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How to Make a Wet Felted Flower/A Free Tutorial

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

3 D Wet Felted-Flower

Wet Felted 3D Felt Flower

Wet Felted 3D Felt Flower

How to make a 3 D Wet-felted flower Step-by-Step

Making a felt flower is great place to begin to learn the basics of turning wool fibers into felt. Using these same techniques you have learned with one layer of felt you can now turn your talents to making a 3 D felt flower with a central core and it's own separate petals. This method makes it so much more of a challenge!

I like to lay down a brightly colored piece of plastic sheeting which has a circular design on it like the one pictured below. Then I lay a piece of bubble wrap onto it, smooth side facing upwards. I can still see the basic shape through my circle making it easy for me to see where I want to lay the fibers. You could just lay down a circular shape of colored card underneath your bubble wrap! You may have your circle as large or as small as you want your flower. The smaller the flower the finer the fibers I would say though be careful not to make them too thin. A larger flower will need a little more substance to it to hold it all together. It will also need a lot more rubbing, especially around the central core area to ensure that it is completely felted!

I begin by laying down a circle of fibers, keeping the central area a little thicker than the fibers which make up the petals. You might want to keep it simple at first, try using only one color at first and add a few different wool fibers to the top layer or make a simple yellow center. I like my petals wafer thin when the flower is completed but one has to be very careful not to make them too thin as the whole thing may disintegrate if you have not used enough!

Once I have laid down the first fibers I lay a piece of plastic wrap over them but not before I cut a hole in the center of the plastic wrap I intend to cover it with. This hole will expose the central core of the flower which lies beneath the plastic ,(see images below). When you add the next row of wool fibers ensure that they touch each other and eventually fuse together and become like one when felted at the end.

This whole process is repeated again. Try incorporating some design work in the top layer of the flower using silk fibers or other little bits of decorative wool fiber. These should be covered in odd places here and there so that they embed themselves into the felt during the felting process.

Cover the project with a piece of curtain netting. Wet with boiling hot water mixed with a dash of dish washing liquid. Use a sponge to drip some of the water into the central hole which will eventually become the core of the flower and hold it all together. Gently dab the sponge over the rest of the netting to wet it down. Cover it with a piece of bubble wrap smooth side up and force the water to go throughout the flower. The water will spread outwards towards the edges of the flower. Don’t add too much water as you will displace the fibers. Too dry and it won’t felt easily so , a happy medium is required here! If it does get too wet dab it with a dry towel to remove the excess water.

Once thoroughly wet, begin rubbing with a little soapy water on your hands and on the bubble wrap. You should do this carefully until you can remove the netting without displacing the top fibers. Take the netting off and replace it with a piece of bubble wrap to cover the flower and begin rubbing again until you can perform the pinch test – this is where the fibers will not move if gently pinch them between two fingers! I like to turn the whole project over to make sure I can do the same with the lower fibers at the bottom too. If not work on the bottom for a while.

When done, you can begin disassembling the flower as in the images below, give it a good dousing of boiling water, rinse it and then shock it with some cold water. Throw it around a bit on the counter top until it becomes firmer or alternatively roll it in some bubble wrap with a pool noodle or in a bamboo mat. This helps the felting process and dries it out very quickly.

You should be able to separate the petals from each other now. Shape the flower as required in your fingers and use a small stitch to hold it in place. Sew a little clip on the back or attach it to a hat with a silver plated hat pin with a protection cap.

Please ask if you have any queries and if you have some of your own suggestions for making the process better or easier, I would love to hear from you.


Place a sheet of plastic down.

Circular design on plastic mat - simply used as a guide, you could use a piece of colored card under your bubble wrap

Circular design on plastic mat - simply used as a guide, you could use a piece of colored card under your bubble wrap

Placing your wool fibers

Lay a sheet of bubble wrap down, smooth side up and then place your design down using thin fibers of wool over the whole circle

Lay a sheet of bubble wrap down, smooth side up and then place your design down using thin fibers of wool over the whole circle

How to place your design

Ensure that the center of the flower has a slightly thicker layer in the center of the flower

Ensure that the center of the flower has a slightly thicker layer in the center of the flower

Cut a hole in the plastic wrap

Cut a circular hole in the plastic wrap and place it over the center of the flower

Cut a circular hole in the plastic wrap and place it over the center of the flower

Second layer

Place a second layer of fibers on the plastic wrap.  Ensure that the fibers in the middle are put close together.

Place a second layer of fibers on the plastic wrap. Ensure that the fibers in the middle are put close together.

