Left-overs? Yessss!

Left-overs? Yessss!

A bit ago I found myself with the usual thousands of small left-overs from cutting up pre-felt or fabric and yarn for different projects: pieces too small for beautiful regular patterns of shapes, but I really could not see myself throwing them away…some may say that I am a bit of a hoarder, I really call myself a forward-looking creative (it applies also to scraps of paper from paper projects, and bits and bobs from many other creative ideas and ventures)!

I am certain all creative types here will sympathise, at least all hoarding ones!

Anyway, what to do with all that treasure of tiny pieces? Wet-felting is downright wonderful for using all of that to magnificent effect, even the shapeless or tiniest bits: they all become embellishments for your project. Just find yourself a nice wet-felting idea that fits with what you need, and then make it interesting and colourful with all those scraps!

My project to use up some of my stash of scraps is an easy but very effective bowl, made with a very simple circular resist: any bowl or vessel looks stunning with bold solid colours and with the addition of scraps of pre-felt, fabric and yarns, I find.

Here are the steps to make a colourful wet-felted bowl, with the aid of a sander if you have one, although it is not necessary to use one, especially if your left-overs are all wool based and so very easy to felt in.

Bowls are very forgiving of mistakes in layout when you make seven or more layers, so they make for a fun layout practice. I used merino wool, as it is the wool that I have mainly, and also one of the types of wool that I like best working with: it felts very easily, and is just so soft to handle!

For resist, I just cut a circular shape from a bubble-wrapping sheet, easy peasy.

For an easy and fuss-free explanation on how to wet-felt with resists, I recommend Rosiepink’s tutorial “How to Make 3D Felt Vessels“.

Colourful pieces of pre-felt and yarns on a circular plastic resist.
Starting by adding the left-over pieces on a circular resist. If you are particular with your design, it’s better to lightly wet and soap them, so that they will stick to the place where you want them: I just added them randomly, so that some would go over the edges of my resist, to have a more natural look.
A circular resist with a first layer of embellishments and a second starting layer of dark grey wool laid from the edges towards the centre.
Laying out my wool in a contrasting though neutral colour, starting with the edges of the resist.
First layer of grey wool on a circular resist.
The first layer is all done, in a ray-pattern. I decided to add a second, lighter grey to the background.
First layer of grey wool with additions, on a circular resist.
I added a second layer of wool.
Beginning of second layer of grey wool on circular resist.
I began my third layer from the edges again, changing my layout for a more random one, but taking care to cover all of my surface.
Wet-felted bowl in progress, first two layers of wool wetted and soaped on a circular resist.
I wetted and soaped it, put a net on it and gave it a light rub for a few seconds. Then took off the netting with care.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with a circular resist. Second side.
And I turned the resist to the second side. I do not know if you can see it from the photo, but I folded in all the decorations that where overhanging from the first side.
Work in progress of a wet=felted colourful bowl with a circular resist.
Here we go again with the scraps, always fun! If you had a kind of pattern on the first side, maybe you will want to keep to it on the second side as well. Luckily, I just could place them randomly.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with a circular resist. First layer of wool on the second side.
Starting on the first layer of wool on the second side, I decided to make a uniformly dark grey background. I followed the same layout pattern as for the other side, but I did put less wool on the edges, as they were already covered.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with circular resist. Second layer of wool of the second side.
Second layer of dark grey wool on the second side.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with circular resist. Third layer of wool on the second side.
And this was me starting on my third layer on the second side: I used lighter grey again, just because I was fed up with the dark grey.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with circular resist. Fourth layer of red wool on the first side.
After wetting and soaping and lightly rubbing the second side, I turned the resist again to the first side, and folded in any overhanging wool from the edges. Then, I decided that grey and I were done for the evening, and I switched to bright red for my fourth layer: oh, more fun!
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with circular resist.
I went on with three more layers of red on this first side, for a total count of seven layers of wool.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with a circular resist. A white lock on red wool.
I did not forget to mark the first side with a small wool lock on the centre, just to be sure when I had to cut through the felt. Then I put a net fabric on it, wetted soaped and rubbed this side. Carefully removing the netting before turning the resist again.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with a circular resist. The second side has final layers of red wool and embellishments of white wool locks.
I repeated the layout on the second side, but I added lots of wool locks as embellishments, also to distinguish it from the first side. I made sure some of the locks were going over the edges, to fold them in when I turned the resist again. I also put my netting on it, wetted soaped and rubbed it, then took away the netting very carefully.
Working on a wet-felted bowl with a rolling pin by World of Wool.
Making sure that all the locks stay well put is a matter of rubbing, either by hand or with a sander if you have one: your rubbing can become more vigorous if you see that everything stays put, and you can also start using tools, such as the one in the photo that is by World of Wool.
Kiki Peruzzi rolling a prefelt bowl to make felt.
Rolling your bowl comes next. I usually sandwich my prefelt in two layers of bubble-wrapping, then roll the whole on a plastic pipe (actually, I use a percussion tube, temporarily leaving my children without a musical instrument…well, I know, but what can you do?). I then roll the lot into an old towel and fix it in place with rubber bands. The rolling was a bit long with this bowl, because I wanted a firm felt. I made sure to unroll and reroll the lot to work on both sides and on every direction for the same amount of time.
Work in progress on a wet-felted bowl, after-rolling photo of the bowl on its red second side with white wool locks.
After rolling it for a good while, it was apparent that the bowl-in-progress had shrunk and I could feel the wrinkled resist: time to take it out.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl, a circular piece has been cut from the bowl to make an opening.
Cutting a nice circular opening with scissors on the first side of the bowl (the one marked by the small wool lock) gave me the chance to keep a circular shape that I later worked on to make a small colourful key holder.
A wet-felted circular bowl in grey and many coloured bits on a side and red with white wool locks on the other side, still wet on a white background.
After working with soaped hands on the edges to seal them, I turned the bowl inside out and worked on the edges a bit more. Then went on rubbing the whole bowl on the plastic bubble-wrap.
A wet-felted colourful bowl on a bubble-wrap and white towels, with a white brushing sponge inside it.
I personally find a netting brushing sponge very handy for rubbing the inside of bowls, as it is easier for me to grab than, say, a piece of bubble-wrap. Mine is from The Body Shop, but one can find a similar one in any shop selling personal hygiene products. I find it also useful when folding silk fibers around a resist, it works better than using your hands, as the fibers do not stick to it.
Wet wet-felted colourful bowl on bubble-wrap and old white towels.
I wanted a firm felt, so I immersed my bowl in very hot water a few times, with rinsing soaping and rubbing in between ducking it in water.
Wet-felted colourful bowl seen from the side, on a bubble-wrap and old white towels.
I needed to rub the sides very well, to erase wrinkles and small defects of wool over-eager layout. While doing that, I was also encouraging  the shape of my bowl to how I wanted it to be, by shaping it with repeated movements of my hands.
Colourful circular bowl seen from above on a white background.
And here is my finished and dried bowl, seen from above.

