how to wet felt beads

Wet Felted Beads Tutorial

I really, really, really wanted very small felt beads for a couple of my felted projects and I finally had the time to practice my wet felting skills.  About 30 or 40 attempts later and I’ve got a working method. As a result, today’s tutorial is wet felted beads!

The washing machine works great for larger wet felted balls but tiny beads under 1/2 in. don’t really work well using that method.  Needle felting doesn’t work well either, unless you want bandaids all over your fingers!  So, wet soapy, possibly dishpan hands are necessary to complete this task!

wet felting beads

Let’s Go . . .
First things first,  roll up some tufts of wool into loose balls.  Tie a knot in the wooly tuft, grab it by the knot, fold in half, and roll it up.  Then get another tuft, set the knotted rolled tuft on it, and roll that up.  When adding a new tuft turn the loose ball so that you are working it in multiple directions.  Keep adding tufts of wool until the loose ball is about twice the size of the wanted dimensions.  It takes some trials to figure out the right amount of wool to begin with!

Lightly needle felting the loose ball can help with the wet felting process; but it is completely optional.  I tried it both ways.  Needle felting it first avoids creating unwanted seams; but if you go slow and steady they shouldn’t happen anyways!

tutorial on wet felted beads

The small light green ball was needle felted first and the teal ball was not.

Once the loose balls are formed, prepare the necessary materials. . . a bowl of cold water with ice, a small dish of soap, and boiling water.  Set the icy water and dish soap on a towel because things are about to get wet!  Keep the boiling water on the stove.  Once it boils you can turn it off.  But when it starts to cool down, turn the stove back on for a bit.

Drop the wool ball into the boiling water, then submerse it with a spoon.  Remove the ball from the water and drop it on a towel for a couple of seconds.

tutorial on wet felted beads

Use HOT water not warm water.
The felting process is much faster with hot.

Get a small bit of soap on your fingertip, then place it in the palm of your hand.  Start working the ball between your palms.  Hold your left palm still and move the right palm in a circular pattern.  Do not apply pressure now or the wool ball will be squished!  Very slowly and carefully, continue to roll the ball between your palms.  Do this for about 2 to 3 minutes.

At this point, the ball should become a little more dense; now is the time to start applying pressure.  Lightly apply pressure at first and then increase the pressure.  You can go a little faster now that the ball is dense.  Eventually the wool bead will start to feel like a little rock in your hands.  The whole felting process takes about 4 to 5 minutes.  Now drop the felted bead into the icy water and submerse it with your fingertip.

wet felted beads

Your hands should get a little sudsy while felting.
If it’s so soapy that it is difficult to roll the ball smoothly, wipe your hands on a washcloth.

how to wet felt beads

Apply pressure when your bead resembles the 4th picture.
Or about 3 to 4 minutes into felting.

Set the soggy bead onto a towel to dry.  It will take up to 12 hours to completely dry.  The beads will harden up a bit after drying.  If they are completely dry and still not dense enough, just repeat the entire process again.  More than likely if that happens, you did not apply enough pressure in the final step!

how to make small felt beads

Test your wool to see if it is colorfast.
If not, do the beads in batches of similar colors.

These little beads can be strung together rather easily and you can even embroider embellishments on them.  My felted beads will become beady legs for a felted doll and a felted bumblebee.  Just remember getting that perfect felted bead will take a bit of practice!

how to wet felt small beads

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Colorful Fall Leaves Needle Felting Tutorial

felt colorful fall leaves

This tutorial will walk you step by step through the very easy task of needle felting colorful fall leaves.  I’m going to make a decorative fall bunting with the leaves that I make this season.  However, they would also combine to make a lovely autumn wreath and one could dangle near a window as a neverending falling leaf.  I’m sure there are many other beautiful options, but I will leave the rest of the brainstorming to you.

Let’s begin the tutorial.

You will need:

wool roving/batting in autumn shades
a foam surface or needle felting brush
felting needles(a felting pen is handy but not necessary.)

First, gather some leaf templates.  These could be hand drawn and cut, they could be traced from leaves collected in your yard, they could be fall cookie cutters lying around in the kitchen or, if you are lazy like me, just google search “fall leaf template”.

Templates for Leaves

I will be using the elm leaf to demonstrate this method.  It is the easiest template that I have.  So it should be easy to follow along!  I realize that the template may not be necessary for such a simple leaf design, but while creating a maple or oak leaf the importance of this template system becomes clear!

Set the hollow template atop the working surface(brush or foam), then pull small tufts of wool and place inside the leaf template.  Keep on layering these little tufts; it takes a bit more than you would think! Then needle felt  inside the template with a large felting needle(around a 36).  Continue felting until the little tufts of wool become one mass.

How to needle felt an autumn leaf

Now the template is no longer necessary; remove it from the foam surface.  Now carefully peel the leaf off of the working surface.  Held up to the light, the weak spots will shine through.  Add small tufts to the weak areas and needle felt with the same size(36) needle until a uniform thickness is achieved.

Felt Colorful Autumn Leaves

How to felt leaf decorations.

The edges of the leaf are now raggedy and incomplete.  Compare the leaf I’m working on to my previously completed orange leaf.  At this point, carefully work the edges until they are firm and curve similarly to the chosen template.

needle felting colorul autumn leaves

Now the leaf has the correct shape but the fibers of the wool can still be compressed a bit more.  Grab a smaller size needle(38), lay a bit of paper between the working surface and the leaf, and needle felt one side, then flip it and needle felt the opposite side.

How to Felt Autumn Leaves

At this point the leaf is basically complete.  I chose to grab an even smaller needle and really make it neat.

needle felted autumn foliage

Each leaf will take between 25 minutes to 1 hour depending upon the complexity of the leaf shape chosen.  Good luck with this project and if you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me!

felt fall leaves

Felted Fall Leaves

felted fall leaves

I’m finally able to designate time to my beloved craft of needle felting.  My children started school, then my camera was misbehaving, and to top it all off, a nasty bug followed the kids home from school.  Finally, all is well and I can get back to  fun creative projects.  So this week, I have been busy preparing for the felting madness to come.  I pulled out my trusty food colors and started to create my palette of vivid, beautiful wool.  I love the dying process. You never quite know what color will take, and the results are a happy surprise each time!

My Food Coloring Collection

I have started a new project as well . . . Felted Autumn Leaves.  I’m so excited that Fall has arrived, my favorite season.  Leaves just scream Autumn. . . the colorful spectacle in every forest and neighborhood, the crunching noise under your boots, quietly spinning in the wind, and giggling children jumping in a large pile.  A tutorial on these leaves will be available in the near future!  I’m looking forward to sharing my autumn creations with everyone.

Felt Leaf Decorations for Fall