Whenever Showering, You Need Soap!

Whenever Showering, You Need Soap!

photo layout. shows 6 felted wool, bars of soap, flowered accents applied to top of each
A sampling of 6 felted bars.

This title made me chuckle. 🤭 It sounds like I’m going to lecture, about good hygiene. But no, my post is about felting soaps, as take-away gifts, for my niece Lauren’s bridal shower. The shower was in Phoenix, this past weekend. I declined my invitation, knowing I would surely melt in July’s hot temperatures – never dreaming there would be a triple digit heatwave. However, as her only aunt, I wanted to send something special, to help with the shower. Felted soaps are always appreciated, by any recipient I give them to…so I asked her mother what she thought? I explained they are lovely, and useful, pieces of hand made art. With a few questions, about colors and theme, I was ready to tackle the job.

The theme: Petals and Prosecco.

21 bars of soap, wrapped in wool, then felted
The first 21 bars felted, using assorted carded batts.

I taught soap felting classes, at a fiber show, and a couple fiber retreats. In doing so, I developed a descriptive narrative, to help people understand the process. I experienced many pitfalls, in my learning process. I like to share my mistakes, to prevent my students from experiencing the fate. Felting soap, while not hard to do, can humble any experienced Felter. [Truthfully I had 2 bars fail this time.] Sometimes it just happens!

Generally, the following method works pretty well for beginners. This recitation, is close to what I usually say to my students, as we felt our soap together. I have inserted photos as illustration, where necessary.

1. Use wool that felts well! – For my batts, I try to blend dyed merino, with another easily feltable wool. Add fancy fibers, like silks and angelina, sparingly. I tend to add those fibers to the top of my batts; that allows me to pull small amounts of the add-ins, as decoration. Always try to add a thin web of wool fiber, on top of your silks and fancy fibers. It helps them felt in better.

Photo #2 demonstrates peeling all sharp edges from soap, with a vegetable peeler. Remaining photos, all #3, demonstrates amount of fiber, and wrapping technique.

2. Use a vegetable peeler to remove all 90 degree, or pointy edges of your soap.My best advice – use less wool than you think. Lay out 3 very thin layers of fiber; only enough to cover the area of your bar of soap, with a small overlap. (Photos)

3. Wrap bar of soap, being mindful to cover corners of the bar. This is where you can add wool yarn embellishments, if you choose.

Wool wrapped bar of soap.
I wrapped this bar with boucle yarn, and what I thought was wool yarn. It didn’t felt, so must’ve been super wash wool. So I pulled it off and kept right on going.

4. Carefully wrap in a nylon knee high stocking. Better yet, use cheap nylon footies – ones you use to try on shoes with. [Amazon sells them – $8 for 144.] Grab the wool wrapped bar, with your socked hand, and carefully pull it over.

5. Add luke warm water to a 2 quart bowl. Wet wrapped bar – dipping quickly. Pull wrapped bar out of water, and begin pressing air out of the wool. (You will hear the air leaving the wool – sounding like little farts.) Press sides, press edges, press ends…keep pressing as the air continues to bubble out. Do this for a minute or two. As you press, soap suds begin to form. Some soaps foam more than others.

6. Quick dip in water again, begin pressing the fiber as before. Keep pressing. You should be able to feel all of the contours of the bar of soap. The wool should feel so tight, on the bar, you almost don’t feel it present.

*Only after about 5 minutes of pressing and pressing, around the bar…should you attempt to start rubbing. ***This is where the felting problems happen. Ask me how I know this?? When I am in a hurry, and rush the process, the wool says “No, no, no!”

7. When you do rub, imagine your bar of soap is a new-born baby. You wouldn’t rub your baby roughly…start by rubbing very very gently. After a minute or two, your baby is 1-2 months old, so add a little more rubbing for a minute. Rub all the edges and ends too. Now, your baby is older and you can begin building up the rubbing. [Wipe your soapy hands off with a towel – don’t add more water unless you absolutely have to. Trust me!]

8. You can peel your stocking/footie back, to make sure the wool is tight to the soap, and not sticking to the nylon. If still sticking, you need more rubbing, so wrap it back up and rub some more. Otherwise, remove the stocking, and rub all over some more.

9. Here if you feel the need to felt a bit more, you can rub the soap bar on bubble wrap, or something with a little texture. Make sure every edge is tight to the bar, and you’re pretty much done.

10. Start running some warm water, in your kitchen sink. Rinse your hands off, and quickly like before rinse the bar. Press all the water out, dry outside of bar with paper towel, then set aside to dry.

I generally stop at this point feeling satisfied with the beauty of this simple look. But for the shower, I planned to try something different. I decided to use bits of fiber and felted scraps, to needle felt a loose flower shape. I didn’t take pictures of that process, but I did think to photograph my leaf process:

I dug in my bin of felted pieces and off cuts. I found a lightly felted bit of prefelt, in various shades green. Perfect for leaves.

Leaf shape cut from green felt.
Leaf shape cut from a piece of lightly felted green piece.
Leaf shape in hand
I placed the cut shape in one hand, and rolled it back and forth, to round and felt the cut edges a bit.

I placed my rough flower shape on the bar of soap. For this example, imagine a round piece of felt/fiber. I divided the round shape by eye into petals. Then at a petals edge, I grabbed it with my felting needle tip, and pushed toward the center of said flower. I did this 2 or 3 times around the flower. As shown in the photos above, I cut leaf shapes from the green prefelt and rolled it between my hands a couple times. Whenever my leaf rolled on itself, I flattened it out, and kept on going. (Note: that could work well for another project) For the stems, I used a US-E hook and green yarn to crochet a chain of about 10 stitches. Each of these flowers, stems, and leaves were totally different. I let the colors and fibers determine their own destiny.

felting needle inserted sideways, into leaf shape
This photo shows the best way I found to needle felt (applique) pieces to the felted bar surface. Catching the edge and running it between the felt and soap


close up of a flower, to show detail of work
This close up shows how this blob of wool and silk reminded me of a flower. I simply added some tucks from the edges to make petals

I broke 4 felting needles, on this project, before I figured out my mistake. I watched a YouTube video that said to “needle felt directly into the soap.” I beg to differ with them, unless they have an endless supply of felting needles. I found keeping my felting needle between the felt and the bar of soap worked fine. (See the edge of the leaf, photo above.)

While I am sharing tips with you, I should warn you, these soaps took a good bit of time. For these, I chose to use organic, specialty bars of soap, because they were for my niece’s family and friends. If you ever try selling them, as I have in the past, don’t bother using good soap. While purchasers enjoy, good quality soap, they rarely believe you have used it. I did a fiber show in Mississippi, and used “free” 2oz soaps, we got when traveling. I sold them for $5 ea, and they were gone in 40 minutes. I used a better quality, organic soap in my next batch, and couldn’t get people to part with $7.50. As I sit here writing this up, I don’t see these as money makers at all! But, if you have the supplies, and a bunch of soaps hanging around, they make pretty nice gifts, or stocking stuffers. And…they look so pretty on the tables at a shower.


14 thoughts on “Whenever Showering, You Need Soap!

  1. What a good idea Capi – the soaps would certainly have provided a talking point, would have been greatly enjoyed by all the guests and they looked so pretty on the table setting.

    ‘Needle felt directly into the soap’ ?? What ?? You would have trouble hammering a nail into the bars of soap around here 🙂

    Your floral decorations are lovely and they make the soaps fit perfectly into the theme.

    1. Yes, I think the young lady must’ve had some very soft soap, or freshly made artisan soap. Like most of you, my soaps have been well cured. 😅 My favorite soap vendor for many, many years, has been Vermont Soap Company. We took a tour of their small business, about 30 years ago. We learned about their process of making organic soap by hand. Since then, they have continually added many organic products to their lineup. I have always had sensitive skin issues, and like those who suffer with peanut/seafood allergies, certain chemicals in commercial products close my throat. My worst experience happens with solvent based products, and hand sanitizers. (I believe we are yet to discover the harmful effects of hand sanitizers to our lungs!) Good ol’ soap and water, white vinegar, and baking soda, have been my cleaning products for years.

