Felt Fan Fare

Felt Fan Fare

Over the summer I collected a number of items at garage sales and thrift stores to try new projects in felt.  One of the things I was intrigued with was a paper fan.

I removed the paper very gently and used it to make the pattern for the felt using a 30% shrinkage factor.



I cut out two sides from prefelts then cut out the rib resists from flooring foam and placed them on the one side of the prefelt then covered it with the second side and decorated it with silk and throwsters waste. The trick of course would be to keep the ribs in place while felting.  I did a lot of rubbing in all directions on both sides until I could see the felt sticking together between the ribs, then did my rolling, rinsing, etc.



Because the actual ribs were thicker than the resists, I placed wooden skewers in the resist slots then creased the fan the way I wanted it to dry and basted the back with thread and tightened.



The real challenge was getting the real ribs into the slots since the fan was held together with a non removable pin with two round heads. I’m sure there is a technical name for this, but I don’t know what it is.

I worked on it for hours trying to get all the ribs started then in and up to the top. I even enlisted my husbands help for an extra set of hands, but that didn’t help.  I was very frustrated and left it for a while then came back fresh and finally got it to work. The first and last ribs are glued on to the wood.

While my husband I were in California in July, we visited the Japanese Gardens in Los Angeles and I had purchased a cute little wooden fan stand.


I had visions of possibly producing fans to sell, but I’m not sure it’s worth the effort unless I can develop an easier way to thread the ribs into the fan.

What projects have you started only to find it was harder than you thought?

20 thoughts on “Felt Fan Fare

    1. Thanks Ruth! It certainly was a lot more work than I anticipated, but worth the effort in the end.

    1. Thanks Frances! I hadn’t thought of that. With the resists in, I was able to full it by doing some rolling once the felt was strong enough. I’m not sure how I would have fulled it properly with the ribs in. It’s something to think about.

  1. It’s beautiful! Visitors to your house will be amazed by it. Quite a tricky project too, and I would never have thought of felting a fan either.

    You asked “What projects have you started only to find it was harder than you thought?”…how long have you got to listen to my ever so long list?

  2. Thanks Lyn! To look at it finished, I don’t think anyone would imagine the work that went into it.

    Perhaps you could do a blog or a book about the tough projects Lyn. 🙂 I love the challenge of trying to figure out how to make something work which obviously doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.

  3. The fan is stunning, Marilyn, and such a lot of work! I admit that it’s a project I never would have dreamed up, but such wonderful results. And that fan stand really shows it off. My 5-tiered felted mobile was a very difficult project, so much more work than I anticipated. The trick was in the hanging and balance, not the felting part. But we always learn from complex work– do we not?

  4. Thanks Cathy! I agree we grow and learn when we tackle complex projects. I remeber your angst over the mobile. This wasn’t quite that challenging. I just needed more hands. 😉

  5. That turned out great, Marilyn! “To look at it finished, I don’t think anyone would imagine the work that went into it.” Isn’t that often the case!? Every single tutorial I’ve done has been more work/harder than I thought, and taken at least 3 times what I expect!

  6. Such a lovely fan, and very worthy of having its own stand. 🙂

    As for how many UFOs and overly complicated projects – I’m not competitive, but I’m sure I could top the bill!! 😉

    1. Thanks Judith! I’m sure we’re all accumulating these types of projects. The longer you do something the more you’ll encounter. 🙂

  7. This is most assuredly a one-of-a-kind object! What a great idea, Marilyn 🙂 Would you change anything in the process if you were to do it again?

    As for things that take longer than expected… hm, everything?

  8. Thanks Leonor! The only thing I’d change would be to find fan ribs disassembled so that the pin at the bottom could be put in after the felting process. I doubt that they exist unless you make your own since I’m sure when they are manufactured they have machines to do that.

    You’re right everything!

  9. Great fan,I wondered if they sell fan making kits. Most of the paper fans I have seen have been glued to one side of the paper. I have seen a could that her sewn on. And project that didn’t work out as planned are to numerous to count. After the failure I usually look at it and go well of course that is what it did.

  10. Thanks Ann! I haven’t found any kits. We all experience challenges and sometimes failures, but always learn from them. 😉

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