Felt ball rugs add a quirky, whimsical touch to any room, and their soft, cushy texture makes them a treat to walk or sit on. You’ll find these rugs in home décor stores, but they’re often quite expensive. However, if you have basic sewing skills, you can cut costs by making your own version. Make the felt balls yourself or buy a collection of pre-felted balls—either way, you’ll end up with a piece that’s completely customized to your design needs.
Things You'll Need
- Wool to create felt balls, or an assortment of pre-felted balls
- Hand soap
- Hot and cold water, from separate taps
- Graph paper
- Colored pencils
- Invisible thread
- Cotton backing fabric (optional)
Creating Felt Balls
Tear a large piece of wool—Merino works well for beginners, as it’s soft and felts easily—into equal pieces about four inches square.
Loosen the fibers of one wool square by pulling it gently with your fingers. Do not pull so hard that the wool square actually separates into multiple pieces.
Squirt a dot of hand soap into one hand and use the fingers of your other hand to gently spread the soap onto the top of the wool square.
Run the wool square under a hot water tap. When it’s damp, begin to gently roll the square into a ball, around the soapy surface. If the soap begins to lather, rinse the ball in the hot tap.
Continue to roll and rinse as the ball begins to shrink and take shape. Increase both pressure and speed in your rolling as you feel the ball harden in your hands.
Run the ball under a cold water tap when it feels spherical and fairly firm, to shock the fibers into shrinking further and tightening the ball. Alternate dousing the ball in hot and cold water and continue rolling the ball rapidly and with increasing pressure until no more soap rinses out and the ball feels solid.
Repeat to make more felt balls. Allow the balls to dry completely, which may take one or two days, before using them to make a rug.
Assembling the Rug
Lay out the balls you hand-rolled or purchased in a large workspace and begin conceiving your pattern, if you want one. Move colors and sizes around as needed to visualize the finished design.
Draw your intended design on graph paper, using colored pencils to fill in the squares to represent the various balls. Skip this step if you intend for your rug to be random.
String a long piece of invisible thread onto a very sharp needle and knot the thread end.
Begin assembling the rug. You can either sew the balls to a cotton backing piece or string groups of balls together to form a single row, and then sew those rows to one another. The former method will result in a one-sided rug, while the latter will be decorative on both sides. Work slowly, making sure the needle pierces each felt ball fully to secure it to the backing or to the next felt ball.
Continue attaching felt balls until the rug is your desired size, referring to your pattern as necessary. The number of balls you’ll need will depend upon the rug size and the size of the balls. A full area rug might take several thousand felt balls, while a doormat will require only a few hundred.