Creating a bar of felted handmade soap is a fun craft that anyone with hands can partake in…. it’s a great kid-friendly activity… and a great way to deal with “ugly” bars of otherwise amazing handmade soap.
What is felting?
Felting is one of the easiest, and most forgiving, crafts around. The technique of felting is a basic process of shrinking and bonding wool fibers together.
- Moisture felting uses friction and water to agitate fibers so they “stick” together as the microscopic scales on the wool fibers interlock and shrink together.
- Needle felting involves working the wool with special barbed felting needles to create the interlocking of the wool fibers.
- Knitted (or crochet) felting is what happens when you wash (moisture felt) a piece of knitted fabric. Sometimes this is intentional… other times it’s a big fat mistake that you discover when you didn’t sort your laundry properly and washed your hand-knitted wool sweater (blushes with embarrassment).
Looking for the tools I use when making soap? Check out my Amazon Shopping List.
Why the heck would you want to felt soap?
Felting soap wraps the bar of soap in a cocoon of wool and provides many benefits.
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Wool is mildew resistant
Wool fibers have a natural water wicking property that prevents moisture from being retained in the fabric. Unlike synthetic fabrics, wool does not retain odors and will freshen just from airing out.
Wool has natural anti-microbial properties
Due to the lanolin in wool, it is naturally antimicrobial. Hospital studies have shown that bacterial colonies are common in cotton sheets while not present on Merino blankets subjected to the same environmental conditions.
Wool is stain and water resistant
The thin waxy coating on Merino wool fibers makes wool water resistant.
Wool makes soap better!
- The water wicking ability of wool keeps your bar dry, allowing it to withstand use, and last longer.
- Wool is a gentle exfoliant.
- Wool increases the lather of your soap, even in hard water.
- Your bar will never slip out of your hands while washing and stay put when you put it down
- You no longer need a washcloth!
Enough with the benefits… mostly it’s super fun! Felted soaps make great gifts, a great kid-friendly activity for groups, and for advanced crafters… you get to stab a bar of soap with a needle – YES! Stress relief here we come.
Let’s make some felted soap!
For those looking for a fun kid-friendly craft, gather up some your supplies and lets’ get crafting!
- Soap: I recommend all-natural handmade soap, but any bar will do. (You can learn to make your own soap here too).
- Wool roving: that’s just a fancy way of saying wool that has been washed and carded, but hasn’t been spun into yarn just yet. Merino wool works best, and you can purchase it in any color that suits your fancy. Here’s a bundle of colors over on Amazon.
- Nylon stocking, or any mesh net bag to keep things snug while you felt. The plastic mesh bags that produce comes in works quite well.
Felted Soap Tutorial
Total Time: 45 minutes
Wrap your bar of soap in the wool roving.
You want to use enough wool to cover the soap, and wrap in varying directions (across the width, then the length, and mix it up). You can wrap your wool in all one color, or combine different colors for various effects.
Place the wool wrapped soap inside of the nylon stocking.
This helps keep your wool in place and to help provide some additional friction to get the wool fibers to interlock.
Felt it: This part takes patience, but not too much… only about 10-15 minutes.
Run the wrapped soap under hot water, then scrub! Run the wrapped soap under cold water, then scrub! Repeat for 10-15 minutes running it under cold then hot water. I usually have a bowl of each then dip and scrub, dip and scrub. You will notice a lot of lather building up which will wash away with the cold water rinse. If you are going to be felting multiple bars, I highly recommend wearing some rubber gloves to protect your hands from overexposure to water (unless you’re really into prune fingers that, but you shouldn’t be… over-saturated skin cuts very easily!)
Let it dry.
A felted bar can take between 1-2 days to dry out. It just depends on how thickly you wrapped the wool around the soap.
Optional: Embellish with needle felting:
This is what I typically do (I LOVE needle felting… and who wouldn’t love stabbing something repeatedly with a needle? It’s great aggravation therapy!) You will need a felting needle, which you can purchase from any craft store when you purchase the wool roving. The basic idea is to place new colors and layers of wool on your felted base and then stab it! The special needle has barbs that will create the necessary friction to interlock the wool fibers.
Estimated Cost: 15 USD
- Bar of Soap
- Wool Roving
- Optional felting needle
- Mesh Bag
Materials: Hot and Cold water
For those who want some visuals, here’s a video from Kandra’s soapy friend that will walk you through the process:
Caring for felted soap
Once you have a bar of felted soap, scrub away, and simply let it dry out between uses.
Once the soap is all used up you can refill it! Simply slice the felt open and insert a new bar. The wool fibers will felt back together with use.
As you use your felted soap, the lanolin will eventually wash away. So, consider adding a drop or two of lanolin with each new bar to retain the natural properties of the wool with extended use. Lanolin is the natural wax in the wool that makes it so amazing!
If you felt your own bar, be sure to share a picture on my Facebook page. I can’t wait to see your felted soap!