Felted wool ornaments for the holidays

felted ornament silver treeIt’s that time again! and I don’t know about you, but and I need a good distraction!!

I love making felted wool ornaments for Christmas. I think it must have something to do with seeing the beautiful rich colors and feeling the soft wool in my hands, and stitching them is so easy.

These make the perfect portable on the go project. Just throw a couple wool balls, small pieces of felt, embroidery floss, large sewing needle, scissors and a couple pins in a baggie and you’re good to go.12ornaments

To make the ornaments as shown in the 2008 issue of Quilting Arts Gifts, you first need to make felted wool balls.

Warning: once you start making these, it may be really hard to stop.

To make the felted balls you will need:

  • wool yarn- this is a great way to use up leftover odd balls of yarn. Other fibers can be used, but the wool yarn felts when they are washed so the centers will be more solid.
  • colored wool roving- my favorite place to order is Outback Fibers, they have close to 100 colors of wool roving.
  • panty hose or tights (great use for old ones with holes!)

 

To embellish the felted balls you will need:

  • Wool/rayon felt, If you don’t have a source nearby I have ordered from Prairie Point Junction. They a great selection of colors and reasonably priced.
  • embroidery floss
  • large eye sewing or crewel needle

 

To make a felted wool ball

felted balls

Begin by rolling golf ball size yarn balls as a base for the felted ball. The finished ball will be slightly larger.yarn balls

Wind yarn into oblong shapes to make a berry shaped ornament.

I usually use wool yarn because I know it will felt better, but in a pinch I have used other yarn fibers too.

roving

 

Unwind a length of roving, while holding it in one hand, grasp the end portion with the other hand and gently pull off “tufts” roughly 5-6 inches in length.

Spread the fibers into a thin flat layer with all the strands going in one direction.

Pull off another tuft of roving and layer it on top of the first at a 90 degree angle.

Repeat this process several more times, criss-crossing thin layers until it’s about half an inch thick.roving blanket

When lifting the blanket of roving there should not be thin spots or gaps.

Changing the colors of roving in the layers will create a heathered multicolored wool ball.

 

Wrap the roving blanket you have created around a yarn ball, making sure there is full coverage of fluffy roving with no bare or thin spots.roving ball

Close the roving covered yarn ball in your hand and bring it to the foot of a knee hi panty hose. (buy cheap ones at the dollar store, or use those ancient ones in the back of your sock drawer) Gently remove your hand from around the ball and tie a knot with a small piece of yarn around the hose to secure the ball in place.

caterpillars
When all the balls have been wrapped in the pantyhose, place them in the washing machine, set the water to lowest level and hottest setting. Add about a tablespoon of laundry detergent. The exact measurement is not crucial, but soap is important in the felting process. I usually run it on a long cycle, the more agitation the better the felting.

When taking the chain of balls out of the machine, you’ll see little fibers have come though the mesh of the pantyhose. Snip the tied yarn between the balls, gently peel away the pantyhose removing the ball and roll the ball in your hands to smooth the fibers.

Let the balls dry before stitching, they’ll dry in a couple hours in the open air or if you’re impatient 🙂 toss them in the dryer and let them bounce around for about 15 minutes.

felt+balls

 

 

These make great cat toys, but dogs will shred them to smithereens. My chihuahua thinks there is nothing more fun than stealing felted balls when I am not looking and peel all the fuzz off.

 

 

 

To embellish the felted balls

Cut leaf and flower petal shapes from wool/rayon blend felt to stitch onto the balls. I use wool felt because it’s softer than polyester craft felt and the colors are so much nicer.

felt shapesClick on the link to download a copy of the felt shapes pattern. It will open a second window and then click on the link again.

I use a straight pin to secure the cut felt shape to the ball, and after I have a few stitches in place I remove the pin to make it easier to sew down.

When I’m finished, I thread a string for hanging on a needle and poke it into the ball coming out the top where I want it to hang from, gently tug on the thread and it will pull the knot into the center of the ball. Poke the needle back down into the center top of the ornament taking a tiny stitch, pulling the thread to make the desired size hanger and tie a knot.

miu3
This is my friend Martha, sewing an ornament in a Make it University workshop I taught at quilt festival about 8 years ago.

 

Here’s a few ideas to get you started

DSCN3261

xmas tree felted orn
They look pretty simply stitched with seed and bugle beads too.

Dangle an ornament on the neck of a bottle of wine for a festive hostess gift at a holiday party.

These are also perfect for ornament exchanges.

Enjoy!

 


I’d love to spark your creativity at one of these upcoming events:

January 10-14, 2018 Craft Napa
Blessings in the Wind: mixed-media prayer flags
Tea, Thremofax and Ephemera
Blooming Inspiration
Painting Imagery with Textile Paints

Focus on Fiber Florida 2018
April 2-10 Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL
Blessings in the Wind: mixed media prayer flags
Blooming Inspiration

May 4-6 Nadelweldt, Karlsruhe, Germany
Exhibition and workshops

June 1-2 Meissners, Sacramento TBA

August 14-18, 2018 Woodland Ridge Retreat, WI
5 – day Paint and Print-a-palooza retreat

October 19-21 Ephemera Paducah, Paducah, KY
Tea and Ephemera and Blessings in the wind: mixed-media prayer flags

October 27 Meissners, Sacramento Fiesta Ornaments

Keep creating, Judy

ABOUT JUDY
IMG_5538Judy is an artist, explorer, image wrangler, knowledge seeker, instructor, speaker, creative alchemist, and purveyor of inspiration, helping others channel creativity on a daily basis.

3 Responses to “Felted wool ornaments for the holidays”

  1. fairymama says:

    Thank you! These are beautiful. I know what you mean about distractions. I keep looking for creative, productive ways to channel my anger.

  2. I made some small ornaments/pin cushions years ago, based on your Quilting Arts article. This year I made bigger ones, about plum size, and I’ve been embellishing them for ornament gifts. So fun to see this post!

  3. Joan M Wallrich says:

    Hi Judy,
    Thank you for the wool felt tutorial! Today my granddaughters were asking what holiday crafts we could do and I read this and it’s perfect! I showed them and they are all excited about starting tomorrow. I know we will have fun working together on these ornaments.
    I hope your holidays will be filled with many blessings and shared with family and friends.
    Hugs,
    Joanie

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