DIY Felt Garland

Ever since moving into our new house, one of my favorite things to do has been figuring out how to decorate our mantle. The basement in our old house was never finished, so I really never had that focal area to change out with the seasons. When we were figuring out our house plan, we walked through the local Parade of Homes, and saw a house with the most gorgeous, deep mantle, almost more like a built in table than a narrow mantle. I immediately fell in love and we knew that we wanted something similar. And, while my visions haven’t fully come to life because we haven’t gotten around to mounting our TV on the wall yet, it still provides plenty of space for decorating. You guys, I love my mantle.
I realized quickly that one of my favorite pieces to add to the mantle is some sort of garland. I have had Halloween, fall, and Christmas décor up so far. And, as a girl living in an all boy house, my pink loving heart KNEW that some Valentine’s garland was up next! But, finding the perfect piece ended up being so much harder than I anticipated. Because of the size of our mantle, a lot of the garland sold in stores is not long enough to span the length across the front. I did some looking online, but to order custom garland, while certainly an option, starts to get pretty expensive. I wanted a quality piece, that I could store and reuse every year, but I also knew that realistically, it would only be up for a few weeks before the holiday passed and it was time for some spring or Easter décor. So, in the midst of my frustration, I decided to look into how to make my own felt balls. And my latest project was born!

I am going to start from square one and tell you I took no shortcuts with this project. You can go about this more than one way. There are many sellers online who sell felt balls individually, allowing you to customize your sizes and colors to your preference. You can also buy ‘kits’ that provide all of the materials but that you build yourself. For me, I figured I was going to have some fun and make everything, including the felt balls, myself.
When I first starting looking into it, I was a little bit intimidated. My research taught me that I would basically need wool fresh off of the sheep. I have never worked with wool before, so I had no idea what I was getting into! I ended up finding one pound of wool roving on Etsy for just under $20, With that, I figured even if I failed, it wasn’t a super expensive project. I found the bakers twine right at Target in the craft aisle, for $2.50, I think! Everything else needed I had on hand, so the grand total of supplies that I purchased was $22.50.

Materials Needed
1. Wool Roving (I ordered 1 pound, you will need much less if you are only making one strand of garland)
2. Baker’s Twine
3. Gel Food Coloring
4. Paper Towels
5. White Vinegar
6. Dish soap
7. Large Sewing Needle (I used a plastic crochet needle and it worked just fine)

Wool roving. I am being honest when I say this still smelled like the farm. Not terrible (as in not manure like), but definitely farm-like.
Dying the Roving
The part of the process that probably intimidated me the most was dying the roving. It turned out to be pretty simple! I recommend skipping to the bottom of this post and making a ball or two to figure out how much roving you will need for each one, and then separating out how much you will need for the number of balls you want to make. Then, fill a pot with water and 1/4 cup vinegar. Bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling, add your food coloring to your desired preference and remove from heat. You do not want any active bubbles or moving water, as this can agitate the roving and cause it to start felting. Once the water is just under boiling without being active, add your roving. I placed some large spatulas on top to help keep it all submerged to help get a more even dye. Here is a part that is kind of fun. You will know when the dying is done because the roving will absorb all of the dye, leaving the remaining water clear!

The blue dye is for a garland that I have yet to complete 🙂
After all color is absorbed, typically 20-30 minutes, you can let it sit for awhile, or you can drain off the water. I lined paper plates with 5-6 paper towels, and allowed each batch to dry overnight.

Here is my pink roving right after being dyed. Depending on the amount that you dye, it should be ready to felt in 24 hours or so. I did a bigger batch of red, and it did take a bit longer to dry.
Creating the balls
Okay so now the fun part, creating the balls! I placed a small amount of dish soap in a plastic bowl, and filled it with cool water. In another bowl, I placed hot water. These are what you will be placing the roving in to begin felting.
Break off and fluff some wool roving. I tested out some roving that had not yet been dyed to gauge how much I would need for the size and density I was looking for. Ideally, whatever size you want, it should be twice that size before you start. Make sure it is fluffed, and there are no thick/streaky patches.
One tricky part I ran across is getting creases in the balls. With some practice, I found the best way to go crease free balls is to cup the wool roving in both hands, and submerge fully in the cool soapy water. By doing it this way I was able to control getting one area more wet than another, or having it fold in on itself.
Once your roving has been dipped in the water, start to roll it in your hands very loosely with almost no pressure. 
After 30 seconds or so, dip the ball (I once again cupped it in both hands) in the hot water, and continue to roll. I found my best rhythm was dip it in the cold and hot water for two cycles, before doing one final rinse under the faucet with cold water to get the soap suds out. 
With each cycle, you can apply a bit more pressure to achieve your desired density. For the sake of my garland, a lot of my balls are not very dense at all, because I am not terribly worried about them getting smashed or losing their shape because they are hanging. However, I did create some balls (that used more roving) that were more dense, and they are very nice and will likely hold up better over time.

Each ball takes about 2 minutes to roll. I placed them onto a stack of paper towels on a plate to dry, and allowed them to sit overnight.
For the size of my fireplace, I used 30 felt balls to create my garland. Depending how far you want them spaced and how long you want your garland to be, I would say anywhere between 20-30 balls will be sufficient. Gather your bakers twine and a large crocket or sewing needle.

The rest of the process was very easy!
Thread the bakers twine onto your needle. Since I made pretty lightweight balls, my plastic crochet needle easily went through. If you create more dense balls, I would suggest using a sewing needle that is a bit more sharp.
Now, just start threading! You can space the balls once you are finished.
As you can see, I just stuck the needle right through the middle of each ball.
Ta-da! Also note, I did not cut my twine until after I was finished. I looped the end that my needle was on and placed it on my mantle, and then strung it across so it hung as I wanted it and then cut and looped the other end. It was so great being able to customize it to the exact length that I needed!
I could not be happier with how this project turned out! I have roving dyed to create a fun garland to be used during the summer months that I am going to put together soon, and am also thinking I want to use some un-dyed roving for a simple, clean white garland. Are there any fun color combinations you would like to see on my mantle!? I would love to showcase what some custom options would look like 🙂 The one pound of roving that I purchased will end up getting me about 4 garlands, making them a grand total of about $6 a piece! You just cannot beat that! 🙂 I am calling this a definite DIY win.

Linking up with Annie today.

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No Comments

  • Reply
    January 26, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Nice I love it! You sure didn't take any shortcuts!! ����

  • Reply
    January 26, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    I was feeling motivated, haha! You can definitely make it easier by ordering pre-made balls on Etsy or Amazon! Or you can buy wool roving that has already been dyed. But now that I have done it from scratch, I really like being able to create custom colors if we ever have a party or event I want to decorate for!

  • Reply
    Emily at 'a little bit of Emily'
    January 26, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    You really did NOT take an shortcuts – well worth it though because it turned out so well!

  • Reply
    Brenda @ Chatting Over Chocolate
    January 27, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Oh so cute! Nicely done!! xo – Brenda //

  • Reply
    Katie C
    January 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    That turned out so cute! Those felt garlands are so hot right now – love that you can just make your own colors that match your decor!

    Katie @ Cup of Tea

  • Reply
    Lindsay at Lindsay'sSweetWorld
    January 27, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    This is so awesome! I cannot believe that you got wool fresh off of the sheep! That is just insane! You should make these and sell them because you could make a killing! It turned out perfect!

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