Want to try a craft that’s fun, easy, impressive, and cheap? If you’re like me, you’ve already left for the nearest craft store before finishing this sentence.
Felted soap is a great project for when you need to make a lot of unique gifts quickly.
You know what soap is. You’re familiar with the concept of felt. But how do those two things fit together?
Felted soap takes advantage of the fact that wool turns into felt when you add hot water and agitation. By wrapping a bar of soap in wool roving, you create a kind of built-in washcloth made from felt.
You only need a few things to create felted soap. First, you’ll need a bar of soap (duh). You can choose any color, size, or smell that you like. Yardley is a good, inexpensive brand available at most grocery stores, but you can do this project with any bar of soap.
Next, you’ll need wool roving. This is a wool fiber that’s been combed into nice, long pieces that are easy to work with. People who spin yarn use roving, but here we’re just going to take a small amount to wrap around our soap. Use just one color or a mix of 2-3 shades.
Finally, you need a pair of pantyhose or sheer nylon socks. You’ll use these to wrap around your felted soap to keep the fibers in place until they’ve locked onto each other.
If you want to really play with color and texture, you can also use thin wool yarn to create lines or even spirals on your felted soap. Make sure that it’s made from 100% natural fibers and isn’t labeled “superwash,” since otherwise, it won’t felt.
Now that you’ve got your soap, roving, and nylons, it’s time to dive in! When working with roving, less is always more. Use thin, wispy pieces that are 2-3 times longer than your soap to start wrapping the bar. Go around, then lengthwise, and finally on the diagonal, layering just enough wool so that you can no longer see the soap underneath.
At this point, you can add a little streak of color on top with contrasting roving or add a small amount of yarn. Then wrap the whole thing gently in the foot part of a nylon sock or stocking–it’s easiest if you put the sock on your hand like a mitten and then turn it inside out over the soap.
Now you’ll need some warm water and patience. Fill up a bowl with warm water, dunk the wrapped soap into it, and start rub-rub-rubbing. The soap will lather up–that’s totally okay. Hold it in one hand and rub the fingers of your other hand over the surfaces in a rapid circular motion. Make sure to go all over the bar to ensure that everything gets felted.
You’ll know it’s okay to stop when the fibers start to push up through the nylon. You can also test to see if the roving feels loose or shifts when you move it around. Once it seems like the wool fibers are sticking to each other, you can take off the nylon sock and keep rubbing the soap with your fingers to fine tune the felting.
Once you’re satisfied, set the soap someplace where it can dry. Then you can use it like a bar of soap and washcloth in one! The felt will continue to shrink as you use it. Eventually, when the soap finally gets all used up, you’ll have a small felted pouch. Carefully cut a slit along one side and use it as a sachet by adding some dried lavender or essential oil.