Updated date:

How to Make Wet Felted Apples in a Tumble Dryer

Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials & 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!

Waste wool roving, white, brown and russet merino wool roving.

Waste wool roving, white, brown and russet merino wool roving.

Things You Will Need for This Project

  • Waste wool roving
  • Merino Wool Roving or Wool Tops for the surface of the apples.
  • Dish washing 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
Pure carded wool waste, more suited to spinning than felting but it makes a useful filler for the apples.  Unwashed pure wool can be used too.

Pure carded wool waste, more suited to spinning than felting but it makes a useful filler for the apples. Unwashed pure wool can be used too.

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 a easier firm ball without much effort.
Tie a knot in the waste roving

Tie a knot in the waste roving

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.
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 3—Wrap the Knot

  • Keep on wrapping the wool around the knot until it forms a firm fist sized ball.
A fist full of wool roving tightly wound around the knot.

A fist full of wool roving tightly wound around the knot.

Step 4—Soapy Water

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

Place the ball in very hot water.

Step 5—Wet the Fibers

  • Make sure all the fibers are wet.
Steep the woolen ball in hot soapy water.

Steep the woolen ball in hot soapy 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.
Remove the soaked ball from the hot water

Remove the soaked ball from the hot water

Step 7—Shock With Cold Water

  • Plunge the ball into cold water to shock the fibers.
  • Doing this, helps the felting process.
Plunge into cold water

Plunge into cold water

Step 8—Remove the Ball

  • Lift the ball out of the cold water and prepare to roll it on a towel.
The woolen ball removed from the hot water.

The woolen ball removed from the hot water.

Step 9—Roll

  • Roll gently on the towel.
  • When the fibers begin to contract you can roll a little harder.
Rolling the ball on a towel

Rolling the ball on a towel

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.
Add white roving to conceal the brown wool below.

Add white roving to conceal the brown wool below.

Step 11—Wet the White Wool

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

Plunge into hot soapy water.

Step 12—Cold Water

  • Shock with cold water.
Plunge into cold water.

Plunge into cold water.

Step 13—Roll on a Towel

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

Roll on a towel until you have a nice rounded ball

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 below and then give the ball a good shake.
  • Ensure that the ball falls firmly into the bottom of the stocking.
Put the ball into a leg of a a pair of cut off stockings or tights

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

Step 15—Prepare to Knot the Stocking

  • The wool ball should sit nicely 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 16—Tie the Knot

  • Knot the cut off pair of tights so that the knot can easily be opened later.
Knot the tights

Knot the tights

Step 17—Prepare Multiple Balls

  • Multiple should be made and put into the tumble dryer at one time.
  • This is the most economic way of making the apples.
Multiple balls ready for the tumble dryer

Multiple balls ready for the tumble dryer

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 below.
Add a decorative layer to the surface of the apple

Add a decorative layer to the surface of the apple

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.
Spray the decorative layer of wool with hot soapy water.

Spray the decorative layer of wool with hot soapy water.

Step 20—Roll

  • Roll the final layer on a towel.
Rolling  on a towel

Rolling on a towel

Step 21—Tie in the Tights

  • Tie the ball ball back into the cut off tights.
  • Knot and put back into the tumble dryer.
Putting into a pair of cut off stockings

Putting into a pair of cut off stockings

Step 22—Shake the Ball

  • Shake the ball so that it ends up in the bottom of the cut off tights.
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 23—Knot and Tumble

  • Knot the end of the cut off tights so that the ball can easily be untied.
  • Tumble inside the dryer.
Knot the tights

Knot the tights

Step 24—Remove the Tights

  • Untie the tights once the ball has felted firmly.
  • You may have to genty 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.
Remove the tights once the wool has felted.

Remove the tights once the wool has felted.

Step 25—Make the Stems

  • How to Make Stems for the Apples
Apple with a stem

Apple with a stem

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

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

Step 27—Make the Stems

  • Pull off two strands, sufficient to make 2 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
Making the woolen stems

Making the woolen stems

Step 28—Wet With Warm Soapy Water

  • Wet the wool roving with warm soapy water as shown.
Cover with wool roving and spray with hot soapy water.

