Resist Shapes

Several people have asked me about what shape resists I use when making hats or vessels.  A resist is used in felting to make three dimensional objects from a flat pattern. The resist can be anything flat that will keep the two sides of felt from felting together, i.e. it “resists” the felting process. I usually use a thin foam as it is waterproof, inexpensive and can be used over and over again. The resist shown above is from floor underlayment. That is the stuff that is used under laminate flooring. It comes in huge rolls so unless you’re making large patterns for things such as clothing, you might want to use a craft foam or recycled packing materials. You can also use bubble wrap, plastic, cardboard or anything that will hold up to the felting process. The resist above made the orange hat in the next photo. The hat block shown in the middle gives you the idea of how much shrinkage occurred. I used merino with a shrinkage of about 30%. But if you’re going to be adding lots of folds in the felt, that takes lots of extra room in your original pattern.

For this hat, I wanted to have random folds but it could have been finished different ways. That is the fun thing about using a resist with lots of extra room in it. You can make small, subtle changes in the shaping of the hat and you’ll get a completely different look. This hat could have had uniform folds done concentrically and it would look like a completely different hat.

This is the resist shape that was used for the hat shown below.  All of the space at the top is used for the concentric folds that make the top of the hat.

This hat is made from a Stratta batt from New England Felting Supply. It felts very easily and is a quick and easy lay out as you don’t have to pull the wool all apart, just tear it to shape and you’re ready to go.

Here is the resist used for the Iris flower vessel shown below. I leave the top open so the edge is uneven, given it a more organic look. You could cover the entire resist with wool, cut it open and then have a straighter edge on the top of the vessel if that was the look that you wanted.

I made this vase for my sister as she loves iris. It is made with a variety of wool and silk.

This is the basic shape I use for making slippers. The resist shown here was for my husband’s slippers and I didn’t make as a big a cuff for him. The cuff is the connecting part between the two slippers. The more space in between the two foot shapes, the longer the cuff is. Or you could make it really long and make boots. Just remember to make them wide enough to get your feet in and out. You can see I’ve taped this resist back together again with duct tape. You cut the two slippers apart after you’ve gotten to the soft felt stage to remove the resist. But you can use the resist again, you just have to retape it each time.

Here are slippers made on a similar shape resist. I don’t wear these because they ended up just slightly too small. I’m going to need to make a new pair soon!

This is an experimental resist shape. If I was going to make this again, I would not leave the edges so pointy. Any pointy edge or really sharp angle is hard to cover in wool. I have found that the best resist is the most simple one. Just make the resist bigger for extra room if you want folds.

Here is the resultant felt vessel from the resist shape above. It’s kind of odd, isn’t it?

This is a vessel resist covered with wool and wet down. I used this same shape resist to make both of the vessels below. This shows that you can use the same shape resist but come up with a very different end product.

This taller vessel was made by stitching ridges lengthwise and then felting them together. You can see the thread at the top before it was removed. This formed a tall and slender vessel.

This vessel was made from the same resist as the tall vessel. However, I made concentric folds around the shape to make a short and squatty vessel.

As you can see, almost any shape can be used to make felt. The fun thing is that even if the same shape resist is used, the final shaping of the felt can change the end result. What shape resists do you use when felting? Or perhaps you haven’t tried felting with a resist? Give it a try and let us know how it worked out for you!

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25 Responses to Resist Shapes

  1. jane dolan says:

    Thanks for sharing all that wonderful information Ruth, well put, and good photos showing exactly what you meant.

  2. ruthlane says:

    Thanks Jane – I always think photos do much better telling the story than what I say :)

  3. zedster66 says:

    That’s really interesting, Ruth, thanks :)
    I’ve only really used flat resists for camera case covers/holders, nothing fancy. I did try to make a vessel from a flat resist, but just ended up with a small bag :)

  4. ruthlane says:

    It helps to have a form to shape it to when you’re making a vessel but not completely necessary.Do you make your vessels over a ball?

    • zedster66 says:

      Yeah, most times I’ve used an old ball. A few times I’ve started with a flat piece, then shaped over a form.

  5. shepherdessann says:

    If you are not careful or work it to long on the resist you can end up with a ridge where it goes round the the resist and it is hard to get rid of it. Of course you can always incorporate the ridges into the design.
    Ruth where is the opening on the funny shaped vesel?

  6. ruthlane says:

    It’s on the left in the photo – it kind of looks like a little funny hat.

  7. Karen says:

    Thats fantastic Ruth, i’ve tried a couple of resists for bags, but i dont think they turned out that well lol I’ve also tried a resist using a ball of foil to make a sort of flower in a square piece and i made that to small so that didnt really work either, it was great practise though and i will try again soon. I love all your photos to so we can really see the designs and the different shapes you can get with the same resists. :)

  8. kwinter12 says:

    Thanks Ruth – this is really interesting. I started off trying to make pots by felting round a ball using Zed’s technique but I never managed to get the great results she did. ;-)

    I find I get better pots by felting around a flat circular resist, cutting a small hole to remove the resist and then blowing up a balloon inside to finish the fulling and shaping. Do you put anything inside your vessels to help shape them after removing the resist?

    • zedster66 says:

      Aaw, you’re too kind. The real truth is, I did about 12 vessels, striving to get the result I really wanted! Using a ball is not easy at all :)

  9. shepherdessann says:

    Kwinter12, I do that too. I find layoing out on a ball a pain in the neck. Then near the end you can do alot of shaping by stretching and pulling and pusing with things. both ends of a wooden spoon work well. Blow up pool or bath toys can give you some interesting shapes.

  10. ruthlane says:

    I usually just shape my vessels by rubbing on a washboard. I do stuff them with balled up plastic bags for drying.

  11. Sally says:

    Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks for working with wet felt – so much appreciated!

  12. kacie says:

    Awesome! I was wondering how to make the slippers. Thank you so much for this.

  13. ruthlane says:

    Glad I could help!

  14. Thank you for sharing. I am eating up every bit you post. Thanks! – Jzin

  15. Dorothy Beasley says:

    Where do you find resists shapes for handbags. I can’t seem to find one that is not flat. Do I have to make my own or can I purchase one.

    • ruthlane says:

      Dorothy, I just use flat resist shapes and then shape the felt after the resist shape is removed. I make mine out of floor underlayment.

  16. Billie says:

    How do you get a flat bottom for the vase or handbag? Just by shaping? Would you put a liner or piece of cardboard in the bottom of a flat bottom purse for strength/support? Thanks for posting all the information. Ordered your book and it’s suppose to arrive today….YAY!

  17. Pingback: Wet felted bowl | Lincs In Stitches

  18. Pingback: Surface Design Using Resists | feltingandfiberstudio

  19. karena says:

    Thank you for sharing, it’s a great help to me!

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