Add a little more to the design

Image clearly shows no gaps in the center of the flower

Image clearly shows no gaps in the center of the flower

Second Layer of Plastic

Another hole and another layer of plastic

Another hole and another layer of plastic

Layer three

Lay down the last set of fibers with a little decoration on top.  Try to ensure that if you use any silk threads etc., that you cover then with a few wool fibers to ensure that they do not detach themselves from the rest of the wool.

Lay down the last set of fibers with a little decoration on top. Try to ensure that if you use any silk threads etc., that you cover then with a few wool fibers to ensure that they do not detach themselves from the rest of the wool.

Cover with curtain netting

Carefully cover with curtain net.  Try not to dislodge the fibers.

Carefully cover with curtain net. Try not to dislodge the fibers.

Items required for next stage

Curtain netting, boiling water, dish washing liquid, a bamboo mat and a sponge are needed now.

Curtain netting, boiling water, dish washing liquid, a bamboo mat and a sponge are needed now.

Hot soapy water plus sponge

Use the sponge to dribble some boiling hot water into the center of the flower,.  This is to allow sufficient in get to the underneath of the flower.

Use the sponge to dribble some boiling hot water into the center of the flower,. This is to allow sufficient in get to the underneath of the flower.

Dab on more hot soapy water

Add more hot soapy water with the sponge until completely damp throughout the layers.  Try not to add so much that you displace the fibers at the same time.

Add more hot soapy water with the sponge until completely damp throughout the layers. Try not to add so much that you displace the fibers at the same time.

Top with a piece of bubble wrap

Cover with bubble wrap.  This will help disperse the water throughout the layers as you gently press down on the fibers

Cover with bubble wrap. This will help disperse the water throughout the layers as you gently press down on the fibers

Check to see if the fibers are saturated.

Check to see if the layers are wet enough, if not add a little more soapy water

Check to see if the layers are wet enough, if not add a little more soapy water

Remove the piece of netting

Remove the piece of netting and place a little more soapy water in the center and place a piece of bubble wrap over the whole thing.  Press down and begin to rub the project carefully

Remove the piece of netting and place a little more soapy water in the center and place a piece of bubble wrap over the whole thing. Press down and begin to rub the project carefully

Bubble wrap covering the project

Start to disperse the water down and outward with the bubble wrap.

Start to disperse the water down and outward with the bubble wrap.

Rub briskly with your fingers.

Rub firmly with fingers creating friction on fibers.  Concentrate on the center to begin with.  Then start rubbing the whole flower.

Rub firmly with fingers creating friction on fibers. Concentrate on the center to begin with. Then start rubbing the whole flower.

Turn project over and rub firmly

Turn project over and begin rubbing firmly.  The idea is to ensure that all layers are felted but separately throughout the layers.  The central core should hold the whole flower together with the layers separate.

Turn project over and begin rubbing firmly. The idea is to ensure that all layers are felted but separately throughout the layers. The central core should hold the whole flower together with the layers separate.

Check the layers for stability

Checking the layers for stability.  You should be able to perform the pinch test without the fibers becoming displaced.

Checking the layers for stability. You should be able to perform the pinch test without the fibers becoming displaced.

Check central core of flower

Lift the plastic and check to see that the central core of the flower is felted together.

Lift the plastic and check to see that the central core of the flower is felted together.

Separate layers can be seen

Separate layers showing

Separate layers showing

Start removing the layers of plastic wrap

Removing the layers of plastic wrap  - one by one!

Removing the layers of plastic wrap - one by one!

First layer with plastic wrap removed

Plastic wrap removed from first layer.

Plastic wrap removed from first layer.

Second layer of plastic wrap removed

Second layer of plastic wrap removed

Second layer of plastic wrap removed

Removing final piece of plastic wrap

Removing plastic wrap

Removing plastic wrap

Plastic wrap completely removed

Plastic wrap removed showing the layers which are attached now to the central core of the flower

Plastic wrap removed showing the layers which are attached now to the central core of the flower

Shocking it with boiling water

Shocking the flower with boiling hot water and rinsing in cold water afterwards

Shocking the flower with boiling hot water and rinsing in cold water afterwards

Shocked and thrown about on the counter

After throwing it hard at the counter top it looks decidedly well worn.  In retrospect perhaps the fibers could have been laid a little thicker and worked a little harder but still salvageable

After throwing it hard at the counter top it looks decidedly well worn. In retrospect perhaps the fibers could have been laid a little thicker and worked a little harder but still salvageable

3 D Wet Felted Felt Flower

Wet Felted 3D Felt Flower

Wet Felted 3D Felt Flower

Wet Felted 3D Felt Flower

Wet Felted 3D Felt Flower

Wet felted pink flower

Another felt flower!

