Book Resist Tutorial by Teri Berry

Book Resist Tutorial by Teri Berry

This is a guest post by Teri Berry, a forum member, who is a wonder at making three-dimensional felt items including some fantastic hats. Please follow this link for more free tutorials and links to Teri’s fabulous instant download tutorials.

After my post about the First Quarter Challenge, we had a discussion on the forum about “book resists” and Teri offered to write a tutorial on how to use a “book” resist to make a more complex shaped felt item. Thanks Teri!

Following on from the Q1 Challenge, there was some discussion on the forum about what a “book resist” is, I’m sure these resists go by a variety of names but I think”book resist” is a pretty apt description as the “pages” of the resist do look a lot like a strangely shaped book. This post is a description of how I like to work with this style of resist but if you have any tips or alternative ways of working please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Getting Started

You will need some flexible plastic sheeting, stiff enough that it will stand up on its own if you hold it by the edge but flexible enough that it will fold in half without breaking.

I like the plastic that carpets come wrapped in but this isn’t very easy to come by, an alternative are the plasticised (wipe clean) table cloths. As much as I love foam underlay for resists, I find it a little bit thick for this technique, especially if you want to use more than 2 layers, but it will do if you have nothing else.

Take a sheet of plastic and draw a line down the middle (this is where you will join your layers) then let your imagination go wild and draw out the template on one side of your line. I have added some photos of the resists and corresponding felt structures at the end of the post if you need some ideas to get you started.

Tip – make sure any pointy tips are rounded, if you don’t, they will poke through the felt and create a hole.

Tip – try to avoid putting wide sections on the end of narrow stalks, it’s not impossible, but it will make it harder to get your resist out.

Tip – remember the felt around the middle of your resist will open out to form a space. This can be needle-felted together at the firm prefelt stage if desired.

If you want a radial sculpture where all the arms are the same, fold your plastic in half along the straight line and trace your design onto the other side.

Stack additional sheets of plastic under your design, if you want your sculpture to have 7 or 8 arms you will need 4 sheets of plastic, if you want 9 or 10 arms you will need 5 sheets.  Pin them altogether then sew along the line down the middle. You can use a sewing machine if you wish, but set your straight stitch to long so as not to perforate the plastic too much, as this could make it easy to tear when you come to remove the resist.

Tip – if you find it hard to push the needle through the plastic, gripping the needle with a pair of pliers might help.

Tip – if you want an odd number of arms in your sculpture keep two of the felt leaves together while you felt over them. Similarly, if you think you would like to use the same resist shape for making several sculptures but with different numbers of arms, use enough sheets for the largest sculpture and then reuse the same resist but encase 2 or more pages of the resist in wool to reduce the number of arms in your final sculpture.

Cut around your design, through all the layers of plastic.

Getting Wet and Woolly!

Start laying out your wool, at least 2 fine layers will be needed, more if you want don’t want your structure to shrink very much or if you want it to be sturdy / functional. I typically use 2 layers for lampshades and 4 layers for more structural sculptures. I like Blue Faced Leicester wool for this type of work but wrote a post on how several different wool behaves for small sculptural pieces here if you are interested.

Once you have laid out at least 2 layers (in opposite directions) wet it out.

Then lay a piece of painters plastic (or a strip of plastic bin liner) over at least half the wool then flip over one of your pages.

Fold the wool over the edges as you would when working with any resist being careful to smooth out any folds of wool where you are working on the outside of a curve.

If you need to cut the wool to fold it around an indentation in the resist, avoid cutting the last 1 cm/0.5″, to avoid creating a hole in your wool.

Then continue laying out your wool over the next 2 “pages” open in front of you (one page will be partially covered by the wool folded over from the previous page). Cover with some decorator’s plastic but before you flip to the next page, go back a page and fold the wool ends over so it is all nice and neat.


Continue laying out wool and flipping pages as you work your way around the resist.

