Monday, August 24, 2009

Tutorial: Felt Camera Case

A couple of years ago, I got myself a digital camera. The idea was to carry it in my pocket, so I could snap shots whenever something caught my eye. However, finding a case for it that would protect it from pocket abuse, and still be small enough to actually fit in the pocket was a challenge. So I made my own. Two years later, the case is holding up perfectly. It wears like iron! I took pictures at the time, so here is a tutorial on how to make felt camera/cell phone cases. If you don't want to make your own, you can always commission me to make one for you. But I suggest giving this a try. Wet felting is so much fun!

First, gather your materials. You need wool roving, a bowl of warm water, dish soap, scissors, a plastic bag, the toe cut off an old pair of nylons, a rock about a third larger than you want the finished product to be, a button, some cording, an awl, a sewing needle, thread, and your camera or cell phone. You can also use very loosely spun wool yarn for decorating purposes. (This is a great way to use up some of that first lumpy bumpy handspun that you did.) Oh--don't use superwash wool. That has been treated so that it won't felt. Kind of defeats the purpose, you know?

Lay out a layer of wool, and put the rock on top of it. Wrap the wool all around the rock.

Lay out another layer of wool, at right angles to the last one. Wrap it around the rock.

Lay out one more layer of wool, at right angles to the last one. Wrap it around the rock. Feel with your hands to make sure there are no thin spots. Nudge the wool around to cover any that you find. You want a nice, even coating.

Add a layer of decoration. Use the loosely spun yarn, or wisps of wool roving in other colors. Be creative! Random patterns work better than obsessively precise ones, since things will shift around in the felting process.

Shove your hand into the toe of the nylons, then grab the wool encased rock. Carefully work the nylons over your project. It helps to have a second pair of hands here, so you don't disturb the wool too much. Poke and prod the wool back into place.

Put a squirt of soap into your warm water, then dunk the rock/wool/nylon sandwich into it. Get it thoroughly wet.

Gently rub the outside of the nylons. Add a wee bit soap to your hands to make them slide. Water, heat, and agitation makes the wool fibers start to latch on to each other, kind of like velcro. Keep rubbing your project, gradually getting more vigorous. Toss the rock back and forth between your hands. Eventually, the fibers will start to migrate through the nylons.

Check and see if the wool is holding together. When it does, you can peel the nylons off the project. Keep working the surface.

When the wool is felted together nicely, it is time to cut open your case. Decide where you want your opening to be. Using a sharp pair of scissors, snip halfway around the rock. Leave the back of the piece whole.

Remove the rock.

Turn your case inside out.

Now, with warm water and some soap on your hands, gently work the exposed insides until they are well felted together too.

Turn your piece back right side out. Now, you want to really shrink things down. Roll the case up, and roll it back and forth. Roll it the other way. (It will shrink more in the direction you are rolling.) Rub the cut surfaces to heal them.

Keep abusing the felt. Scrunch it up. Slam it on the table. Toss it around. It can really take a beating at this point.

By this point, your case will have shrunk down quite a bit, especially when compared to your rock.

Now, wrap your camera or phone in a water proof plastic bag. Put it in your case. Rub and work the felt until it shapes itself to your camera/phone.

To make the latch, sew a button on the bottom half of the case. Use an awl to poke a corresponding hole in the top half of the case.

Grab a length of cording. I spin matching yarn, and ply it back on itself several times. Poke it through the hole in a loop, and securely sew the tails down on the inside of the lid.

And there you go! Felted camera case. You can add a belt loop or a carrying strap if you want. I left it off of this one, since I intended it for pocket use, but I've made one of these with a purse type strap. It is big enough to hold my cell phone, a key, and a credit card. Very handy beast, especially when I'm dressed up and don't want to carry a big clunky purse.

If you make one, I'd love to see pictures of how it turned out. Enjoy!


  1. Such a great tutorial! My first inclination was to talk to you about making me one, but this seems so easy AND I have so much roving in my stash... Hmmm!

  2. Give it a try! It feels so good to use something of your own making. I'm always happy for the business, but I'd rather teach and share the knowledge. Let me know how it turns out. :)