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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Attaching a Ribbon Hanger to a Felted Ornament

Today I’m sharing a tutorial on how to add ribbon, string, or yarn to a needle felted ornament.  Afterall, everyone needs a way to hang their handmade ornaments on the tree!  I use two different methods to accomplish this task and today I will show you step by step how to do my “tab” method.  The “tab” method allows you to change up your ribbon from time to time.  That way if the ribbon gets dingy or a new pretty ribbon at the craft store catches your eye, you can freshen up your old and beloved felted ornaments.
needle felt tree ornament
I start by wet felting a ball.  You can use my tutorial on the washing machine method, if you would like to save some time.  If I have plans to make a few ornaments, I wet felt a handful of balls at one go!

Now, that we have a felted ball for an ornament blank, we can begin!  Grab a tuft of wool in the main color that will be used.  Lay the tuft flat.  Starting from one end, roll the tuft up into a soft log.  Then needle felt the log, turning as you go to maintain roundness.  Be sure to felt only the middle of the log and leave both ends unfelted.

how to attach hanger to felted ornament

To attach the log to the blank ball, simply spread out one of the unfelted ends and felt it onto the ball.  Then do the same thing with the other unfelted end.  Now the felted log has become a tab which can be used to attach ribbons and such.

attaching ribbon to a needle felted Christmas ornament

Once the tab is firmly attached, wrap the blank ornament with the main color and felt it into place.  Attach a decorative ribbon and your ornament is ready to go!

how to add a ribbon to a felted Christmas ornament

I was inclined to add a bit of adornment to the front of my ornament.  These ornaments are relatively quick and easy to make.  And handmade ornaments add so much charm to an otherwise “commercial” time of year.  So get creative and get felting!

Needle Felt Ornament with Star Pattern

I will shortly have a follow up tutorial on an alternate way to add a decorative hanger to your felted ornaments.  So check back in a few days, if you are interested.

Needle Felting Tutorial: A Jack-O-Lantern Bowl

Halloween is creeping up and I made a cute little jack-o-lantern candy bowl in celebration.  This tutorial will step you through the process so that you can make one of your very own.  This is a very easy beginner project and the actual “needle felting” only takes about 30 minutes or less.

needle felt jack o'lantern candy bowl

You will need:

spare roving/batting in any color
black and orange wool roving/batting
felting needles
felting foam or felting brush
old panty hose
plastic wrap
rubber band
exacto knife
CANDY!!!

You will need a wet felted ball to begin this project.  The ball is not part of the finished project, so just use some spare wool roving and follow my tutorial on wet felting balls.

Wrap the felted ball in plastic wrap and place a rubber band around it.  Grab the orange roving and generously wrap it around the prepared felted ball.  Stuff it in an old pair of panty hose and tie it off.  Wash it in the washing machine with your next hot load.  Dry as usual, then wash and dry once more.

how to needle felt a jack o'lantern candy bowl

Remove the ball from the panty hose.  Using an exacto knife cut around the top of the ball.  Now, remove the ball and you will have an orange felt bowl.  To finish the top edge: either needle felt the edge or place the ball and bowl back together, stuff in the pantyhose and wash and dry again!

needle felting a jack o'lantern bowl

Next draw a jack-o-lantern face that will fit the front of the bowl.  Cut out the eyes, nose, and mouth  to create paper templates.  Wrap the felted ball, used to create the bowl, with a piece of paper and place it inside the felted bowl.  Then pin the templates in place.  Stretch a small piece of black wool roving into a thin tuft.  Take the black thin tuft and needle felt around the templates.  Once you have traced the entire face with black roving, needle felt inside the traced lines to complete the jack-o-lantern face.

how to felt a jack o'lantern bowl

Now the miniature jack-o-lantern bowl is complete.  It looks so adorable filled to the brim with small colorful Halloween candy.  It would be a great surprise afterschool snack for the kiddos.  I’ve set it next to my desk for whenever a sweet tooth hits me!  Enjoy this project and if you have any questions feel free to ask.  Happy Halloween!!!

Halloween needle felted jack o'lantern candy bowl

Measuring Wool for Wet Felted Balls

I am preparing for a felting project I have planned later in the week and I needed five same sized wet felted balls.  Usually I weigh out my wool using my digital scale in order to achieve this; however, my digital scale broke and I didn’t have the time to run out and purchase a new one.  Therefore, I came up with a cheap and readily available alternative(at least readily available to me).

I homeschool my children and have collected a mass of educational materials and one of these just happened to be a bright green balance scale.  Perfect!  I weighed out my wool by choosing 4 pennies to counter balance the scale.  Turns out a penny is a little less than a tenth of an ounce.  Who knew?  I managed to prepare for my felting project and at the same time squeeze in a little measuring lesson.

I didn’t prepare to document this part of the felting process, but the plastic children’s scale atop the crayon-colored, kid destroyed table made me giggle and I grabbed out my camera!  These balance scales can’t get an exact measurement, but they can roughly weigh out similar amounts.  Which turned out to be a perfect tool for making sure my wet felted balls were all roughly the same size!  During my next post, I will share the finished project that I plan to create with these 5 wet felted balls.

weighing wool roving to create equal sized wet felted balls