Feel Like Felting a Fish?comments (13) June 26th, 2014
Remove the stitch markers and place the fish into a mesh lingerie bag if you have one. Set your washer to the smallest load, and put your settings on the hottest, longest wash with the most agitation. It may be helpful to throw in a pair of blue jeans to help with the agitation. Blue jeans are useful because they do not contribute lint to the wash water, which could end up felted into your fish! Add a teaspoon of laundry detergent or a small amount of wool wash.
Since all washers differ in temperature and agitation, and even 100% wool yarns differ as to the amount of time it takes to felt together, it's best to check the fish about every 10 minutes or so. To do this, simply stop your washer, remove the fish, and take a look at it. Are the fibers starting to "melt" together? Can you still see the stitches clearly? (If so, it's not ready yet!) Is your fish shrinking to the right size? You can stretch it and pull it, if you need to do so.
I prefer to take my items out prior to the rinse or spin cycle. If your fish has gone through one entire wash and still isn't felted to your liking, go ahead and reset your washer and let it go again. Be sure to check it after every 5 minutes or so at this point.
When the fish is felted sufficiently, take it out and rinse it under warm water, then blot it dry in a towel. The wonderful thing about wet felt is that you can pull it and stretch it and shape it just like wet clay! Pull the fish into shape and poke your finger into the mouth, puffing it out. Open up the small hole at the fish's tail end so that it will be easy to fit the tail piece in later.
For now, stuff the fish full with polyester fiberfill so it will keep its shape while drying. Depending on conditions in your house, your fish may dry within a day or it may take a couple of days. When it's completely dry, remove the temporary stuffing and stuff it again with fresh stuffing.
Using doubled thread the same color as your fish, run a gathering stitch around the mouth opening. To do this, insert your sewing needle at the cast-on edges from front to back, then from back to front, weaving in and out of the fish and pulling the thread as you go.
This works like a drawstring. Repeat this procedure one more time, then pull tightly, closing any gaps, and knot off.
Keep in mind the age of the person who will ultimately receive your fish. If you are giving it to a small child, you may prefer to simply embroider the eyes with embroidery floss. If the person is older, sewn-on felt eyes or glass eyes may also be appropriate.
The tail and fins are cut from felt. If you purchase felt with a design on it, the design only shows on one side. You must first fold the felt, then lay your fin/tail pieces on it, being sure to cut on the fold so that you will have a front and a back. Stitch the fronts and backs together before sewing onto the fish.
To insert the tail, find the opening in the back of the fish and gently push the tail partly inside. Then sew together securely through the tail and the end of the fish. Holding the dorsal fin perpendicular to the fish, stitch it on the top of the fish. Sew the side fins on, as well.
For the mouth, take the small circle of felt and sew it directly over the gathered-mouth area. Folding it in half as you sew the circle down the center helps to make "lips."