Jzin’s Washing Machine Wet-Felting Technic: Toadstool Cottage

Jzin’s Washing Machine Wet-Felting Technic: Toadstool Cottage

Today we are happy to introduce Jzin Teng from Castle of Costa Mesa. She is guest blogging with a wonderful tutorial on how to use your washing machine to make this adorable toadstool cottage. I have not worked on any felting projects this large before and can’t wait to give this technique a try. Enjoy!


 

Jzin’s Washing Machine Wet-Felting Technic: Toadstool Cottage


Boo! The girl gnome tries to scare her beloved. Alas, he is too dreamy to be startled.

 

Toadstool dimensions: Height: about 26cm (10 inches) from base to top of red roof, not including chimney – or, from the base to tip of smoke would be 36 cm (14 inches) tall. The width of the red roof (side to side) is 9 inches (23cm). 

I am an impatient person. I am constantly thinking up novel ways to do things more efficiently. I like to share with you this felting tutorial I invented where you can felt a sturdy, good-sized cottage without much manual agitation. I will show you how to let your washing machine and dryer felt your toadstool cottage for you! My little invention has dramatically increased my love for doing my household laundry. Read on, you will see why.

I am constantly inspired by the shapes and nature of found objects from daily life. How can I turn a yogurt container into a cave, or a plastic bag into a jellyfish. One can take advantage of the shapes of readily available objects to use them as resist to help felt the shape you want. I am always very excited to dream up uses for objects and their shapes.

There are 5 main steps to this Jzin’s Washing Machine Wet-Felting Technic.

1. Determine and shape your resist. This resist must be able to withstand agitation (e.g. not completely disintegrate) in your washing machine and (optional) dryer.
2. Drape warm soapy damp wool around your resist. Form your basic shape and fine tune your design onto your resist.
3. Wrap up your wool structure /resist to prevent shifting in your shape/design and to prepare for agitation in the washer and dryer. Careful not to create creases or lose your design if wrapped too loosely.
4. Let your washing machine and dryer (optional) do the manual agitation to felt and firm up your project. This is really helpful step when your project is big or has uneven shape, rendering hand felting awkward or excessively laborious.
5. Unwrap your project, cut out and remove resist, trim, shape and embellish.

Materials

  • Resist: Plastic gallon jug with lid. You could get a cylindrical one, unlike mine here which is more angular.
  • Hot water: in a kettle or spray bottle
  • Liquid soap: Hand soap, dish washing soap or laundry detergent
  • 3 plastic  grocery bags, masking or scotch tape
  • Rag or 1 old child’s T-shirt. I used my 9 year old son’s old T-shirt
  • 2 pillow cases
  • 3 large rubber bands
  • Washing machine. Mine is a front loading machine. I imagine a top loading one should work equally well.
  • Dryer
  • Sharp, pointy scissors to make a small hole
  • Embroidery scissors or small scissors for making first holes and create the first cut. Regular scissors.

Supplies

  • Wool batting, white. Here I use Kay Petal’s Felt Alive’s core wool batting.
  • Wool batting, red. Here I used Peace Fleece’s Red wool batting.
  • Colorful wool fibers, yarn and felt remnants, felting needle and pad for embellishment

1. Determine and shape your resist. This resist must be able to withstand agitation ( e.g. not completely disintegrate) in your washing machine and (optional) dryer.

Keep an eye out for shapes/objects you find in daily life that you can use for your resists. Here I grabbed a gallon bottle and some grocery bags to enhance its shape.

 

Shaping my resist: I folded 2 separate grocery plastic bags and wrapped them flat against the bottle neck, to make the top of the bottle more rounded. You could, of course simply start with a resist with a more rounded top (no bottle neck).

I wrap the bottle in plastic bag to (1) Hold my shaping at the bottle neck (2) To keep too much water from filling the bottle when I run this whole project through my laundry machine.  I smooth down the plastic bag, tuck away the ties and taped it up so that I do not get creases which will affect my felting.

 

2. Lay down damp wool. Form your basic shape and fine tune your design onto your resist.
I started with generous amount of white flat wool batting. At this point I start my kettle boiling to use the hot water for felting.

I squirted liquid dishwashing detergent onto my resist and wool batting. Next, I drizzled hot water all around the same area. If you need more control, you could mix up hot soapy water and squirt with a spray bottle as well.

 

You want the wet soapy wool to wrap around the resist shape.

You could pretend you are wrapping a Christmas present, pulling away and setting aside the extra wool that you do not need. You will be using that wool shortly.

 

In this shaping process, wet-soapy surface makes it easy for you to form smooth shapes, which is desirable. Lumpy wool will not adhere well and will be wasted.

 

Standing the gallon water bottle resist up, we can see the temptation of shaping a pointy elfin top for this cottage. I resisted that urge because I worry that shape may not felt well in the subsequent washing machine step (hand felt, yes but the rest of the cottage needs to be agitated too.)

Wanting round toadstool roof, I opened up the point on top and radially opened that up to form a smooth, round dome.

The lid of the bottle peeks through. It needs to be covered.

Using the wool pieces pulled off earlier in the shaping process, I spread them up into flat discs so they would adhere well. These discs stick well to the moist surface.

Now the top was rounded, extra layers were added to thicken and strengthen the cottage structure.

I added more warm soapy water to my wool as it was drying out by now. Next, I added red wool batting.

Using the warm soapy water from my table top, I carefully wet round discs of white batting and added as spots onto the top of my toadstool. This way of decorating is fast, but later on at the end of the project I had to needle-felt the white dots in place just to be sure they do not fall off.

3. Wrap up your wool structure /resist to prevent shifting in your shape/design and to prepare for agitation in the washer and dryer. Careful not to create creases or lose your design if wrapped too loosely.

I keep around rags/old outgrown children’s clothes for my wet-felting projects. Here I dress this project in my son’s old 8T T-shirt

Wrapping is an important step in securing the success of this technic. I wrap my wool/resist with utmost care. Be very careful not to create creases on the T-shirt wrapping. Fold neatly and smooth out the shirt over the wool.

To prevent the wrapping from coming loose during the washing machine felting process, I inserted the T-shirt/wool/resist into an old pillow case, making sure there is the least possibility for the project to glide about in the pillow case. Again, I neatly rolled the project up inside the white pillow case, careful not to create creases.

To be extra sure the project does not slide around, I inserted it all inside another pillow case. Now, my wrapped thingamabob of joy is now ready for the laundry machine! Note: be careful how you tie your project and the strength of your rubber bands… you do not want to create unsightly rubber band indentations in your final project.

 

5. Unwrap your project, cut out and remove resist, trim, shape and embellish.

This was what my little package looked like when retrieved from the washing machine. I always unwrap these with the wonder and excitement of a child unwrapping her presents on Christmas morning! This unwrapping step makes me eager to do laundry!

 

Here it is newly unwrapped. I was overly excited to see how my project would turn out that I did not run the package through the dryer first. In retrospect, a run in the dryer (while still wrapped) would make my toadstool cottage more firm and I could avoid having to hand needle-felt to firm it up). I will do so next time.

A pair of pointy embroidery scissors (foreground) help made the first cut into the deep felt by creating a clean hole. A pair of regular scissors then make the rest of the cut. Look! The square-ish gallon water bottle was deformed in the wash cycle. I like that, because I did not want my cottage to be too square.

 

Earlier as I was laying down the wool, I reinforce the lower area of the cottage by adding extra layers of wool. In my haste I did not do the same for the higher part of the cottage. Now I saw that the part not reinforced is structurally weaker. So I trim off and fold over, creating a shorter cottage.

From here on is the needle-felter’s paradise. Ah! It is so much fun to embellish! Here I cut out the front door, so the girl gnome can take a peek at who’s courting her by the doorbell.

The front of the toadstool cottage.

The couple planted a lemon tree. Look! It is bearing fruits.

You may add a flameless battery operated tea light candle inside so this will act as a night light and sleeping aid to accompany a small child to bed at night.

The gnomes are going to bed now. So, good bye!

 


About the Author

Jzin Teng is the happy crafter behind CastleofCostaMesa.com (http://castleofcostamesa.com/). She is inspired by all sorts of things. She loves to invent new ways of doing things. You can shop for her fairy tale dolls, wool relief fiber art works, playscapes and other handwork on Castle of Costa Mesa Etsy shop:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/Castleofcostamesa . Castle of Costa Mesa also gives away handmade goodies seasonally.

To be on the know for handmade giveaways, you can “like” CastleofCostaMesa on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CastleofCostaMesa.

Jzin teaches workshops on felting and crafting . You can find out more about Summer 2015 workshops on CastleofCostaMesa.Com: http://castleofcostamesa.com/tutorials-by-jzin/23934-2 .

Jzin also paints. You can see her paintings here: http://www.jzinteng.com/ 

This toadstool is available on CastleofCostaMesa Etsy Shop. More pictures on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/233601114/sweet-toadstool-cottage-with-laundry?ref=shop_home_active_1

 

 

Michelle ~ Wee Folk Art

1 Comment

  1. Wow, this looks wonderful and I am going to give it a try. Thank you for providing the information.

     

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