Friday, September 16, 2011

Tip: Easy way to make felted balls.



I've been seeing tons of projects for felted acorns again this year.

Here's and easy way to make the felted balls you need for that project. And it's great to do with kids. They love the "magic" that happens during the felting process and this technique contains the soapy water mess.

Get a small plastic container. Fluff your wool a little by pulling it apart. (You can use just one color of blend a few together)

Add a drop or two of dish soap that been watered down (50/50). But you really only need a drop or two or it will get way too soapy!

Also a little warm water from your tap. Then seal the container.


And shake.... and shake.... and shake. In all directions, side to side, up and down. Round and round.


Soon you'll see the wool getting smaller and forming a little ball.


When your wool ball feels firm and all the fibers have come together your done. Rise and let dry.


Once they are dry they are ready for felted acorns, or any other projects you can think of!

82 comments:

  1. Are you serious??? I have got to try this. I have a project that I want to do that requires 15 or so felted balls and I was not looking forward to making them. I will have to try this out. Very cool idea!

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  2. LOL- yup, seriously. It's such an easy way to make little felted balls, I hope it helps you.

    You can also make bigger ones too- just use a larger container and moor wool. Bigger ones are great for making cat toys!

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  3. I do not believe you thought of this! OMG! It is awesome! Looks like it should work perfectly!

    I still have some of the roving you sent in my giant crafty box that i won on you giveaway earlier this year and I have soap and water and zip lock containers! Have GOT to give this a try!

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  4. GIRL, that's so simple and brilliant! I love it!

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  5. I have to try this! I have always thought that this felting was too hard to do but this looks easy! Thank you for sharing this!

    LuLu~*xoxo

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  6. Thanks everyone for leaving comments!

    Pam: I did not invent this- and cant take the invention credit. : )

    Can't remember where I learned it, from someone I know I think. It's just the way I know how to make little felted balls. And I thought it was pretty common knowledge until I realized that I never really saw anything online about making them this way.

    It really is very simple! I wish I could figure out how to use this technique to felt anything besides balls... it would make all felting waaaay easier!

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  7. What a great idea! I actually like to make felted wool balls but it is rather rough on the hands after a while! About how long do you have to shake it?

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  8. I too have to say thank you
    I have been needlefelting little balls because I can't stand the feeling of wet, soapy wool on the palms of my hands..

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  9. Holly and Carabeth, thanks for your comments. Glad this could help you!

    Holly- timing is a little different depending on the type or even colors of wool. The green ball I made for the tutorial only took about 5 minutes. The pink and white one took 8-10 I'd say. (But white wool can be hard to felt).

    Like most wet felting I think it also takes just a little experimentation to get the right soap to water ratio.
    That can effect how long it takes too.

    You want enough water so that the wool shakes around the container instead of sticking to one spot.

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  10. Just made 10 with my 7 year old daughter. Thank you!!!!

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  11. Wow Lydia- you made my day!
    Thank you : )

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  12. What if you made up multipe containers like this and then put them in either the washer or the dryer (no heat) with a few towels or even a load of clothes??

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  13. Hi Abby,

    Neat idea- but personally I think I'd be scared to try putting a plastic container in the washer. The mister wanted a front loader but I insisted that we have a top loader so I could felt, I bet breaking the washer outright would result in some marital discord.

    You can make larger (2 or 3 inch) felted wool balls in the washer. Cover a styrofoam ball with wool and put a bit of pantyhose over the whole thing. Throw it in the washer with hot water (you need hot water to felt). I usually make a half dozen a time that way.

    If you try your idea let me know!

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  14. That looks fun, but don't know what I'd use them for unless you could post the acorn crafts???? Please!!

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  15. Hi Jan,

    I don't have an acorns in my yard, but I can find some I'll make some acorns and post it. But I bet if you googled felted acorns you find a bunch of results.

    If you make some a little bigger than the one I made they are great cat toys.

    They make wonderful tails for knit softies (like rabbits, and bears)- here's a link where I used it for a little wool ball for a rabbit because I hate to make pom poms.

    http://www.megacrafty.com/2011/04/bunnies-are-finished.html

    You can use them as trim for pillows or scarves, and even make a necklace or bracelet out of them by mixing them with beads.

    Hope that helps!

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  16. AMAZING IDEA! I needlefelt, hate wet felting, so this is awesome. i just did 3 in under 15 min. I used an old container from little ceasers, it has a serrated bottom, which causes more friction, causing the roving to felt faster.... thank u, thank u!

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  17. I'm so glad this worked for you- I like both needle and wet felting but they are very different experiences! I can see how it would be easy to really like one and not the other.

    The container with the textured bottom is a great tip- I'll have to keep my eye out for one!

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  18. Do you know if these felt balls are similar to the felt balls that are sold as a green alternative to dryer sheets?