      Thank you for your always, sunshiny responses, to my felting fun. 🥳 I try to mix fiber antics with practical advice! 🤔

  2. They certainly look good Capi. I must admit that felted soaps aren’t something I’ve been drawn to because I imagine what they’d look like a couple of uses down the line. I imagine them sitting soggy in the soap dish either going mouldy or getting slimier and more slimier with every use – not to mention the soap staying in the felt and rotting it?
    Have you used one before? Is this what happens to them or do they continue to look as good as yours? If they do stay good, I might well make some to get rid of the lots of bars of soap I have kicking around. I have a habit of buying lovely scented soaps to put with my fibres to help keep the moths away and the fibres smelling nice. I’ve plenty to get rid of and now I have somewhere where I might be able to sell them too. So hoping you can remove the image of a soggy felted soap from my imagination!

    1. Hi Ann,
      I have never experienced moldy results, and we have several of these bars all over the house. Like Ruth stated the best solution is a simple wood ridged, almost plank style, soap holder. But, I’m guilty of leaving them sitting anywhere. My biggest issue with felted soaps isn’t the wool at all, it’s the bleeding of dyes used in wool fiber. I have a bar of soap felted, with good quality commercial Merino wool (by Schoppel in Germany,) in a turquoise color, that still bleeds out when I use it? That’s what I worry about staining my surfaces. Turquoise and hot pinks are the worst culprits…and my favorite colors to use.

      This is my commercial 🤓 for the virtues of felted soaps. They make your soaps last longer, which is economical and good for the environment. The wool is antibacterial and great for exfoliating skin. (Ruth’s paint, and gardening reference is right on) AND the felted bit of wool leftover when the bar of soap is gone, is a very useful malleable, little “scrubby” to use in tight cleaning spaces. 👍🏻

      Try making a couple and let me know what you think. 😍

  3. Thanks for the informative post, Capi. To answer Ann’s question above, you just need to have a place where the water will drain after using the felted soap such as a slatted soap dish. I have used them for years and they really help with paint or dye on your hands. Or perfect for gardener’s hands. The wool keeps shrinking down as you use the bar.

    Looks like your niece enjoyed the party. It was really nice of you to send such thoughtful shower gifts.

  4. Well, thank you Capi and Ruth. I am delighted to be disabused and I’ll definitely have a go, especially as I’ve just found another stash of soaps! I have tended to go for rose and lily of the valley scents so hopefully they won’t colour run too much.
    Now I’ll need to read your tutorial again, thanks for that too.

    1. Of course it is, how stupid of me. (My brain hurts doctor – Monty Python – I think).
      I once made a lovely scarf from some merino & silk tops only to find that it leaked red whenever it got wet. I haven’t dared to try to sell it.

  5. Capi, your soap presents look so lovely, I am sure they were appreciated very much.
    I love felted soap. I have used it whenever I have received it as a present, and at the end of it all you are left with is a little piece of felt! I use a slatted soap dish anyway – so nothing new is needed. They are great presents – to give and receive.

  6. What a lovely gift for your niece and her shower, Capi – I’m sure she would appreciate the time & effort you so lovingly put into their creation.

    Prodding into the soap advice….would be like trying to prod into a stone….no wonder you broke several needles!
    So pleased you changed this to ‘between the felt & soap’. This, plus your other tips ‘from experience🤪’, will certainly help others in their endeavours.

    Stay cool

  7. You’ve made me want to make felted soaps again! I used to make them when I was doing in-person vending at small venues 🙂

    I’m sure your niece and her guests appreciated the gift, Capi! They’ll love it even more once they’ve used it, particularly once they see how the wool also acts as an exfoliant. My skin was always lovely after washing with them 😀 My favourite bit, though, was definitely seeing the soap shrinking and ending up with a clump of wool at the end. It felt a little like magic…

    1. A great tutorial on making felted soap. I am sure they were a big hit. I usually just make striped soap. They sell quite well. I am sitting here with a bag full waiting to be felted and go to a local store. This time I have wrapped some hand spun yarns around them . I will see how that goes.

We'd love to hear your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: