I came up with this really beautiful Eddie Bauer sweater that I picked up at Goodwill. I have been thinking about felt beads ever since I saw really cool looking jewelry a friend had made with wool roving.
I love the colors in this sweater so it inspired me to see if I could make some felt beads from a recycled sweater. I looked online to see if anyone had any tips for doing this and I did not find much information. I did find that several people wanted to do it though.
So I set out to see if I could do it and possibly write a tutorial that made sense. It is not exactly by the book felting by any means, but it worked well enough to make this bracelet. I hope it inspired you to try to make some recycled wool felt beads yourself.
You Will Need:
an old wool sweater
cotton swabs on a plastic stick (important that they be plastic with a hole through the middle)
clear beading thread
gold thread if desired
beading needle (sharp)
bowl for water
- To felt, I washed the sweater in hot water and dried it on high in the dryer.
- I cut the sleeve off of the sweater. Following the stripe patterns, I cut strips of the felt.
- I then cut the strips into 1″ and 1-1/2″ sections.
- For the long beads, I lightly applied fabric glue to the inside of the felt piece.
- I quickly rolled the 1-1/2″ felt pieces around a inexpensive plastic cotton swab. I do this for 3 reasons: it gives stability to the bead, allows me to have something to run the wire or thread through, and gives me something to hold on to as I later apply small beads to the felt bead.
- I secured them with embroidery floss in a coordinating color. I wrapped and tied the embroidery floss around the beads tightly while the glue dries
- I squeezed them tightly to make sure the glue was well integrated in the fibers.
- For larger beads, I rolled damp 1″ felt piece around a bamboo chopstick.
- I allowed them to dry like this overnight so they wold form the round shape.
- For the felt ball beads, I took the trimmings and odd bits and placed them in a bowl of water.
- This is the messy fun part: I squeezed a dime size dollop of glue into my palm and put some of the damp (not dripping wet) felt bit in my palm and coated them.
- I then rolled my palms together in a circular movement squeezing to compress the fibers and shape them into a ball. You can use more glue if you want. Experiment until you find what works for you. It took me a few minutes to create a well-compressed and round bead. So be patient.
- Then I let them dry overnight.
- To my great joy, the beads held together through the night. I could now decorate them.
- I used clear beading thread to sew the long ends of the large beads from the bamboo chopstick together. I also ran the needle through some seed beads while I was stitching the ends together.
- I then wrapped gold thread around the long beads because I thought they needed something to make them shine. I wrapped it around the seed beads randomly. I tied and trimmed the ends of the thread leaving the ends of the thread and floss to add texture.
- I also left some of the beads wrapped with floss to make some contrast.
When you have a pile of beads, you are ready to make them into jewelry, decorate clothing or accessories. Have fun and let me see what you create!!!
Please stay a while and explore the other tutorials…and FREEbies!!! And don’t forget to tune in to my new Live Interactive TV show – Mixin’ It Up with Rebecca on the Cool2Craft Network next Monday-Valentine’s Day at 2PM Eastern, 11PM Pacific. There will be a ton of giveaways and great how-tos!!!
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