How to Make Wet-Felted Soap
How to Wet-Felt a Bar of Soap
Soap bars can be made into beautiful handcrafted gifts with just a little effort. Cover the bar of soap with merino tops or wool roving, add a little hot soapy water, and massage until the fibers felt together. With use, the wool will continue to shrink further and act as a 'scrubber' or flannel. The soap will also last longer than it usually does.
What You'll Need
- Soap Bar. I used a bar of Pears Soap because the rounded edges make it much easier to felt.
- A Piece of Curtain Netting. The dimensions will vary depending on the size of the soap bar.
- Boiling (or Very Hot) Water in a Spray Bottle. Alternatively, you can use a small sponge and small plastic squeeze bottle.
- Dishwashing Liquid.
- Mixed Colors of Merino Wool, Roving or Tops. You will need approximately 5 grams per bar.
- Stocking Leg or Tights.
- Washboard or Kitchen Draining Board.
1. Choose a work surface that can tolerate water well. I use an old-fashioned metal washboard placed on a small marble table. You might choose to use a kitchen surface and a draining board.
2. Add a tiny amount of dishwashing liquid to your bottle and then fill it halfway with boiling or very hot water
3. Place the curtain net on the work surface.
4. Split a length of merino wool tops or roving down the middle so that you end up with two easy-to-work-with lengths. Gradually pull tufts from the wool and arrange them on the curtain netting. Lay them in one direction, and then add a second layer oriented perpendicular to the first layer. This helps the felting process.
5. Place the soap on top of the wool and fold in all the edges. Use the netting as an aid to help you.
6. Turn it over and add a few fibers to the top for decoration.
7. Insert your hands into a cut off piece of stocking and grasp the fiber-wrapped soap and put it in the stocking. Tie a slipknot into the stocking and gently wet the whole project with hot soapy water. Make sure you don't displace any of the woolen fibers.
- If this is your first project, I would suggest that before doing this step, wrap the curtain netting around the project and very gently wet it all over with the hot soapy water. Dab water on it with a sponge until it is thoroughly wet but not saturated. Smooth the fibers down using the curtain netting. Remove the netting gently and then put it into the stocking.
8. Put a slip knot into the stocking so that you can easily untie the knot to see if you have reached the pinch test stage later!
- All of this can be done on a washboard or sink drainer. Use a lot of gentle friction until the fibers have fused together. Rub harder until the fibers are well felted.
9. Continue rubbing the fibers until you reach the pinch-test stage. This is when you can pinch the wool fibers between two fingers and they don't move. Once you have reached this stage, gently peel the stocking away from the bar of soap. It should now be completely encased in the wool and feel nice and smooth. You shouldn't see any moving fibers. If you have not reached this stage yet, put it back into the stocking and continue to rub until you are completely satisfied.
10. Remove the stocking and check to see if the fibers have felted together. When they start to stick to the stocking, you are just about done. Peel the stocking gently off the soap.
- Use your hands to rub the soap a little more.
- Smooth out the edges a little. Do this just as if you were washing your hands.
- Give the soap a quick dip in some hot and then cold water.
11. Pat the soap dry with a towel and place it on a sponge or a radiator to dry out.
- If you're in a hurry, pat the soap with a dry towel and then use a hairdryer for a few minutes.
12. Decorate the bar with a pretty ribbon or even a piece of raffia and brown hessian for a natural look. Wrap it in a pretty box, and you're done!