How to Wet Felt a Handbag Using a Gertie Ball and Tumble Dryer



Things You Will Need to Make This Handbag

Merino wool roving (2 layers of approximately 140 grams each)
Merino and silk wool roving for Layer 3 (Approximately 140 grams)

Hot soapy water, dish washing liquid or grated Olive Oil soap diluted in the hot water.

Bubble wrap

A large bamboo curtain blind

A 'Gertie' Ball

A Tumble Dryer

A Purse frame, recycled or new

A needle and strong matching thread for sewing on the purse frame

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How to Make the Wet Felted Handbag.

The Merino Wool and Merino Silk Mix Wool Roving used for this tutorial.



Draw a circle which has a diameter of 17 inches on a sheet of bubble wrap. Cut out with a pair of scissors



LAYER 1



  • Put down a layer of red Merino wool roving.
    Begin at the outer edge and work in towards the center.
    The fibers should overlap the edge of the template.
    Make the layers as even as possible.







  • The template covered in an even layer of fibers.







  • Sprinkle the fibers with hot soapy water.







  • Cover the fibers with bubble wrap and add a little surface water to the top the bubble wrap. This will make it easier to rub your fingers over the surface.







  • Turn the project over







  • Fold the loose fibers over the edges of the template.
    Use the hot soapy water and fingers to ensure that the fibers lay firmly against the edges.







  • Add another layer of fibers. Wet them right up and until the edge of the template and then wrap the loose fibers around the edges of the template.







  • Smooth the turned over edges using warm water and your fingers.
    Place a piece of bubble wrap on the top of the project and rub with the addition of a little soapy water placed on the surface of the bubble wrap. Pay particular attention to the edges of the template.







  • Cover with bubble wrap and use your fingers and a little hot soapy water to smooth the edges and the top surface.





LAYER 2



  • Cover both sides of the template in 1 more layer on wool roving





Layer 3



  • Cover both sides of the template with a decorative layer of Merino mixed with Silk fibers.







  • Roll the project inside the bamboo blind.
    Keep on changing the direction in which you roll so that the project shrinks from all directions and not only from one side. When the template shows sides of 'buckling' it is ready to put into the tumble dryer.





Layer 3



  • Put the project with the template still inside into the tumble dryer for about five minutes. Use the normal hot cycle.






  • The project after it spent about 5 minutes in the hot cycle tumble dryer







  • Cut an opening using a small sharp pair of scissors. The opening should be made just large enough to remove the ball comfortably.







  • Gently ease the template through the opening.





This tutorial utilizes two of my favorite tools which I use for felt making.


  • The Gertie ball which can be purchased from Amazon. I am often asked where one can be purchased. For convenience, I have placed a link on my felting resources page.

    The Gertie Ball is a nice soft squishy ball which has the texture of a Pilates ball which can be used multiple times over. Heat from the tumble dryer seems to have no negative effect on its longevity.

    I use these balls for bag or hat making. They can be stored flat and re-used multiple times over.







  • Insert the deflated Gertie Ball through the opening of the bag and inflate using the little plastic tube provided by the Manufacturer. Seal with the plastic plug.







  • Shrinkage after 5 minutes.
    The ball can be seen still inside the project.







  • Shrinkage after about 10 minutes
    Please note that shrinkage may take a little longer to achieve the size required. Check the contents of the tumble dryer often. If you start to see any folds forming in the shrinking felt, remove the project from the tumble dryer. Wet the folds and soap with dishwashing liquid to remove them before they become permanent. Continue to tumble until the ball has shrunk to match the ball inside. Leave a little space at the top so that you can cut the opening wider. This will allow easy removal of the ball. Put your hand into the bag and pull the plug from the ball.







  • The ball still inside the project.







  • A close-up of the handbag frame. Now is the time to enlarge the opening and match the cut to the size which is needed to complete the bag. Sew on with strong contrasting or matching thread and leave the bag to dry in a place where the air can circulate underneath it.







  • The completed handbag with a matching butterfly scarf



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