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

December 2, 2016

Easy DIY Felted Wool Ball Garland

Easy DIY Felted Wool Ball Garland
Easy DIY Felted Wool Ball Garland

Did you spot the DIY felted wool ball garland in Monday's post about my wintry blue and white holiday decor?  My mantle is so narrow that decorating it is a real challenge.  It's difficult to create a layered look but I wanted it to look really full and interesting so I came up with some tricks, like tucking glittering picks behind my cone trees for extra oomph and making a huge, natural cedar wreath to add some height.

I also whipped up that cute white felted ball garland at the last minute.  I love how it really popped against my dark grey fireplace and, because the felted balls looks like snowballs, complemented my wintry theme so perfectly:

Easy DIY Felted Wool Ball Garland

Making felted wool ball garland is really, really easy, which makes it the perfect last minute holiday craft or decor idea.  Hang it from a mantle, like I did, or use it as garland around a tree.  Mix up the size and color of the balls and use colorful, metallic thread for some sparkle and shine.  You could even mix in some beads or needle felt designs onto the felt balls.  

Supplies:
 
How to Make Felted Balls

My original felted ball tutorial - when I made my cute felted wool billy buttons - is really thorough and even though I've since shared felted ball tutorials (like when I made my felted wool rings), it's still my favorite so I've included it below.  But if it seems like too much work, you can track down pre-made felted wool balls on Etsy or Amazon and skip these steps.  Here's a lot of 100 mixed colors for $14.48 or try this 200 lot listing for under $30.  If you're after a more traditional holiday palette, these felted balls might fit the bill.  It seems that single color lots are a little bit pricier, but I tracked down this teal green listing - the color is so gorgeous - and this multi-colored bundle is limited to greens, which is very seasonal.  But I have to say that these these sky blue felted wool balls or this mixed lots of different blues have that wintry look I'm into this year.

Yup, you can definitely find a ton of these felted balls online, in different colorways and price points.  But they're so much fun to make!

The whole process for one felted wool ball should only take a couple minutes.  First, tear off a piece of your wool roving, like you would tear off a piece of cotton candy; you want ragged ends.  Remember that your wool ball will shrink during the felting process.  The size you choose is up to you and if you find that your first ball is smaller than you hoped, just layer on some more wool and keep felting to enhance the diameter.  I recommend starting with a dry ball the size of a marshmallow.      
How to make felted wool balls
Next, place a small drop of soap (I have used both hand soap and dish soap successfully) in your dry hands and also rub a tiny bit onto the piece of wool roving. 
How to make felted wool balls

Then, roughly shape the wool into a ball before dipping it gently in the hot water – you want it a tad wet, not completely drenched.
Felted wool ball tutorial

Very, very gently roll the wool roving between your palms – like you would a clay ball, but with much less pressure.  At this stage, don’t squish the wool any harder than you would a baby chick.  Then dunk the roughly shaped ball into the cold water (this time you can soak it) and keep rolling. Then dunk the ball into the hot again, then the cold, rolling between dunks.  The change in temperature helps “shock” the wool fibres and is part of the felting process.  Plus, you want to rinse out the soap.
DIY felted wool ball

As your ball becomes firmer (and thus smaller), you can apply more pressure.  Your ball is finished when it is firmer to the touch and feels dense.  You can see in the next photo how much smaller my wool ball has become.
Making felt balls
Wool felt ball tutorial

Leave the felted wool ball(s) to dry, for about 24 hours - or at least overnight.  The dry felted wool ball should have a slight bounce to it when dropped on a counter top.  I recommend making a few as a “test” before diving into mass production.  I've created a second post, with tips for felted wool ball troubleshooting, and I'm happy to answer any questions you might have in the comments below. 

Once you get the hang of it, making these felted balls is so easyWhen the balls have dried, it's time to turn them into garland! 
Easy DIY Felted Wool Ball Garland

How to Make Felted Ball Garland:

I just grabbed a pretty metallic gold thread from my stash and, using a larger needle, threaded each ball onto the thread.  Because mine are so densely felted, the friction causes them to stay put in the thread so once I spaced them evenly, they didn't budge.  But you could definitely add a knot before and after each ball to secure them in place.  Use a thicker thread or embroidery floss for strength.  

Easy DIY Felted Wool Ball Garland

If you're looking at the calendar, nervously counting down the days and staring a looming to-do list, you can also buy felted ball garland, ready to hang!  Here's a six foot long multi-color felted ball garland.

Easy DIY Felted Wool Ball Garland
Easy DIY Felted Wool Ball Garland

So easy, right?  But it looks so cute.  I kind of want to make itty bitty wool garland for some of my plants.  My tree shaped lavender planter is especially begging for some more ornamentation. 

Easy DIY Felted Wool Ball Garland

Here are some great links to finished felted wool balls, ready-to-go garland, and wool roving - for whatever level of commitment you've pledged.  Happy crafting!




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8 comments

  1. I love your mantel- very pretty. I loved your bottle brush tree display last year, too. I'm going to have to make snowball garland but it won't happen this year. But the timing is funny, I had made some Billy buttons from your original post but my cat interfered and they now need my attention. I have to refelt them somewhat to tighten the balls back up and I just bought new wire since the ones tampered with cannot be salvaged.
    My new bully buttons will have to be safely displayed in the credenza.
    Thanks for the links. I need more roving and can't find it locally.

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    1. Thanks so much. Awwww, I can see how felted billy buttons would be tempting for a cat. That's kind of adorable!

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  2. that is so awesome- i have always wanted to try that! well i say always, but i mean since i was aware of felted balls... not like a deep seeded longtime childhood dream. ;) your mantle looks amazing, tanya! happy holidays!

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  3. So cute! I need to check out your post on blue & white decor because I love those ornaments on the wreath.

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    1. Thanks! Aren't those ornaments great? They're from Lowe's and they came in a mint and a sort of pale champagne color - really pretty, vintage hues.

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  4. Hey Tanya, thanks for another great and inspiring idea. You are just full of surprises and your ball garlands look just perfect. I bought a couple of these on Amazon last year and they were great. However, I think I will try to make them at home and see how they will turn out. Wish me luck.

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