    The "dryer" felt balls are supposed to reduce the static and help soften the items being dried.

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  19. Hi Kadiya,

    I don't know if these are at all similar to dryer balls. Are those made of wool too?

    I think just based on the size of these they are best suited to crafting. They are so small they'd definitely disappear to wherever it is all the single socks go!

    : )

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  20. So excited to try this! Do you have to buy this "roving" everyone is mentioning or can I use scraps of wool yarn? Would this change the directions at all? Thanks!!!
    ~Eliza

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  21. The term roving describes one way that unspun wool is sold. You call also use wool in batts which are large sheets. Any unspun wool you have will work with this method.

    And that's a really great question about using wool yarn instead of unspun fiber!

    I've never tried it but I have needle felted with yarn and wet felted a knit item in the washing machine. Based on that experience my guess would be that it will take a lot longer to felt or may not really felt that much at all.

    But why not roll up a little ball of yarn and try? It's wool so you should get at least some felting that happens. I definitely think it's worth a shot- if you try it please let me know!!

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  22. Wow! That is so neat! Thanks for sharing this awesome tip! I never knew you could make these! Def. pinning this! I have a party going on over at my blog if you want to join! I'd love to have you! Check it out under the "Stache Party" page on my blog: mylilpumpkinpatch.blogspot.com

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  23. I never knew you could do this! I will have to try it with my kiddos! Thanks for sharing! Stopping by from Someday Crafts link party

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  24. What a genius idea! Definitely one of those "I should have thought of that" moments. :) Thanks so much for sharing!

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  25. AWESOME! Thanks so much for the tips on how to make these! Will be giving it a try for sure! Pop Art Minis

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  26. Thanks for the comments! If you give it a try let me know how it worked out for you. Or even better send me a link to any projects you've done with them- I'd LOVE to see them!

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  27. I love it! I have some smaller amounts of roving, but I immediately thought! FAUX pompoms!! and i HATE making them - I am a serial pompom killer! You have pretty totally solved my elf shoe embellishments, and my life! (well, except for money - LOL!) But time, Hands down! Thank you! Would LOVE to see felted acorns. (I have an acorn fetish!) LOL!
    Jen!

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  28. One more Question! Drying time?

    for say 1/2 - 1 inch balls? like a day on the counter. or in a mesh bag in the dryer - sure they will get smaller, but that can be accommodated! LOL!
    Jen again...

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  29. Hi Jen,

    Glad this helps you- I hate making traditional pom poms too! : )

    Drying time really depends on how much water you use. I set mine out on the counter (or if it's nice the deck in the sun) and I think they are dry in a 3-4 hours but typically I just leave them overnight to be sure they are completely dry.

    I did make end up making felted acorns, the post is here: http://www.megacrafty.com/2011/09/ideas-for-acorns.html

    There are some other acorn ideas in that post too!

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  30. Found this idea on Pinterest!!! So awesome! I just made two. I am so excited. Thank you for sharing. :)

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  31. Oh, that's so cool! I cannot WAIT to try this, thank you! (Now I know what to do with that fleece that turned out to be not soft enough for me to want to spin it up on my wheel.)

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  32. These are really crafty clever cute and I'm anxious to make some as I've been doing it the "hard" way, as in knitting and felting. I'd like to know if you could elaborate a bit on the type of wool in batts that is sold in sheets as opposed to roving. Where do you find this; what type of store carries it? What is it called? I am familiar with lots of knitting and craft stores and see roving a lot, but not the sheet batting. What did you use? Thank you too much :)!

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  33. Hi AlisonH, that's a perfect use for wool that isn't as soft as you thought it would be!

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  34. Thanks Carol,

    Wool batts refers to wool that's in sheets. The same wool can come on both roving and batts or it can be different. Batts are made on something called a drum carder or other similar machine.

    I can get batts at the store I usually go to New England Felting supply (they have a website too) but you can also search online or check any store that sells wool they will probably either have wool batts or know someone who does.

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  35. Is there a way to figure out how much wool you need for different sizes of the balls? I want to try this soooo bad, but not sure how much wool to use. Also, is wool made for needle felting okay, or does it have to be for wet felting? Thanks!

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  36. Hi Edie, All good questions. For the amount of wool to use, you can see from the pictures that a good sized handful winds up making a small call maybe 1 inch across. How much the wool shrinks really depends on the kind of wool, even sometimes the color and how much you felt it.

    As for your second question- I used the same wool to make these that I use for needle felting.

    Hope that helps!

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  37. Super excited to try this!! I'm new to the felt world...what kind of felt do you get? I've seen people just get sheets from the craft store and pull it apart...is that the most cost efficient way to go about this? Sorry if its a repeat question!

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  38. ok, total blonde moment...despite reading the posts I still came home with wool that was ready to knit! Cut 24inches or so off, pulled it apart as best as I could and shook until the cows came home!! After looking in the tub for the 5th time and seeing what resembles wheat pasta in alfredo sauce I finally realized I used the wrong wool. grrr Back to the yarn store tomorrow :-)

    Christina

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  39. Hi Kelsey, I'm glad you are going to venture into the world of felting. Some craft stores (the michaels near me for one) have needle felting supplies. They carry wool with those supplies that will work but in my experience it's very expensive. If you go to a knitting store that carries felting/spinning supplies they will have wool more reasonably priced.

    Oh no Christina! So sorry you grabbed the wrong type of wool. And as you found out yarn doesn't really work with this. You want a bit roving or a chunk of a batt of wool. This kind of wool is for needle felting, wet felting or spinning.

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  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  41. Awesome! Thanks so much :) Also, do you have any tutorials or know of any good ones for needle felting? I'd love to give that a go as well!

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  42. Ok, I tried this and shook that container for over half and hour. All I have is something that resembles what you might pull out of the shower drain. Perhaps the particular roving I used is unsuitable?

    Lisa

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  43. Kelsey- I sent you an email about needle felting.

    Lisa- Sorry this didn't work out for you. Three things I've thought of that might be going on. What type of wool are you using? Merino felts, but it doesn't felt as easily as some others. You want the wool to start out feeling kind of coarse- not smooth. Coarse wool felts easier. But I'm not really convinced that's the problem- if it's wool eventually it will felt.

    What I think is most likely happening is that you either have too much water or not enough soap. You really only need enough water to make the wool move around in the container. And just a drop or two of diluted soap.

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  44. I just tried it! I made two owl buddies :) I am already sososo addicted. Needle felting is so fun!! Thank you for inspiring me!

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  45. Kelsey I'm so happy to tried it! And yes it is very addictive, lol. Do you have a picture you can send me? I'd love to see how your project turned out.
    : )

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  46. Definitely! I just emailed some to you :) Let me know what you think!

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  47. Where did you buy the wool material? A specialty yarn shop? Or any basic craft store? Thanks!

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  48. I buy my wool from New England Felting Supply. They are close to me but also have a website.

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  49. Fun way to make a ball, I might have to try this with my Bever group! Thanks.

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  50. Well we just made them at school - children as young as 3 could make them. It was so much fun. Thanks again for sharing.
    You can check out how it went here
    http://strongstart.blogspot.com/2012/02/wet-felted-eggs.html

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  51. Can you make these starting with felt squares that are purchased in the craft sections?

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  52. Hi Jen,

    No it won't work with those felt squares. For the most part those aren't actually wool- they are made from recycled plastic. The ones that are actually wool, the wool has already been felted into sheet and won't felt any more.

    To make these you need to start with loose wool that's sold in bulk or that comes in what's called a batt. Wool is also sold in what's called roving (a long rope of wool) but roving would be hard to work with when making these balls because it's pretty thin.

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  53. awesome! i cannot wait to try this!!!

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  54. I just made some with my 5 yr old son! I had some wool roving sitting in my stash to try needle felting(still have not done that yet). The roving worked just fine, took a little longer than what you and others are saying. I had to rinse the container and balls a couple times, and roll between my palms. But they look like your picture, so I'll see how they are when they dry. Hoping to get my son to make some Christmas presents with them :) Thanks for the tutorial.
    PS...My son has Sensory Processing Disorder...and this is GREAT for some of his excess energy and it results in a useful product!

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  55. Thanks for you comment Meredith- I'm so happy this worked out for you!

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  56. one of my friends found a DIY on this in an Australian felt magazine, but they used the tiny plastic canister that comes with hair dye and has the rubber gloves in it, it is about the size of an old fashioned film canister but nicely rounded on both ends. The round ends seem to help the balling process move along faster and makes felt beads that would be necklace size in no time flat.

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    1. Thanks Erica,

      That tutorial sounds interesting. I'd love a link if you have one.

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    2. unfortunately no link, she said it was just a short paragraph - we tried it with a couple of layers of merino, very small amount and crammed it in the container with drop of shampoo and hot water, put the lid on and shook it - it took shape very quickly, you do need to experiment to see just how much wool will work, too much and it won't move about in the container.
      Once it forms you can take it out and condense the ball further by just rolling in your hands.
      One of our friends took my green wool balls to make topiary trees for his dollhouse garden.

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    3. Thanks Erica, sounds very similar- maybe just a smaller container. Good to know it worked so well for you. : )

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  57. Thank you. I was working on some balls but they were not finished yet and looked little fuzzy so I did your process to give them such a nice finish. Only took about 2 min each.

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    1. Thanks so much for the feedback- glad it worked well for you!

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  58. so glad I found this tutorial. I am going to try this right away. Do you know a good place to buy the wool for cheap and/or in bulk?

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    1. I hope you let me know how it works out for you! I buy all my wool at New England Felting Supply. They are close to me, but also have a website and you can buy a nice variety of wool.

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  59. I just found this info.! So anxious to try this! In one of your earlier replies, you mentioned covering a little larger sized styrofoam balls with the wool, putting pantyhose over it, and putting it in the washer. Hot water. But down ANY soap need added? And how long do I keep it in there?
    Thank you!!!

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  60. Sorry, auto correct. Should have said DOES any soap need added?

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    1. Yes if I remember right I added just a tiny bit of soap. I can't remember how long I left them in the washer. I just kept checking on them until they seemed felted (usually you can see the wool fiber coming through the pantyhose when they've started to felt, and they feel very firm). Once I thought they were done I opened the one on the end to check if it was felted. It maybe took 15-20 minutes. But it also depends on the type and color of wool- there's no hard and fast rule on how long it takes.

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    2. Wow! Thanks for such a quick reply! I am going to play around until I get it. Real felting on styrofoam is such a long process. Any way to speed it up, I'm there! :)
      Thank you sooo much! Just made my night!

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    3. Happy to help- And I'd love you see the results of your projects!
      It was a lucky coincidence that your comment came through while I happened to be checking my email. But in general if you have questions the best way for me to respond is if you leave your email in your comment. Or if you don't want to do that- you can always email me, it's in my profile : )

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  61. ok i must be crazy are these little balls coming out perfect you all? I tried it mine is all crumbled and in pieces not pieces but not together like it should be. I even tried some wet felting today over a vessel type shape with also not so desirable results what am I doing wrong I would show you a picture if I knew where to upload it???
    Meg someone...please help deb :O(

    caricaturesbydeb@comcast.net

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    1. Hi Print2paint, - there could be a lot of things from the amount of water and soap you're using to the type of wool. I did see that you emailed me so I'll see if I can help you through email.

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  62. Hi Meg - great tip! This is so easy to do. I've made four balls with varying success. I think I've figured out the right soap/water ratio but two of the balls have creases (they look a bit like Pac Man) and I think it's to do with the way the wool goes into the container. I'm fluffing it out and trying to make a neat, spherical shape with no ridges but this doesn't seem to work every time. Can you elaborate on your wool fluffing technique? Thanks in advance!

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    1. I sort of tease the wool out into a big fluff ball. Sometimes I also used a skewer to wrap the wool into a loose ball- that might be something that works better for you.

      This is just a guess but creases could be caused by the bottom of the container, if ithas some sort of ridge or a shape that lets the wool settle. I've had a few creases wile doing more traditional wet felting and sometimes it can be fixed by needle felting over the trouble spot after the wool is dry.

      Hope that helps!

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  63. Too cool! I've been trying to find any info on hand felting yarn balls (into dryer balls or beads) and am pretty much coming up empty..after 3 days of searching, I found you - just a few hours after trying something I thought of a few days ago: to throw my yarn balls into a large-ish container, with soap and water, and shake it. I also added a stone (will add more when I find my bag of river rocks) and after 5-10mins of shaking/shocking in cold/shaking again in reheated water, the 2 balls are starting to felt! I can't wait to finish them off and see how long it actually takes but your tutorial here has bolstered my confidence! ;-) thanks!!

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  64. Thanks for your comment Angéle- good luck with your felting!

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  65. Hi

    I´ve just come across your article on making felt balls.... I´ve just tried several times and all I am getting is a wadge of messy felted wool! I won´t be giving up though and am set to try again.

    I´ve just been given 6 huge sacks of newly shorn sheep fleece. I am a complete beginner at dealing with it! But, I have washed one through and am now taking wads of it and picking,teasing it open, it and with my fistful of fluffy freshly picked wool I have been making felt balls using soapy water and my hands to roll them. Should I be carding the wool after I have teased it open to get rid of the bits of rubbish. Would that make it felt better for using the container method?
    Your advice would be greatly recieved.

    Thank you Sylv

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    1. Hi Sylv- Sorry you are having problems with this method. From what you are describing I am guessing that you might have too much water and/or soap in the container. It takes very little water and just a drop of diluted dish soap. Too much of any of these will give you a soggy mess instead of a nice felted ball. Hope that helps!

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  66. HI again......... Thank you so much for the really speedy reply......... I came back on to say I had used much less soap and looked at your photos again and saw you had used just a little water....... I have just made several little felt balls..... hurrah .... they are a bit looser than the ones made by hand but I just finished them off by hand taking a only a wee minute or so!

    So thank you........ I am aiming to make a felt ball rug! I know ambitious!

    Kind regards

    Sylv

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  67. Seriously??? That easy? I'm going to have to try this one!!!

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