Cover with wool roving and spray with hot soapy water.

Step 29—Roll Well

  • Roll using your fingers and the sushi mat.
Roll on a sushi mat

Roll on a sushi mat

Step 30—Roll Inside the Sushi Mat

  • Keep on rolling until the stems are firm.
Put into a sushi mat until felted

Put into a sushi mat until felted

Step 31—Cut

  • Cut each length into 2 stems
Cut the length into 2 stems

Cut the length into 2 stems

Step 32—Make a Hole in Each Apple

  • Push the sock needle right through the center of each apple to form a hole.
How to insert the stems into the feted apples

How to insert the stems into the feted apples

Step 33—Sew on the Stem

  • Thread the wool end of each stem on the large eyed needle.
Items required to complete the process.

Items required to complete the process.

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

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

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.
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 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.
The ornamental wet felted apples

The ornamental wet felted apples

Close-up of the completed apples.

Close-up of the completed apples.

More Wet Felting Projects with Sallybea

Please share you felting preferences.

© 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:

MsDora

You are very kind MsDora, I rather suspect you should have been one too. Perhaps we both missed our vocation though I know I very much enjoy what I am doing at the moment. I appreciate your continued support. Thank you,

Sally

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 10, 2015:

Sally, you should be a teacher in school and you are a good teacher online. What lovely looking-apples! Unique too.

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

Larry Rankin

Your visit is valued and appreciated as is your very kind comment,

Thank you so much

Sally

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on December 10, 2015:

Awesome project. Very detailed process analysis.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 09, 2015:

Diana Lee

You are very kind. Give it a go but be careful, once you start wet felting you won't want to stop. It is perhaps one of the least predictable but the most challenging art form that I have done. I love it. I appreciate your stopping by to comment. Thank you so much.

Sally

Diana L Pierce from Potter County, Pa. on December 09, 2015:

These are very well written and well illustrated instructions. I've never done this craft before, but maybe I will be giving it a try.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 09, 2015:

Kristen Howe,

Thank you very much, Kristen, glad you found this one cute. I appreciate your continued support.

Best wishes,

Sally.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on December 09, 2015:

Sally, what another clever crafty hub from you. Ingenious and cute! Looks like fun as well. Great hub!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 09, 2015:

purl3agony

Hi Donna, so glad you liked the decorative apples. I enjoyed creating them. I appreciate your stopping by to comment, thank you so much.

Sally

Donna Herron from USA on December 09, 2015:

These are so beautiful and creative, Sally! I love the different colors that you used to create the look and texture of an apple. What a fun tutorial. Thanks for posting and sharing!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 09, 2015:

DDE

Hi Devika

Thank you for your support, it is appreciated as always.

Sally

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 09, 2015:

Beautiful and so creative. You think of such great ideas. I found this hub useful and in detail.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 09, 2015:

aesta1

I am so glad that you like them. This really is a simple project and the materials are very easy to find. Check out Amazon or e-bay for Merino wool roving which is suitable for felting. Buy white fibers and add a little color of your choice to the top of the balls to simplify things for your first project. Merino Wool will shrink well so make sure your balls are quite large to begin with. Expect shrinkage of at least 30%. The apples here are life-size, but they are the smallest variety of apples. The more tumble drying you do, the greater the shrinkage so be careful not to shrink them too much.

I hope you enjoy making this project.

Thanks for stopping by to comment.

Sally

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 08, 2015:

These are really beautiful. Your instructions are very clear. I might try it if I find the materials.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 08, 2015:

billybuc

Hi Billy,

So little time and so much to do. Please continue to encourage me as you always do and I am sure I will happen. I just need to learn how to do it. Where is a good place to start? Maybe I should make that a question for your Monday column.

Sally

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 08, 2015:

You do realize, of course, that your book is already written, right? An ebook waiting to happen, Sally. There is a market for your information and crafting talent.

bill

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 08, 2015:

always exploring

I am glad you enjoyed this article. I appreciate your taking the time to stop by to comment.

Thank you,

Sally

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 08, 2015:

This is amazingly beautiful. I have an apple kitchen and I never get tired of them. Your article is well written in detail.