Quick and Easy Wet Felting With a Tumble Dryer
A Little About Feting With a Tumble Dryer
Felt making is traditionally a long and laborious process. It can take many hours to produce just one item. This tutorial features only one item but this can be multiplied many times over to make felting in a tumble dryer more energy efficient and cost effective. Tumble dryer felting eliminates almost all of the process of rubbing and rolling which is associated with felt making. Add a few wool Batts to the mix and these too will help shorten the time it takes to cover the polystyrene balls in fibre you may even find time to make a batch of bread buns as I did while I was waiting for the felting process to be completed.
A Little About Wool Batts
- A drum carder is used to make a wool Batt.
- Working with a Batt is a bit like working with a blanket of Fibres.
- In a Batt, you will find several layers of Fibres which all lay in different directions.
- Most will be similar to the ones which were used in this Tutorial.
- The Batts used in this Tutorial consisted mainly of Merino wool, Silk threads and a smattering of metallic thread which leave a delightful sheen when the item was held up to the light.
- The Batts can easily be torn apart in small or large chunks and can be used just you need them
- A wool Batt really does make the process of laying down the Fibres very simple!
- Flat projects are a breeze and so too are projects which can be made just like this one.
- If you want to increase productivity and save time and energy this is definitely the way.
Some of the Things Which You Will Need to Complete This Tutorial
- A Tumble Dryer
- A Bamboo Blind or you can substitute a sheet of Bubble Wrap to roll the item on
- 1 - 10 Polystyrene Balls
- 1 or more Wool Batts in your own choice of colours
- A length of White Wool Roving for the underneath layer (Optional, substitute your own colour)
- Dishwashing liquid or Olive Oil Soap grated and diluted in hot water
- 1 - 10 Metal Coin Purse Frames in Bronze or Silver (Please view images below for help with sizing.
- A Used Pair of Cut off Tights or Stockings
- 1 Small Pair of Sharp Scissors
- A Tape Measure
- Elastic Bands or a Roll of Cling Wrap
- A Sewing Needle
- Embroidery Thread in a contrasting or matching for sewing on the Metal Kiss Purse Frames
Getting the Size Right!
The large Polystyrene Ball will be used to complete this Project.
The small Polystyrene Ball is just an example of how small the finished Project should look after shrinkage has taken place.
Step 1—Prepare the Ball for the Tumble Dryer
- Add a dash of washing up liquid to the half filled bowl of hot water and stir.
- Wet the surface of the Polystyrene ball by placing it into the water and swill it around.
- Use your fingers to open up a length of White Merino Wool Roving as shown below.
- Use your own choice of color for the underneath layer.
- Don't make the underneath layer too thick or you may have difficulty in getting the felt into the Kiss Frame when the item is completed.
Step 2—Wrap the White Roving Around the Wet Ball
- Completely cover the Polystyrene Ball with white Merino Roving.
- Take care to make sure that the layer is even and that none of the Ball below is showing through.
Step 3—Dip the Ball Carefully into the Hot Soapy Water
- Dip the Ball into the hot soapy water and use both hands to compress the fibres against the Ball.
Step 4—Roll the Wet Ball on the Bamboo Blind
- Smooth out the wet Fibres by rolling the ball gently on the surface of a Bamboo Blind
- Bubble Wrap may be substituted for the Bamboo Blind
Step 5—Cover the White Fibres Using the Wool Batt
- Tear a piece of wool from the Batt making sure that it is large enough to completely cover the surface of the ball with one piece if possible.
Step 6—Cover the Ball in Pink Fibres
- Wrap the Batting firmly around the ball.
Step 7—Wrap Firmly
- Make sure the Ball is firmly encased and neatly wrapped, with no white wool showing through.
Step 8—Wet the Pink Wool
- Dip the Ball gently into the hot soapy water and use your hands to compress the wet fibres down against the ball.
Step 9—Roll the Ball Gently on the Bamboo Blind
- Roll the ball gently on the bamboo blind until you have a nice smooth surface.
Step 10—Getting the Ball into the Tights
- Pull the cutoff tights over one hand.
- Place the Ball on the stocking and pull the fabric over the ball.
Step 11—Pull the Stocking over the Ball and Knot Both Ends
- Use a slip knot to tie each end so that the contents can easily be inspected when they come out of the tumble dryer.
Step 12—Tumble Dry for About 5 Minutes
- Put the ball into the Tumble Dryer and allow it to tumble for about 5 minutes.
- Check the contents of the tights and if the ball appears to have firmed up enough to remove the tights, do so now. If not put it back in for a few more minutes but no longer.
Step 13—Remove the Tights
- Don't leave the ball in the dryer too long as the fibres may attach themselves to the tights.
- All is not lost however if this does happen. Simply peel the tights off and continue with the Project.
- Take the tights off after a period of about 5 minutes.
- The wool will not be fully felted at this stage.
Step 14—Draw the Cutting Line!
- Draw an opening at the top of the coin purse and then cut it.
- The estimated size should be around 5 cm.
- At this stage, the ball can be gently be eased off.
- Cut the opening a little if the entrance is still too tight.
- It is better to have a hole which is too small than a hole which is too large.
- You can always cut it later if it is too small.
Step 15—Cut the Opening with a Small Pair of Sharp Scissors
- Cut the opening carefully with the sharp scissors.
Step 16—Shrink the Purse to the Correct Size
- The purse will only be partially felted at this stage.
- It is now time to shrink it to the correct size.
- Add a little water to a party balloon.
- The water should only fill the small bowl end of the balloon.
Step 17—Knot the Balloon
- Seal the water and air filled balloon and knot the end when enough air has been added to almost fill the cavity of the purse.
- The idea is to leave a gap on all sides which will allow more shrinkage to take place between the felt and the party balloon.
Hot air and water
I like to add a little water to the balloon as it adds weight to the project. If you don't add water to the balloon the hot air expands too much and the result will be a purse which has an opening which is too large for the kiss frame.
You may wish to use cling wrap to secure the balloon instead of the elastic band. The wrap works surprisingly well even when it is placed inside a hot tumble dryer.
Step 18—Remove the Purse After About 5 Minutes in the Tumble Dryer
- Remove the purse from the tumble dryer after 5 minutes.
- You will notice that there is no longer a gap between the party balloon and the purse.
- Further felting may be required to get it to the size of the small ball shown above.
Step 19—Pierce the Balloon
- Pierce the Balloon with a sharp pair of scissors and pour out the excess water.
Remove the Deflated Balloon and Replace with a New One
Metal Kiss Frames
How to Attach the Metal Purse Kiss Frames
- These adorable Metal Kiss Frames shown above can easily be purchased from Amazon. They are the perfect size to complete this Project.
- Sew them on with matching embroidery thread and a sewing needle to complete your project.
Step 20—Prepare to Sew on the Metal Kiss Frame
- Use a small pair of scissors to ease the fabric into the little metal lip as shown below.
Step 21—Sew on the Kiss Frame
- Sew on the Kiss Frame using matching or contrasting embroidery thread.
A Wet and a Dry Wet Felted Coin Purse
The Wet Purse Resting on a Bed of Teeswater Curls
Tumble Dryer Felting!
Would you be interested in seeing more Projects which can be made inside a Tumble Dryer?
Wet felting With Sallybea
Questions & Answers
I crocheted a long bag which I want to fold into itself to make a reversible bag. Can I do this in the dryer? Will it felt together if I don't put something in the middle of the bag?
If you crocheted a bag using knitting wool and not wool roving, it may not felt it at all! It all depends on the type of wool which you used to crochet the bag. If it is pure wool, it will felt but is unlikely to if the wool is synthetic or if the synthetic content is too high. If I am wet felting with wool roving, I start off with the template still being inside the project during the early stages and remove it when the wool begins to felt properly. Always keep a careful check on the contents of the dryer to avoid shrinking the project too much. I would insert a piece of floor laminate underlay, bubble wrap or even cardboard inside the project to be on the safe side.
© 2016 Sally Gulbrandsen