How to Wet Felt a Shoulder Bag on a Ball
About This Project
This charming shoulder bag was made by covering an inflatable Gertie Ball with woollen fibres. In this case fibres from some Jacob's fleece were used along with a little decorative Merino Wool fibres. A tumble dryer was used to felt the wool.
Alternatively, the project could be bounced on a hard waterproof surface until the wool inside the tights felts firmly together.
An alternative might be to use Merino Wool fibres for the whole of this project. Merino wool will produce a firmer felt.
The plain brown shoulder bag shown below was made using one layer of Jacob's fleece and one layer of merino wool fibers. The finish from the Jacob's fleece has a little fluffy appearance. Merino wool will provide a smoother surface. I recommend that you use Merino wool roving, especially if this is your first felting project.
Things You Will Need to Complete This Project
- Merino Wool Roving
- A Gertie ball
- A felting needle
- Matching embroidery thread
- A needle felting sponge (if decorating your bag with needle felting)
- Hot, soapy water (Dishwashing liquid or Olive Oil soap, grated and dissolved)
- 1 Recycled purse frame - alternatively you can use a new one which should measure about 20 cm
- A large bowl similar to the stainless steel one below
- A tumble dryer
Remove a purse frame from a suitable bag - I used an evening bag which I bought cheaply on e-Bay with a curved frame.
Gather the items required together and place them on a suitable waterproof surface. A small marble table was used here.
Jacob's Fleece and a Gertie Ball
A Note on Using Jacob's Fleece for This Project
I recommend that you use Merino Wool Roving for this Project. It is much harder wearing and a lot easier to felt. Jacob's Fleece tends to be difficult to felt and the end product is too soft for everyday use.
How to Start
Begin by flattening out the Merino wool fibers - the Jacob's fleece shown here were professionally done in preparation for spinning, rather than felting but you can easily flatten our your wool roving.
Wrap a piece around the ball and pull it off with just a little overlap as shown below. Needle felt the piece together with a felting needle. Don't let the needle touch the ball - use the needle sideways as shown below, just a few pricks of the needle should secure it enough to keep the wool together.
Needle Felting the First Piece Together as Shown
Needle Felting the Fibers Together
When you attach the fibers to the one another, take car not to overlap the layers too much. You don't want to create thick areas.
1st Layer - Needle Felting the Wool Together
Twice Around the Ball, Keeping the Layers Even
Fill in the Areas Which Were Left Exposed
After having wrapped the wool twice around the ball, fill in the gaps, overlapping the edges but not covering over the wool so that areas become too thick. The idea is to keep the layers completely even throughout this project.
Almost Covered in Wool
The First Layer
The first layer is now complete. Smooth it down with your hands, needle felt the odd pieces which stick out and then cover the first layer with another layer in exactly the same way.
One Layer of Wool
The Second Layer
As can be seen here, the first layer has been completely covered with the Jacob's fleece. Remember to flatten out the wool as you go along. Make sure it covers the ball evenly. Putting the layers down evenly, determines the thickness or thinness of your layers - gaps mean that could end up with holes or thin spots on your bag.
Covering the First Layer with Jacobs's Fleece
The Completed Second Layer
Smooth down the wool. Needle felt the odd pieces which stick out and take care not to puncture the Gertie Ball.
The second layer covering the ball
Add a Little Color
Add a little color as desired. Alternatively make a little flower later and attach it to the shoulder bag once it is complete.
Alternatively, felt the purse in the tumble dryer until it is felted. Cut the opening as shown below. Remove the ball and needle felt as desired. . Remember to insert a piece of felting foam in the cavity before you start sticking the needle through. You don't want to needle felt your fingers.
Insert the Gertie Ball and inflate it whilst it is inside the felt bag but don't inflate it completely. Leave a space around the ball. Place it into the stocking, tie it up and put it back into the tumble dryer. The wool will shrink down to the required size around the ball.
