How to Felt Wool

January 18, 2017

Felting - pink shoes
This is my first time felting anything in the washing machine. - At least on purpose.

So, I'm clearly not an expert, BUT! - If you are like me, you would think, this was time consuming and difficult.

It was a piece of cake and amusing too!
I am definitely going to try this again soon.

This is how it works...

. . .

Find wool that says 'Felting Wool' or 'good for felting'. It will be some kind of unspun wool.
Work up a piece of garment. I crocheted a pair of shoes for a special little lady.

I searched the internet and found hints here and there. Advices are like this:
  1. work it up loose.
  2. it will shrink up to 20% (some yarn claims to shrink 30-40%), so make your garment larger, than you want the final piece to be.
  3. machine wash it on a regular program at 30-40 °C (86-104 °F). Some do 60 °C (140 °F), but advices are rather twice on lower heat than too small after one warm wash.
  4. soap: Read below!
  5. the more you put in the washing machine the more your work will felt. Use clothes that aren't in danger of becoming entangled in your felting work.
  6. take it out of the washing machine immediately after it has been washed. Stretch it and shape it the way you want it.
  7. if it didn't shrink enough. Wash it again.
  8. air dry - or if flat - use an iron on wool heat.
  9. when dry, brush the surface with a stiff brush, if you wish to make the surface more woolly.

I probably made the shoes more loose than I had to. The label said to use knitting needle size 5 and I used a size 6,5mm crochet hook. The result is that the shoes aren't very thick and hard to bend. But I'm happy about that, as the shoes will be used by a little girl.

The yarn I used also said it could shrink up to 40%! It didn't shrink that much, but it should shrink more if I tried to wash it again.

If the work doesn't shrink enough first time, wash it again. If it shrinks too much, you can stretch it while still wet.

It should also be possible to hand wash it. Use regular soap and two bowls of water. One cold and one warm, but not boiling. Change between the two bowls, while you wash and press it. The shock will make the fibers shrink and felt.

Soap and Fabric Softener

Most places say 'No fabric softener'. Some recommend using vinegar instead as it removes the calcium. And no, it will not smell like vinegar afterwards. Vinegar is great as fabric softener on a daily basis also :)

In regards to soap, there seems to be different opinions on what soap to use/not use. To be on the safe side, I will suggest as follows:

  • Safest option. No soap. It is the hot water that makes it shrink anyway. At least when washed in the machine.
  • Next option. Use soap for wool. It is soap without enzymes as this apparently ruins the wool fibers. Not immediately, but slowly. If your soap says nothing. don't use it. Find something made for washing wool.
  • Other options. Some uses brown/soft soap or special made olive oil soap or dishwasher soap or shampoo. Some of these suggestions are for hand washing and hand felting though. I'm not sure if my washing machine will like that. You better check the manual of yours before you try.

Felting - pink shoes

I would love to hear if you have any experiences with felting. Comment here or on

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