Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting ready to go back to school...and a felting tutorial (of sorts)

Well I dragged the big girl to the hairdresser today to have her locks trimmed... just a little so it will look extra pretty on her first day back at school. I wish I had taken my camera - the pout on her face under all her hair and with the bulk of her body wrapped up in a drape was priceless. You'd think the hairdresser was shaving her bald! She lost an inch maybe an inch and a half and on reflection she quites likes the trim...phew!

The other little project I have been delaying was to make her a new cover for her stainless steel water bottle. We made one last year and I didn't really know what I was doing and while it looked pretty - rainbow felt - it wasn't strong enough and it pilled and wore through in several places. I showed a few 'felting' friends and one suggested that I try using a template..the first time I had just wrapped fleece around the bottle itself, added soap and water and rolled like a madwoman.

If you have been reading this blog for a while you will know that I am not a fan of felting ~ don't get me wrong I love felted stuff but I generally get bored by the process ~ it takes soooo long; Steiner would say I lacked will ~ well not today!

I am clearly not an expert, nor very clever at wet felting but these covers turned out ok so I'll show you how I did it.

I made a template out of bubble wrap by roughly cutting around the water bottle and allowing for about 1/3 shrinkage (it looks bigger than a third but remember it has to go around the bottle)
Then I lay out an old towel, a big piece of bubble wrap (saved from some long forgotten parcel) and my template on top and began laying out my fleece. I made three layers; one horizontal, one vertical and one a bit mish mash. On the top layer I added a few strands of pink for a bit of interest. On all layers I went over the edges of the template by about an inch.
Ok now I carefully lay over a piece of mesh/netting stuff (I couldn't find the old piece of tulle I have somewhere so I cut up one of those funny little bath/shower sponge things - worked well!) and gently poured warm soapy water over the lot, pressing carefully with my hands to disperse it. When it was wet but not soaking I gently massaged the entire thing until it was just beginning to felt. (Look carefull in the background of the picture and you will see my wee one making off with a pile of fleece!)
At this point I took off the netting and flipped it over

and carefully folded in the bottom and two sides (leave the top open)
Then I lay down fleece as I had at the beginning; in three layers
and repeated as for the first side - netting, wet down, massage. At about the same time in the process as I flipped the first time, I flipped the second, folding in the bottom and two sides. This time I carefully folded in the top edge to make a 'pocket' or opening for the bottle to go in.

From here it is pretty standard ~ massage gently all over until the fibres are pretty firm then roll up in the bubble wrap and towel and roll like crazy in one direction, unroll the lot, rotate your work 90 degrees and roll like crazy again.
keep going; rolling and rotating until the felt starts to curl up because the template is getting too small
take the template out and continue rolling and rotating...this is where that will comes in handy (you swear it is NEVER going to shrink enough to fit and this whole thing has been a bit fat waste of time and fleece).

When you get bored and grumpy use your thumb and forefinger to gently pinch and lift a little fiber on the surface. If individual fibers come up, it is not through the felting stage so keep rolling. If they hold onto the fabric around them so that the whole fabric picks up as one unit, it is felted and ready for fulling to make it tougher. Yay!

Fulling is the use of heat, moisture and extreme agitation to make a wool fabric shrink and therefore become stronger. Felt that is used without fulling will likely pill and shed fiber until it falls apart (this is what happened to the rainbow version). So rinse it under stinking hot water and then cold water a few times - this helps shock the fibres and gives you something else to do for a bit.
Try it on you water bottle and have a little cry because it is NEVER going to fit!
Just for a change, roll it with the bottle inside.
And when you are getting really bored and frustrated it is probably time to start throwing it around. I love this bit!
and it really speeds up the shrinking process (thank goodness for that)
Ta da!
The green one is for my big girl and the red one for me...maybe I could get into this felting gig afterall.


Amanda Pedro said...

whew! that was a lot of work. i was getting tired watching you. I agree with shocking it with hot and cold. it wakes a big difference when I start doing that.
Brave woman to make a pouch. I just would have done it they 1st way you tried. Around the canister.
thanks for sharing

Val said...

Oh Well Done...!!!!!!
I love this tutorial ...:0)

It is so darn true ...lol

W-S Wanderings said...

Oh, I am chuckling! It's like a wet version of the needle-felting frustrations I went through. I've only done mini wet-felting projects to date. Probably cuz anything big looks like a REALLY big hairy deal. But you certainly produced beautiful results!

WonderWhyGal said...

Great instructions and great idea for my next simple wet felting project.

Glad I found you.

Unknown said...

great idea.thanks for leading us step by step

GeorGina said...

Oh Wow, Shannon! I was hoping for a version of "just wrap some wool around the botlle and start felting". May need a personal tutorial!!!! xx