Wet felting is a holistic activity that involves sensory play and artistic expression while developing fine motor skills. It is a calm and screen-free activity for rainy day fun.
Making felt balls is the type of craft that even little ones can make with a little help and a bit of encouragement. The felted balls can be strung into a garland or used to play any number of games.
Wet Felting – Making Felt Balls
I haven’t felted anything for at least a decade until this week. I forgot how much patience and perseverance making felt balls requires.
Honestly, I found myself wanting quick results and was slightly irritated.
This is NOT for you if you are in a hurry or if you or the kids are hungry. It takes time.
I admit my impatience came from expecting the baby to wake at any given moment and having to leave the kids to their own devices with tubs of water.
What I’m trying to say is that although making felt balls is a calming activity, it is probably best not a good idea to attempt when you are pressed for time.
Now that that is out of the way, you need to know that wet felting is good for children.
Some advantages of wet felting are:
- It is sensory play which plays a crucial role in brain development.
- It is calming and relaxing.
- Encourages the development of fine motor skills.
- It encourages creativity.
- The child can keep their project and use it for play or decoration. This is advantage over paper crafts that often end in the landfill.
- It is fun and keeps a child’s attention span for a significant amount of time.
- It can be enjoyed by a wide age range.
*A Piece of Advice:
If you are wet felting balls with very young children it is a good idea to pre-felt the balls. This will save you a lot of headaches. The teachers at my kids’ Waldorf Kindergarten did this for the children.
Very young children want to be involved but it takes them a lot longer to felt and the project is a little delicate to start.
I wet felted my toddler’s ball until I was sure it was felted just enough for her to work with. She didn’t care at all. She mostly wanted to play in the water anyway.
Products Used for Making Felt Balls
How to Make Felt Balls
- wool roving
- a basin of hot water
- bowl of cold water
- soap (I used German Kernseife, but Castile or olive bar soap are good alternatives)
This step is optional, however, I include it because it is more frugal and doesn’t alter the end results. I use un-dyed carded wool or un-dyed wool roving for the center of my balls.
This isn’t necessary if the balls you are making are small. Un-dyed wool is usually cheaper and can be bought in large quantities inexpensively.
1. To make a golf-ball-sized ball, take about a 5-inch long piece of white carded wool or wool roving. Roll it into a fairly tight ball.
2. Take this ball and dip it into the basin with hot water. You want the water to be quite hot to the touch. Squeeze out the air and water.
3. Lather your hands with soap. I prefer to use bar soap, but you may use liquid soap. I have read that you shouldn’t use Dawn dish detergent to felt wool, but I haven’t personally tried it.
4. Roll the ball gently in your hands covered in soap lather. You are trying to get the fibers to lock into each other. Keep agitating the fibers to encourage felting.
5. Now you can add colored wool. Carefully prepare the roving by pulling off a 3-5 inch piece.
6. It is important to keep the fibers lined up while splitting the roving a few times lengthwise.
7. Take a piece and wrap it around your white ball in one direction, take another piece and wrap it in the other direction making a cross. You can alternate colors or use a solid color. It is up to your creativity.
8. Lather your hands again with soap and gently roll the ball in your hands as if you are forming meatballs or bread rolls. Be careful to go slow at the beginning.
9. Periodically, dip the ball in water and squeeze out the liquid. Repeating the lathering and agitation process. If the white is still showing, repeat step #7.
10. Keep dipping the ball in the hot water and lathering until the ball is fairly dense and tight. You can test this by squeezing it between your thumb and fingers. You don’t want the ball to have too much give.
11. Once it is the desired density, dip the ball into the cold water to shock the fibers. Roll it again in your hand. You can put it in the hot water and alternate with the cold water a few times to finish it.
12. Allow the balls to dry and use them for play, garlands, decorations or to make jewelry.
I would love to know if you have ever tried your hand at wet felting. If so, how did it go?
For those of you who are more visual, I found a YouTube video for you. It shows you how to make felt balls in a step-by-step manner. Rachel uses a slightly different approach than I do.
Her method of making felt balls is better suited to older children or adults. My kids like the water basins and they are less likely to tip than the Rachel’s measuring cup.
Needless to say, my toddler was good and clean after felting with us.
If you like handmade gifts, be sure to check out the post on 25 Handmade Hat patterns for the whole family. I’ve included are complimentary printable ‘handmade with love‘ gift tags. I also have a free pattern for Peg Doll Pouches for 2-inch dolls that your kids will love and you won’t want to miss.