How to make felted coasters

*This shall be first in a series of who knows how many (until I run out of ideas, I guess)*

A few months ago, as I was sitting in Barnes and Noble, perusing yarn porn, I came across a whole new crafting idea:  felting.  There were tons of books on wet felting, needle felting, felting supplies, felting crafts…it was a whole new world.  I emailed my cousin in Alaska, Trinette, and asked her if she had ever tried it.  She blew me away with her generosity by sending me a whole new needle felting kit, and I was so excited.  Except, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it.  So it sort of sat in my craft box, mocking me until I figured it out.

I was online one day, looking through craft porn, and came across the idea of felting coasters.  In fact, this website boasted of using old sweaters as the felting material.  I found an old 100% wool sweater of Lance’s that I knew he wouldn’t mind sacrificing to the cause, and I chucked it in the washer and dryer to shrink it.  It was a delicious feeling–causing intentional harm to an item of clothing.  I highly recommend it.

I’ve taken some photos, so you, my visually minded readers can follow along.

Here were my supplies:

Two wool sweaters shrunken for crafting use.  The one on the right is what I'll use for this demonstration.

Two wool sweaters shrunken for crafting use. The one on the right is what I will use for this demonstration.

 
Other supplies

Other supplies

 

You can see from the photo that you’ll also need a brush looking thingy (which is the mat you place your fabric on), a needle felter (the green and yellow tubey thingy which has five barbed needles tucked inside), a pair of scissors and a ball of yarn. 

 

So first I cut the red sweater across the bottom and made four rough squares.  For this particular project, I wasn’t going for total symmetry, so my squares aren’t perfect.  I kind of liked it that way.  You can measure and cut, though, to suit your own needs.  I then laid a square on the brush/mat and began to make my design with some yarn.  I think, technically, it would have been better to separate the yarn into strands, but I wanted to be bold and daring and just try it with the whole strand of yarn first.  That’s just the way I roll.

Ready to start needle felting

Ready to start needle felting

Here’s when you begin using the needle felter.  It unlocks, and when you push down on it, the needles pierce the fabric and combined with the pressure of the barbed needles and the courseness of the fibers, they begin to stick together, which is “felting”.  You are, in essence, making one piece of fabric.  It’s way cool.  You’ll need to keep your needle felter vertical the whole time, no slanting movements, which can cause the fragile barbed needles to break and might pierce your fingers.  I’m told that’s no fun.  Needles and fingers do not play well together.  You just make the felter pierce the fabric a bazillion times in a row until you see the yarn is sticking.  It goes fairly fast and it’s relatively easy. 
Using the needle felter

Using the needle felter

 
Starting to take shape

Starting to take shape

 

The final product

The final product

 

And if you’re curious as to what the back of the coaster looks like: 
The back, you can see how the fibers of the yarn came through

The back, you can see how the fibers of the yarn came through

 

I started with a swirly design, but I also wanted the other three coasters to be different, so I came up with these designs:
n509044899_787532_8299
 
Ahem, that’s supposed to be a leaf, not a banana. 
 
So I plan on heading to my local thrift store and finding other colors and designs of wool sweaters (hint:  do not buy super-wash wool, this will not shrink) and felting them.  The sky’s the limit:  coasters, pillows, scarves, bags, hats…I can’t wait to try them all.
 
As for this particular set of coasters, I plan on giving them away as a Christmas present to *cough* my sister *cough*
 
Hope if any of you so desire, you’ll find these instructions easy and helpful!  And thank you again, Trinette, if not for your generosity, I wouldn’t have been able to do this!
   
   
*Update*  Here’s two other sets of coasters, these are two layers of wool circles, joined by stitching a blanket stitch.
Orangey coaster goodness

Orangey coaster goodness

Two-toned coaster goodness

Two-toned coaster goodness

I’m thinking I need to find a design other than flowers…

7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by tr3n1ty on August 28, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    So glad you like it! :D

    Reply

  2. Posted by candy0108 on August 28, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    so cool I wanta try.. I look forward to your crafty ideas I saw on Martha Stewart how to make the cutest rag dolls today I think I am going to try I will share soon.. I feel inspired now..

    Reply

  3. Posted by Mom on August 29, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    I like the one of the underside (backside?) of the coaster…kind’a reminds me of tie-dye. Can you put glitter on it?

    Reply

  4. Hi! Where in the world can you get a “felter” at?!?! i have looked everywhere, and they only have wooden blocks with needles you have to put in yourself.. yours seems like it would be MUCH easier to use! Help!!!
    Thanks!

    Reply

  5. Posted by soundsliketomatoes on October 2, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    I have seen this particular brand of felter at Hancock Fabrics. I’ll have to get back to you on the specific brand, tho. The felter takes 5 needles, there are heavy duty use needles and fine use needles. I like using the heavy duty needles as they’re thicker and just seem less breakable. I hope this helps!

    Reply

  6. Posted by Krista on November 29, 2008 at 2:33 am

    Can you give me the name brand of the felter? Great ideas. I am excited to try it and train my lady friends how to felt.

    Reply

  7. Posted by soundsliketomatoes on December 1, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    The name brand of the felter is Clover. I know you can find them at Hancock or Joann Fabrics. I’ve seen them online at both stores. Thanks for reading!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: