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How to Make Wet Felted Apples in a Tumble Dryer

Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials and techniques are as individual as she is—unique, experimental, and always interesting.

Wet Felted Apples

Wet Felted Apples

Waste Not Want Not!

Every felt maker acquires some waste wool along the way. Some, like me, purchase it cheaply to make projects like this one.

I felt apples with a tumble dryer, especially when teaching children who have little hands which tire easily. There is no doubt that this is the fast, easy way to make multiple items like these apples.

I would encourage more teachers to teach children this art form. It can be done over short periods at school with no harm being done to the final result. If the wool dries out, just wet it again and continue where you left off.

Multiple apples can be made and tumbled in the dryer all at once. Your only difficulty might be the problem of discovering which item belongs to which child. I think I would encourage them to either choose an end color or add a piece of ribbon or a name tag to each apple so that the apples can be easily identified by the maker.

Come, let us make apples!

Things You Will Need for This Project

  • Waste wool roving
  • Merino Wool Roving or Wool Tops for the surface of the apples
  • Dishwashing liquid diluted with warm or hot soapy water
  • Tumble dryer
  • Sushi Mat or bamboo blind. Small mats are useful when working with lots of children
  • Large-eyed needle
  • Thin sock knitting needle
  • A few strands of 100% pure knitting wool for the stems
Tie a knot in the waste roving.

Tie a knot in the waste roving.

Step 1: Tie a Knot

  • Tie a knot in the waste wool roving as shown.
  • This will form the core of the apple.
  • This creates an easier, firm ball without much effort.
Wrap the wool around the knot to form a fist size ball.

Wrap the wool around the knot to form a fist size ball.

Step 2: Wrap the Knot

  • Wrap or roll more waste wool around the knot to form a nice tight ball.
  • If you want the same size apples, weigh the wool out first.
A handful of wool roving tightly wound around the knot

A handful of wool roving tightly wound around the knot

Step 3: Wrap the Knot

  • Keep on wrapping the wool around the knot until it forms a firm fist-sized ball.
Place the ball in very hot water.

Place the ball in very hot water.

Step 4: Soapy Water

  • Put soapy water into a small bowl.
  • Prepare to dip the ball into the water.
Steep the woolen ball in hot soapy water.

Steep the woolen ball in hot soapy water.

Step 5: Wet the Fibers

  • Make sure all the fibers are wet.
Remove the soaked ball from the hot water.

Remove the soaked ball from the hot water.

Step 6: Lift the Ball Out

  • Use a wooden spoon to lift the ball out if you are using very hot soapy water.
  • Warm water felts just as well.
  • Felting may take a little longer though this is not an issue if you are using a tumble dryer for the felting process.
Plunge into cold water.

Plunge into cold water.

Step 7: Shock With Cold Water

  • Plunge the ball into cold water to shock the fibers.
  • Doing this helps the felting process.
The woolen ball removed from the hot water

The woolen ball removed from the hot water

Step 8: Remove the Ball

  • Lift the ball out of the cold water and prepare to roll it on a towel.
Rolling the ball on a towel

Rolling the ball on a towel

Step 9: Roll

  • Roll gently on the towel.
  • When the fibers begin to contract, you can roll a little harder.
Add white roving to conceal the brown wool below.

Add white roving to conceal the brown wool below.

Step 10: Top With a Light Shade of Wool

  • Skip this step if you use white wool from the start.
  • I covered the brown wool with white so that the brown would not show through the final decorate layer.
Plunge into hot soapy water.

Plunge into hot soapy water.

Step 11: Wet the White Wool

  • Dip in warm soapy water.
Plunge into cold water.

Plunge into cold water.

Step 12: Cold Water

  • Shock with cold water.
Roll on a towel until you have a nice rounded ball.

Roll on a towel until you have a nice rounded ball.

Step 13: Roll on a Towel

  • Roll until firm on a towel.
Put the ball into a leg of a pair of cut-off stockings or tights.

Put the ball into a leg of a pair of cut-off stockings or tights.

Step 14: Cover With a Stocking

  • Put the stocking onto your hand and place the ball onto the stocking.
  • Pull the stocking over your hand, as shown, and then give the ball a good shake.
  • Ensure that the ball falls firmly into the bottom of the stocking.
White ball showing inside the cut-off pair of tights

White ball showing inside the cut-off pair of tights

Step 15: Prepare to Knot the Stocking

  • The wool ball should sit nicely into the bottom of the stocking.
Knot the tights.

Knot the tights.

Step 16: Tie the Knot

  • Knot the cut-off pair of tights so that the knot can easily be opened later.
Multiple balls ready for the tumble dryer

Multiple balls ready for the tumble dryer

Step 17: Prepare Multiple Balls

  • Multiple should be made and put into the tumble dryer at one time.
  • This is the most economical way of making the apples.
Add a decorative layer to the surface of the apple.

Add a decorative layer to the surface of the apple.

Step 18: The Tumble Dryer

  • Put all the balls into the tumble dryer and tumble for a few minutes.
  • Heat is not necessary.
  • You only need to tumble them until they are slightly firm.
  • The top layer can now be added, as shown.
Spray the decorative layer of wool with hot soapy water.

Spray the decorative layer of wool with hot soapy water.

Step 19: Spray With Warm Soapy Water

  • Spray the decorative layer with warm soapy water.
  • Try not to displace the fibers so that the white layer shows through.
Rolling  on a towel

Rolling on a towel

Step 20: Roll

  • Roll the final layer on a towel.
Putting into a pair of cut-off stockings

Putting into a pair of cut-off stockings

Step 21: Tie in the Tights

  • Tie the ball back into the cut-off tights.
  • Knot and put back into the tumble dryer.
Make sure the ball drops down into the bottom of the cut-off tights.

Make sure the ball drops down into the bottom of the cut-off tights.

Step 22: Shake the Ball

  • Shake the ball so that it ends up in the bottom of the cut-off tights.
Knot the tights.

Knot the tights.

Step 23: Knot and Tumble

  • Knot the end of the cut-off tights so that the ball can easily be untied.
  • Tumble inside the dryer.
Remove the tights once the wool has felted.

Remove the tights once the wool has felted.

Step 24: Remove the Tights

  • Untie the tights once the ball has felted firmly.
  • You may have to gently tug on the stocking if the fibers have fused to the tights.
  • This can happen if you don't keep on checking on the felting process happening inside the tumble dryer.
  • Don't worry too much, no harm will come with the little tugging you may have to do.
Apple with a stem

Apple with a stem

Step 25: Make the Stems

  • How to Make Stems for the Apples
Brown wool roving, pure wool knitting yarn, sewing. and sushi mat

Brown wool roving, pure wool knitting yarn, sewing. and sushi mat

Step 26: Assemble the Things Needed to Create the Stems

  • A sushi mat
  • A few strands of pure knitting wool
  • A few brown fibers
  • A large-eyed needle
  • A thin sock knitting needle with a point on both ends
Making the woolen stems

Making the woolen stems

Step 27: Make the Stems

  • Pull off two strands, sufficient to make two apple stems at a time.
  • Place a piece of brown roving down on the sushi mat and then put down the knitting yarn on top of the first one.
  • Saturate with hot soapy water and roll gently with your fingers.
  • Place into the sushi mat and roll.
  • Please note that you can make several rows of these and put them into the sushi mat at once to save time.
Cover with wool roving and spray with hot soapy water.

Cover with wool roving and spray with hot soapy water.

Step 28: Wet With Warm Soapy Water

  • Wet the wool roving with warm soapy water, as shown.
Roll on a sushi mat.

Roll on a sushi mat.

Step 29: Roll Well

  • Roll using your fingers and the sushi mat.
Put into a sushi mat until felted.

Put into a sushi mat until felted.

Step 30: Roll Inside the Sushi Mat

  • Keep on rolling until the stems are firm.
Cut the length into two stems.

Cut the length into two stems.

Step 31: Cut

  • Cut each length into two stems.
How to insert the stems into the feted apples

How to insert the stems into the feted apples

Step 32: Make a Hole in Each Apple

  • Push the sock needle right through the center of each apple to form a hole.
Items required to complete the process.

Items required to complete the process.

Step 33: Sew on the Stem

  • Thread the wool end of each stem on the large eyed needle.
Needle threaded with the yarn on the side of the roving.

Needle threaded with the yarn on the side of the roving.

Step 34: Make the Hole

  • Push the knitting needle firmly but gently until it just comes through the other side.
  • Try to keep the outer hole small.
  • Pull the wool to one side and re-insert the needle to come out the side as shown.
  • The hole can be massaged with hot soapy water afterwards to seal them completely.
Take the needle right through the hole and then insert it back into the apple and cut the yarn.

Take the needle right through the hole and then insert it back into the apple and cut the yarn.

Step 35: Neaten

  • Sew and secure the threads so that they cannot be seen.
  • Neaten and cut off any threads very close to the apple.
The ornamental wet felted apples

The ornamental wet felted apples

Step 36: Finally!

  • Massage any visible holes with hot soapy water.
  • You may wish to make a green leaf for each apple.
  • Make a flat piece of felt using a few colored green merino fibers rolled inside a sushi mat with hot soapy water.
  • Cut the leaves out with a pair of pinking shears.
  • Sew or needle felt them onto the stems.
Close-up of the completed apples

Close-up of the completed apples

More Wet Felting Projects with Sallybea

© 2015 Sally Gulbrandsen

Comments

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 11, 2016:

Stacy Birch

You are very kind. Thank you.

Stacy Birch on April 11, 2016:

You are so creative!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 30, 2015:

gerimcclym

So glad you liked my little 'pumpkins'. This really is a fascinating craft, one which has very few rules and one which can be very addictive. I love it and I hope you learn to love it too. Thank you for taking the time to stop by to comment.

Best wishes,

Sally

Geri McClymont on December 30, 2015:

These pumpkins are adorable and I would like to learn the skill of wet felting by following your directions and watching your tutorials. Several years ago, at an art festival, I came across cat crafts made with what I now realize was wet felting. At the time I had no idea how they had been made but was mesmerized by how adorable they were. Thanks for sharing this adorable craft.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 21, 2015:

FlourishAnyway

Yes they do look a little like pumpkins and that really is a very good idea of yours, to make them for Halloween or Thanksgiving.

Choosing the right color makes the world of difference. I did have red merino roving, but I chose to use this one instead.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 21, 2015:

They look like little pumpkins and could be really cute with a fall decor -- Halloween or Thanksgiving.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 16, 2015:

Genna East

Thank you very much. I love recycling and repurposing so this one was right up my street. So glad you enjoyed it too.

Best wishes,

Sally

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on December 16, 2015:

What a wonderful idea; these decorative apples are adorable and beautiful. Waste not -- want not; what you have created with waste yarn is amazing.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 11, 2015:

AliciaC

It is my pleasure and I hope that this hub will encourage you and others to attempt this fascinating craft. This is a great project for adults and children alike. I appreciate the feedback and very kind comments, thank you

Sally.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 10, 2015:

The apples look beautiful, Sally! This project is described so well that I think even I could make the apples, even though I don't have much experience with crafts. Thank you for sharing all the great photos and instructions.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 10, 2015: