Maker Saturday: Felting Soaps

This week at 757 Makerspace, Hilarie from Little Stitch Studios did a lesson on felting soaps.  Having never even heard of felted soaps, I didn’t know what to expect … but I loved it!  It was a sudsy and unexpectedly soothing little exercise – and the resulting felted soap bars were kind of adorable.  They will make great gifts for friends, and lots of room to tinker around creatively with colors and patterns, too.

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So here’s what we learned:

  • Apparently wool once removed from sheep and brushed out is called wool roving and comes in long, soft ropes that you can buy in certain craft stores or online.
  • Wool can be turned into felt in two ways – through ‘wet felting’ with water and some manipulations with your hands, or with felting needles (we tried both).  Either way, you can turn shapeless wool fibers into fabric and shapes.
  • Who knew – its pretty darn relaxing to massage the wool into the soap … a little zen, really 🙂
  • You can get pretty creative with the felt when decorating the felted soap.   I have to admit I was drawing blanks yesterday on design, so I stuck to the basics yesterday.  But browsing the internet today, there were so many fun and creative ideas, like these

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Here’s the step by step:

Materials: some bars of soap you want to try to felt, just some wool roving in a few colors, some tulle or a nylon stocking, warm water, and some patience 🙂

  • piece apart some of the wool roving into thin wispy pieces that you can almost seen through.  (Too thick and it will not felt well, too thin and the soap will show through.)  IMG_3505
  • wrap the think wool sections around the bar of soap in both directions – one piece horizontal and one vertical, so that the entire bar is covered.  (play with color here – you can use a single color and add designs later, or use several colors to form any pattern you like.)  IMG_3508

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  • wrap the soap with wool covering in tulle or a nylon stocking (we used tulle, some online tutorials use a nylon stocking – main point is a thin covering it seems.)

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  • Have a small basin of warm water in front of you, and dip the bar of soap in the warm water, then begin to massage the wool into the soap.  It will be a clean, sudsy and relaxing little mess as the soap lathers and the wool begins to contract and felt around the bar of soap.  Then … lather, rinse, repeat.  Literally.  For about 10 minutes or so …

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  • You can test to see if the wool has felted by peeling back the nylon or tulle to see if the wool is adhering to the soap yet.  If it is still loose, keep massaging.  Once felted, set it aside to dry for a few minutes.
  • Then we got to use felting needles to add decorations to our soap (this is optional.)  basically we used the needles to work pieces of wool roving into a shape (I did simple stripes) and then use the needles to work the little embellishment into my felted soap bar.

For the monsters, all of the decorations were added with needle felting.  Your imagination is the limit …

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Oh, and in case you were wondering why in the world you would felt soap (aside from it just being sort of fun and crafty) … well apparently the felt serves as an gentle exfoliator, and also absorbs the moisture from the soap so that it lasts a lot longer.  Who knew?

I see some handmade gifts in our future.  Great thing to do when I want to get out of my head, and fun sensory project with kids (think wool texture, suds, water, friction.)

If you are in the Hampton Roads area and looking for sewing lessons for yourself or your kids,  check out Hilarie’s Little Stitch Studios at the link below.

Little Stitch Studio Facebook Page

And, as always, I can’t say enough about 757 Makerspace here in Norfolk.  Visit, join, make!!  Here’s their page and a link to some prior blog posts on their space.

757 Makerspace Website

757 Makerspace – Prior Blogs

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