Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials and techniques are as individual as she is—unique, experimental and always interesting.
Creativity Comes at a Price
All creativity comes with a price, which can be a major factor when deciding what to make, whether it be for the craft market or your own personal use. Pricing is something that deserves some discussion. When you factor in how long it takes to make an item, the reality is that, even at the minimum wage, you may not be able to cover your costs. This is when you start to realise how important it is to get your supplies at the right price.
The Shetland wool used in this project was gifted to me by a friend, and, as such, it came free, but the wool still had to be washed and then carded using a Drum Carder. Now, that really is an expensive item which, when you add this to the cost, will need to be used many times in order to pay for itself. A much cheaper option would be to use a pair of hand carders!
Botany Waste Yarn Is a Bargain
Factor in the time and the soap which is used to wash and process the wool and you will start to realise that the 500 grammes of glorious coloured Botany Waste Yarn purchased from World of Wool for only £12.00 was a bargain and a great alternative—unless, of course, you have your own sheep, but even those will need to be fed.
- Three wool batts (Shetland wool) raw wool washed and carded on a drum carder
- Botany Waste wool, which is available from World of Wool or Amazon. This can be used for the entire bag, if desired.
- A heavy-duty bamboo blind
- Curtain netting
- Bubble wrap
- A bag template which can be made from floor underlay or bubble wrap
- Dish washing liquid or grated olive oil soap diluted in warm water with a squeeze bottle
- A marker pen
- A ruler
- Sewing thread and a needle
Step 1: Make the Template
- Trace the bag template onto bubble wrap or plastic floor underlay. The plastic template consists of 2 parts, the main body of the bag and 1 bag flap.
- Cut the 2 pieces out and tape them together as shown.
Allow for Shrinkage
The actual templates size should be made with the understanding that they will need to be drawn 30 to 40 percent larger than the size of the bag you intend creating to allow for shrinkage.
Step 2: Cover Side One With One Wool Batt
- Cover the lower bag section of the template with 1 wool Batt.
- The wool should reach to the yellow tape line shown in the image.
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Step 3: Cover With Curtain Netting
Add warm soapy water to the surface of the netting.
Step 4: Rub Gently
- Press down on the surface and push the water out towards the edges.
- Rub gently.
Step 5: Remove the Net Curtain
When the fibres are flat, rub them gently for a little while and then remove the curtain netting carefully being careful not to dislodge the fibres below.
Step 6: Neaten the Top Edge
Fold over the top edge to form a neat straight line which will become the bag opening.
Step 7: Check the Bottom Half of the Template
The bottom half of the template is now covered with wool and is ready to be turned over.
Step 8: Turn the Template Over
The loose fibres are now ready to be folded over the edge of the template
Step 9: Neaten the Edges
- Turn the loose fibres over the edges of the template.
- Use hot soapy water to make the process easier.
Step 10: Cover the Second Side With Wool
Use the 2nd wool batt to cover the lower half of the template with wool.
Step 11: Cover With Netting
Cover the lower half with the curtain netting.
Step 12: Cover the Bag Flap With Wool
Use the 3rd Batt to cover the flap with wool taking care to shape those areas which need to be shaped.
Step 13: Cover With Netting
- Cover and wet the wool as before.
Step 14: Turn the Project Over
- Turn the project over and shape the edges as shown.
- Keep a loose piece of wool dry in the area shown.
Step 15: Remove the Template
- Shape the dry wool as shown. It will be used to add more fibre to create the spiral.
- The template should be pushed down onto the wet wool to create a mark which can be followed in order to shape the rest of the flap when it is removed.
Step 16: Strengthen the Bag Flap
- Add a line of wool across the lower edge of the flap.
- This additional wool should be added to strengthen the bag opening.
Step 17: Smooth Down the Fibres
- Wet the fibres and smooth the surface as before.
- Turn over the edges.
Step 18: Check the Strap Attachment Area
- Cover the bag handle area with wool but do not felt this area properly until the bag strap can be attached.
- Alternately, of course, you may wish to add a leather or metal handle to complete the bag in which case you can felt this area along with the whole of the bag.