Note: where you have folded the wool over from the previous page of the resist, if the wool is already quite thick, there is no need to add more on the reverse of the page, this usually happens where you have a narrow projection, as on the top of this resist.

Tip – if you are finding your resist is becoming a little lop-sided with a big pile of wool covered pages on one side, flip the first 2 or 3 pages (on the bottom of the pile) over to the other side from underneath. That should even it up and make it easier to lay wool on the remaining pages.

Tip: laying a few strands of wool across the top and bottom joints (where the pages are stitched together) will help prevent holes like this one from opening up when the resist is removed:

You are now ready to start felting…

Use  a piece of painters plastic to gently rub the surface of each page in small circles, paying particular attention to the edges of the resist. I find going over the entire surface of each page 50 times is enough. The plastic should glide easily over the surface, if it doesn’t add some more soapy water.

Tip – If you are working with lots of pages you might find it helpful to remove the painter’s plastic as you complete each page so you know when you have reached where you started.

Tip – don’t forget to felt the pages at the back, the ones lying face down on the table.

Tip – work your circular motions from the edge of the resist towards the centre, this will help prevent wings / ridges of felt forming on the edge of the template (unless of course that is what you are trying to do!).

Do the “pinch test”, your fibres should be holding together well by now but if not, go through another cycle of rubbing (it may help to add some hot water too).

Removing the Resist

Now we have to decide where to make a hole to remove the resist. For most templates, a hole near the line of stitching makes it easiest to remove the template but anything is possible! I make my hole just big enough for 2 fingers, the hole will stretch some more as you pull the resist out so don’t make it too big.

Depending on the shape of your template, ones with long, spidery arms are the most fiddly, you may need to gently gather and work the felt over the resist in order to get it out without stretching or tearing the felt.

Once the resist has been removed hold the felt up to a light and look inside, through the hole where the resist came out, for any thin spots. Any holes should be repaired now , before fulling begins. Now you are ready to knead and throw it, stopping every 30 seconds to check the arms aren’t felting together. This is also the time to start rubbing it in any directions where you want it to shrink and to start shaping it.

Once you are happy with the shape, folds etc. it can be stuffed while it dries.


Try adding wings by laying wool off the edge of the resist.

What would happen if you stitch different shaped resists together or stitched them at different positions (not just down the middle)?

How can you fold / shape / manipulate felt pods made from the same resist so that the final sculptures look very different?

Some example resists and their results:


53 thoughts on “Book Resist Tutorial by Teri Berry

  1. Wow! Thank you for such a detailed look at your amazing process and beautiful sculptural results. Truly fascinating and also a little daunting but I guess starting with some simple books could be possible ……. in a month or two!

    1. Starting with just 2 sheets (4 pages) for you first try is a good move, please drop by the forum and post a pic of what you make alongside your resist, I’m always amazed how diiferent the sculptures look from the resists

  2. Lovely clear tutorial Teri – well written and easy to understand. Your sculptures are amazing and I love the last one!

    1. Thanks Lyn, given how amazing your tutorials are I take that as a huge compliment! You probably don’t know this, but I followed you free tutorial for my first felt bag 🙂

  3. Thank you Teri for this wonderful tutorial. Your sculptures are fascinating.
    having seen all this I got some ideas but don’t know when I’m going to realise them. The will go on my “to do” list.

    1. Thank you 🙂 I do hope you find the time, it’s a really surprising technique, most of the time I’m never quite sure what I will end up with!

  4. Thank you so very much for sharing this! I had often wondered how these amazing sculptures and shaped were created! This is such a helpful and clear tutorial, and I feel inspired to have a go!

  5. Absolutely brilliant tutorial, Teri! Your instructions and photos are so clear and well done. It was difficult for me to visualize how each resist developed into the sculpture that followed. That process takes quite a bit of imagination and perhaps a big dose of spatial awareness. Thanks so much for sharing your talents!

  6. Thanks Cathy, I’m afraid it is usually a complete leap of faith when I start a new resist, I rarely ever know what I am going to get at the end, but for me that I all part of the fun! 🙂

  7. As someone who has recently experimented for the 1st time with book resists, I commend you on a very clear, detailed explanation. Just felt-along-with-Teri to try it out! I really enjoyed my experiment & will be trying again, your resists are very interesting & complex shapes! Great tutorial, thanks

  8. Excellent tutorial Teri! Thanks for making the step so clear. Now to just make that leap of faith and not overthink it. 😉 Your sculptures are all beautiful and unique.

    1. Thanks Marilyn, this is definitely one of those techniques where you can be totally creative and draw nutty shapes on your template and have hours of fun shaping and manipulating the resulting piece of felt, or you can spend ages calculating and measuring trying to figure out how to get geometric shapes.

  9. Wonderful work, I love your sculptures, and thank you for sharing the process in such an easy to follow way. I always enjoy what you make, maybe this time I’ll have a go too, and if I do I will share 🙂

    1. Please do Carole, and what ever you make has the bonus of meeting the Q1 challenge directions too. I,m looking forward to reading about your adventures 🙂

  10. Thank you, thank you, for sharing such a wonderfully detailed and easy to follow tutorial. I am so excited to try one of these! The possibilities are endless, as your beautiful examples show.

  11. Thank you Victoria, I am glad you like it and I’m just as excited to see what you create, please pop over to the forum with some photos with your wonderful creations!

  12. Thanks for writing this post Teri! I had a general idea about how book resists are used, but this really showed the endless possibilities. I’m tempted to let my kids draw shapes and see what I can do from that with this technique. 🙂

    1. What a brilliant idea Zara, your kids won’t be thinking too hard about what the resulting 3D shape will be so will be far freer in their choice of shapes. I look forward to seeing the results! 🙂

    1. Thanks Ann, for me it’s the shaping after the felt comes off the resist is where it gets really interesting (or at least I feel I have some control over it!). Looking forward to seeing your challenge piece(s) 🙂

  13. What amazing work, Teri! Well done on explaining all the steps. I would never had guessed in a million years how a resist can create such beautiful 3D objects.

  14. hello teri, thank you for your generosity to share this tutorial with us. I especially agree on the part where you say the result is always surprising. I have been trying quite a few sculptures now and still can not pre think the outcome. I would love to learn to make one of those pam de groot spirals. Do yoy have a smart idee about those ? i havn’t figured them out yet.
    thank you

  15. Hi Heleen, I love the serendipity of working with felt and the book resist technique is one of the hardest to plan what the final piece will be, but I like the element of surprise that brings, I hope you are enjoying it too 🙂

    I know the spirals you mention but have never attempted to make one, but if I were going to try I would cut a spiral shape from a resist (I would need to tape or sew the sections together so the different layers of the spiral stack on top of each other). Then lay out your felt as you would with any other resist being careful to lay thin plastic between each layer of the spiral.

    I hope this makes sense? Please let us know how you get on, either on the forum or if you prefer, you can message me via my blog:

  16. Terrific post, very inspiring, thanks for sharing this process Teri. So far I’ve made an octopus and a seed pod but, as you say, the possibilities are endless!

  17. Have been searching internet for weeks trying to figure out how to make these structural felted items. Thank you for this generous instruction.

  18. Gracias, por compartir este tutorial. En cuarentena me decidí ha realizarlo. Aqui en mi pais Argentina no es facil acceder a cursos. Si tiene otros tutoriales,me encantaría verlos. Gracias,saludos

  19. It’s still an inspiring tutorial
    Very well written and the photos make it even clearer.
    I think the tips on where mistakes can appear are great.
    Most instructive, however, are the photos of the stencils and the resulting sculptures.
    A very big thank you from Germany with best wishes for more great objects. Jude Klute

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