Wet Felted Tumble Dryer Balls – Why?

Just like wet felting soap, wet felting dryer balls has to be done, at least once!  While tidying up my dining room/workspace, I came across quite a few scraps of wool from previous projects along with offcuts from hat and vessel making.  I thought I might use the wool in some art projects, but I realised that a lot of the pieces were too thick to use with the needle punch machine or even the sewing machine.  I also had a lot if itty bitty pieces.  I had a go at trying to rescue a felted painting that didn’t go according to plan and that wasn’t working so I threw it in the bin along with a lot of bits of wool that wouldn’t be used in anything.  But then I remembered a blog post I read about making dryer balls on the Felting and Fiber Studio Blog.  Doh!  So I went back to the bin and hauled out the failed painting and bits of crappy wool.

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I used up all of my scraps in the same way as Ann did and then wrapped them with Corriedale batt.  I then put the balls in a cut up pair of opaque tights (three balls in each) and made a total of 9 balls.  After the first wash, I pulled the tights away from the balls as there was a little bit of migration through the material and then popped them into the tumble dryer for half an hour.  I took all of the balls out and wrapped some again in the batt where they were a bit thin and put them back into the tights.  I then washed them again with a load of laundry and tumble dried again for about 45 minutes with some clothes.

The four balls above didn’t have a second layer of wool on and turned out rather well.  The other five have gone back into the tights and are waiting in the washing machine until I do another load as some parts didn’t felt up as well as I would have liked.  I did end up with some odd sizes, the largest being about the size of an orange.  I shall use that  one and the next largest in my tumble dryer when drying clothes.  Just a note here on me using the tumble dryer; I mainly use the dryer in the winter for certain items and only for my towels the rest of the year as I do like soft fluffy towels.  The hard water tends to make them a bit crispy if left to completely dry on the line, so I pop them in the dryer when still a bit damp and the dryer balls help.  I also use the clothes airing stands.  My dryer is over 10 years old and still in great condition, probably because I don’t use it that much.

So, why do we need felted tumble dryer balls?

  1.  Firstly, they are more ecological friendly than using the plastic tumble dryer balls on the market.  The less plastic we use, the better – and they don’t make as much noise.
  2. The balls are firm and so this helps to fluff up clothes in the dryer without the use of tumble dryer sheets that have chemicals and that can clog up your filter without you realising it.  I have stopped using fabric softner years ago and have replaced that with a bit of vinegar to help soften my clothes and get rid of any soap residue.
  3. The balls collect moisture from the clothes and therefore creates a bit of humidity in the tumble drying process (sort of like a condenser dryer) to help eliminate creases and static electricity.
  4. You can already purchase felted tumble dryer balls on the internet, so why not use up your bits of leftover wool and offcuts and failed projects to make an easy project and help the environment at the same time?  Besides, it is so much cheaper to make!
  5. You can also use them to make felted Christmas ornaments! 🙂  This is probably one of the easiest ways to make a large felted sphere without stabbing yourself to death.  In fact, you don’t even have to needle felt over it if you add your designs on it first.  That would be me, adding stripes and going for the minimalist look.

I am sure there are more reasons, but those are my top 5 as I can’t think of any more!  In fact, I preferred making these dryer balls to the felted soaps, which for me is a complete waste of time.  I already had to cut off the wool off of one bar of soap as I couldn’t get a  lather going!  Never again!

Another note:  you will not get a perfectly round sphere with this method.  You will only get that if you needle felt and wet felt more wool on the ball afterwards.  However, as they are going into the tumble dryer, and if you are not going to sell them, does that really matter as long as they get the job done?

So, that’s the low-down on felted tumble dryer balls.  I now have more space for my stash, but what do I do with the plastic dryer balls I have before I knew about felting?