FELTING HINTS AND FAVORITE TOOLS FROM THE FELTMAKER'S LIST

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SOLUTIONS TO KEEPING THE FELT PIECE WARM DURING FELTING FELTING PROCESS TOOLS: TUPPERWARE LIDS      AND GROOVED WOODEN OR PLASTIC TOOLS     
LINK TO GENERAL HINTS FOR BEGINNERS ON Jill Gully's WEB PAGE. FELTING PROCESS TOOLS: ROLLING BARS          
FAVORITE TOOLS: BAMBOO MATS FAVORITE TOOLS: SCALES
FAVORITE TOOLS: WASHBOARDS FAVORITE TOOLS: NOODLES (WOGGLES) Swimming pool Styrofoam cylinders used as rolling bars.
FAVORITE TOOLS: BUBBLE WRAP Spa and Pool Covers FAVORITE TOOLS: GENERAL
 


SOLUTIONS TO KEEPING THE FELT PIECE WARM DURING FELTING
*Helene Carter, 11 Feb. 1997. One problem that I have found when working on felting projects is that the water used to wet the project cools down before I am finished working it. One solution I have used with good success is steaming it over boiling water. I don't have to add a lot of extra water to the piece to keep it hot and while one piece is steaming I can work on another. I'd love to hear other obstacles people have had and their solutions.  
*Annie Collard, 11 Feb. 1997.  If you are working on a small project using a cotton resist, you can always pop the whole thing into the microwave and zap it for a minute  to get the water warm again.  
*Helene asks what others do to keep their felt pieces warm while working them.
1. I don't care if the felt gets cold if I'm using a fast felting fleece such as merino or Gotland. The coolness helps me to keep control of my shape while I'm felting since it slightly slows down the process.
2. If I am gone for awhile and need to warm my piece up, I do the following.
          A. If it is small enough and has no dyes that will run, I put it in the microwave on high for 30 sec. If it's still not warm enough, I repeat this action until its hot. (The felt must be moist.) B. If it is too large for the microwave, I use a hot iron on the felt, pressing down in areas until the whole thing is warmed up.
              Since I am usually working with the merino or Gotland, I don't worry about the cool down during the felting stage. But when fulling, I do dip the item in hot or boiling water so that I can really speed up the "shrinking" action. The rolling, rubbing or tossing technique that I decide to use for the fulling, will push out the water so that it doesn't interfere with the fibers trying to felt together. (I have found that too much water on merino in the early stages will cause the fibers to float apart. If they move apart, they cannot tangle with each other to make felt. So I don't use very much water in my felting.)  

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FELTING PROCESS TOOLS: TUPPERWARE LIDS AND GROOVED WOODEN OR PLASTIC TOOLS
*Pat Spark 15 March , 1996. The Tupperware Lid is found on several of their containers. It is not their normal, one piece lid. It comes apart into three pieces. 1. Ridged flexible plastic bottom. 2. Smooth rigid plastic top. 3. Small, rigid plastic cylinder which is inserted into a hole in the top of the lid. Pushing on this cylinder button releases the air pressure built up, thus releasing the suction that keep the lid on the juice container.   I have found these lids on the large juice pitchers, the medium sized juice pitchers, a creamer/sugar set, a salt and pepper set. They have ranged from about 5 inches across to about 2 inches across.   I like to use these in the beginning stages of the felting process because they have more surface area than my hand, but because they have an air cushion between the top of the rigid plastic lid and the bottom, flexible plastic ridged area, they do not create too vigorous of a motion. I put a net over the wet fleece to prevent any movement of my design and then rub in circular motions of the larger lids (One in each hand.) I keep lifting up on the mosquito net to make sure that it is not attaching into the fleece below.   In the beginning, I push lightly on the lid so that I am not pushing any fiber out of position. Eventually, the fleece begins to form a felt skin and is more stable, so I push harder. After awhile, I find myself pushing very hard on the lids because the fleece below the net has become a tougher fabric. At this point, I check to see if the fabric is hard enough for fulling. If not, I use a harder, non flexible tool. These are picture in my second book and are made of oak, with routed out ridges. Because my piece are often too big to bring to a wash board, this is like bringing a wash board to the piece itself.
