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Designing Your Own Wool Fabric – Part II

by Annette Ringeisen

In today’s post, we bring you Part II of the project, (Part I was posted last week, with a tutorial on dyeing your wool fabric), which includes transferring your design into the fabric by a special felting process. Brought to you by Living Crafts in two parts, Annette Ringeisen, an accomplished fiber artist, and Living Crafts magazine contributor, teaches you how to dye your own wool fabric, felt your design, and prepare it for any sewing project you wish.

Today’s tutorial is sponsored by ArtFelt offering a huge giveaway at the end of this post! Here comes Annette in her own words with Part II:

Thinking of a Design

My idea is to embellish my fabric with a needle-felted design, and I’ve chosen two images: a bird sitting on a branch and a branch with red berries. This process is going to be very different from what I am used to. I tend to be very “free hand” in my designs, but I want a repeated design for this project, so I must work with patterns. First, I create the patterns by drawing the design on a sheet of, either, ArtFelt paper for felting or a stabilizer (one that that will wash out).

Next, I copy each design onto a square of the stabilizer (I use ArtFelt paper). I copy the designs over and over again. Wow! How many squares fit onto just one yard of fabric? If you are like me, you might not want to know. It’s better to just get started, knowing you’ll be impressed with yourself when you count up all those squares later.

I feel like I finally can get started…

… on needle felting that is. Fortunately, I have a table that I can leave everything set up on; otherwise, I would have to roll up my fabric every time and also clean up my needles and fibers.

So first I lay out the squares across the fabric to see how I want it to look. Keep in mind what you want to make. Will you need all the pictures facing in the same direction? Is it better to spread them randomly? How close together should they be? I recommend picturing the final piece in your mind’s eye, maybe even sketching it.

Coloring in

Using the felting needle and wool fiber, I start filling in the pattern. It is almost like coloring in a coloring book. I put felting foam underneath the square I am working on and move it to every new square.

Though you will only need a small amount of wool fiber for each square, this amount, of course, multiplies by the number squares you have. In the beginning, you are making just a rough outline, but as you move along you will needle more precisely. Moving the felting needle up and down into the background will felt the fibers together. In the beginning when fibers are still “loose,” they can be moved. Once they are tightly felted they should not be pulled out again.

This is what I am singing in my head right now!:

99 felted squares on the fabric, 99 felted squares. Felt one down and pass to the next, 98 felted squares on the fabric.

Yes, I have never before been so happy to be done with a needle/wet-felting project!

I say this, but do not let it stop you from trying this project because, in the end, it is all worth it!

It is time to wet felt!

Remember:  the design is tightly needle-felted into the fabric, so you needn’t fear it moving around. On a large piece of bubble wrap spread out the fabric and wet it down with soapy water (olive soap or Ivory dish soap and water). Cover it with bubble wrap and roll it up. Moving it back and forth will felt the fabric in one direction, so after a few minutes switch the direction and roll up the fabric the long way.

In order to get rid of the stabilizer, pour boiling water over the entire fabric. I was able to do this in the kitchen sink. Once done, the fabric can go into the washing machine to shrink it down a little more.

Once air-dried the fabric is ready to be turned into a beautiful piece of clothing.

But now that I am finished, I am thinking…oh, wouldn’t it be nice to make fabric like this to cover the old armchair, or maybe the sofa in the other room… You know, the pillows could really use a new cover…Well, I decided I want a soft, warm jacket for myself. Here it is!

The jacket was sewn by Nikki, the hands and heart behind Tadpoles & Butterflies (custom sewn children clothing) and Kobieta (custom sewn clothing for women).


Artfelt is sponsoring today’s tutorial, with giving away two each 5′ x 10′ pieces of ArtFelt paper each valued at $45 plus 20 hanks of wool roving in a variety of colors, each weighing 50 grams, each valued $10.50. Total retail value is $255. To enter drawing, please leave a comment on this post by end of the day Sunday 16th, 8:00 p.m. EST.

Our winner for this giveaway is Colette: “Lovely results. I would like to try it!”

Posted by Living Crafts on Jan 13, 2011 01:50 PM | 396 Comments

396 Responses to “Designing Your Own Wool Fabric – Part II”

  1. Beth says:

    I’ve really enjoyed this tutorial. What a great time of year, with cold snows covering Vermont, for a big ol’ felt project!

  2. cat says:

    oh i love everything about this project!! please enter me in the giveaway! thank you so much..:)

  3. Nancye says:

    I love this!

