Monday, 4 April 2011

Wet Felting - Hand Bag Tutorial Part 1

Your need…

  1. Approx 100g Grass Green wool top or substitute for a colour of your choice, for (inside layers and outside layers of bag)
  2. Approx 50g lighter lime green wool for middle layer or colour of your choice.
  3. 2 x 1.25m Grey wool tops or colour of your choice for the handles
  4. a bag shaped Template, mine is made out of a thick plastic originally from Gilliangladrag. but you could use garden rubble bag.
    37cm top, 42cm bottom, 28cm long

Other Equipment you will need is
  1. A table space to work on, that you don’t mind getting wet!
  2. 1 bamboo blind / large Mat – or similar
  3. large piece of bubble wrap
  4. 1 piece of net curtain or netting big enough to cover the bag shape
  5. Bar of soap and some washing up liquid and old stuff will do!
  6. Hot and cold water
  7. a plastic squirts bottle or spray bottle. I use an old ketchup bottle.
  8. tea towels
  9. Old towels. Floor will get wet!
  10. small pair of Sharpe scissors

You can leave your work in an open plastic bag and return to it anytime within one day to a month.

The plastic template sits in the middle of the three layers, once the wool starts to felt and shrink, the top of the bag is cut and the template is removed leaving the 3d shape, the bag is seamless   

To make the bag…

1.split your 100g of wool into two, one half will be for the inside layer, the other for the out side layer

2.fill your old squirt bottle with hot water and a bit of washing up liquid

3.lay your template on the sheet of bubble wrap (the bubbles facing upward)

 4. start to pull off the very end fibres with your finger tips, using wispy amounts lay the wool over the template making sure you place the fibres in the same direction, and leave an over lap of approx 1inch at the edges, keep laying down the wool until you can no longer see the template.

pull apart the fibres by grabing the ends like this!

5.Cover the wool and template with your netting, and start sprinkling your water, wet through thoroughly.

6.take your tea towel or towel and mop off the excess water through the net, the wool should be wet but not to wet you don’t want puddles, if its still springy its too dry!!

7.Rub your bar of soap over your wet netting; I also rub some washing up liquid between my hands. so the netting gets all slimy and soapy!

8.Rub in circular motion for 5 mins..think wax on..wax off..but in nice fluid but FIRM movements.

  9.turn the wool and template over, fold over lapping edges all the way round keeping it nice and neat and TIGHT

10.Repeat 4-8

11.Turn over again, fold the edges nice and tight! You’re now on your middle layer! Which I am using light lime green

both side should be nice and neat and tight

12.using the lime green (or your 50g colour choice) repeat steps 4-8
turn over again immediately fold edges all the way round
13.repeat steps 4-8 using the lime green

my liner design

if adding a pattern lay your design down on top of your fibre
14.turn over fold edges to start your 3rd outer layer using the original green or your colour choice (now I decided to turn my work inside out, so that I had the original green on the outer, and I created a liner pattern using the lime green, spring green, and a middle tone green. see pictures) at this stage you can also add pattern like flowers etc (if your not turning your work) if you do add pattern you need to work the wool for a good 30 mins, until they are firmly attached, to test this pull back netting and pinch the wool between your two fingers, if you can pick up the fibre, its not worked enough! The more soap the better; just make sure you don’t get things to wet!!

i laid down three differnt shades of green, to make a nice liner for my bag

15.repeat steps 4-8 leaving a bigger lapping edges

little hands can help with the rubbing in :)

16.Turn over for the final time; fold your generous over lap, this time you DO NOT want any over lap, as there is no where for it to go especially if you have decided to add a pattern! Tease out some wispy pieces and follow the lines of the bag to finish off neatly. Add your design if you chose one and follow the same 30min rule!

17.Now soap your hands and rub the edges of the bag, getting it to harden slightly and shrink to fit the template inside. Until bag feels substantially held together! Rinsing before its ready can lead to it falling apart so make sure you have rubbed enough!!

18.Rinse briefly under lukewarm tap a few times until you remove a bulk of the soap. Wring it gently to remove water..roll it up in the bamboo matt (good time to lay down your old tea towel, stops you sliding all over the place), start to roll back and forth for a good 20mins with firm pressure, rotate through 90 degrees on BOTH sides, by this point it should have started to shrink

Really need to give it some elbow grease!

19Rinse again, but this time with boiling hot water, leave until safe to touch, the wring out! Repeat the rolling process for 20min+

20.take some small sharp scissors and poke them in to the corner at one side of the top of bag, feel around for the plastic template, once you feel your sissors are all the way inside, cut along the top for about an inch, now poke your finger inside and push your template down, now cut a clean slit along the top of bag, remove your template

21.get some more soapy water and soap and run it along the newly cut edges until there no longer fluffy
Rinse the bag again first in hot water, then in cold, then in hot again, make sure you remove all soap.

22.Now give the bag a final can roll for how ever long you like, just remember the more you roll the more your bag will shrink.

23.Stand back and admire your work!!

I turned mine inside out


Leave to dry near a radiator or in an airing cupboard

To make you’re Handles.
  1. take the two lengths of grey wool for the handles and wet them down with soapy water, rinse excess, and get your hands nice and soapy
  2. Run the lengths through your hands, one by one, to get the wool to felt a little (at this stage I folded each length in two and then felted them together, you don’t have to do this!)
  3. Now lay your length on your bamboo matt (do one at a time), ether wrapped in the netting for the first few times or not, its up to you! Make sure you have the bamboo touching both sides, by placing your handles in the middle of the bamboo, and roll, with a good amount of presser for about 15 mins.
  4.  after you have rolled both, rinse the handles in boiling water and leave till you can touch safely, then roll again for another 15mins
  5. repeat the rinsing and rolling until the handles feel firm and felted, make sure all soap has gone
  6. (if you folded the lengths in half, now is is the time to separate them, and roll each side..see last picture)


To attach the handles

  1. Measuring equal points and using pins..mark where you want your handles to go!
  2. Using sharp scissors make two very small holes, on the front and bag of bag, the holes should be just large enough to pull the handles through. But not so big that the handles don’t hold fast, even with out the knot!! Remember they will wear and stretch!
  3. Push the handle through each hole, adjust to equal lengths, and knot to secure!!

In Part two, I will be making flowers for the top of the bag and showing you how to attach them.


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