* Sadelle Wiltshire 27 August, 1996, The lids are available separately, as are all the Tupperware parts.  All anyone has to do is to look up Tupperware in their local white/yellow pages. 
*Pat Spark 24 Oct, 1999.  I use the Tupperware juice container lids with people. These lids are in three pieces with an air cushion between the top and bottom pieces and a third piece that acts like a sort of button to help push out the air when trying to get a good airtight seal on top of the juice pitcher. I don't use the button, in fact I get rid of it. I have my students use the juice lids because it is a very gentle way of massaging the fiber in the beginning. There is more surface area than a person's hand, but because there is an air pocket between the top and bottom of the lid, people cannot push down so heavily that they cause fibers to shift. Oftentimes, with beginners, people don't know how to have a light touch in the beginning and then how to increase pressure as the piece starts to harden. With the Tupperware lids, they can rotate the lid in circles over the net covered, flattened and wetted wool. The fibers will start to come together more quickly with the lid than with just hands, but the inlay images will not be disturbed.
*Rose 10 Nov 2004 asks: I have a quick silly question about felting tools. I purchased some great looking felting tools last year and finally remembered that I had them. One of them is oval, made of wood and is quite large with grooves on one side and a handle on the other side. It almost looks like a wooden cinnamon roll with a handle on it! The smaller tools are made of a resin and resemble mushrooms with grooves cut in the cap. I tried massaging with them when I was wet felting a handbag but it really didn't do anything wonderful. Although the wooden one looked smooth it does not have a finish on it so it drags whatever I am running it across with it. I thought maybe someone on the list has used felting tools similar to these and can share their expertise. I bought them because they looked neat!
*Chris White 10 Nov 2004: The tools can be great, but the trick is knowing when to use them. They are best used toward then end of the fulling process because they can be too rough on the felt before that stage. The idea behind them is that you can get some leverage to massage the felt with some greater strength and they also provide more texture than your smooth hands can, which helps the fulling process. But you don't want to strip fibers away that are not yet integrated into the body of the felt by using them too soon in the process. This is the same for using glass washboards. You can join the great tradition of felters everywhere who proudly share tips about "the greatest tool for..." that they found around their house. I use various stiff hairbrushes (with protected bristles) for hat shaping, many folks use old ribbed Tupperware lids for fulling (similar to your cinnamon roll tool), Beth Beede teaches how to use film canisters for making shaped appendages, and on and on.....this is a fascinating conversation to have with any feltmaker.

FELTING PROCESS TOOLS: ROLLING BARS
*Pat Spark 24 Oct, 1999. I use the PVC pipe as a rolling bar, to make a hard center for the wet wool when it is covered with net and rolled up in the bubble wrap. You don't have to have a core to roll up with the wool/bubble wrap packet, but it does make the felting/fulling go more quickly to have something hard to push against.

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FAVORITE TOOLS: BAMBOO MATS
*Anne 28 April, 1996 asks: On a class list, there is bamboo window screen. Can anyone who has I really need a bamboo window screen, or if I can use a grass mat instead?
*Pat Spark 29 April, 1996 answers: have done a lot of fulling with various support materials to roll the felt in. I prefer a bamboo window shade, but others do use a grass mat. I like the rigidity of the shade when I'm rolling my felts to full them. In our area, you can get these shades at Pier One Imports, Cost Plus Imports, Import Plaza. They are pretty expensive though. I would take the grass mat I already have and hope to borrow someone else's in the class to try. If you decide you like feltmaking, you could then go out to find a shade. Since summer is coming, places like Home Depot and other large home improvement stores should have them available.

FAVORITE TOOLS: SCALES
*Heidi Smith 7 January, 1997. One of the best fiber investments I have made was an O'Haus triple beam gram scale. With additional weights I can weigh stuff from 1 gram to 6 lbs and know that I am accurate. Comes in very handy for weighing out dyes for precise % solutions, and blending fibers prior to drum carding if I know I consistently want a % of wool to silk to mohair, or whatever. Of course when it's sitting on my dining room table and new neighbors drop by they immediately think I must be a drug dealer. I am always explaining. Having a yard full of fiber goats and sheep and a basement full of fleece helps my credibility though. Triple beams run about $125 with the extra weights. Can be obtained from Chemical Supply Houses or Earth Guild in North Carolina carries them too I think. I would not recommend purchasing second hand though, they do damage fairly easily. You will be required to learn your metric system and conversions though.

FAVORITE TOOLS: WASHBOARDS
*Helen Swartz 12 Nov 2003: For my two cents worth, I have tried all kinds of methods for fulling and none have produced as hard a surface and firm over all as the washboard. I have four washboards, one small one and three large ones. We use then at workshops when we teach hat felting and want firm hard hats with stiff brims without adding a stiffener.
    Once you have them fully fulled, they will keep their shape no matter how you treat them. I haul them around for displays and pile hats on top of each other in hats boxes and when I take them out, they keep their shape, even those with big brims. You can put tons of pressure on the wool with a washboard and you can feel when it is finished and fulled.
    Some felters never really full their hats, especially those make on a ball or a small resist without brims. They like the softer feel of the hats but they are not firm and rigid like those fulled on a washboard. It has also been my experience that hats that are not made with fine wool will not be as firm as those made with medium or coarse wool. I have one now I am getting ready to full made with average adult mohair. It will have a big brim because I made it with a large resist but I may have to cut it back because it may turn out floppy even after fulling it on the washboard. Will let you know how it turns out!!
    It all depends on what you expect the outcome to be for your hats. I especially like the firm fulled boots because they wear so well. I also put leather soles on them sometimes. That makes them wear longer. Good luck with your fulling. For me, it is the key to good felting.
*Jill Gully 12 Nov 2003: The washboard is probably my least used felting tool for fulling. It is fine for working trouble spots or specific small patches, but for overall even shrinkage I would suggest you try a matchstick bamboo blind or mat - available at Lowe's or Home Depot for the blind size, and Pier One for (sometimes) the placemat size. Both would be cheaper than most washboards. Alternatively, many folks use and like the plastic bubble wrap or the solar pool cover (more sturdy) for rolling their felt. That too, is quite inexpensive. I offer the placemat size bamboo mats as a part of my Beginner Felting Kit which comes with a couple of ounces of merino fiber to play with for the extravagant price of $10 plus $2.50 shipping.
*Dianne Cook 12 Nov 2003 asks: Where can I find a glass washboard?? Any source online? Or, in Michigan?
*Carol Marston 12 Nov 2003 : Hi Dianne... I got mine on Ebay.... Good luck.
*Carol Marston 13 Nov 2003: I just want to offer that we have had all positive responses about our new washboard "ridged" felting shoe. Two claim that it is a wonderful help. I have not felted enough with the ridged foot, just too busy, I like the flat one for sure.. The ridges are very similar to the rounded glass washboard and I guess work pretty much the same way. Someone on this list just used it to make a silk fused scarf and said it was a God send.  I haven't really advertised the new ridged felting shoe yet... that is why I am posting this note. Another option... another less expensive option. Carol             PS. They are $8.00 plus shipping.
*Emily Callaway 14 Nov 2003 asks: I must have missed something about the felting shoes. Do they attach to the > sander? Please give an explanation, and THANKS!
*Carol Marston 14 Nov 2003: The felting shoes are attached using velcro, to the bottom of the Black and Decker Mouse Sander. We now have only 1 size... Universal. We have a triangular flat shoe, and a shoe with ridges, and a flat shoe for the square (small) Black and Decker. The felting shoe is made out of the same ABS plastic that the hatshapers are. It just snaps on over the foot that holds the sandpaper. There is a small picture of one on the top of our home page on www.hatshapers.com .
*Lori Flood 12 Nov 2003:  I buy my glass washboards online from Columbus Washboard Company search the name and you will come across the site! They even know what felter's are! Glass wash boards available from: http://www.columbuswashboard.com/
*Anna Salvesen 12 Nov 2003:  An easy and inexpensive substitute for a washboard is stair tread, available by the foot at the local hardware store/home center. I found some at Home Depot in the vinyl flooring aisle for around $2 a foot (about 2 ft wide I think). It was easy to cut to size with scissors. It can be stored flat or rolled. If you really want it to stand up in a bucket (like a washboard) I suppose you could glue or staple it to a board.
*Maureen 11 Nov 2003: I am thinking of buying a washboard, and am not sure if I should get a small pail size, or the family size. I am leaning towards the family
size, but wonder if anyone has any recommendations?
*Ruth Walker 12 Nov 2003: Maureen, I have a glass washboard, and I never wish that it was smaller, and often wish it were larger! So, I wouldn't bother getting a small
one.
*Tricia Rasku 12 Nov 2003: I never knew there were different sizes, but have two and like the glass one better. I have one, the glass one, I purchased from a hardware store and the other one is brass from an "antique store". Luckily both cost about the same amount which was not unreasonable. I think I would go for the larger size. I also have two felting tools which are like mini washboards but are of wood with grooves and are super. I also use my meat tenderizer and the old tupperware lids sometimes as well.
*Elyse 29 Nov 2004 asks: Hi, do you guys use washboards at all? Is the washing machine, or the nylon curtain, or something else the best to get the quickest results?
*Raven 30 Nov 2004: Just last week I discovered my new favorite felting tool... A large plastic drain board that goes underneath a dish drainer! The ridges in the surface of this one are not coarse or sharp, but prominent and do a great scrubbing job. I can bend it enough to tip one end into the sink to scrub vertically, or I can put it on top of the sink with just one end pushed down a bit for drainage to rinse under running water and it's still rigid enough to rub against. I don't know what other brands are like... this one is the real cheapy from a "Family Dollar" store drainer set and made of firm, thick plastic. The more expensive "Rubbermaid" ones might not be as rigid.
*Tricia Rasku 30 Nov 2004: Felting involves several methods to get results. The quickest is not always the best. I use the washboard for fulling mostly on hats. I have used the washing machine once, with uncontrolled results. The nylon or other mesh is used in the beginning to assist with wetting the wool and starting the felting process without losing the design and to keep from having the wool cling to your hands. In most of my projects, I will use several tools. It will always depend on what the project is to be.
*Pat Spark 2 Dec 2004: I like to use a glass wash board for fulling items that I want really hard, like the brims of hats. Glass is better than metal, because it doesn't corrode. The corroded wash boards will pull off fiber from the felt, making it fuzzy. With a very fine fiber, the glass ones will sometimes do this tool So, to keep pilling from happening, I cover the wash board with a piece of mosquito netting. This works for the metal ones too. I also use the glass wash board to harden the skin on my laminated fabrics. A gentle rub at the end of the fulling process, after the item has been rinsed but is still damp, will make the skin tighten up well. This helps to cut down on pilling when the item is used.
*Anna Salvensen 29 Nov 2004: I have a washboard (metal with wooden frame, not a glass with wood frame) and I use it for some things. I like it when making small kid's projects and the kids are too tired to finish or I need more aggressive rubbing than I can do with my hands. I also use it to "spot felt" areas that need more fulling than others areas. You can also use pieces of vinyl stair tread, cut to size. It is sold in the vinyl flooring section at any home improvement center like Home Depot or Lowes, etc. Really cheap and you can roll it up to store.  But unless you attach it to a board backing, you will be using it flat on a table surface. You can place a washboard upright in a sink, flat on a table, or on your lap, which may be an advantage.

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FAVORITE TOOLS: NOODLES (WOGGLES) Swimming pool Styrofoam cylinders used as rolling bars.

*Loyce Ericson 15 Mar 2000 asks: A felting thread started on one of the other lists I'm on and they suggested using a "swimming noodle" (one of those long plastic foam rolls you can float on or use to whack your younger sibling in the head with) as the center roller when rolling your felt. They are flexible, can be cut to length and are immune to water. Anyone tried them? Thoughts?
*Loretta Oliver 31 Mar 2000
Sometimes I use the swimming noodles to create a well for felting. I tape two long noodles on the lenthwise edges of my table. A third noodle is cut in 2 parts for the width of the table. Then the noodles and table are covered with plastic. It keeps all the water on the table. When I'm done, I make a spout of one corner of the plastic. This spout is directed to a pail, then all the water can easily be directed to the spout.
*Mary Cecil 29 April 2000: I had decided not to add to my collection of "things" by buying a Noodle for felting. However, while at the grocery store today, there was a large bin of Noodles in the middle of the aisle that I couldn't ignore. Then I noticed that in addition to the smooth kind they also had squared and ribbed ones. The ribs look very similar to wash board ribs, so I bought one. We'll see how it works. Has anyone else tried this type?
*Layne Goldsmith 4 June 2000:
So, now that I have finally found the swimming noodles at my grocery store, has anyone tried the various shapes to see if they make any difference? I got a round one and one which is scallop shaped in the cross section. The dogs decided they were too much fun to ignore, so now I only have the scalloped one. Anyway, I'd love to hear if there was any appreciable difference between the shapes in the felting.
*Mary Cecil 4 June 2000:I've only tried the scalloped noodle -- looks like a flower on the cross section. It works great and really speeded up the fulling step.
*Mary Cecil 6 June 2000: The noodles we're talking about are a swimming pool or playground toy. I'm sure they would float, and I think children would use them to bang on things or each other without causing harm The ones I purchased are about 5 ft. long and 3 inches in diameter. They're made of a slightly flexible Styrofoam-like material, come in bright colors, and can be cut to the length you want. In the past I only saw them with a plain round diameter, but this year I found them with scalloped and squared edges. The scalloped one reminded me of the surface of a wash board so I tried it. I use it as a rolling bar in the final stages of felting. I've used it with the netting and bubble wrap still in place and also just by itself. I've also fastened the felt around the noodle using rubber bands and then banged it on a table for harder fulling. It's actually a very handy item and only cost about $1.50 U.S. I'm sure they can be found in toy stores and groceries in the U.S., and yesterday I saw a variety pack of noodles at Costco (a large warehouse chain).
*Pat Spark 6 June 2000: T these are also called woggles. There are sold in K-mart, Walmart, etc. They are a type of foam cylinder, approximately 4 feet long and about 5-6 inches in diameter. I use them to support myself in the deep water of the YMCA pool when I am doing my upper body weight lifting exercises. (to keep my upper body strong for feltmaking.)
*Roz Spier 02 Jun 2003: I'm sure I first heard on this list about using a swimming noodle to roll the blind around. I just got one and am totally converted. It is much lighter in weight and much less hazardous to handle than the closet pole or PVC pipe. I see them in all the chain drugstores and supermarkets right now. Look in the beach and picnic equipment section. They are about 5 feet long and look to be easily cut down if desired.
*Carol Marston 2 June 2003:I have been using the swimming noodles as well. Very nice. I also just purchased a Giant noodle...about 4/12-5 inches in diameter. I am really pleased with that. I am considering putting something very heavy in the middle hole to help with pressure. I am considering making ridges, close together, down the length.  These will be used in some classes this summer.. really hoping that they will work.
