How to Make a Baby Girl's 'Nuno' Felted Circle Jacket
The Completed 'Nuno' Felted Baby Girl's Circle Jacket
What Is Nuno Felting?
Nuno felting is a process of felting which was developed by Polly Stirling, a fibre artist from New South Wales in Australia in around 1992. The name is derived from the Japanese word "Nuno" meaning cloth. The technique bonds loose fibres into light weight fabric, usually silk, fine cotton or wool and results in a very lightweight fabric or felt with a lovely crinkly effect.
A recycled piece of silk was used for this tutorial but cheap silk or even muslin can be used for this purpose. Both sides of the silk in this project were covered with a very fine layer of Merino wool fibres. The end result is a strong but very lightweight fabric with a gorgeous crinkle effect.
Items Required to Complete This Project
- A Bubble Wrap Template or you can use Laminate Floor Underlay which is not only cost effective but the templates made with it can be used multiple times over.
- 2 Large Sheets of Bubblewrap
- A large bamboo blind. Bamboo blinds are one of my favourite felting tools and these too can be used over and over again for most of your felting projects.
- A Baby Grow or T-shirt in the size of the baby you will be making this for. (This is a non-essential item) but may be used to help you decide if or where you need to cut arms holes into the circle jacket if desired. Alternatively, you may keep the jacket simple and turn it into a 'Cape'.
- A circle of pure silk fabric. This can be recycled pure silk or even a recycled scarf or silk fabric bought specifically for the purpose.
- 2 Narrow pure silk strips which can be torn from the main piece to form the jacket ties.
- A small quantity of Merino Wool Roving in mixed colours. I used Botany Waste Wool which I purchased from World of Wool. This is such a good buy and can be used for many felting projects.
- A sharp pair of scissors
- Tepid soapy water. This can be dishwashing liquid or grated Olive Oil soap diluted in water, both of which work equally well though the latter is a lot kinder to the hands.
Step 1—Draw the Template
- Draw the template onto a large sheet of floor underlay or bubble wrap.
- The circle should measure approximately 26 inches across the centre for a newborn child, bigger for an older child and a much larger for an adult.
- Shrinkage is usually in the region of 40%. This was factored in when the circle was drawn for this project.
- There are many variables. Unfortunately, felting is not an exact science and even the amount of wool which is applied to the silk can alter the outcome of a 'Nuno' felted project. The less wool added the more crinkles you are likely to have. Experiment and have fun doing so.
- This project uses 2 layers of wool, 1 layer is applied to each side of the silk fabric.
The Template Which Has a Diameter of 26"
Step 2—Wet the Surface of the Template
- Wet the surface of the template using the soapy water.
Wetting the Template
Step 3—Cover the Template With a Circle of Silk Fabric
- Roughly cut out a circle of silk and place it neatly onto the template.
- The pure silk fabric will cling to the wet template.
- Smooth out any creases with your fingers.
Pure Silk Fabric Covering the Template
A Note on Covering the Template With Pure Silk
Adding water to the template allows the silk to cling easily to the template, after which the edges can be trimmed and neatened to fit the circle properly.
The chosen silk should have a fine texture and be whisper thin. If you cannot feel your breath when you blow through the fabric is not thin enough for the wool fibres to easily penetrate the fabric during the felting process.
Step 4—Neaten the Edges
- Trim any excess wet fabric which overlaps the edges as is shown below.
Excess Fabric Being Trimmed
Step 3—Cover the Silk With Wool Roving
- Cover the layer of silk using a fine layer of wool roving as is shown below.
- The wool roving should just overlap the edges of the silk covered template.
The Silk-Covered Template
The Roving Covering the Silk Fabric
A Note on Getting the Water Temperature Right!
Only tepid or cold water should be used when 'Nuno' Felting. Using hot water will shrink the fibres before they are able to penetrate the pure silk so don't use it in the early stages of the felting process. Hot water should only be used after the fibres have penetrated the silk and before you shrink them under hot and cold water in the kitchen sink.
Step 4—Wet the Wool Roving
- Wet the wool roving using only tepid or cold soapy water.
Wetting the Wool Roving
Step 5—Cover the Project With Bubble Wrap
- Wet the surface of the bubble wrap with some of the soapy water.
- The soap makes it easy for the fingers to glide over the surface of the bubble wrap.
Wet the Bubble Wrap
Step 6—Rub Well
- Rub the surface of the bubble wrap until the fibres below are completely smooth.
