When I saw this beautiful bag I immediately went searching for more information on how to properly felt a bag using a resist. I’ve done needle felting, wet felting and I’ve felted knit bags, but I’ve never felted with a resist. In simple terms, a resist is a template that you use to help create the shape of what you’d like to make. It’s how you can make a felted purse like this one from Magic Felting.
Using a Template for Felting
When you wet felt with a template, you felt your fibers around the template and then remove it before you finish up the project. In addition to using this technique for felting bags, it’s also how you can make felted hats and berets like this one.
As a life-long knitter, you know that any craft that uses wool is right up my alley. In the past I’ve made a few knitted bags that I’ve felted, but other than that I really hadn’t ventured into all of the great things that you can make with wool. That is, things that didn’t require the use of a knitting needle or crochet hook.
Not long ago I wrote about the different felting techniques in my article Needle Felting Ideas and Techniques. In that article I focused on the technique of using a pointed needle to sculpt figures and I shared some of my favorite ideas. But I wanted to chat a little bit about the other ways of felting wool.
How to Felt Wool
Keeping things simple, felting wool can be achieved through 2 processes, either wet felting or dry felting (aka needle felting). Wet felting allows you to mix fibers, blend colors and come up with a textile that can be made into jewelry, clothes, bags or artwork. Needle felting allows you to mix and shape wool to make ornaments, decorations and artwork.
A few months ago I had an opportunity to attend a Fiber Arts Festival and I took two workshops while I was there. The first was in making landscapes and the second was in making felted jewelry. These classes were the perfect introduction to the two camps of felters. The landscape that I made was achieved through needle felting. It is essentially painting with wool. You lay your wool on top of a piece of wool felt to create a picture or abstract, then use a needle to blend the colors together. The needle breaks down the fibers and allows them to intertwine with each other to create a new textile. I really loved making wool felted landscapes. It’s a very forgiving process, so if you don’t like the way something looks, just remove some wool or add some more. I found it to be a very relaxing process and couldn’t believe how quickly the class flew by.
The first photo is one that I took of the completed landscape and was the model I used as a guide during the class. I think it gives you a good idea of the type of landscapes, pictures and designs you can create. A great way to take one of your favorite pictures and recreate it with wool.
This next picture is one that I took of a 3D felted picture. This was created by the instructor, Kristen Walsh, who used several layers to create depth and intricacy to the painting. I love this piece because it shows that you aren’t limited to landscapes and nature when you create felted artwork. Create any abstract design or picture you want. Like all things crafty, there are no limitations. Let your imagination take you where you need to go.
While I’m partial to needle felted landscapes, you can create felted artwork using the wet felting process. You would start off in a similar fashion as above where you lay-out your wool to create a drawing, but rather than “glue” the fibers together using a needle, instead you would use water, soap and agitation to bind the wool fibers together.
If you want some tips and inspiration for painting with wool, then this is hands-down my favorite book for this. This book is one of the most beautiful craft books I’ve ever seen and when I first bought it I couldn’t put it down. In addition to stunning photos of the artwork created by the author, the book is loaded with amazing instructions and details for how to create your own paintings using wool, fiber and stitches.
If you’ve thought about branching out and trying some different crafts with yarn, then felting may be a great fit for you. This is not the type of felting where you knit a bag and then throw it in the wash to felt it. No, these techniques take raw fiber and felt it into beautiful shapes, creatures and designs.
Dry Felting vs Wet Felting
Dry felting is a technique also referred to as needle felting. This is where you use needles to break down the fiber so that it sticks together. You can use this technique to sculpt dolls, animals and other figures. Or, it can also be used to create pictures and landscapes.
Wet felting is a technique where you wet the fibers and then massage them together and form them into different shapes and designs. This technique can be used to make jewelry, accessories and clothing.
Needle Felted Ideas
You can sculpt some really cute animals and figurines using needle felting. These are great gift ideas for the holidays and are perfect for teachers, friends and family members. You can either create a pretty Christmas decoration, or how about an animal that looks like their favorite pet? The design ideas are unlimited, but here are a few to get you started.
Image of needle felted cat courtesy of karen.tkr CC 2.0
These needle felted dolls by YaxchiArt are definitely professional quality dolls, but hopefully they give you an idea of how creative you can get. You may not be able to make dolls like this right off the bat, but give it time and you’ll be able to create intricate designs and figures.
This needle felted fawn by TinyApartmentCrafts is such a cute gift idea. It’s perfect to put on display, or it could also be used as a pin cushion.
A needle felted bear is a cute gift idea for a new baby, or for a baby’s first Christmas. Image courtesy of Karen.tkr CC 2.0
Image of adorable bird, flowers and nests by Karen via Flickr CC 2.0
Needle felting can also be done to create pretty accents and designs on fabric. Here are a few ideas for designs that could be used on a decorative pillow or handbag.
Image of needle felting with beads courtesy of frykitty via CC 2.0
Needle felted tree on fabric created by Nico Nelson Image available via CC 2.0
Now that you have some ideas, here are some of my favorite resources for needle felting. I hope you enjoy creating some fun and creative designs.