Step 19: Lift the Template
- Expose the bag opening and you can see the straightened edge.
- You can add another thin strip to strengthen the edge or add one later using botany waste wool as I did.
Step 20: Turn the Template Over and Add Botany Waste Fibres
- Turn the template over and begin covering the surface as desired with the botany waste fibres as shown.
- The wool roving can be opened out and put down in long strips in order to retain the design of the dyed wool
- This final fairly thick even layer will become the surface design of the bag.
Step 21: Start at the Flap
- Leave a length of roving long enough to make the spiral and start at the pointed end of the bag flap.
- This length of roving should be attached to the loose fibres which were left over from the brown layer as shown below.
Step 22—Shape the Spiral
Continue adding the decorative fibres to the surface of the bag.
Step 23: Smooth and Roll the Flap and Spiral
- Cover the flap with decorative fibres and form the spiral.
- Add warm soapy water and smooth out the coloured fibres.
- Roll the spiral piece gently between your hands.
- Once formed you should roll it on the bubble wrap and work this area until the fibres are stable.
Step 24: Neaten the Interior
- Allow the wool to extend a little way down into the top edge of the bag for a neat look. Alternatively, work up and until the edge and finish the bag off by adding a lining to the inside once it is completed.
- Only add a fine layer of fibres to the underside of the flap as this will end up being much thicker than the rest of the bag if you don't.
Step 25: Neaten the Edges
- Fold the wool roving over and under the opening.
- Add a further layer to the top edge of the bag to strengthen the opening.
- Alternatively you may wish to add the wool to the underside of the opening.
Step 26: Rub Well
- Rub the project until the fibres no longer move beneath your fingers.
- Roll the project inside a bamboo mat or roll it up within itself roll and roll on the surface of a bamboo blind or a sheet of bubble wrap.
Step 27: Make the Strap
- Put down a line of Shetland wool.
- The length should be 30 to 40 percent longer than the desired finished length.
Step 28: Open Out the Bag Attachment Area
- Attach the loose fibres to one another in the bag attachment area.
- Wet and cover with bubble wrap.
- Rub both sides of the join until the fibres no longer move.
Step 29: Roll the Project Well
- Rub the bag very well.
- Use bubble wrap or put the project inside a bamboo blind.
- Start rolling gently at first and then rub more firmly.
- Keep on changing the direction in which you roll the project in order to shrink the fibres from all directions.
Step 30: Finish the Felting Process
- When the fibres no longer move, take the project to the kitchen sink
- Use running hot and cold water to rinse the project.
- Shrink the bag by massaging the fibres.
- Do this several times
- Give the bag a final rinse and put into the washing machine to spin on a gentle cycle.
- Put into the tumble dryer for a few minutes.
- Remove the bag and pull it into shape.
- Sew the spiral together.
- Allow the bag to dry, hang in in a well-ventilated area.
Gallery: Length and Width of the Bag and Strap
Sizing and Timing Tips
The bag can be scaled down to create a much smaller one. Take time to create a unique shape which suits your own creative needs or model it on this one. The bag shown here is fairly large one and as such, it is a project which should be tackled over a period of 3 to 4 days.
Day-by-Day Felting Process
On day 1, cover the bag with one even layer of wool. Use wool batts or Botany Waste Wool. The decorative layer is applied on the 2nd day and the rubbing process is completed within the next 1 to 2 days. Make and attach the handle on the 3rd or 4th day and give the bag a final rub, rinse and shape on the last day. No harm will come to the project. Remember to wet the wool again if necessary and continue as before.
A Final Note
Felting is not an exact science! Many times it goes to plan but just occasionally it does not. Take time to lay out the fibres evenly throughout the project and the likelihood of success is almost guaranteed. Every project is different but mistakes do occur but these can be avoided with careful planning. Don't allow yourself to get overtired or rush things.
I hope you enjoy this tutorial. It is my hope that it will inspire you to create with confidence.
Felt a Mobile Phone Pouch
© 2017 Sally Gulbrandsen
Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on January 31, 2020:
Wendy,it is always great to receive such positive feedback, thank you so much! So glad you enjoyed making your back.