Want to learn how to make DIY felted wool balls, to use for garland, jewelry, wreaths or – like I did – as a stand in for billy buttons?
While making felted wool beads for my DIY felt wool bead necklace, the yellow wool beads I was felting started to really look like Yellow Craspedia (small, spherical flowers also known as “Billy Buttons” or “Woolly-heads”). Inspired, I made some extra felted wool balls, pierced them with cloth covered floral wire, and made an arrangement in an inexpensive West Elm vase. Read on for my tutorial for making felted wool balls – perfect for so many DIY projects!
- Mustard yellow wool roving
- One bowl of hot, hot, hot as you can stand water
- One bowl of cold, cold, cold as you can bear water
- Cloth covered stem wire (I used 20 gauge)
- Dish soap or liquid hand soap
How to Make Felted Wool Balls:
The whole process for one 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 a bit during the felting process. Try starting with the same approximate amount of wool I use in the photo below to create a ball the same size as mine. Real billy buttons are about an inch in diameter.
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.
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.
Very, very gently roll the wool roving between your palms – like you would a clay ball. 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.
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.
Leave the felted wool ball(s) to dry, for 24 to 48 hours. 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 your felted wool ball is dry, simply pierce it with the end of the floral wire and twist & wiggle the wire into the felted ball until it almost pops out the other side. Your ball should be dense enough to grip the wire. I flung my finished “Billy Buttons” around and no felted balls went flying. If you’re nervous, you can always add a dab on clear glue on the end of the wire. Then bend the wire as you please, making some droopy flowers or more rigid ones. Bend the wire gently – you don’t want any kinks – just soft bends, the way a flower stem would natural fall.
And, voilà! DIY felted wool billy buttons, as cute as the real thing!
Over the years, so many readers have tried out this tutorial with great success, but if you have any troubles – check out my felted wool ball troubleshooting post right here! I’ve also made more and created a felted ball garland and felted wool rings. I also made a second set of felted wool flowers, using white wool roving to make faux “dandelions”.
|My FAUX Craspedia|