Making felt beads is really fun and relatively easy. Felting is the process of turning wool into a dense hard fabric (felt) and these felt beads are made using a wet felting technique. Below is a quick step by step tutorial about how to make them!
You’ll need the following:
- Merino dyed wool tops – mixed colours
- Bowl of very hot water
- Bowl of ice cold water
- Size 11 seed beads (optional)
- Small sewing needle and cotton thread (optional)
Take a thin strand of wool fibres, this one below is around an inch wide by 12 inches long. Pull the fibres apart a little with your fingers.
Roll the fibres into a ball by twisting it around and around at different angles so it looks like this.
Now dip it into the bowl of very hot water. The water should be as hot as you can stand it and you’ll need to keep refreshing it as you do more felt beads! Whilst holding the wet wool together in the ball shape, lather it with soap.
Start to massage the ‘ball’ around between the palm of your hands. As if you were making balls out of play dough (or cookie dough). Keep the pressure really light otherwise the wool might fold over and leave a crack down the middle of it! Repeat the process of dipping into hot water and then using soap whilst rolling it until you can feel the bead shape firming up a little.
After a few minutes, your wool ball should be looking more like a felted ball, like this! Keep repeating the process of dipping, soaping and rolling only this time, use plenty of pressure as it will now make the felted ball very firm and tight which is what you need when using them for beads. The soap should gradually rinse away as the bead gets firmer.
Once you’re happy with the way your felt bead looks, dip it into the bowl of ice cold water, this helps to shrink and set the fibres into your bead shape. Pat it with a towel to get rid of any excess water and then leave to dry for a few hours.
Repeat steps 1 to 6 to make as many as you like! My two year old daughter loved ‘helping’ with this project as it involved playing with water, one of her all time favourite things to do. It kept her busy for ages!
Step 8 (optional)
Adorn with beads or sequins! I’ve used a very small sewing needle here, size 11 seed beads and cotton thread. Tie both ends of the thread together into a knot and start taking the needle through randomly sewing a seed bead on wherever the needle pops through. It’s a bit addictive so make sure you’ve got plenty of felt beads lined up!
I made a stretchy bracelet with my felt beads, mixing them with gold plated beads and size 6 seed beads alternately. You can thread them on using a large sewing needle (you just need to check the stretchy elastic can fit through the eye of the needle!)
Hope you found this tutorial on how to make felt beads helpful. Have fun felting!