Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials and techniques are as individual as she is—unique, experimental and always interesting.
Will You Be My Valentine?
Following the very popular polka-dot wet-felted coin purse tutorial which I did with polystyrene balls, I have been experimenting with party balloons, which I find to be a very simple and effective way to make these delightful little coin purses.
They are so easy to make that I feel that these items could be made by children with the help of an adult. The needle felting can be left out and a mix of colors in merino wool roving can be substituted in the beginning stages of this tutorial. The end result has far exceeded my expectations.
The tiny red and white cups and saucers shown here were purchased from a thrift shop for £2. The cups and saucers were my inspiration for this Valentine's project. They make great photography props, too.
Items Required to Complete This Project
- A small narrow party balloon approximately 11 cm in length
- 2 small round party balloons, approximately 11 cm in length
- Red and white merino wool roving
- A tumble dryer
- Grated olive oil soap dissolved in hot water or dish-washing liquid diluted in hot water
- A sushi mat and a tea towel
- 1 tiny curved metal purse frame for the coin purse
- 1 medium-size curved metal purse frame for the spectacle case
- 1 needle felting tool or 1 single felting needle
- Begin by adding a little water to both balloons.
- Blow both the balloons up to around forty percent larger than the size you want your completed purse and spectacle case to be.
- Knot the ends of the balloons as shown above and then gather together some red and white Wool Roving along with a small bowl of hot soapy water, 2 curved Purse Frames and 1 tiny and 1 medium size one. The size is dependent on how large an opening you would like your purse to have.
- Put a pair of glasses through the opening to check that they will fit through.
- Blow up the balloons.
- As can be seen here, the larger of the two purse frames fits the top of the blown up party balloon.
- Both balloons uninflated are very small - about 11 cm from the opening to the end of the balloon. Don't inflate the balloons completely, blow them up to around 40% larger than the project you are going to make. Shrinkage should be around 40%.
- This can vary and will depend entirely on the type of wool you use and how much you felt the project in the tumble dryer.
Wet the Small Balloon in Warm Soapy Water
- Wet the balloon in the warm soapy water. The woolen fibers will adhere to the balloon when it is wet.
- Don't make the water too hot, try to avoid having the balloon burst on you. It has not happened to me yet so I think it unlikely that it will happen to you.
Wrap the White Roving Around the Wet Balloon
- Flatten out a piece of Wool Roving and pull off sufficient to go right around the center of the balloon with just a little overlap.
- Pull a piece from the long length with your fingers and then wrap it around the Balloon.
- Fold the raw edges one over the other.
Dip the Overlapped Ends Into Warm Soapy Water
- Dip the overlapped ends of the Wool Roving into the warm soapy water.
- Flatten the damp fibers where they were overlapped on a Sushi Mat which should be placed on a waterproof surface.
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Cover the Balloon With Wool Roving
- Repeat the last step one more time until the Party Ballon is completely covered in Wool Roving as is shown in the image below.
- Repeat the first layer and then fill in any gaps if there are any.
- Smooth out the layers until you have an evenly covered Party Balloon
- The items should be covered in two thick layers of wool roving.
- The end product will be firm to the touch and keep their shape.
Wet the Fibers
- Use a small sponge to wet the fibers.
- You want the wool to be wet through but not saturated so that the fibers do not become displaced.
Roll the Wool-Covered Balloon on a Sushi Mat or Kitchen Towel
- Roll the Wool covered balloon on a Sushi Mat until all the fibers have adhered to the balloon.
- Check now to see if you can see if there is any color from the ball showing through.
- If you find any, pull off small pieces of White Roving with your fingers and place them on the thin spots and then resume rolling until you have a neat, wet, covered balloon as shown here.
- This won't take long - you don't need to roll it for a long time. We are are going to use the tumble dryer to felt the project from here on now.
- The image below shows how the Fibers have adhered to the Party Balloon.
Repeat the Same Steps for the Other Balloon
- If you are making both items, repeat the above steps using the long Balloon.
Tie the Project Into a Freezer Bag
- Place the wool covered Party Balloon into a Freezer Bag and knot the end.
- Place both the items into a Tumble Dryer.
- After about 8 minutes check the contents of the bags. The Freezer Bag will be warm and may even be filled with some soapy water. If so, take the balls out of the bags, turn the bag inside out and place the balloons back in. Rinse the soap off and put the Project back into the Tumble Dryer.
- Continue doing this until you are happy that the wool has felted properly.
- Once felted, take the bags off and allow both of the balloon to dry off a bit in the tumble dryer without any bag or tights on them.
Get the Purse Frame to Fit
- Check that you have the correct size for your coin purse by opening the frame and placing it over the top of the Project.
Measure the Opening
- The opening should be approximately fo 4 cm to begin with.
Draw a Line Across the Top of the Ball
- Draw a line across the top of the ball with a felt tipped pen. It should be one which will dissolve in air or in water. The opening should measure approximately 4 cm.
Extract the Party Balloon
- Cut the opening and extract the ball by pricking it with a needle.
- Pour out the water which you will find inside the felted ball.
- It can easily be poured out of the ball which will barely get wet when it pops.
Place in the Salad Spinner to Dry
Prepare to Needle Felt the Ladybugs and Hearts
- Using a single felting needle, needle felt the hearts and ladybugs or decorate as desired.
- Remember to place a small sponge or a piece of curtain netting inside the purse to make it easy to work on.
- My hearts were cut from out from some thin sheets of plastic.