show me on the doll where you felt the feel!

Felted knitting is actually a rather simple, although time consuming process. You can learn to felt with these simple instructions. If knitting is rewarding, felted knitting is downright addicting! The only limit is your imagination. You can make hats, placemats, purses, coasters, slippers, dolls and so much more.

How It Works

Felting is the process of breaking down natural animal fibers (wool, alpaca, angora, etc.) through agitation. Specifically for felted knitting, washing machine agitating. When the animal fibers are exposed to heat and moisture and then agitated, the bond around the hair is loosened, causing the fibers to expand, loosen and bind together. This creates the smooth, felted texture, similar to regular felt.

What You Need

Felting can only be accomplished with wool or some other natural animal fiber. You can use a blend if animal fiber is the primary ingredient, but it cannot be machine washable. Yarn labels will tell you what the yarn is made of, in percentages if the yarn is a blend. In blends, try to find yarn with 15% or less synthetic ingredients. Pay attention to the label when you buy wool, because some wool is treated and can be machine washed. Machine washable wool cannot be used for felting. Also, avoid bleached white wool and use caution with lighter colors. These tend to not be receptive to felting.

You’ll also want some type of bag to place your knitting in when you wash it. A fabric bag with a zip close is the best. I use a pillowcase that zips. Pillowcases are big enough to fit most felting projects. The reason you’ll want to use a bag is your projects will shed a lot during the agitation process and too much shedding can clog and ruin your washing machine.

How do you felted a hat?

Keep working until your hat is felted to your liking. Some people like to leave the felt thick, spongy, and “wooly,” while others like to felt it thin and smooth. Press the excess water from the hat with a towel. Set a few towels on your work surface, then place the hat on top. Cover it with a few more towels, then press down on the hat firmly.

How do you make a doll out of felt?

Place the templates on the felt you chose. For a typical doll, a skin color of light peach or brown is best. Using your scissors, cut around the templates (you can draw around them first, if you need to). You should have two heads, two bodies, four arms, and four legs. Like before, you can trim the edges if you like.

Can You Wrap a felt cap with saran wrap?

When covering the hat block with saran wrap, make certain there are no gaps. A hat made from a felt hood will have a thinner, smoother finish. A hat made from wool roving will have a thicker, woollier finish. Check out How to Wear Flat Caps to how your homemade felt cap can be worn.

What do you need to make a hat?

Hat making, also known as millinery, may look intimidating and complex, but it is actually quite simple. If you want to get really professional, you will need to use a hat block and a felt hood. If you are just starting out, or if you want something easier, however, consider making a needle felted hat out of wool roving instead.

What did dolls look like in the 1800s?

In the 1800s and 1900s, dolls’ hair was usually rooted rather than painted, while their clothes were usually leather. Today’s bodies of porcelain dolls are generally stuffed with cloth and dressed in Victorian-era clothing.

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Those are the only felting-specific requirements. You’ll use your regular needles and tools for the rest of the process.

Getting Started

Felted items begin as regular knitted items. Say you wanted a felted place mat. You would knit a place mat, making sure to follow the above yarn requirements, and then put the place mat through the felting process. Since felting shrinks the overall size of an item, you’ll need to knit it a bit larger than your expected finished size. A general recommendation is to use needles 2-3 sizes larger than the yarn’s suggested gauge. If the yarn label says to use size 8, try 10 or so.

All yarns felt differently. Even yarn from the same brand will felt differently. It’s a good idea to prepare a test swatch and see how the yarn felts before you begin a large project. This helps you see how it will look and determine the proper gauge.

The Nitty Gritty of Felting

Ok, now to the actual process. After you’ve knitted your felting project, place it in a zippered pillow case or something similar. Now you’ll want to make sure your washing machine temperature is hot as heat softens the fibers for felting.

You’ll want the most agitation and a small amount of water, so your load size should be set at small. Add a tablespoon or two of detergent to the water (more detergent for large projects). If you’re felting a small item such as placemats, slippers etc., throw in a pair of jeans to help with the agitation process.

Add your pillow case with project inside and you’re ready to go.


From here on out, timing is everything. Until you have a good idea of how your washer performs at felting, you’ll want to check progress every 5 minutes or so. How long a project agitates directly relates to how much it will shrink and bind together. Check each item frequently until it’s about the right size. Make sure your washing machine never gets to the drain cycle – just keep resetting it on agitation.

It may take up to an hour before your felted project looks “just right”. Don’t get discouraged; it’s well worth the wait. After checking it every 5 minutes or so, when it’s finally finished, you’ll need to rinse thoroughly.

Do this by hand in your sink or bathtub with cold to lukewarm water, and continuously wring it out – you don’t want any detergent left over. After the soap is completely rinsed out, wring out as much water as you can by hand. I usually roll it up in a towel and squeeze to get the most water out.

Once you’ve wrung it dry, lay it flat on a towel and stretch it to shape. It will dry in whatever shape it’s left in, so make sure you’ve got it stretched the way you want it.

After it’s dry, you may want to pick off some of the pills left from felting it. Once you’ve done that, you’re finished!

The entire process is simple and mostly a matter of preference. You decide what looks best and when to stop agitating your project in the machine. Remember though – felted knits are not machine washable, so plan accordingly if you’re not a big fan of hand washing.

This is by no means a complete walkthrough on felting, but it should give you enough of an idea to get started. There are more tricks, techniques and variations on felting than can be summed up in a one-page article.