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How to Make a Wet Felted Spiral Bag

Updated on February 02, 2017
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Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker. Her tutorials & techniques are as individual as she is, unique, experimental and always interesting

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The Wet Felted Spiral Bag

The completed wet felted spiral bag
The completed wet felted spiral bag | Source

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 even 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! 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.

A Note of Caution!

Botany Waste does not always consist of wool only. What you receive can sometimes be pot luck. Some of the fibre you receive may be superwashed and this might take a long time to felt on its own. Some may not felt at all but combined with merino or shetland this should not be a problem. Use the tumble dryer for a little assistance.

Things Needed

  • 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
  • Scissors
  • Sewing thread and a needle

Botany Waste Wool

Waste wool purchased from World of Wool
Waste wool purchased from World of Wool | Source

The Bag Template

Bag template and bag flap
Bag template and bag flap | Source

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.

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.

Tape the 2 Pieces Together

Bag template
Bag template | Source

Step 2—Side 1

  • 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.

Cover Half of Side 1 of the Template with 1 Wool Batt

Cover 1 half of the bag with a wool batt.
Cover 1 half of the bag with a wool batt. | Source

Step 3—Cover with Curtain Netting

  • Add warm soapy water to the surface of the netting.

Wet the Wool

Cover the wool batt with a piece of curtain netting.
Cover the wool batt with a piece of curtain netting. | Source

Step 4—Rub Gently

  • Press down on the surface and push the water out towards the edges.
  • Rub gently.

Press down on the Wet Fibres

Press down on the wet fibres. flatten and rub gently.
Press down on the wet fibres. flatten and rub gently. | Source

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.

Lifting the Curtain Netting

Remove the curtain netting.
Remove the curtain netting. | Source

Step 6—Neaten the Top Edge

  • Fold over the top edge to form a neat straight line which will become the bag opening.

A Straight Edge

Turn the top edge over, form a straight line across the taped edge of the template.
Turn the top edge over, form a straight line across the taped edge of the template. | Source

Step 7—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

The Template Turned Over

Turn the template over
Turn the template over | Source

Step 9—Neaten the Edges

  • Turn the loose fibres over the edges of the template.
  • Use hot soapy water to make the process easier.

Fibres Folded over the Template

Fold the fibres over the edge using hot soapy water.
Fold the fibres over the edge using hot soapy water. | Source

Step 10—Cover the 2nd Side with Wool

  • Use the 2nd wool batt to cover the lower half of the template with wool.

The Lower Half

The lower half covered in wool
The lower half covered in wool | Source

Step 11—Cover

  • Cover the lower half with the curtain netting.

Wet the Fibres

Use the squeeze bottle to wet the fibres.
Use the squeeze bottle to wet the fibres. | Source

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.

Bag Flap

Adding wool to those sections which will take the shape of the template
Adding wool to those sections which will take the shape of the template | Source

Step 13—Cover

  • Cover and wet the wool as before.

Wet the Wool

Wetting the wool
Wetting the wool | Source

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.

The Template

The template being completely removed from the shaped bag flap.
The template being completely removed from the shaped bag flap. | Source

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.

Strengthen the Bag Flap

Strengthen the opening
Strengthen the opening | Source

Step 17—Smooth down the Fibres

  • Wet the fibres and smooth the surface as before.
  • Turn over the edges.

Tuck in the Fibres

Tuck in the edges or turn the template over and fold them over as before.
Tuck in the edges or turn the template over and fold them over as before. | Source

Step 18—Both Sides Covered!

  • 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.

The Strap Attachment Area

The bag attachment area is covered in wool but the fibres are still unfelted.
The bag attachment area is covered in wool but the fibres are still unfelted. | Source

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.

Bag Detail

The template being held up to expose the opening.
The template being held up to expose the opening. | Source

Step 20—Turn the Template Over

  • 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.

The Opened out Wool Waste

Open out the roving and put down the design as required.
Open out the roving and put down the design as required. | Source

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.

Shaping the Spiral

Shape the spiral with botany waste
Shape the spiral with botany waste | Source

Step 22—Shaping the Spiral

  • Continue adding the decorative fibres to the surface of the bag.

The Spiral

The spiral being formed.
The spiral being formed. | Source

Step 23—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.

The Spiral

Shaping the spiral
Shaping the spiral | Source

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.

Adding Fibres to the Interior of the Bag

Work the fibres into the interior of the bag for a neat finish.
Work the fibres into the interior of the bag for a neat finish. | Source

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.

Turn the Loose Wool Under

Neaten the edge by folding it under
Neaten the edge by folding it under | Source

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.

Rubbing the Project

Rubbing the surface of the bag
Rubbing the surface of the bag | Source

The Partially Felted Bag

The bag ready to have the bag handles attached
The bag ready to have the bag handles attached | Source

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.

Shetland Wool

Put down a line of Shetland wool
Put down a line of Shetland wool | Source

Cover Both Sides with Botany Lap Waste

Cover the Shetland wool with a layer of decorative botany wool waste yarn.
Cover the Shetland wool with a layer of decorative botany wool waste yarn. | Source

Keep the Edges of the Strap Straight

Use a piece of bubble wrap to keep the edges straight
Use a piece of bubble wrap to keep the edges straight | Source

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.

Attaching the Bag Strap

Attach the strap using the loose fibres, use bubble wrap and rub well
Attach the strap using the loose fibres, use bubble wrap and rub well | Source

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.

Rolling Inside the Bamboo Blind

Put inside a bamboo blind and rub from all directions and both sides.
Put inside a bamboo blind and rub from all directions and both sides. | Source

Step 30—Attach the Strap

  • 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.

Length of the Completed Bag

The actual size of the completed bag
The actual size of the completed bag | Source

Width of the Completed Bag

Actual width of the completed bag
Actual width of the completed bag | Source

The Finished Length of the Strap

The finished length of the strap
The finished length of the strap | Source

A Final Note

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.

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.

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

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    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 2 weeks ago from South Africa

      What a beautiful bag! Sally, I am sure a hard copy of your wet-felt tutorials will sell like sweet cake. I am in awe of you and this wet-felting art.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 2 weeks ago from Brazil

      Another brilliant tutorial.

      Do you use these bags? I ask because you must get people commenting on them when they see them.

      Other creative people, will appreciate the time and skill it takes to make these.

      Some countries I have been to appreciate handcrafted items and others less so.

      I once took a German lady to a fabric and crafts store in the States and she was thrilled at the selection. Although she had a desire to express her creative side, her supplies were limited. This was many years ago, I suspect it has changed.

      You certainly have a talent and a passion for making beautiful felt creations.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 weeks ago from Norfolk

      MsDora, thank you and may I say that you look gorgeous in that photo.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      I read through your instructions fully knowing that my intention is to admire your work. Another beautiful object!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 weeks ago from Norfolk

      Nell Rose, thank you for taking the time to stop by to comment.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 weeks ago from England

      I love all your we felt projects, you are so clever and patient! this bag is unique and so cool! nice one!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 weeks ago from Norfolk

      Hi Donna

      I don't think you have to worry so much about getting it wet or dirty as the bag can easy be hand washed, shaped and dried again. Wash it gently by hand and shape it while it is still wet. I think you might have to worry more about the wool 'pilling' or forming small balls of fluff on its surface with lots of use but generally, if the item is felted properly I don't think it will be a problem. Wool needs to be treated kindly except when you are trying to wet felt it. Under those circumstances, much rubbing and rolling needs to happen before it will felt properly:)

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 weeks ago from Norfolk

      Thanks, Larry, thanks for taking the time to stop by to comment. It is appreciated.

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 2 weeks ago from USA

      I love the design and shape of this bag. Do you know how a felted item like this would hold up over time, with average wear and use? I had a felted purse before. It started looking worn quite quickly and I was always worried about getting wet or dirty in bad weather. Do you have any advice for maintaining a felted purse over time? Thanks for another great tutorial!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 weeks ago from Oklahoma

      Always interesting.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 weeks ago from Norfolk

      prowritter62

      I appreciate the feedback and am glad you found the tutorial helpful.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 weeks ago from Norfolk

      Billy

      Thanks, I appreciate the feedback Billy, I value your visit and opinion as always.

    • prowritter62 profile image

      Basem AW 2 weeks ago from Malaysia

      So clear to me now,good way to explain steps. i like it

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I especially like the discussion about creativity coming with a price. Pricing is so important for all of us who sell our talents....great topic, Sally!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 weeks ago from Norfolk

      simplehappylife

      Yes, the bag is one of a kind, no two wet felted items will ever be exactly the same. Wet felting is an art form which growing in popularity.

    • simplehappylife profile image

      SA Williams 2 weeks ago from United States

      Wow...this is so weird and cool! I've never heard of "wet felted". It's a cute, unique bag :)

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