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Tutorial - How to make a wet felted pod

This tutorial will show you how to make a 3D wet felted pod using a flat resist.

How to make a wet felted pod

We would like to thank Annie & Lynn from Rosiepink for sending in this tutorial, you also can find these instructions on their website here www.rosiepink.typepad.co.uk

A resist is usually cut from a piece of pliable plastic and is put between two layers of wool to prevent them from felting together.

If you haven’t made felt before, please take a look at the free tutorial 'how to make flat felt' at: www.rosiepink.typepad.co.uk

This pod will be easier to make if you have a little knowledge of basic wet felt making and the simple materials you need.

The pod shown on the image above is 12.5cm at its widest and is 7cm tall  (approx 5" wide x 3" tall).

To make a pod of this size you will need:

  • Merino wool tops, approx 30 grams - available here from World of Wool in a wide variety of colours for you to choose from.
  • Bubble wrap, with small bubbles, 2 pieces approx 45cm x 45cm each (18" x 18")
    Tutu net, 1 piece, same size as bubble wrap
  • Bamboo rolling mat approx 60cm/24" wide - available here from World of Wool, but a round-stick bamboo window blind with the fittings removed works just as well
  • Water sprayer - an old spray-cleaner bottle will do, filled with warm water and a tablespoon of grated soap flakes or a dash of dish-washing liquid (if you use dish-washing liquid, don't shake the bottle or it will be too foamy to spray)
  • Bar of Soap - any soap will do, although we prefer olive oil soap
  • Pliable plastic - the resist we are using is a circle 17cm (6.75") in diameter cut from a roll of laminate flooring underlay, but you can use any pliable plastic to make your resist.

Place the resist on one of the pieces of bubble wrap, bubbles up, on a suitable work surface, i.e. one that will tolerate water.

Images to illustrate each of the stages below can be found in the gallery at the bottom of the page.

Stage 1

1. Start by laying fine tufts of wool around the edge of the resist, like sun-rays, allowing about 2.5cm (1") to hang over the edge, and continue until you have covered the edge right around. If you have a gap in the centre of the resist, lay a few wisps of fibres to fill in.

2. The colour of the wool used first will be the inside of your pod. (Image - step 2 in gallery)

3. Keeping within the shape of the resist, lay tufts of wool to make an even layer, with the fibres running horizontally.  (Image - step 3 in gallery)

4. Keeping within the shape of the resist, make a second layer, directly on top of the first, with the fibres running vertically. (Image - step 4 in gallery)

5. Cover the wool with tutu net then spray with warm soapy water. To encourage the wool to take up the water and to eliminate air pockets, press down gently on top of the net with flat hands - don't pat or rub. The wool should be wet through, but if you over-wet, mop up the excess with a sponge using straight up and down movements. (Image - step 5 in gallery)

6. Without disturbing the fibres under the net, draw a bar of soap over the surface. Then use a piece of scrunched up bubble wrap to gently rub, in a circular motion, over the wool (through the net) for 1 minute. 

7. Don't rub the fringe, only the wool on the resist. (Image - step 6 in gallery)

8. Carefully remove the net, releasing any trapped fibres, then cover the resist and wool with the second piece of bubble wrap, bubble side to the wool... (Image - step 7 in gallery)

9....gently push down to get a bit of ‘seal’ so that the wool and resist are 'stuck' between the two pieces of bubble wrap, then firmly grip the right-hand side of the bubble wrap and wool ‘sandwich’ and flip it over east to west, so that the resist is showing on top (see photo below).

10. Carefully remove the bubble wrap, releasing any trapped fibres.  (Image - step 8 in gallery)

11. Spray the resist to dampen it, then use wet, soapy fingers to wrap the wool fringe onto the resist. Don't pull at the fringe but make sure it's taut and not baggy against the edge of the resist.  (Image - step 9 in gallery)

Stage 2

12. As in step 1, lay fine tufts of wool around the edge of the resist, like sun-rays, allowing about 2.5cm (1") to hang over the edge, and continue until you have covered the edge right around. If you have a gap in the centre of the resist, lay a few wisps of fibres to fill in.  (Image - step 10 in gallery)

13. As in step 1, cover the shape of the resist with tufts of wool in an even layer, with the wool fibres running horizontally. Then make a second layer, directly on top, with the fibres running vertically.  (Image - step 11 in gallery)

14. As in step 1, cover the wool with tutu net then spray with soapy water. To encourage the wool to take up the water and eliminate air pockets, press down gently with flat hands - don't pat or rub. The wool should be wet through, but if you over-wet, mop up the excess with a sponge using straight up and down movements.  (Image - step 5 in gallery)

15. As in step 1, without disturbing the fibres under the net, draw a bar of soap over the surface. Then use a piece of scrunched up bubble wrap to gently rub, in a circular motion, over the wool for 1 minute. Don't rub the fringe, only the wool on the resist.  (Image - step 6 in gallery)

16. As in step 1, carefully remove the net, releasing any trapped fibres, then cover the resist and wool with the second piece of bubble wrap, bubble side to the wool...  (Image - step 7 in gallery)

17....gently push down to get a bit of ‘seal’ so that the wool and resist is 'stuck' between the two pieces of bubble wrap, then firmly grip the right-hand side of the bubble wrap and wool ‘sandwich’ and flip it over east to west.

18. Carefully remove the bubble wrap, releasing any trapped fibres, then use wet, soapy fingers to wrap the wool ‘fringe’ over.

