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How To: Needle Felted Rattle Ball

My Poppet : your weekly dose of crafty inspiration: How To: Needle Felted Rattle Ball

My Poppet : your weekly dose of crafty inspiration

Thursday, 14 June 2012

How To: Needle Felted Rattle Ball

It's been a while since I posted a needle felting project, so I thought I would treat you to something a little bit special. I really love the idea of children playing with toys made from natural materials like wool, it's really important developmentally to give them a rich sensory experience that plastic toys just don't offer.
This needle felted rattle ball is a simple project, and I guarantee you will want to make more than one. A perfect gift for a special newborn or toddler. With a melodic jingle bell as a chime and it's woolly tactile surface, both child and parent will appreciate this fun toy.

You will need:

Wool roving in your choice of colours, about 50g should be enough
Felting needles and pad
Sewing thread
Rattle/bell - pre-purchase ready made or see below to make your own.

Making the bell rattle:

It took me a while to find an adequate way to make a nice chiming sound inside the ball. If you use a bell on its own, the wool will muffle the ring.
I found if you put the bell inside a little plastic container, it will jingle about freely and make a lovely sound.
I have used a small plastic Easter egg container available from craft stores around Easter time.
Some other possible suggestions include  
-Glove containers, from packs of hair dye
-Film canisters 
-Cat bell from a pet shop
You may also be able to buy ready made rattle inserts from craft stores.
Put the bell inside the container and secure it firmly with duct tape.

How to: 

For those of you that aren't familiar with the technique of needle felting you may want to read about Needle Felting Basics first.
 -First we need to make a solid ball around the rattle, this will be your blank base that you can later decorate as you please.
-Start by firmly wrapping a layer of roving around whatever you are using as the rattle and secure it with some sewing thread.
-Repeat this with a few layers of wool roving and thread until you have your desired size (about the size of a tennis ball)
-Time to get your needle out. The idea is to poke or 'needle' the fluffy loose wool on the surface into a firmish ball without any lumps and that will hold its shape.
-Because the rattle in the center is a hard object we need to avoid poking the needle towards the middle as we risk breaking the needle (it's very brittle).
-A better technique is to 'needle' the outer surface towards the side of the ball, keep the sharp end directed at the pad.
-Now it's time to get creative and decorate the ball. I've chosen to do a three colour dip dyed effect.
-Take small amounts of coloured roving and lay over the section of the ball you want to decorate, 'needle' in gently, taking care not to hit the rattle.
-Go over the whole surface till the wool is firmly felted and you can not peel it off.
-Periodically roll between warmed hands to keep the shape even and remove needle marks.
-Finally to tidy up any stray fibers, give the ball a 'surface needle' (rub the needle across the surface).
-You're done!

Can you stop at one?

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