This website uses affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission from your purchase - at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more details.

How to Make DIY Felted Wool Balls or “Billy Buttons”

Want to learn how to make DIY felted wool balls, to use for garland, jewelry, wreaths or – like I did – as a stand in for billy buttons?

Make DIY felted woold balls - tutorial

While making felted wool beads for my DIY felt wool bead necklace, the yellow wool beads I was felting started to really look like Yellow Craspedia (small, spherical flowers also known as “Billy Buttons” or “Woolly-heads”).  Inspired, I made some extra felted wool balls, pierced them with cloth covered floral wire, and made an arrangement in an inexpensive West Elm vase.  Read on for my tutorial for making felted wool balls – perfect for so many DIY projects!

Supplies:

How to Make Felted Wool Balls:

The whole process for one ball should only take a couple minutes.  First, tear off a piece of your wool roving, like you would tear off a piece of cotton candy.  You want ragged ends.  Remember that your wool ball will shrink a bit during the felting process.  Try starting with the same approximate amount of wool I use in the photo below to create a ball the same size as mine.  Real billy buttons are about an inch in diameter.

How to make felted wool balls

Next, place a small drop of soap (I have used both hand soap and dish soap successfully) in your dry hands and also rub a tiny bit onto the piece of wool roving.

How to make felted wool balls

Then, roughly shape the wool into a ball before dipping it gently in the hot water – you want it a tad wet, not completely drenched.

Felted wool ball tutorial

Very, very gently roll the wool roving between your palms – like you would a clay ball.  At this stage, don’t squish the wool any harder than you would a baby chick.  Then dunk the roughly shaped ball into the cold water (this time you can soak it) and keep rolling. Then dunk the ball into the hot again, then the cold, rolling between dunks.  The change in temperature helps “shock” the wool fibres and is part of the felting process.  Plus, you want to rinse out the soap.

DIY felted wool ball

As your ball becomes firmer (and thus smaller), you can apply more pressure.  Your ball is finished when it is firmer to the touch and feels dense.  You can see in the next photo how much smaller my wool ball has become.

Making felt ballsWool felt ball tutorial

Leave the felted wool ball(s) to dry, for 24 to 48 hours.  The dry felted wool ball should have a slight bounce to it when dropped on a counter top.  I recommend making a few as a “test” before diving into mass production.I’ve created a second post, with tips for felted wool ball troubleshooting, and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have in the comments below.Once your felted wool ball is dry, simply pierce it with the end of the floral wire and twist & wiggle the wire into the felted ball until it almost pops out the other side.  Your ball should be dense enough to grip the wire.  I flung my finished “Billy Buttons” around and no felted balls went flying.  If you’re nervous, you can always add a dab on clear glue on the end of the wire.  Then bend the wire as you please, making some droopy flowers or more rigid ones.  Bend the wire gently – you don’t want any kinks – just soft bends, the way a flower stem would natural fall.

Wool felt ball tutorial

And, voilà!  DIY felted wool billy buttons, as cute as the real thing!

DIY billy buttonsMake your own felt billy buttons

Over the years, so many readers have tried out this tutorial with great success, but if you have any troubles – check out my felted wool ball troubleshooting post right here!  I’ve also made more and created a felted ball garland and felted wool rings.  I also made a second set of felted wool flowers, using white wool roving to make faux “dandelions”.

Faux billy buttons DIY
My FAUX Craspedia

Learn how to make felted wool balls

Share:

49 Comments

  1. Anna White
    May 26, 2011 / 12:03 pm

    Aha…so thats how you do it! Love it..looks very effective and I love how it adds a subtle pop of colour. Thanks for sharing lovely x

  2. Lesley
    May 26, 2011 / 3:15 pm

    Oh my gosh…love! I am totally stealing this idea and claiming it as my own! šŸ˜‰

  3. Amy
    May 26, 2011 / 4:01 pm

    that is toooo coolthey look amazing!!Amy

  4. Sudha
    May 26, 2011 / 4:15 pm

    amazing DIY..love the look of it with the lamp…nice!!

  5. My Beautiful Life
    May 26, 2011 / 5:59 pm

    Love the idea, I just know my little ones would be yanking them out of the vase, and little J would try eating them, while S tried using them as swords. I'll enjoy your beautiful handiwork from here. šŸ™‚

  6. Dana@Mid2Mod
    May 26, 2011 / 6:48 pm

    I'm really, really going to try this.

  7. Tanya @ Dans le Townhouse
    May 26, 2011 / 7:25 pm

    Thanks for the compliments. I was SUPER jazzed about this project when I finished it. Normally I feel disappointed, I'm not going to lie. I'm my biggest critic. But this I was excited about and it is so nice to receive positive feedback.

  8. Swirls of Happy
    May 27, 2011 / 3:09 am

    So adorable! What a great DIY project….I love the mustard Yellow as well. Great blog, glad I found you!swirlsofhappy.blogspot.com

  9. emilie
    May 30, 2011 / 1:27 am

    These are awesome! I love it most when there's lots of them. Good idea!Emiliewww.liveeatsmile.blogspot.com

  10. Melissa
    May 30, 2011 / 4:17 am

    OMG! I am in love with these! I have always loved those little flowers but didn't know there names. Thanks for the tutorial. I am really excited about trying this. Super successful!!! and soooo modern!

