Felt Vessels

Next on my list of fun projects is a simple felted vessel; you can create a bowl, vase, hat or slipper with this method.

felt_vase_sm3.jpg

1. Start with four layers of roving, laid out so the fibers within each layer lie perpendicular to each other, in the basic shape of your ultimate creation; this is called a batt. Create a second batt of the same size and set it aside. To get a sturdy vessel, use more layers of felt and choose a roving with long, thick fibers.

batt.jpg

2. To create a hollow object, you need a resist, either a piece of cotton fabric or plastic cut a little smaller than your batt. Lay the batt over your resist and then wet it gently with hot, soapy water.

vessel_stage1.jpg

3. Flip the batt over so the resist is face up.

vessel_stage2.jpg

4. Fold the edges of the batt over the resist.

vessel_stage3.jpg

5. Layer your second batt over the resist.

vessel_stage4.jpg

6. Wet it again and then flip the whole affair over.

vessel_stage5.jpg

7. Fold the edges once again so you have a smooth blob which is still very loosely put together.

vessel_stage6.jpg

8. At this point, it is helpful to put some sort of screen over your piece so you can agitate it gently without moving the fibers. cimg7570.jpg I use a long piece of webbed non-skid carpet underlay, the sort you use to keep an area rug from sliding around on your hardwood floor. You can also use a bamboo blind, a sushi mat, or any type of cloth netting. Roll your bundle in the screen, pour a little liquid soap over it and then roll it back and forth for five minutes.

Unroll it periodically to check on the progress; if the fibers seem to be holding together you are ready to move on to the next stage. Ultimately, the longer you work the package while rolled in the netting, the stronger the finished product will be.

cimg7579.jpg

9. Cut one end of your package and remove the resist. Now you are ready to work the vessel from the inside and the outside at the same time.

cimg7585.jpg10. Rub the vessel vigorously on a washboard until you achieve a firm fabric. Be sure to rotate the vessel so that all sides are felted evenly.

Felt will shrink in the direction you are rubbing, so this is where you can adjust the height or width of your product. In this illustration, the piece will shrink in length. If I want it to shrink in width to create a skinnier piece,  rotate it 90 degrees.

You can embellish your piece with wispy bits of roving, or cut-outs of pre-felt, but getting them to adhere can be a bit tricky depending on how sturdy your piece is. You can also layer a few bits of colored roving in the original batt, which will create a mottled look.

cimg7587.jpg

*Edit: Rinse your piece when it has achieved the firmness you desire. A final rinse in a vinegar bath will restore the pH of your felt and harden the final piece, making it less likely to pill or shed fibers.

felt_vase_sm2.jpgfelt_vase_sm.jpg

In the end, I needle-felted accents after the vase was dry, which allowed me more control over the swirling design.

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15 Responses to “Felt Vessels”


  1. 1 Blair Sunday, February 11, 2007 at 12:37 am

    Leah, I just found your blog! I was over at my friend Sally’s blog Shim & Sons and saw your comment. Very small world. Congrats on your little space here, its just great.

  2. 2 Craftybernie Tuesday, July 17, 2007 at 2:39 am

    Hi – I just had to say that I love the felted vessel tutorial. I’ve been felting for about a year and started with knitting & felting bags and totes. I’ve recently moved on to wet felting with wool roving and also needle felting. I simply have to try to make one of these – it’s superb! I’ll let you know how I get on if that’s ok.

    Many thanks for sharing….Bernie

  3. 3 becca richards Thursday, August 30, 2007 at 5:05 am

    I have been using your blog over the summer to refresh my felting knowledge – I’ve used resists before but never attemped to make 3d objects, I can’t say that my first attempts have been brilliant, but I’m going to persist.

    I am also a textiles teacher in a school in Cornwall (UK) and have posted a link to my website for this site (being uploaded this evening!) to encourage my students to think outside the box a little – I’m sure that they’ll find your tutorials as inspiring as I do!

    I look forward to discovering new projects and sharing them with others

    Becca

  4. 4 Hannah Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at 5:33 am

    Hi Leah,
    I just wrote a lovely post and it disappeared into the void that is the internet.

    Just wanted to mention that I have been told that leaving soap in can eventually rot the wool. So you might want to consider this, depending on the use of the object. I have used diluted fabric stiffener on some bowls to get the required strength when I hadn’t initially made the wool think enough.

    Cool needle felting!!!

    Hannah

  5. 5 tamarila Sunday, November 11, 2007 at 11:56 am

    this is fantastic tutorial!

  6. 6 Madeline Beaudry Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    thank you so much. I have been looking for basic directions for making a hollow vessel.I will let you know how it turns out.

  7. 7 Kimara Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I’ve had your site bookmarked for quite a while but finally spent some serious time here this afternoon. So glad I did. I’m very excited to try making a vase. Thanks for a really informative tute. I’ll be linking on Facebook 🙂

  8. 8 Kaela Monday, November 15, 2010 at 9:35 am

    I’ve been looking around for a good tutorial with pictures of how to make a 3D felted object, this is exactly what I was looking for! Thanks for the great tips!

  9. 9 Cat Monday, May 16, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Thank you for posting this tutorial. I used it today to make my first wet-felted 3D objects – must be the most unusual baby safety device ever – covers for the drawer knobs on our TV stand (my 10 month old was hitting her head on the hard metal knobs) – the new felted knobs certainly lend an air of fun to the living room.

    Tomorrow I have baby booties in my sights. Thanks for giving me the confidence to have a go. I’m truly delighted with the results.

    • 10 kneek Monday, May 16, 2011 at 8:51 am

      Thanks so much Cat. You made my day! Felted doorknob covers are a great idea. How clever! It is lovely to hear of one more use for this fantastic material.

  10. 11 Jasmine Bachinsky Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 2:23 am

    Hi! I was wondering if you could explain how to felt something I saw on the net. (I couldn’t send the picture though) Thanks Jasmine


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