Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

July 1, 2011

Felted Wool Ball Billy Button Troubleshooting

I'm so jazzed that Design*Sponge featured my DIY Felted Billy Buttons because D*S readers have been asking the best questions!  I answered a few questions on the D*S feature, and also in this post, but now I'm going to answer in more detail.


Sometimes you might notice a crack forming during the felting process.  Sometimes this can happen from pressing too hard on the ball too soon, or not forming the dry roving into a smooth enough shape.  Sometimes the wool does it just to annoy us.

Fix a cracked felted wool ball
Crack forming during felting process.
I am not sure if this is the "official" way to fix cracks, this is just a technique that I found works well.  To fix a crack during the felting process, grab a thin layer of wool roving and place it over the crack.

Fix a cracked felted wool ball
Fix a cracked felted wool ball

Keep wrapping additional wool onto your ball until the crack is covered.  Then, add a touch more soap, roll the ball and keep dunking into the super hot and super cold water.  Basically, you keep going with the felting process.

Fix a cracked felted wool ball
Fix a cracked felted wool ball
Fix a cracked felted wool ball
Fix a cracked felted wool ball
Fix a cracked felted wool ball

If you notice a crack on your dry wool ball, don't stress.  With a simple tool you can mend a crack in seconds.  You will require a needle felting barbed needle.  It looks like this:

Needle felting needle

Grab a thin layer of wool, apply over your dried ball and using the needle felting tool (the same tool I used to create these needle felted abstracts), push the fibres into the ball.  Protect your fingers because these barbed needles can really tear up your skin.  Below is a fabulous video, by Sara from Sara's Texture Crafts, that best explains the technique.  But remember: you want to use the same colour wool for a seamless repair.

This same technique can help you decorate felted balls too.  Check out how I turned these little purple balls into "blackberries".  I didn't intend to share them on the blog, but I thought they would show what you can do with needle felting techniques.

Plain purple ball.
Needle felted wool blackberries


I answered this question, vaguely, here but I thought a photo might help.  I started with this much wool and used almost all of it for my bunch of billy buttons.  Your finished ball will be about half the size once felted.  I know this doesn't help a lot, but I normally just grab a bunch and go.


  • Don't press to hard on the ball when you are first felting - handle the wool like a baby chick
  • Practise!  I had a ton of flops in the beginning (check out my post about my DIY felt necklace to see one of the felt "pancakes" I accidentally made).
And check out this great video, courtesy of Sara's Texture Crafts, for a real-time view of the making of a felt ball.  But remember, you can use bowls of hot and cold water instead of running the taps.

Good luck!  And feel free to ask any other questions . . .


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