19. Don't pull at the fringe but make sure it's taut and not baggy against the edge.  (Image - step 12 in gallery)

20. You now have a resist with two layers of wool on each side of it.

Stage 3

21. The pod needs four layers of wool on each side of the resist. You can either carry on with a plain colour or you can make a blend of colours.

22. An easy way to make a blend of colours is to choose two colours that complement the one you've already used.  (Image - step 13 in gallery)

23. Pull off a tuft of wool from each of the three colours and lay the tufts one on top the other. Grip both ends, one in each hand and slowly pull apart.  (Image - step 14 in gallery)

24. Lay the two halves one on top of the other, grip both ends as before, and repeat the pulling apart until you are happy with the mix.  (Image - step 15 in gallery)

25. Prepare enough blend to cover the resist with four layers. 

Stage 4

26. Using the blended wool, repeat the whole of Step 2, but make the fringe a little thicker.  (Image - step 16 in gallery)

Stage 5

27. Using the blended wool, again repeat the whole of Step 2, but do not lay a fringe.  (Image - step 17 in gallery)

28. Your final two layers, before netting over and wetting down, will look something like this:

29. When you flip the whole thing over, even though you didn't lay a fringe, you may have a tiny bit of 'overhang'. Smooth it in using soapy fingers. If the wool feels too wet, cover it with tutu net and mop away the excess water.

Stage 6

30. Discard the tutu net. Put bubble wrap on top of the wool, bubbles down onto the wool, (leaving the other piece of bubble wrap underneath) and push it down gently.

31. Sprinkle a little soapy water on top of the bubble wrap (to stop your skin sticking to it) then make small, gentle circles all over the wool with your fingers, for 5 minutes, occasionally giving some attention to the edge.

32. Turn the whole thing over and rub the other side for five minutes.

33. Repeat once more, five minutes on each side, re-positioning the bubble wrap each time so that the bubbles are in a different place.  (Image - step 18 in gallery)

34. Still keeping your pod between the sheets of bubble wrap, roll it up firmly in a bamboo blind.  (Image - step 19 in gallery)

35. When it looks like a 'swiss roll', upend it over a bowl or sink to drain away any surplus water.  (Image - step 20 in gallery)

36. *Roll the bamboo blind, with light pressure, 30 times. Count one roll as the distance the mat moves as it rolls from your fingertips to wrists and back again.  (Image - step 21 in gallery)

37. Unroll the blind, smooth and flatten the pod through the bubble wrap, turn it a quarter turn, then re-roll it in the blind and roll 30 times.

38. Repeat twice more so that the pod has been rolled from four different directions.

39. Turn the pod over and repeat the rolling four times, as above.*

40. Repeat from * to * until the resist starts to buckle - this happens as the wool felts and starts to shrink.

Stage 7

41. How you cut the resist out will determine the shape of your pod, but for this tutorial, we cut a hole in the centre of one side (taking care not to cut through the resist and the other side of the pod!)

42. You can cut the hole freehand or press the smooth edge of a cookie cutter firmly into the felt to leave an impression that you can use as a cutting guide. This hole is 6cm (2.25"). As the felt shrinks, the hole will get a little bigger.  (Image - step 22 in gallery)

43. Using soapy fingers, rub the cut edge to seal it. Use a gentle circular motion - imagine rubbing your fingers around the top of a wine glass - then rub around between your thumb and index finger.  (Image - step 23 in gallery)

44. Carefully remove the resist...  (Image - step 24 in gallery)

45.... then rub soapy fingers all around inside the pod.

Stage 8

46. The pod needs to be fulled and shaped (fulling is the shrinking and hardening of the felt).

47. This can be done just with soapy hands or with the aid of tools.

48. These are our favourite pod shaping tools:  (Image - step 25 in gallery)

49. A baby's rattle, a plastic ball that is designed to measure clothes washing liquid and a metal tablespoon.

50. As you work with your pod, you may find other household items that can be 're-purposed' to help you.  (Image - step 26 in gallery)

51. Use plenty of soap suds during the shaping as they will protect the surface of the felt.  (Image - step 27 in gallery)

52. The edge (where the wool was wrapped around the resist) will need special attention to eradicate the wrinkles - wherever you rub the most will shrink the most.

53. Warm felt will shape more quickly - you can warm the pod up in a microwave oven for a few seconds, or apply warm soapy water, or use the steam from an iron.

54. Rub and work the pod until you are happy with the shape and until the pod feels firm and you think it won't shrink any more.

55.Then dip it into cold water. Do not squeeze or wring the felt. Keep it pod-shaped. Keep changing the water until it's clear then give the pod a final rinse in cold water with a dash of white vinegar added.

56. Lift it from the water and let it drain on a rack. When it stops dripping, make sure you are happy with the shape, adjust it if necessary, then put it in a warm place to dry completely.

57. Felt will keep the shape in which it dries, and as the pod dries the colours of the wool will brighten.

58. The wet pod, shown below, is drying on a cake cooling rack with a piece of cross-stitch plastic on it.  (Image - step 28 in gallery)

Now you’re wet felted pod is complete!

Thank you so much to Annie & Lynn from Rosiepink for this tutorial! Hopefully they will be kind enough to share more with us, and you, in the future.

Let us know if you have created a wet felted pod using this tutorial and show us your pictures on Facebook and Twitter, we’d love to see them!

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