Sunday, December 20, 2009

Felted Soaps

Did you notice the recent Anthropologie catalog had felted soaps for $14 each? You want to make some of your own for gifts? Well here is what you do:

You need a bar of soap, I like glycerin soap for these but other kinds of soap work well too, roving and pantyhose. I cut the pantyhose into 6-8" sections or use knee highs.

Start out by making a layered roving blanket just like you do for making felted balls. Unwind a length of roving, while holding it in one hand, grasp the end portion with the other hand and gently pull off "tufts" roughly 5-6 inches in length. Spread the fibers into a thin flat layer with all the strands going in one direction.

Pull off another tuft of roving and layer it on top of the first, at a 90 degree angle. Repeat this process several more times, criss-crossing 4-6 thin layers.

When lifting the blanket of roving there should not be thin spots or holes. Changing the colors of yarn in the layers will create a heathered multicolored wool.

Take the soap, wrap it with the roving blanket and slip it into a panty hose and loosely knot it.

Run the pantyhose and roving wrapped soap under some warm water, saturating it, turn off the water and begin rubbing the wrapped soap as though you are washing your hands.

It will begin to lather, continue rubbing it, working all the sides. What is happening is the wool fibers are beginning to knot and tangle with each other creating the felt. Keep rubbing the soap until you see little fibers coming through the outside of the pantyhose, this will take several minutes.

When this happens you carefully remove the felted soap from the panty hose and smooth it between your hands and set it aside to dry.

The soap suds on the outside will dry and disappear leaving you with a lovely little felted soap.

If you are doing a lot of soaps you might consider wearing gloves, I got some pretty chapped hands one year when I made them for everyone in the family. 

If you are making these for yourself or for gifts, let the person know not to bother putting them at the sink for a quick hand wash, which is so tempting because they are beautiful, because it takes a couple minutes to work up a nice lather. These are great in the shower or bath since they have a nice gentle scrub, like a built in washcloth.


  1. I've always wondered how that is done! Thanks for the quick tutorial and I have some roving on hand that a friend gave me that I've been wondering what to do with it. Now I know!!
    Laura T

  2. Beautiful soaps and GREAT tip using pantyhose/knee highs!

  3. Okay.
    I've seen felted soaps before.

    ...but what do you do with the felt once the soap is all gone?
    Or am I stoopid?

  4. Hi Wendy,

    well, you could think of something to make out of it or toss it away.

    Another benefit to having felted soap is that the bar doesn't just melt away in the soap dish, so it tends to last a little longer.

  5. These are so cute. I am going to try it. Also to Wendy's question. One could use the pieces with the embelishing machines. It looks like it might be close to the right size for a couple of ATCs.

  6. thank you so much for these instructions...i'm so into felting right now...mostly machine but this would be a easy intro into wet work.

  7. I tried it and it worked. One thing I did notice was the bright pink roving stained the paper towel when drying. So I would check for colour fastness before setting it down in the soap dish. I had the nicest smelling hands when finished.

  8. We made these recently with children: after wrapping the roving around the soap, they put them into zip bags with 1/2 cup of hot water to start the felting process, then after removing them from the bags, they rubbed the surfaces on bubble wrap - it was a great project for them!

  9. Julaine, thanks for sharing that other process. It really is a great project to do with kids.

    Juanita, too bad about the roving bleeding, I have never had roving do that before. I suppose it must be due to the way that particular roving was dyed.

  10. this is totally great! i have so much beautiful roving, was going to make a bazillion wool pets but got side tracked and this is a kool idea. i would love to make a barrae (sp?) for my sister. she wears them and they look so good on her and i know she would flip if i made her one. your quilt turned out so beautiful. have a very happy christmas!

  11. Anonymous8:00 AM

    Once the soap is gone, the shape of the wool is kind of a sad sausage-looking thing as it continues to shrink as the soap disappears.
    Add beads, ribbon, doodahs and yarn to make little Cleanliness goddesses out of them. I love stitching on felt. Maybe you should even include a bag of stuff (including needle, beads, some thread and instructions) when you give the soap. Two gifts in one!

  12. Thanks for sharing Judy. this looks like such a practical and accessible project for gifts or just plain fun. I have roving for a project I plan to make that is rock-like and I can easily imagine using leftovers to make some soap "stones!"

  13. oh Judy! now I have to go make some..... thank you!

  14. Thank you for sharing this wonderful gift. Our group meets each week and this would be such a fun makes such a beautiful gift! God bless you. Mary

  15. Yes, I saw that soap and I LOVE those catalogues. I thought to myself when seeing the soaps that I would have to try that one. Thank you so much for saving me from "reinventing the wheel"! Now I can "just do it". And the ideas of using the leftover felt at the end for an ATC are spectacular! Thank you all. Gladys Love, author of "Embellishing with Anything".

  16. well this is just a downright miracle! who knew, felted soap! thanks so much judy for the tutorial, I'm definitely going to do it...oops, gotta BUY some pantyhose first!

  17. I think this is the perfect use for pantyhose! :D

    thank you for this post.

  18. Yay, must try this one day, excellent project for a kid's birthday party! Thanks for posting.


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