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Quick and Easy Wet Felting With a Tumble Dryer

A Wet Felted Coin Purse

A coin purse sitting on a bed of Teesdale Curls
A coin purse sitting on a bed of Teesdale Curls | Source

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 Lush and Luxurious Wool Batt

Luxurious Wool Batt consisting of merino wool, silk fibres and metallic thread.
Luxurious Wool Batt consisting of merino wool, silk fibres and metallic thread. | Source

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

Some of the Things Which You Will Need to Complete This Tutorial

2 Polystyrene balls, dish washing liquid, white merino wool roving, a wool Batt and 2 or 3 party balloons.
2 Polystyrene balls, dish washing liquid, white merino wool roving, a wool Batt and 2 or 3 party balloons. | Source
2 Polystyrene balls, a pair of scissors, a few Party Balloons, a bowl of hot soapy water and a tiny coin purse frame.
2 Polystyrene balls, a pair of scissors, a few Party Balloons, a bowl of hot soapy water and a tiny coin purse frame. | Source

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.

A Polystyrene Ball which has a circumference of 25 cm.  Shrinkage is likely to be around 30%.
A Polystyrene Ball which has a circumference of 25 cm. Shrinkage is likely to be around 30%. | Source
The smaller purse is shown here for demonstration purposes only.  This should be the size of the completed purse.
The smaller purse is shown here for demonstration purposes only. This should be the size of the completed purse. | Source

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.

Flatten the white wool roving.
Flatten the white wool roving. | Source

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.

Wrap the white wool roving around the wet polystyrene ball.
Wrap the white wool roving around the wet polystyrene ball. | Source

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.

Wet all sides of the wool covered polystyrene ball by dipping each side lightly into the hot soapy water.
Wet all sides of the wool covered polystyrene ball by dipping each side lightly into the hot soapy water. | Source

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

Roll the wool covered ball gently on the bamboo mat to smooth out the woolen Fibres.
Roll the wool covered ball gently on the bamboo mat to smooth out the woolen Fibres. | Source

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.

Preparing to cover the ball in a thick layer of wool fibres taken from the wool batt
Preparing to cover the ball in a thick layer of wool fibres taken from the wool batt | Source

Step 6—Cover the Ball in Pink Fibres

  • Wrap the Batting firmly around the ball.

Roll the ball up in a section of the wool batt
Roll the ball up in a section of the wool batt | Source

Step 7—Wrap Firmly

  • Make sure the Ball is firmly encased and neatly wrapped, with no white wool showing through.

The wool covered ball
The wool covered ball | Source

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.

Wet the fibers in the hot soapy water.
Wet the fibers in the hot soapy water. | Source
Smoothing out the top surface by rolling the ball on the bamboo mat.
Smoothing out the top surface by rolling the ball on the bamboo mat. | Source

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.

Smooth out the fibers on the surface of the ball by rolling them on the bamboo blind.
Smooth out the fibers on the surface of the ball by rolling them on the bamboo blind. | Source

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.

Put the ball inside a pair of cut off tights
Put the ball inside a pair of cut off tights | Source

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.

Knot both ends of the tights.
Knot both ends of the tights. | Source

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.

Remove the tights after 5 minutes in the tumble dryer.
Remove the tights after 5 minutes in the tumble dryer. | Source

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.

The fibers should still be wet but not fully felted.
The fibers should still be wet but not fully felted. | Source

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.

Press a cutting line into the fabric of the felt using a straight edge and a pair of small scissors.
Press a cutting line into the fabric of the felt using a straight edge and a pair of small scissors. | Source

Step 15—Cut the Opening with a Small Pair of Sharp Scissors

  • Cut the opening carefully with the sharp scissors.

The purse minus the ball
The purse minus the ball | Source

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.

Add a little water to one of the party balloons
Add a little water to one of the party balloons | Source
Insert the water filled balloon into the cavity of the purse and then inflate with a little air.
Insert the water filled balloon into the cavity of the purse and then inflate with a little air. | Source

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.

