Sunday, January 4, 2009

Nuno felting tutorial

I'll post this message in English since it has been requested by an English-speaking friend.
Si vous voulez avoir les étapes en français, je traduirai, vous n'avez qu'à demander.

Nuno felting is a Japanese fabric felting technique. It melds loose fibres, usually wool, into a sheer fabric such as silk gauze. The Nuno felting process is particularly suitable for fine garment making, since silk-backed felt ensures a stable felt that will not stretch out of shape like normal felt. It also creates a lightweight felt.

In this tutorial, you will also see the process for regular wet felting (without silk gauze) with corriedale wool. This creates a thicker piece, good for belts or thicker scarves or anything else really!

First, get your wool (merino rovings and silk rovings and hankies, I order from Maplerose in Canada) and carding brushes if you want to mix some colors together. You can also use some merino yarn to add some texture. You also need some silk chiffon (the little brown thing on the right...), cut a bit smaller than the desired size of your finished piece.

You will need some natural dishwashing detergent (I use Seventh generation), rubber gloves and a watering can with little holes. Some people simply pour the boiling water through a colander.

You will need and old wooden blind or tatami, as well as long pieces of bubble wrap and lots of towels.

Lay the tatami (for smaller/thinner pieces) or the blind (bigger/thicker/longer pieces) on a long table or the floor, lay the bubble wrap on top.

Place your piece of silk chiffon on top of the bubble wrap and trace around it with a marker (I am making a scarflette here).

Then, TAKE THE SILK CHIFFON PIECE AWAY, and place your wool. If you want to make a reversible piece, you will start by putting little tuffs of colored wool or silk here and there (it's time to use your pieces of yarn if you want to add some), then put a layer of merino wool on top.
You want to create a batt, you'll see better in the photos with the green wool further down.

To pull the wool in order to get a nice thin layer of wool, procede this way:

Close your palm on top.

And pull!

When you have two layers or merino wool (one horizontal and one vertical), put the silk chiffon on top.

And start you next layers (you can do only one if you want a thinner scarf or two for a thicker one).

Then, add your details on top.

Here's another project with more step-by-step photos. This is a belt with corriedale wool (no silk chiffon in the middle).

Carding wool to mix the colors.

Starting the first layer (batt). The fibers go all in the same direction for one layer, then the second layer goes perpendicular. For this belt, my friend did 3 layers, plus the details.

We see the batting process quite clearly here, it's like roof building with wool. Make sure there is no holes.

Starting to add details on top of the 3rd layer.

Almost done!

Then, pour boiling water with a dime of soap. You want the piece to be very wet, almost dripping on the floor.

Cover with more bubble wrap.

And a towel to limit the amount of water on the floor...

Take a pool noodle and roll around it, making sure that everything is nice and straight.

Tie with old nylons so nothing moves...

And roll for a good 10 minutes!

Then, unroll and tuck in the fibers, so you don't have holes around the edges of the final piece.

Before tucking the fibers...


Then, pour some more boiling water, put the bubble wrap and the towel on top (still with the pool noodle and the nylons) and roll another good 5 to 10 minutes. Then, fold your piece in two, then four.

And for 3-4 minutes let it drop, gently at first, then with more and more strength (unfold and fold the other way around so it doesn't felt on itself).

Then, move to the sink, put your rubber gloves on and add more soapy boiling water on your piece, put it in a ball and throw it in the sink many times (you do this for another 5 minutes and until it is felted to your liking, the more you felt, the harder it becomes and the smaller it gets. Don't be afraid to throw it hard at this stage! When it starts to get wrinkly, it's usually felted enough. It really depends on the look you want.).

The finished pieces :

Now, hang them to dry! The colors will change a bit when they dry, especially the silk that becomes shiny.

Please let me know if you need any more photos or information. I'll be happy to make it clearer!


Anonymous said...

Thank so so much for posting this, Catherine. It is a brilliant tutorial! I can't wait to give it a go. I'll post my results when I do.

Catherine said...

Awesome, Sarah! Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.

Cypress said...

Ok Catherine, I know you posted this ages ago, but I'm so glad you did because I'm finally ready to try this out! Tessa (my youngest...newly turned 4!) and I visited a sheep farm as part of our Spring kindy adventures. We acquired a beautiful black/brown Corriedale raw fleece and have picked it clean, washed it,and dried it. Now we are carding and our goal is to make a piece of heavy felt with which I can fashion a hat for Tessa. We are taking our time, but I am looking ahead to see how to felt a big piece of consistantly even felt...I think your tutorial will help me achieve my goal! I'll let you know how it turns out :)
(By the way, have you made felted hats for your girls...any tips or other methods I should consider?)

Catherine said...

Cypress, what a great project! Lucky Tessa! For hats, yes, it's a different technique... Humm... Hard to explain in writing... I just made fairy hats for the girls, I should have taken photos... Try googling it and write back if you don't find anything...

jasmine said...

Thank you for this tutorial. I'm hoping to make myself a giant poncho shawl this winter. Did you get much shrinkage?

Catherine said...

Hi Jasmine,
Yes, you do get some shrinkage, I'd say maybe 20 %, depending on how hard you want the resulting felt to be. Have fun! Ponchos are great!

christine said...

je vient au hasard de mes ballades blogs et je trouve ton tuto très bien fait ! si je l'avait eu lors de mes tous débuts cela m'aurait évité des petits déboires.
ce que j'ai toujours pas compris c'est comment faire une bandoulière de sac en cordon feutré ( sorte de boudin très long ) si tu pouvait me le dire ce serait super !

Andrea Bustos said...

Hola, muy detallado tu tutorial. Lo agregué a e hice un link en título a tu blog.
Saludos desde CHile.

Catherine said...

Andrea, I am NOT OK with you using MY photo tutorial on your blog without even mentioning my blog. Those are NOT YOUR PHOTOS. THANK YOU! PLEASE ASK ME FIRST!!

Andrea Bustos said...

Estimada Catherine:
Al parecer usted no entendió mi comentario.... el título del post que dice:
TUTORIAL DE NUNO FELT està linkeado a su blog:

No quiero atribuirme ninguna autorìa, pero si quiere que especifique màs lo harè.

Saludos, Andrea.

Andrea Bustos said...


Dear Catherine:
Apparently you did not understand my comment .... the title of the post that says:
TUTORIAL ON NUNO FELT this link to your blog:

I do not want to attribute any blame, but if you want to specify more I will.

Catherine said...

Oh I see! Sorry, my Spanish is pretty rusty... I am OK with that. You could mention my blog in your post, because I personally did not see the link from the title...

Anonymous said...

mais en français ce serait genial!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
peut etre un jour lorsque tu auras le temps.........
bravo !!!!!

Summerset said...

Just to clarify, the technique is NOT Japanese, it was invented by an Australian woman. Her studio assistant was Japanese, and so she coined the phrase. (Nuno means "fabric" in Japanese)

Melanie au pays des Sherpas said...

C'est super bien expliqué! ça me donne le goût d'essayer! Merci!