  4. Shawna Schlechter says:

    I am a beginner felter and this project is inspiring!

  5. Beth says:

    This sounds like a fun project. Thanks for sharing it!

  6. becca says:

    thanks for the tutorial and giveaway! I’m always up for an involved handwork project – please add my name to the hat!

  7. Sarah says:

    What a great jacket!! How fun would love to give it a try!

  8. Jennifer says:

    Love! Can’t wait to dream up my own project. And what an amazing give-away! Thank you!

  9. Devin says:

    Wow! You are a rockstar! Thanks for the giveaway chance!

  10. Courtney says:

    Wow…I love this project!!

  11. Audrey says:

    Thanks! I think I might be ready to tackle felting!

  12. Kerstin says:

    What a great process! I love the finished jacket.

  13. Kath says:

    Loved this article. I’m a beginner felter. My goal for this year is to learn how to felt and this was so inspiring! Thanks so much.

  14. Diane says:

    Great tutorial. Much thanks!

  15. Kathleen L says:

    Oooh, I would so love to try this project!

  16. Lisa says:

    What an amazing giveaway! I spin, knit, and weave, but would LOVE to give felting a try. Thanks for the awesome tutorial.

  17. Brandie says:

    after all that work, I would have a real hard time cutting though it! Beautiful color combo.

  18. susan says:

    Wow…. how inspiring ! The design chosen is precious and the final jacket is awesome. Thanks for sharing this project. Susan

  19. Shannon says:

    Love this tutorial series and the giveaways! I have used artfelt paper before, but not in this manner – thanks!

  20. Sarah Northrip says:

    What a great project and a wonderful giveaway. I would love to try this project!

  21. shufen shih says:

    Thank you so much to sharing this beautiful project with us. I’ll love to do some project with my daughter too! Thanks again and you look as shining as your jecket!!


  22. Amy says:

    Wow! What an ambitious project- I love it. Very inspiring!

  23. margaret says:

    I love learning new skills like this! Thanks for a creative and super idea that I can use in so many ways


  24. anna says:

    Very interesting!
    I have never heard of this technique with “felting paper” before.

  25. Missy says:

    Wow! This is so amazing :) I’ve been wanting to try making my own felted fabric for quite a while now and making some with beautiful birds on it, all I can say is this is so beautiful.

  26. Sarah M says:

    How incredibly beautiful, I love it!

  27. June Albright says:

    What a big wooly project . The process is intriguing, though I have a few questions. I’d love to get my hands wet with this

  28. Thank you so much ——your work inspires enless imaginations!!

  29. I am inspired and looking forward to a few snow days to try this out.

  30. rachel steinberg says:

    awesome!!!!! would love to try this with my kids!

  31. Corrie says:

    Ooh, I haven’t had a chance to use the Artfelt paper before. Looks fun and so many possibilities.

  32. Meagan says:

    Wow! I really love this. She looks so proud of her new jacket. So amazing. I have never used the paper- what a great idea. I really must try it!

  33. Lisette says:

    Love this tutorial – would love to do this project for Roots & Shoots under privileged children group! Thanks for sharing ideas.

  34. Karen says:

    amazing! All ways looking for new and innovative ways to felt and you have created a lovely tutorial. Thank you thank you thank you! Excited to try this with my students!

  35. Marcy says:

    what a wonderful lesson. I must try doing this with felt. Thank you very much for the great class.

  36. Tracy says:

    An amazing tutorial, thank you! Tracy Guelph, ON

  37. Dana says:

    What a fabulous tutorial! While I am not new to woolcrafting, I’m just now starting to wrap my head around all the options that felting has to offer. WOW is all I can say :)

  38. Molly says:

    Oh, I’m so excited to try this out. That jacket is just amazing. Who would know that you could start off with some wool fiber and arrive at that…amazing! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial and for an opportunity at this awesome giveaway!!

  39. zabe says:

    Beautiful work! So many ideas to try.

  40. Sonia Parisi says:

    A beautiful wearable work of art! Thank you for sharing this tutorial.

  41. Darcy says:

    Wow! I am so envious of artistic and crafty people. What a laber of love.

  42. I don’t usually reply to posts but I will in this case. WoW

  43. Donna says:

    Great jacket!! It looks great and fits very well. I don’t think I would be able to start with a project like that, but wouldn’t mind starting out with a smaller one and working my way up. Would love to win the great giveaway.

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