    Also, as per Pat Starks book Fundamentals of Felting..... there is a section where she shows the fiber encased in fabric... then sewn around the edges to contain the fiber. For my first time flat felters... we are going to use this idea.... with the ends stapled shut and then slip the stapled end into a 12 inch long cut noodle that has been slit down the center. And then just roll them up!. I think this will be easier for the younger students. Then, tie with t-shirt material in 3 places, then wet it and ROLL!
I can do it easily this way for teaching purposes. I am hoping that it will be easier for my students as well.

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FAVORITE TOOLS: BUBBLE WRAP Spa and Pool Covers
*Lynn Hershberger  6 Aug 2001asks: Does anyone know what kind of bubble wrap would be used here? Like, are the bubbles over an inch in diameter or only a quarter-inch? I think I can get some from a warehouse I know but I dunno what I need.
*Pat Spark 6 Aug 2001 answers: Interestingly enough, while teaching recently, several people had the large bubbled type bubble wrap.  Boy did they not work well!!!  They shifted the fiber and the felt took longer to make with them.  The students using them all went out to buy the smaller bubbled wrap.  Much better!!!
*Marryann Azuma 6 Aug 2001 answers: For the workshop I took with Pat earlier this summer we used ordinary 1/4" diameter bubble, bubble wrap.  She had a roll that was about 18" wide so we just taped several widths together using duct tape.  Apply it to the flat, non-bubble side.  You can also use this blue bubbled, spa covering material.  You can get it at  pool and spa suppliers.  It's much more sturdy than packing bubble wrap, but  it's also more costly.  Around here it comes about 7' x 7' and costs  somewhere between $25-35.   You can cut it smaller, in half, etc.
*Candy Hoeschen 6 Aug 2001 answers:  If you are doing fine to medium-thickness felt, small to medium 'bubbled' wrap is fine.  I think the more wiggling bubbles, the more agitation/action is available. The bubbles pop if you are too vigorous.  You will need to full on a washboard or in a bamboo blind, as the plastic may not hold up to strenuous fulling. Look for bubble wrap used to protect delicate or heavier items it will be made of thicker plastic. If you do thicker felt, or want a more durable plastic, use solar pool cover material - mine is bright blue with 1/2" bubbles.  It is made of very strong plastic, and can withstand vigorous rolling with a heavy bar.
*Bonnie 21 Aug 2001 asks: I've seen references to using bubble wrap instead of bamboo blinds for rolling/felting flat felt....but no specific instructions.  which side of the bubble wrap do you lay the fiber down on initially?  I want to give this method a try, without hauling out my huge bamboo shades from under my bed.....call me lazy! ;)  and how well does the bubble wrap work for the agitation?  as well as bamboo?
*Loyce Ericson 21 Aug 2001 answers: Hi Bonnie. I use pool spa cover, it is more durable and a bit stiffer than bubble wrap, but I use bubble wrap in a pinch and will duct tape it onto my spa cover when making a bigger piece. It works great until you go to do a big heavy piece, rug type felt. You can't get a good solid roll on in the spa cover, the heaviness of the wool makes it just flop around.
    I use the spa cover bubble side down when doing very light weight laminated felt, I use it bubble side up for medium weight wool, vest or jacket weight. When rubbing the edges of pieces I use it the same way, I rub on the backside at first for delicate soft pieces and then move to the bubble side when the piece is more firm. I like rubbing on bubble wrap better than on my glass washboard, it seems easier to be careful and not rub too hard. I want to find bamboo blinds for my rugs, they have a important roll to play. I hit every goodwill/thrift store in my area and found nothing so don't toss those blinds they are hard to find.
*Pat Spark 21 Aug 2001 answers: Bonnie, I really like the bubble wrap.  I use it bubble sides up.  I use the small bubbled wrap and not the blue pool cover type.  Other people like the pool cover, but for my technique with fine fibers, the pool cover shifts the fiber too much.  I do use it when doing coarser fibers.  But lately, when doing coarse fibers, I just needle them well together, wet them and sand the images down well.  Then I roll them on themselves, without a base.  So my pool cover isn't being used right now.  But my softer, gentler bubble wrap is being used constantly. I am sure you will get many other different replies, as we all seem to be approaching the use of these materials differently.
*Sally Gray 5 Oct 2001 asks: I went looking for bubble-wrap the other day at one of our local office-supply store, but everything seems to be in 12" widths. I can get up to  175 feet on one roll, but only 1 foot wide.  I'm in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. Anyone out there with any suggestions for me?  I've looked at Basics, the Office Place, and Staples.
*Debra Meinke 5 Oct 2001 answers: Try packaging suppliers (I get supplies from www.veripack.com), they have it up to 24" wide. Otherwise look at pool solar covers.
*Fay Wilkinson 5 Oct 2001 answers: Hi! At Pat Spark's workshop we simply duct taped two widths together and it worked just fine! (Tape it on the nonbubble side). You could tape as many pieces together as you liked. I've been using the same piece for months now...
*Virginia Morton 5 Oct 2001 answers: Also try www.randmh.com it comes in 48 wide.
*Velta Mack 5 Oct. 2001: A fellow llama owner who repossesses cars for a living says that new car dealers usually have truckloads of bubble wrap to get rid of.  Could try your local car dealer.
*Nancy Sottosanti 7 Oct 2001. We get canoes shipped to us from Old Town Canoes in pieces that are at least 4 feet wide and 16 feet long. It is the type with small bubbles. You might e-mail them or visit their website to see if there are any canoe dealers near you. http://www.oldtowncanoes.com/ 
*Pat Spark 8 Oct 2001 answers: Sally, I turn the 12" stuff over (bubble-side down)and lay two pieces, butted up together, side-by-side.  Then I use duct tape and tape them together.  Tah Dah!  I can make any size I want.
*Anna Salvesen  22 Sept 2004: I buy the heavy duty blue "bubble wrap" pool cover in a trim-to-fit spa size at the local pool supply store, too. An 8' x 8' square costs $18.95, perfect lengths for my 86" table, but I think it also comes in 9x9' and 10x10' sizes, too. I prefer the "bubbles" to be interlocking triangle shapes rather than the half dome circles I tried first. You might try several stores to see the variety of cover constructions. With scissors I cut it to whatever width I need for the scarves I am making. I usually have to first trim the edges to straighten as the original cuts can be a bit crooked. Also, the store I go to doesn't seem to mind if I unfold it and check for a heat welded seam across the middle (I prefer not to have the seam). The staff is fascinated with my use of the stuff.  The pool noodles for rolling are a bit more expensive here than at drugstores, etc. but at least they are available year round.
*Anna Salvensen 23 Sep 2004: Well, I've never tried regular bubble wrap (for mailing, etc.) so I can't speak to its use, but the pool/spa cover version is very heavy duty (the plastic is much thicker and I've never worn it out), its weight keeps it in place on your table nicely when you are preparing your fiber layout, and as you mentioned, the size possibilities are an advantage.  Also when your kids (& many adults!) come over to see what you are doing, if you use mailing bubble wrap they will immediately start popping the bubbles!!!  I find that people can resist the popping thing better with the thick blue stuff. 
    Again, you will find that the bubble construction in pool/spa covers vary.  The first one I tried was a bit too stiff, had little round domes bubbles, and they were spaced apart rather widely.  The kind I use now is closely spaced rows of "nesting" triangle shaped bubbles and it seems to have better flexibility.  I couldn't even tell you a brand name for it, though.
*Barbara Mewburn 26 Sep 2004: You can make a plain mitten very easily from bubble wrap by cutting a piece slightly larger than your hand (Like an oven mitt) & using your overlocker(serger)  or plain machine to sew around it, or use the inside of a padded mail bag. I reuse them, they are so comfortable & easier than wrapping bubble wrap around your hand. Using bubble wrap or pool cover matting is terrific isn't it?
