barbs. With a magnifying glass you can see these little barbs.

To get started, you will need the following supplies:

  • Bits of wool felt for your top shapes
  • Larger piece of wool felt for the background*
  • a felting needle
  • scissors
  • a small block of foam rubber about 10" X 12" X 2" thick

Decide on a design. Draw out your shapes on paper, so if you need to adjust them you won't waste your wool felt. Next, lay the sheet of paper, with your design face up, on top of your wool felt and cut out the shapes needed to make the design.

*HINT: If you use darker felt for the top layer, and a lighter felt for the bottom layer, the final felt effect will be more pastel and appear to be more translucent. If you use lighter felt for the top layer, and a darker or black felt for the bottom layer, the colors will appear to be darker in the finished piece of felt.

Place one of the cut out felt shapes onto the surface of your background piece of felt and begin to poke the needle repeatedly into the two layers. For beginners, it is recommended you place the background piece of felt on a foam block and work on it there. You can do this while holding the felt in your hands; just be careful you DON'T stick yourself with the felting needle! Keep adding shapes and poking the needle repeatedly into each shape until you are satisfied with the design.

When you turn the piece over, it is clear that the needle has pulled and pushed fibers from the top shapes of felt into the background piece and the pieces will be attached together. For all practical purposes you are done. If you aren't quite satisfied with the appearance of the piece, rewet it with hot soapy water and allow it to dry. Do a bit more needle felting over the surface of the design. If you do this, there will be less texture and the surface will become flatter and less raised.

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