Looking for a solution to the tendency my children have of using too much liquid soap at bathtime, but not wanting gooey messy bars of soap sitting on the edge of the bathtub, we decided to make felted soap. This would solve our soap issues, and even give each child their own personal bar! The wool protects and lengthens the life of your soap, and even eliminates the need for a washcloth. Felted soap bars also make lovely gifts for both children and adults!
To make your own felted soap bars, here is a what you need:
A bar of soap, some old pantyhose cut into pieces long enough to accommodate your bar of soap with extra on each end to tie a knot, about 1/3 oz or a length of about 20 inches wool roving for your base color, and if you wish, an assortment of other bits of colorful roving to decorate with. You will also need a pail of very warm (but not hot enough to burn!) water, although you could make this a bathtime craft and just use the warm bath water!
Here’s a visual of the amount of wool you will need for that base layer in relation to your bar of soap.
Start by spreading your base color roving out width-wise just a bit and then wrapping half of it one way around your bar of soap.
Then wrap the other half the other way, making sure no soap is peeking through.
Now it is time to start decorating with your colorful wool.
You can wrap it any way you wish.
If made by a child, the bar ready to be felted may look like this.
An adult’s version may look a bit neater, like this.
Either way it doesn’t matter, because next you are going to tuck the bar into your length of pantyhose and all the fiber will be held snugly in place.
Tie a knot in both ends of your pantyhose.
Now it’s time to start felting!
The soap should be dipped in the warm water and then rubbed vigorously to start the felting process.
It can take anywhere from ten to twenty minutes (this is not an exact science) for the wool to felt tightly. The soap should be rubbed all over and dipped in the warm water periodically.
Little ones will enjoy the work of felting their soap, but they may become tired toward the end of the process. Encourage them to keep going! You can open the tube periodically and check their progress with them.
When my big kids got tired, I brought in my reserve, the baby.
Baby hands can be just as helpful as bigger hands, and mine really enjoyed making a big soapy mess!
When your soap looks similar to this, with all of the wool felted snugly against the soap with no loose parts, it is ready. After removing the soap from the pantyhose, run it under some cold water and then squeeze to remove any excess water. At this point you can set your soap somewhere to dry completely. The wool will continue to felt as the bars are used for washing, and the bars should be allowed to air dry between uses for best results.
You can also take the process a step further and add some needle felted embellishments.
Actually you can needle felt on the finished soap whether it is wet or dry; it works either way.
We used the needle to add first initials to some of our soap. I think that would be a fun thing to add to bars of soap being given as gifts, and also a great way to personalize each child’s bar. All of our bars ended up being a combination of wet and needle felted.
My children are looking forward to making many more felted soap bars to give as gifts this Christmas, and I am thrilled to have a handmade gift idea that even my baby can participate in making!
Ginny Sheller lives in Virginia with her husband, five children, and too many animals. They fill their days working and playing in a very old house on a work in progress homestead. Armed with her camera, Ginny documents their life and adventures on her blog Small Things