I called it Tuttifrutti Bowl, as it seems so yummy! Its size is good for holding fruit or just making for a decorative show-stopper.

So, have a go at using all your stash of small bits on a colourful and fun wet-felting project!







18 thoughts on “Left-overs? Yessss!

  1. Lovely tutorial Kiki. The finished bowl does look good.
    I’ve been collecting fabric and felt scraps and bits of yarn and fibre with the intention of creating a piece of material, not with felting but with free machine stitching using water soluble fabric and the “sandwich” method. It hadn’t occurred to me to use the felted method, so that’ll be another thing to get on with.
    Thanks (I think!)

    1. Thank you, Ann. That is another good suggestion for left-over scraps! Unfortunately, I left my brand new sewing machine in storage in Italy, so no machine sewed projects for a while for me.

  2. Oh I’m with you on the hoarding Caterina! Scraps are an absolute necessity for us creative types. Thats something I have to point out every now and then when questioned about the number of scrap boxes under my work table, spare bed, etc🤣
    Felt bowls are useful for holding so many different things and a lovely suggestion to use up some of our scraps.

    1. Thank you for the endorsement, Karen: I have to print your comment and show it around each time this issue of keeping creative treasures for future use comes up in the house! 😉

  3. What a beautiful bowl, Caterina. Thanks for sharing your process. I have lots of felt scraps too and this is a fun project to create. The scraps can also be used in felt pictures, they’re great for adding texture.

    1. Thank you, Ruth. How true, sometimes scraps are perfect for details in felt pictures, and they are great for giving them that rich texture that I personally love.

  4. It seems a shame to actually use the bowl because when you put stuff in it you won’t see the pretty pattern – it reminds us a little of a kaleidoscope 🙂
    Your felt bowl is also practical because it won’t scratch whatever surface you put it on.

    What a good idea to use the cut out circle to make a key holder.

    We agree that all scraps should be kept and it’s surprising how often they come in useful.

    1. Thank you, Lyn and Rosie. Actually, you can reverse my bowl, and have all the colourful bits on the outside when needed 😉 I tried it with apples and the bits on the inside, and you could actually still see quite a bit of the pattern, so I guess it depends what you put in it. It surely won’t scratch a delicate surface!
      I love the pictures that use up all the scraps! That’s also a great way to use them.

  5. I love your bowl, and definitely you have christened it with the most appropriate name! Wonderful clear instructions too, and great photos to illustrate your method.
    I did enjoy reading your post, thank you.

    1. Thank you, Marie. It’s good to have a feedback that the explanations where clear.

    1. Thank you, Leonor. A friend of mine suggested it as well! Great minds think alike, it seems. Maybe one day I will use similar left-overs for a beret, then, as it seems a winner!

    1. Thank you, Ann. The t word is not in my dictionary 😁! But sometimes I wonder what I can do with all those smallest mismatched oddly-shaped bits and barely-inch-long yarns: a mixed salad seemed the way to go. 😉

  6. As I read your first paragraph Caterina, I automatically looked to the cupboard where my stash of ‘I know that will come in handy someday’ prefelts are stored, so I am totally on side with you!
    Thank you for the great step by step instructions. Really easy to follow. The results of your labour are fantastic. really eye catching and functional. You have beautifully justified the need for felt hoarders in our world!

  7. Thank you, Helene. I am glad to be of help to all textile hoarders! 😁 Thanks for your feedback on the tutorial. I am sure that I would love your stash of prefelts (envy! ) , and I am looking forward to seeing what you will create with that treasure in future!

    1. One of these fine days I will get around to it Caterina. I just have to build up more left overs first lol!

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