Blow in only enough air to loosely fill the cavity.
Blow in only enough air to loosely fill the cavity. | Source

Cling Film

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.

Cling film comes in handy when you want to prevent a vessel from escaping from its confinement.
Cling film comes in handy when you want to prevent a vessel from escaping from its confinement. | Source

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.

After having spent 5 minutes in the hot tumble dryer.
After having spent 5 minutes in the hot tumble dryer. | Source

Step 19—Pierce the Balloon

  • Pierce the Balloon with a sharp pair of scissors and pour out the excess water.

Prick the water filled balloon and remove it from the cavity of the coin purse in the making.
Prick the water filled balloon and remove it from the cavity of the coin purse in the making. | Source

Remove the Deflated Balloon and Replace with a New One

Add only enough water and air to achieve the same size as the smaller ball.
Add only enough water and air to achieve the same size as the smaller ball. | Source
Alternatively you might like to try using cling wrap this time.
Alternatively you might like to try using cling wrap this time. | Source
After having been completely felted in the tumble dryer with the cling wrap and party balloon removed.
After having been completely felted in the tumble dryer with the cling wrap and party balloon removed. | Source

How to Attach the Metal Purse Kiss Frames

  • The adorable Metal Kiss Frames shown here 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.

The Coin Purse frames should measure 6 cm across
The Coin Purse frames should measure 6 cm across | Source
Adorable Metal Kiss Frame with a height of 5cm
Adorable Metal Kiss Frame with a height of 5cm | Source

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.

Pushing the woolen edges up into the kiss frame before they can be sewn.
Pushing the woolen edges up into the kiss frame before they can be sewn. | Source
The edges of the coin purse have been pushed up into the metal  kiss frame
The edges of the coin purse have been pushed up into the metal kiss frame | Source

Step 21—Sew on the Kiss Frame

  • Sew on the Kiss Frame using matching or contrasting embroidery thread.

Preparing to sew on the kiss frame to the coin purse.
Preparing to sew on the kiss frame to the coin purse. | Source

A Wet and a Dry Wet Felted Coin Purse

One wet and one dry wet felted coin purse frame side by side.
One wet and one dry wet felted coin purse frame side by side. | Source

The Wet Purse Resting on a Bed of Teeswater Curls

The project resting in a bed of Teeswater Curls.
The project resting in a bed of Teeswater Curls. | Source

Tumble Dryer Felting!

Would you be interested in seeing more Projects which can be made inside a Tumble Dryer?

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Wet felting With Sallybea

© 2016 Sally Gulbrandsen

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6 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

Anyone interested in writing a craft article would do well to pay attention to your articles. They are clear, concise, their pictures are helpful and of high quality.....another excellent how-to article, Sally! Well done, and Happy Sunday to you.


sallybea profile image

sallybea 3 weeks ago from Norfolk Author

Not sure how you do it but you are nearly always the first to comment and you are not even a Felt Maker Billy:) Well, that is not yet:) I might make you one yet.

Thanks so much Billy, hope you and yours are having a Happy Sunday too.


purl3agony profile image

purl3agony 3 weeks ago from USA

Great tutorial, Sally! I was wondering - when the purse body comes out of the dryer, is it still malleable so that you can adjust the shape a little? Maybe make it more oval or something? Or is it completely dry and set? Thanks for sharing this beautiful project!


sallybea profile image

sallybea 3 weeks ago from Norfolk Author

Hi Donna,

No, the felt is still wet after the fist 5 minutes and also after the 2nd 5 minutes. When you pierce the balloon it tends to get wet again and really it is to your advantage as it makes the felt easier to work with. Thanks for the comment, that helps everyone else:) In fact, I wrote that info in and then wrote it out:) I appreciate your stopping by as always. Happy Sunday.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 weeks ago from South Africa

Sallybea, I am in awe of this talent of yours. Your ideas are truly brilliant and inspiring :)


sallybea profile image

sallybea 3 weeks ago from Norfolk Author

Martie that is such a nice thing to say. Thank you so much:)

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