Adding a Little Color/Or Alternatively, Keep It Plain
Getting the Ball into Those Tights/The Easy Way
Pull the Tights onto the Chair and Push the Ball Right up into Them
Ball in the Tights, Unknotted at This Stage
Oh Dear! All Trussed up like a Chicken!
Knot the Loose Ends Together (Loosely)
Hot Soapy Water
Fill the bottom of a stainless steel bowl with hot soapy water and dunk the project in the water.
Press down on the fibers until the ball feels firm underneath your fingers. Tie the knots so that the project is now firmly placed into the tights.
A Stainless Steel Bowl and Some Dish-Washing Liquid
Dunk Project into the Hot Soapy Water
Open the Knots and Tie Again Firmly
When the wool is completely wet through, open the knots and allow the project to hang over the bowl, The ball will sink lower into the stocking, knot it firmly and insert it into the tumble dryer.
Holding the Project over the Bowl Before Tying the Knots Again
Squeeze out Any Excess Water
Squeeze any excess water from the project and remove any excess water with a towel.
If you don't wish to use a tumble dryer, bounce on a waterproof surface until the fibers have felted together.
Children love bouncing the ball on a table-top but when they get bored and tired - the tumble dryer will felt the ball in no time at all.
Bounce on a Waterproof Surface or Put It into the Tumble Dryer
Find the Center for the Bag Opening
Use a tape measure and mark a distance of around 20 cm. Measure the curved distance on your recycled bag frame - this should give you about the correct distance.
Mark the Cutting Line
Measure the Cutting Line
It should be around 20 cm - the distance across your curved purse frame.
Mark the Cutting Line with a Tape Measure
Cut Through the 1st Layer
Cut carefully with a sharp pair of needles. Try to cut through the first layer without cutting through to the ball. The next step is to expose the ball without making a hole in it.
Cut Through with a Pair of Sharp Scissors
Wet the Ball in Hot and Cold Water
Once the ball is exposed, wet the ball with hot soapy water. Massage the cut edges until they begin to harden, rinse in hot and cold water. If you are not using the tumble dryer, hit the ball on a hard surface until it shrinks back and becomes smaller.
If using the tumble dryer, wet, massage the edges, insert the Gertie Ball, inflate the ball so that it sits quite loosely into the bag. Put the stocking on and put it back into the tumble dryer. It will soon shrink to the size of the ball and you will then be ready to sew on the metal purse frame.
The Gertie Ball Inserted, but Slightly Deflated
The Tumble Dryer
Once the deflated ball is inserted into the felt base, put into the stocking and inserted into the dryer, the wool will shrink back against the ball. Once this happens you can deflate the ball, remove it and complete the purse by sewing on the frame.
Two Wet Felted Shoulder Bags - Made Using a Gertie Balloon
Recycle a Purse Frame!
Remove the frame and sew it into the opening of the shoulder bag with matching or contrasting embroidery thread as desired.
Removing the Metal Frame from the Old Purse
Choosing the Right Type of Frame for the Purse
The purse frame should be one which has perforated holes through which one can sew on with thread. It should not be one which needs to be glued to the bag.
If you want to add a bag lining, please see the simple bag lining below which was removed from the bag.
Sewing on the Purse Frame
Fold the felt bag in half and draw around it to get the right shape for your lining. Sew around the fabric as shown, turn the lining inside out and sew a row of stitching on the right side so that the bottom edge is over-sewn for strength.
The Recycled Metal Purse Frame Removed
A View of the Holes
The metal holes through which the bag can be attached with a needle and embroidery thread.
Metal Shoulder Purse Finding (Close-Up) Stitching
Bag Lining/An Optional Extra
The Inside of the Lining
Put the fabric right sides together, cut the shape from the drawing made previously, sew around the edges and turn it inside out.
Top stitch the bottom edge and fold in the top edges and sew down - attach after you have attached the outer bag.
The Completed Shoulder Bag
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Another Completed Shoulder Bag Made with a Gertie Ball
A Felt Flower
How to Make a Wet Felted Flower
© 2015 Sally Gulbrandsen