    On the subject of pool matting, our local group bought a large offcut from a local manufacturer, so that we can all purchase it in smaller pieces. You don't have to go to a pool supplier, just look up plastics in your yellow pages, I'm sure there will be manufacturers there.
*Carol Marston 23 Sep 2004: I find that wrapping the small version of the mailing bubble wrap, around my hand and using that for shaping hats against the hatshaper... (block) is very useful! I never use my bare hand anymore. I feel like the bubbles act like extra fingers plus they slide over the surface easier than my (dry) hands do.

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FAVORITE TOOLS: GENERAL
*Sue Pufpaff 1 Nov 2004:  I find nylon mosquito netting to be my favorite felting tool. No need for PVC, matts or noodles.....The rough surface of the netting seems to get the job done all by itself.
*Carol Marston 10 Nov 2004: My favorite felting tool is a wallpaper seam roller... it is excellent for small spots that need special attention and it is wonderful for using on on hat brims... especially next to the crown/brim juncture. I also think it does a good job on the tops of the crowns like the fedora shape or similar.... I also use the seam roller when I use water to finish off a needle felted flat piece. Just works nicely for me.
    When making hats, one of the tools I appreciate the most is a screen spline. the little roller tool that pushes the ribbing into the screen and into the door or window. Looks almost like a sewing seam tracing paper wheel, but smooth. Boy, does it do great at keeping the brim/crown line sharp.
    I also like to use bubble wrap wrapped around my hand like a mitten.
    I find that using football jersey fabric on the bottom and top of my pile of laid out fiber, works better for me than any other. The fibers to not easily gravitate through the fabric and I think it has a slippery feel to it when wetted. I even leave it on if I roll the fiber.......
*Jill Guly 10 Nov 2004: One of the cheapest (free!) tools that I like, is a scrunched up plastic grocery bag for rubbing my felt in the initial stages.  At workshops I tell my students I am about to give them their very own, personal, felting tool.... and then I hand out the grocery bags! <g> Nothing like "recycling" them before you recycle them back to the store!
*Julie Williams 11 Nov 2004: I have been using the plastic shopping bag for so many years that it seems like forever. Its great, isn't it? The only negative thing about it, is that here in Australia, the trend now is that you have your own heavy duty bag which you take back again and again to the supermarket, and eventually, the singlet plastic bag will be phased out of the supermarket. I have inside knowledge about this, as I work for a packaging firm.
*Trisha Rasku 10 Nov 2004:  I use various tools for fulling, as has been mentioned. Less often than before as I seem to be more experienced at getting results. I pick up massage tools from the Thrift Shop. Some work and others are not level so do not work. They are cheap, almost as cheap as the Tupperware lids, which I also pick up when I see them. Even a small properly shaped, smooth rock will work well. On rocks, I picked up some, heavy, river rocks recently and plan to make some sculptures using these as the molds. Looking forward to having time to do that.
*Iona Loyala 10 Nov 2004 asks: I am sorry for my silly question ... when you talk about felting tools, how do you use these tools? Like lids, cans, etc.? Sorry, but I think I missed something.
*Trisha Rasku 10 Nov 2004 answers: Felting tools are usually used as fulling tools, near the end of the process. Lids, cans, etc are used to full in small areas, generally.
This is how you get a hat rim crease, or to full a thin spot or smooth out a thick spot. Glass washboards are used to shape and full larger pieces, generally.
*Pat Spark 6 Jan 2004: Here are my favorite tools for rolling fleece to make it into a pre-felt:  A layer of bubble-wrap (small bubbles, bubble side up); the layers of fleece; and a nylon mosquito net to cover the fleece.  I wet out the fleece with a cellulose sponge, added soapy water and pressing down on top of the mosquito net.  This wets the wool and removes the air.  I use a 1 1/2" diameter PVC rolling bar and roll up the whole "sandwich".  (bubble wrap-fleece-mosquito net)  Then I tie the whole thing in several places with strips of cotton/lycra cloth.  

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