Another felt flower!

How to Wet Felt a 3D Felt Flower using an Electric Sander

3D Flower Tutorial Using an Electric Sander

This video by the same author uses a slightly different technique to achieve the same result.

Questions & Answers

Question: I have used your felted flower tutorial several times over the years, and this time I am struggling. Are there any tricks to having the petals stay open? I have to pull and pull to get them apart.

Answer: It is possible that the petals have not been rolled or rubbed enough before you remove the plastic film. It is likely that the petals then fuse together under the hot and cold water as the wool shrinks further. My favorite tool these days is my heavy duty bamboo blind. I do all my rolling inside one. I recommend that you look out for a cheap one at a thrift shop or a car boot sale which you can use instead of bubble wrap.

© 2013 Sally Gulbrandsen

Comments

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on November 17, 2019:

The blue and orange flower is the one in the Tutorial as shown above.

merrily.willis@bigpond.com on November 17, 2019:

how did you make the blue and orange 3D flower please?

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 13, 2018:

You are welcome Valerie, anytime:)

valerie on February 13, 2018:

Hi Sally - thanks for your speedy and helpful response :)

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 13, 2018:

Hi Valerie,

You are very welcome. No, I never stiffen my felt flowers. If you felt them enough and shrink them under hot and cold water they should be stiff enough to hold their shape. Try dropping them onto the kitchen counter when they are still wet, this will help them to stiffen up.

Valerie on February 13, 2018:

Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial. I wonder do you ever stiffen your felt flowers? If so, what do you use? thanks in advance.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on June 17, 2017:

Stacie L, thank you. You are so right, I think that few people understand how much time goes into this craft:) I hope that in time I will pass on my passion for this craft and that many more people will know the feeling of accomplishment when they complete a project.

Stacie L on June 17, 2017:

A very thorough tutorial. I used to sell raw sheep wool and alpaca hair for a local rancher so if people know how much work went into making that felt, they would certainly appreciate more!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 21, 2017:

You are very welcome. I hope they turn out well for you. Getting the centre-right can be a bit of a problem sometimes so remember to rub the middle hard. If all else fails you can always put a couple of stitches in to secure the core of the flower.

Bryony on April 21, 2017:

Beautiful flowers thankyou for sharing can't wait to try these

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on January 12, 2017:

Beryl ANN

Thank you so much! It is always lovely to receive such positive feedback:)

Beryl ANN on January 11, 2017:

Love your article on 3D flowers

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on January 25, 2015:

Scarfitup

I love hearing from people who have done any my tutorials and more especially those people who come back for more:) Thank you so much. How lovely, I hope that the mother of the bride enjoys here.

Best wishes,

Sally

Scarfitup on January 25, 2015:

I've done your flowers following this tutorial in the past. Just searched for it again in my Pinterest board to renew my interest, because it is so fantastic and easy to follow. Will be doing one shortly to go with a custom wrap I made for a mother of the bride. Thanks so much!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 05, 2013:

Thank you so much for your comment, so lovely that you took time to stop by.

craftybegonia from Southwestern, United States on February 05, 2013:

Lovely work, love the colors you chose to put together!

NarcononVistaBay from California on January 16, 2013:

Wow this is beautiful. It's a piece of art. Thank you for sharing !

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on January 16, 2013:

Thanks for the feedback Nell Rose. I am delighted that it turned out well for you. I did try rolling it in Bamboo mat as well. This worked equally well so would suggest that you try that too. Would love to see the result. Thanks for the vote and for the share. Best wishes, Sally

Nell Rose from England on January 16, 2013:

This was so amazing! I had never heard of this method before, but it turned out perfect! I was a bit disconcerted when you took it out, threw it into hot water then threw it on the table though! lol! wonderful, voted up and shared! nell

Vickiw on January 12, 2013:

I'd love to see one of those bands! They sound wonderful, might start a whole new trend among the young and beautiful!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on January 12, 2013:

Hello Vicki, so glad you enjoyed the tutorial. The flowers add a little color to the wet felted hats I make in my spare time to sell on e-bay. The flowers can be used to dress up all sorts of items or can be worn pinned to a jacket or dress. They look great attached to a felt covered Alice band. Oh dear, I think I can feel another project coming up!! Thanks so much for your comments, they are much appreciated.

Vickiw on January 12, 2013:

Great Hub Sally! I love the colours, and it is fascinating to see how the whole thing comes together. Do you use them for anything in particular?