Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials & techniques are as individual as she is — unique, experimental and always interesting.
Hot Water Bottles
Some of us are old enough to remember the old fashioned brass and metal bedwarmers which are more often than not only seen in local auctions or antique shops these days. There is no doubt that these bed warmers were hard wearing and very efficient conductors of heat. They are now much valued by collectors of today. They were replaced by Stonewear bottle warmers and later by the modern rubber hot water bottle. Designers continue to seek additional ways to improve their features but the rubber hot water bottle remains a firm favorite, especially with woman and children.
This tutorial provides you with an opportunity to create a cozy cover for the modern hot water bottle. The fibers used in this wet felting tutorial are soft and natural. The end result is a well-fitting cover that is both hugable and soft to the touch. Enjoy!
What You'll Need
- 250 - 280 grams Botany Waste which is more often than not a delicious 'lucky dip' of Merino Wool fibers with a few decorative fibers included.
- Or, 250 - 280 grams Merino wool roving: In colors of your own choice
- Embellishment for decoration, such as a few silk fibers which can be added to the surface of the hot water bottle cover.
- A Standard Hot Water Bottle
- A Template
- A heavy-duty bamboo blind
- An old towel
- Warm, soapy water in a squeeze bottle
- Paper on which to create a water bottle design
- A sheet of foam underfloor layment, bubble wrap or plastic on which a template can be cut from. Laminate underfloor layment is the perfect choice for this template because it can be re-used many times over
- Scissors: Make sure you have a sharp pair!
- A narrow strip of leather. (Mine came from an old belt)
- A Tumble Dryer (Not essential but it minimizes the time and effort spent to complete this project)
- A Scanner or Printer (Handy but not essential)
- 2 Small circles of Felt left over from a previous project or you may use 2 circles of leather.
How to Make the Template
- Draw around the Hot Water Bottle as shown and add a surround of about 1 inch before cutting out the paper template.
- Put the template onto a scanner (if you have one) and set it to print at 145%, (actual size plus 45% which should take care of the shrinkage which will inevitably take place.
- If you do not have a printer/scanner to hand draw the template as shown in the 2nd image which is shown below.
- Tape the printed pages together to form one template.
- Use the paper template to create a template cut from underfloor layment, bubble wrap or thick plastic sheeting.
Draw the Template!
1. Prepare the Working Surface
- Place an old towel down onto a waterproof surface.
- Put a large heavy duty bamboo blind down onto the towel.
- Put the prepared template down onto the heavy duty bamboo blind
2. Side 1 of Layer 1
- Put down an even layer of Merino Wool fibers as shown on the template below.
3. Wet With Warm Soapy Water
- Sprinkle the project using warm soapy water from a squeeze bottle.
4. Cover with Bubble Wrap or Underfloor Layment
- Wet the surface to facilitate easy movement of the fingers when rubbing the surface.
5. Rub the Surface Well
- Flatten the fibers by pushing down on them and rub well until flattened.
6. Remove the Bubble Wrap or Underfloor Layment
- Gently lift the bubble wrap from the wool without displacing the fibers below.
7. Turn the Template Over
- Fold the loose fibers over the edges of the template
- Use your fingers and a little warm soapy water as needed.
8. Side 2 of Layer 1
- Cover the 2nd side with an even layer of Merino Wool Roving.
9. Side 2 of Layer 1
- Cover and wet the surface of the 2nd side.
10. Rub Well
- Force the water out towards the edges by pushing down on the surface.
- Rub well.
11. Flip the Template Over
- Flip the template over and prepare to neaten the edges.
12. Neaten the Edges
- Fold the loose fibers over the edges of the template.
- Use your fingers and a little warm soapy water as required.
13. Repeat Layers 1 and 2 Two More Times
- Continue as before until you have 3 even layers of fiber on both sides.
- The layers should we fairly thick, and even without any holes as shown below.
The Template Covered With 3 Layers on Both Sides
14. Roll Inside a Large Bamboo Blind
- Roll the project inside the bamboo blind.
- Roll gently at first so as not to displace the fibers inside the mat.
- Increase the tightness and the firmness of the rolling motion as the fibers begin to tighten.
15. Turn the Project Inside the Bamboo Blind
- Keep on turning the project inside the bamboo blind to ensure that the fibers shrink evenly from all sides.
16. Roll until the Template Starts to Buckle
- Shrinkage inside the bamboo blind will soon become evident.
- The template will start to buckle as shrinkage takes place.
- Perform a 'pinch test' to ensure that the fibers cannot be plucked between your fingers.
17. Put the Project Into a Tumble Dryer
- Alternatively, you can put the project under hot and then cold water.
- Rinse until the water runs clear and then either drop the project onto a hard surface (the floor) or sink top.
- Or you can hit the project hard against an outside wall.
- Hit it from all directions so that even shrinkage takes place.
18. Shrinking in a Tumble Dryer
- Put the project into a tumble dryer.
- Heat is not required (It is the bashing against the sides which facilitates shrinkage) but if you don't have a cold setting (as I don't have) it will make no difference.
- Check the contents of the tumble dryer every few minutes to ensure that it does not shrink too much.
19. Rinse and Remove the Template
- Cut an opening as shown below and extract the template.
- Put the project back into the tumble dryer for a couple of minutes to seal the cut edges.
- Alternatively, you may like to use a little soapy water and your fingers to seal the cut edges.
20. Cut 2 Circles of Felt From an Off-cut of Felt
- Cut 2 circles of thick felt from a waste piece of contrasting felt
- The purpose of these 2 pieces of felt is to add strength and to prevent unnecessary wear and tear in the tie area.
Placement of the 2 Circles of Felt
21. Attach the Leather Ties
- Make 2 holes in the center of the 2 circles using a leather punch.
- The punch can be used to make 2 tiny holes through which the leather ties can be threaded through using a large sewing needle such as the one shown here.
Sewing on the Leather Ties
Making Small Holes With a Leather Punch
22. Fill and Insert the Hot Water Bottle
- The end result is a cozy hot water bottle which is held inside by the leather strips.
More Wet Felting with Sallybea
© 2019 Sally Gulbrandsen
Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 16, 2019:
Thanks for the feedback Marj. It is appreciated.
Muhammad Abdullah on April 16, 2019:
Wow ! Such a unique article ...
Well, you don't see something like this everyday ...
Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 06, 2019:
Hi Donna, I would not do it that way. I made the hole big enough to insert a filled hot water bottle after I made the cover. The leather (thongs) should be (sewn) right through the cover just by the (shoulders) of the cozy cover. It worked very well. I appreciate your stopping by to comment, thank you so much:)
Donna Herron from USA on March 06, 2019:
Hi Sally - This is a great project! Can you fill and empty the water bottle while it is inside the felted cover? Once inserted in your felted cover, is the water bottle still removable?
Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 05, 2019:
I am fine thank you, after what has been a very stressful period. Hopefully, it is behind us now and I can get back to doing what I like to do. Thank you for your continued support, I am very grateful..
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 05, 2019:
It's always nice to see an article by you pop up, Sally! I hope you are well, my friend.
Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 04, 2019:
Thank you Poppy, glad you like it.
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on March 04, 2019:
Hot water bottles! That's really nostalgic. This is a super cute design.