Rub Until the Fibres Are Smooth
The Smoothed Down Fibres
Step 7—Turn the Project Over
- Turn the project over and remove the template gently.
- Now cover the 2nd side from which you have just removed the template with a fine layer of Merino wool.
- Don't make the edges thick as these will soon be folded over the silk below to neaten the edges.
The 2nd Side Covered With a Fine Layer of Merino Wool
Step 8—Wet the Wool Roving
- Wet the 2nd side with tepid soapy water.
Wet the Wool Roving
Step 9—Cover With a Sheet of Bubble Wrap
- Wet the surface of the bubble wrap to facilitate easy rubbing.
- The project should now be sandwiched between 2 Sheets of Bubble Wrap.
Wet the Surface of the Bubble Wrap
Step 10—Rub Well
- Rub the surface of the bubble wrap until the fibres below are smooth.
Rubbing the Surface
The Wet Flattened-Down Fibres
Remove the Bubblewrap From One Side of the Project
Step 11—Neaten the Edges
- Fold both layers of Merino wool fibres neatly over the edges of the silk.
- The silk fabric can be seen through the fine layer of merino wool fibres which was used to cover the template.
Turning the Wet Fibres Over the Edge of the Silk
Step 11—Cover With Bubble Wrap
- Wet the surface of the bubble wrap with soapy water.
Wetting the Bubble Wrap With Soapy Water
Step 12—Rub the Edges Well
- Rub the edges until they are flat, neat and tidy.
Rubbing the Edges Well
Checking the Edges
Step 13—Sandwich the Project Inside the 2 Sheets of Bubble Wrap
- Sandwich the Project between two layers of bubble wrap.
- A layer on each side will prevent the fibres from becoming displaced when the fibres are rolled inside the bamboo blind.
NB If no blind is available, roll the bubble wrap up with the project still inside and rub until felted. It will take a little longer without the blind. In either case, keep on rotating the contents of the blind or bubble wrap to allow for even shrinkage throughout the project.
The Project Inside the Two Sheets of Bubble Wrap
Wet the Bubble Wrap and Rub the Surface Well
Rub Until the Fibres No Longer Move
Alternatively Sandwich the Entire Project Inside a Bamboo Blind
Step 14—Roll Well
- Roll until the fibres no longer move
- A bamboo mat helps provide the perfect rolling tool making light work of the felting process.
- Rotate the contents of the blind or bubble wrap frequently throughout the rolling process.
Roll The Bamboo Mat on the Surface of an Old Bath Towel
Step 15—Make Two Jacket Ties
- Tear two strips off the pure silk fabric and cover them with a fine layer of wool roving.
- Wet and fold in the edges with the help of the bubble wrap.
- The jacket ties can be added to the contents of the bamboo mat or bubble wrap and rolled simultaneously to shorten the time needed to complete the project.
Cut Two Strips of Silk to Create the Two Jacket Ties
Wet the Wool Roving
Rub the Wet Fibres Well
Step 16—Fold Over the Wet Edges of the Jacket Ties
- Use the Bubblewrap to fold over both edges of the 2 jacket ties.
- Enclose the silk covered wool inside the strips of bubble wrap and include them in the bamboo bundle whilst rolling the project to save time.
Fold the Edges of the Ties Using the Bubble Wrap
The 2 Jacket Ties Being Rolled Inside the Bamboo Blind
Step 17—Roll Well and Perform a 'Pinch Test'
- Pinch the fibre between 2 fingers to check to see if they move.
- When you are satisfied that the fibres no longer move between your fingers, remove the wrap and take the project and the 2 ties to the kitchen sink.
- Massage the circle of felt using the palms of your hand under hot and then cold water.
- You will begin to see the fibres shrink under your hands.
- When the project has shrunk properly, rinse it first under hot and then cold water.
- Squeeze out any excess water and throw the project down onto a hard counter to 'full' further.
- Shape and fold the collar over as shown.
- Roll the jacket ties and attach them to the jacket using a few simple sewing stitches.
- If desired cut armholes in the appropriate places using the 'Babygrow' shown above to make the appropriate cut.
- Massage the cut edges until they shrink evenly.
Rubbing and Rolling the Fibres
The Jacket and Two Strips Before Rubbing & Rinsing in Hot and Then Cold Tap Water
Before Rolling and Rubbing
The Back of the Jacket Before Shrinkage Took Place
The Completed Nuno Felted Jacket
2 Jackets, 1 with Cut Armholes and 1 Without
What type of Nuno Felting Projects would you like to learn more about?
© 2017 Sally Gulbrandsen