Felting can be a time consuming hobby; I am going to share a shortcut that I use occasionally to jumpstart my felting projects: wet felting in the washing machine! It is a very simple process and while time wise it takes longer, the actual labor time is shorter. So if you have some laundry to do and some felting projects looming, this is sure to help speed things along!
First things, first, materials needed are wool batting and pantyhose. Other materials would be useful but are not required for this project; these include a digital scale and ribbons.
Now, that the supplies have been collected, it is time to begin! First grab a handful of wool batting and lightly mold it into a “ball” shape in your hand. This is to get an idea of the ball size itself; the wool will immediately lose any shape once you release your grip. Choose a little more wool than necessary to get the ball size that you want because it will shrink some in the felting process. If you are making several balls and you want them to be similarly sized, you can use a digital scale to weigh each handful of wool batting. I chose roughly 20 grams of batting for each one of my balls. At 20 grams, the end product will be a tennis ball size or slightly smaller.
Next stuff the handful of batting into the toe of the pantyhose and tie it off. You can knot the pantyhose itself or use some ribbon. Knotted pantyhose is a little tricky to undo after the felting process, so ribbon can make the job a lot easier. I didn’t have enough ribbon on hand; so as you can see, I knotted off this first ball.
If you have any colored wool batting on hand, you can make things a bit more interesting. Simply take the handful of white batting and carefully hold it tight in your hand, while surrounding it with the color batting of your choice. Then grasping it firmly; so the color remains covering the white core, shove it down into the pantyhose again. Now tie off!
Continue this process, until you run out of batting! Well, that’s what I did; my supplies are runnning dangerously low. In the end you will have a pantyhose garland that looks something like this.
I tied off the top with a ribbon. I ran out of pantyhose leg and had to use the pantyhose bottom. These were my daughter’s pantyhose, a size 12 months; I have used these several times and they’re still holding on! She stands next to me and reminds me “those pantyhose were mine when I was a baby, can you buy me more pantyhose?”. Okay, enough cutesy kids stuff, back to work!
The easy part is next, throw this pantyhose garland in the wash with some sheets or blankets(something that requires a hot temperature setting). Wash the load of clothes per usual. Now wait. . . . . . . .
Once the load of wash is done, throw it in the dryer and don’t forget those balls. This is too easy. Sidenote: after the wash, the fibers on the wool balls will be poking through your pantyhose garland; this is ok and part of the process.
Alright, the dryer has completed the felting process for us. At this point, you can remove your felted balls from the pantyhose garland. But wait, they are not super dense at this stage; you can throw them in with a few more loads and they will continue to get firmer each go around. I am going to remove mine after one load; they are still a little squishable at this stage which is great if you are going to add needle felting details. So let’s begin unwrapping the wool balls. Untie the knots or ribbons. Gently peel back the pantyhose; the felted ball will cling to the hose. If you’re careful, the pantyhose can be reused again and again.
That is how it’s done. A child sized pantyhose held 7 wool balls. With regular pantyhose, you could have tons of felted balls. Don’t forget to pretty them up some; you could add many colors in the wash for a tie dyed effect or needle felt details on them. You could even create a toy figurine out of these balls; some of my figurines have started with this simple shape. Whatever you do, have fun with it and join me again to see what I did with my seven wet felted balls!