Itching to get a start on your first felting project this weekend?
First, run through the checklist of what you’ll need.
Oh, dear...That must cost a fortune!
Don’t panic. What is really worth spending money on is wool. Yes, quality has its cost, and only wool from the best breeds of sheep will felt into something pleasant to the eye and touch. But when it comes to the tools and supplementary materials - no doubt you can find at least some (if not most) of them at home.
Textiles & Other Supplies
Supplies other than wool needn’t be of top quality. If you are a greenhorn, it won’t matter what you actually use for your first nuno felting project - a piece of the finest Margilan silk or just an old polyester scarf you were going to dispose of. The only thing that matters is that the holes between the yarns are large enough for wool fibers to penetrate. If they are, the wool will bond to the cloth, and only an experienced felter will guess that it is not natural silk. Some patience and a dab of fantasy will turn a drab scarf into a work of art! And if you've got a wardrobe full of small scarves you don’t wear, cut them into squares and create a patchwork design. Wool fibers will hold the pieces of fabric together. This is a cool technique for a bag, a hat, a scarf or even a dress.
There is actually quite a variety of textiles that you can use for nuno felting. Cotton gauze is what you can get in the nearest fabric store. Silk for nuno felting is more expensive, but still there might be a few old items made of organza, habotai or chiffon lying around in your closet.
If you love knitting, you surely have some yarn at home. If you don’t, go to the nearest thrift store and buy a ball or two. Wool threads bond well with wool fibers. You may use the threads to make a sharp outline of a flower, tree branches or any other design elements.
And cotton is good friends with wool. Use mouline, fine threads for sewing or even a cotton string to create the design. Lay just a few fibers of wool roving over it. No one will notice the wool fibers, but they’ll keep the threads in place.
Tools & Accessories
Your best, basic tool is a pair of your skillful hands. All you need is time and a bit of grit to master the new skill in no time.
What’s in the box?
When was the last time you bought home appliances? Perhaps, you haven’t thrown away the bubble wrap they were packaged in? If you have, ask some of your friends and neighbors, and you’re more than likely to get a piece or two. In a wet or nuno felting, you’ll lay your wool over the bubble wrap.
Packing foam sheets can be used as resist for cutting templates for wet felting. A foam pad will serve as a mat for needle felting. That’s more than enough to start!
It can be found in every kitchen!
Many feltmakers prefer making soap suds from grated solid soap. Just grate a piece of soap as if it were a carrot, then mix it with water as needed.
And, no doubt, you've got a wooden rolling pin for pastry. It's really indispensable when it's time to roll the item to facilitate shrinking.
You can also use a flexible swimming noodle or a plastic tube from a hardware store for the same purpose.
A bamboo mat for making sushi will serve as a perfect underlay for wool in wet felting.
And cookie cutters! They are so handy for shaping small needle felting projects such as hearts (happy Valentine's Day!), stars, flowers or other cute figures.
...And In Every Bathroom
A Sole Mate Tub and a pair of massage gloves, a small plastic basin or tub, a sprinkle and a piece of soap. Or a liquid soap dispenser.
Wooden or plastic massagers, say, prickly balls or rollers, will come in handy in the middle of the felting process, when you have to apply some effort to turn loose fibers into texture.
By the way, do you remember that your pair of hands is the best felting tool? And if you put on household rubber gloves with a rough surface, the force of that tool will be doubled (and that’ll save your skin from irritation, too). The wool will surely like the massage!
Beauty Through The Mesh
At the very beginning of the process, you'll have to cover the item with a piece of mesh. You needn't buy tutu net if you have a piece of mosquito net. Also, you are rather likely to find an old tulle lace curtain panel at home. But if you don’t, get it in the nearest thrift store.
That’s Not Trash
There are some articles at your home that you want to get rid of, but still hope to make use of them one day. That day has come!
Your grandmother’s washboard is not only a memory of the past, but also a most convenient tool for felting. When felting thick articles such as bags or slippers, you can rub the item on it to enhance shrinkage at the final stages.
If you are a lucky one, you’ll find a hat block or a mannequin in your closet. Yes, that’s exactly what you need for clothes and headwear! If you don't happen to be the owner of such rarities, have fun visiting a flea market!
If you've got kids or grandchildren, ask them to let you use their watering pot for a while. If they don’t agree, promise to felt a nice little purse or a bag for their treasures, and they'll relent!
If you've got a dog, you may borrow his or her grooming brush. Don't forget to reward your pet with a few treat cookies!
A rough rubber door mat is a good underlay for a wet felting project. Provided you haven’t used it for footwear yet!
A paddle roller for painting is a convenient tool for pressing your project. And a paint tray is exactly what you need for soapy water.
Check your bookshelf. What if you have a book or two on handcrafts? There might be something about felting there! But if there is none, just search the web. There are tons of videos by felters from all the world. Isn't that fabulous that so many people are eager to share their knowledge and experience with you!?
So, before buying a costly tool for your new hobby, look around, explore your home. Visit a thrift store, a hardware store or any other shop where you can get nearly all you need for $1-3. Spend money on top quality wool and some other exotic materials that make your project look and feel cool. Develop your skills and, first and foremost, be creative!