How to make a piece of felt by hand – a quick and easy tutorial, perfect for children too!

Posted under Felt and Felting

2Jun

Making felt with children is so easy and super fun!

 

Children love to felt-  there are bubbles, water, spray bottles, bubble wrap, soap, colour. It is a joyous feast for the eyes.

 

Here is a quick tutorial on how to make a piece of felt from scratch.

 

how to make a piece of felt

 

You will need:
  • two small pieces of bubblewrap,
  • wool fleece slivers in various colours,
  • water, (warm or cold)
  • washing up detergent, or soap flakes
  • an old towel,
  • and a spray bottle.

 

Please note that this is a simple, versatile way of working WITH children.  I teach felting for adults with different techniques. (Why not come along to a workshop? See Workshops in the top bar for upcoming dates.)

 

Step one:

We need to make a ‘felt batt’.  This is the base of all felt, a three way laying of fibre that helps to create a solid piece of material. The fourth layer is your decoration!
Lay one piece of bubblewrap, approx 20 by 30 centimetres, on top of an old towel.

 

how to make a piece of felt

 

Step Two:

Take hold of your sliver in your left hand ( this is for right handers. Swap if necessary)  Ensure fibres are running in one direction, and sliver is as wide as possible.

 

how to make a piece of felt

 

Step Three:

Gently use your right hand to tease a section of fibre from the sliver.  Keep your thumb upright to prevent it from separating the sliver into two.  Hold the sliver gently with your left hand so the sliver is supported but not prevented from letting go of the section.

 

how to make a piece of felt

 

Step Four:

I show children that this section should be as thin and wispy as a cobweb!
“Visual pictures” such as this are wonderful for helping children to follow instructions, and to achieve the desired result.  I also show them (by lifting it up to my eyes) that they should be able to ‘see through’ this cobweb.

 

how to make a piece of felt

 

Step Five:

Swivel your hand so that the fibre end you hold in your hand is laid on the left hand side of the bubble wrap. Continue like this whenever you lay fibres across ways. This allows the thick end of the section to lay on top of the thin end of the section, creating an even surface.

 

how to make a piece of felt

 

Here I have exaggerated it for you to see how one layer lays on top of the other, slightly overlapping at the edges.
I share a story with the children as I work to lay out the fleece.
First, we come to a RIVER, with water running past us.  The RIVER is deep and wide, and we can’t see the bottom.

 

how to make a piece of felt

 

When you finish, your first layer (RIVER) looks something like this.
This is an adults version of course- children’s ones are never quite so neat, but it is the process we are teaching them and soon enough, they’ll remember the steps for themselves and will have developed fine motor skills that enable them to work with the fibres.

 

how to make a piece of felt

 

Step Six:

Now, once we have ‘crossed’ the river, we come to a forest of TALL TREES.  These tall trees are thick and so dense, that once we get a little way in, we can’t see the river at all.
Lay the fibres in the opposite direction, and once again, cover the entire surface.
Note: Shrinkage when we begin the felting process will reduce the dry felt batt by about 1 inch all the way around.  Take this into consideration when you are in the planning stages.

 

how to make a piece of felt

 

Here, I have demonstrated the direction of the fibres in bold red for you so it is a little more obvious!

 

how to make a piece of felt

 

Once your layer is laid, you can use your fingers to spread any thick pieces or fill any gaps.  As you practice pulling out and laying fibres, this step becomes unnecessary.

 

how to make a piece of felt

 

Step Seven:

The story continues that once through the forest, we come to another RIVER. The third layer is horizontal again, and laid in the same way as the first RIVER.
Here I have chosen to lay my third layer in blue, but you can use white, or any other colour you like.
 

 

Why not make up your own version of what happens on this adventure for yourself?

Just be sure to include the three steps (RIVER, TALL TREES, RIVER) .  It also doesnt matter if you reverse the pattern (TALL TREES, RIVER, TALL TREES) if that suits you better.  The most important thing is to ensure the 3 layers vary in their direction.  A fleece fibre has small ‘spurs’ and felting is a process where agitation, and a chemical reaction of sorts, helps to knot these spurs together to form a solid material.  We help the spurs to felt through the setting up of the fibres in this way.

 

how to make a piece of felt

 

Step Eight:

I always like to press the batt down all over and try to see if there are any holes or places where we can see the bubblewrap.  Add extra ‘cobwebs’ here if you find any!

 

 

Step Nine:

Lay your pattern.  Children often just lay random colours and cloud bursts and stripes.  For young children, like those who attend Moondew, it is all about playing!  Touching the fibres, sensing the wool, smelling it, trying to eat it, tickling it under their nose- what fun!  Parents have to help, but strive to let this decoration/creation part be all about the child.  (We can make our own decorative felt endeavours when little ones have gone to bed!)

 

 

Step Ten:

Fill a spray bottle with warm water, and  a drop of washing up detergent.  This is a fab way of getting children to help!  They love water and spray bottles and making soapy bubbles.

 

 

Let the children spray water all over the felt, until it is wetted down completely.
(Just be sure and keep an eye that they don’t sip on it- toddlers love to do this, and spray in an area that can get wet! )

 

 

Lay the second sheet of bubble wrap on top of the wet fleece (bubbles facing down).  Start in the centre, and gently push the water from the centre towards the edges until it is all wet, including the edges.  Add more water if necessary.

 

 

 

Take the top bubble wrap off, and ‘tuck’ the fluffy edges of the fleece under to make a nice rectangular shape.

 

 

Step Eleven:

Replace the top bubble wrap, and roll it up from the long side.

 

 

Throw the edge of the towel over the wrap, for extra grip.

 

 

Begin to roll the mat, backwards and forwards, for 50 counts.  Unwrap, and check that decorative elements remain in place.

 

 

Swivel the piece 90 degrees, and roll it up from the short side.

 

 

Continue rolling for another 50 counts. Open, and swivel 90 degrees and repeat until all four sides have been done. Then turn the felt over, so you see the underside, and repeat rolling action on all four sides again.

 

 

Once this is done, you should have a fairly sturdy piece of felt.  Test it by using your pinch grip to gently pull fibres. If they stay in place, it is pretty much done.  You might also see a ‘bubbling’ effect (on a well felted piece).

 

 

Step Twelve:

Wash the soapy bubbles out, and hang out to dry.

 

You can now use this felt for whatever purpose you choose…   Horse reins, doll clothes, tree house furniture, art wall hangings, as a sewing kit.

 

Next how-to:

Using the felt to make a horse rein!

Why not have a go at making a fun toy for your kids?

4 Responses to “How to make a piece of felt by hand – a quick and easy tutorial, perfect for children too!”

  1. Kestrel

    We have a felt fanatic here, thank you for those very simple tips! I have a feeling that our felting adventure is going to be a lot easier once I’ve got a spray bottle and more bubble wrap!

  2. Katy

    I have used this technique for the second year in a row here in the pre-school class at the Steiner School in Alice Springs – the children just love it! We use felt we have dyed with mulberries, onion skin, spinach and native flax berries. Its a lovely experience and I just want to say thank you for your excellent informative blog.

  3. Amber

    Katy, you are so welcome. Sorry I missed your comment. One day, I’d love to visit!

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