  11. Tanya @ Dans le Townhouse
    June 7, 2011 / 8:26 pm

    Because I am a total nerd, I emailed a link to this post to Sherry from Young House Love. Like I said, I was totally jazzed about the results and wanted to share in the excitement with other DIY fanatics. Here is the sweet reply I got:Oh my gosh- ADORABLE! I'm in love. What a great project and such an informative and fun post. Love it!!!!xo,s (& the fam)

  12. Emreen
    June 30, 2011 / 2:55 am

    Wow ! Wow! Incredible and very creative.. .. Love it….!!!

  13. Jen
    July 1, 2011 / 2:37 am

    I have been wanting some billy buttons in my house for so long now!I made some "test ones" tonight and I have a question: How do I fix the cracks? I keep getting these little mouth-like openings. It isn't a smooth circle. Thank you for any help you can give!

  14. Tanya @ Dans le Townhouse
    July 1, 2011 / 3:22 am

    Hi Jen,I am glad you asked that question. I will describe it here, and will do a post about it in the next few days. There are a couple methods, but here is the easiest: if it starts to crack as you are rolling the ball, take a bit more of the roving – a super thin "layer" – and when your ball is about half felted, lay the extra layer on top, add a smidge of soap and do the dunking process again. Keep rolling, repeat as required and that should take care of any cracks. I can take photos that will help clarify.Also, while rolling, be gentle. At first, you barely apply pressure. Pressing too hard can cause cracks too. And I promise: the first few I made were brutal. You start to get the hang of it. If you check out my DIY Projects Page, I made a necklace, too, and that post links to a video I found helpful.

  15. blessinlam
    July 2, 2011 / 4:34 am

    this is great! i've been looking all over the place for instructions on felted billy balls. thanks for posting!

  16. Rachael Currie
    July 6, 2011 / 12:55 am

    I think this is a great fun DIY post. I design wedding flowers from time to time and have noticed that billy balls dry really well though, so don't know that I would go to all this DIY trouble. Cool Tip for real billy balls: You can also spray paint them. It adheres really well and changes the whole color and look of it. You can see my post of the wedding i designed with them sprayed green, and a scobiosa pod spray painted purple at http://theretrolutionary.blogspot.com/2010/10/tara-bryans-wedding.html

  17. Anonymous
    July 27, 2011 / 6:22 pm

    Hi there! Where can you purchase the mustard yellow roving? The link in your post is broken – thank you so much! I'm hoping to make these as center pieces for my wedding reception.

  18. Tanya @ Dans le Townhouse
    July 28, 2011 / 2:40 pm

    Hi there, thanks so much for pointing out the link is broken. Perhaps the colour roving I was linking to was sold out.I have fixed the link and here is the address: http://www.sarastexturecrafts.com/. This is her main page – you will have to search for rovings. I have never purchased from Sara, but she has good customer reviews and is enthusiastic about textile arts.I bought my rovings locally, at a wool and yarn shop. Many stores with supplies for knitters or textile artists will carry wool rovings. I suggest phoning around before ordering online. It is nice to be able to see the colour in person. If you do buy online, let the seller know what the project is for – they should help you determine if the shade of yellow is the right one.I invite you to take a look at this post for some troubleshooting tips:http://dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.com/2011/07/felted-billy-button-troubleshooting.htmlAnd check out this post for a few fun examples of Billy Buttons used in wedding bouquets and as table decoration:http://dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.com/2011/07/fun-uses-for-felted-balls.htmlGood luck! I'd love to see photos of your finished product.

  19. Tanya Anurag
    August 1, 2011 / 3:47 pm

    I love to use such flowers for decoration in my house. Thanks to you and this tutorial, I don't need to buy expensive flowers anymore. Will try it for sure.Thanks for sharing. Posting it on my blog. Included a link to your page… expect high traffic and loads of comments :)-Tanyahttp://tanyaanurag.blogspot.com/

  20. Pinky
    August 25, 2011 / 5:18 pm

    this is really cool ….love simplicity…and this just personifies it…have got to get me some roving…

  21. Brandi
    October 13, 2011 / 6:32 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your tutorial! Your flowers are absolutely adorable!!!

  22. Peggy
    October 14, 2011 / 11:42 am

    These are absolutely beautiful! Thank you so very much for sharing! I'll have to put them in my file of things to do once the house is cleaned up and the clutter cleared out (a process which is transpiring slowly but surely!) Once again thank you!

  23. Jamie
    November 6, 2011 / 2:19 pm

    Just purchased some yellow roving online! Out of the three local crafts stores only one had some and the yellow was combined with other colors so it would cost some $$$$ to get enough. Can't wait to try these. If it goes well, I want to get other colors to make a felted ball garland for Christmas decor!

  24. Tanya @ Dans le Townhouse
    November 6, 2011 / 10:48 pm

    Hi Jamie, other than online sources I have only found bags of felted wool, too. If you check my DIY projects page, there's a link to making needle-felted artwork from the same material. Once you get going, there are tons of wool crafts to do so I'm sure you'll use the other colours. I'd recommend experimenting on a colour you don't like.

  25. InteriorGroupie
    November 17, 2011 / 3:39 am

    so impressive!! I just came across this from your current post – but love how these turned out, and super kudos for you for putting together the step by step!

  26. mistergandme
    December 3, 2011 / 12:35 am

    Hi Tanya! Your blog is gorgeous and I love your billy buttons! Thanks for the great idea šŸ™‚

  27. Carrie @ Hazardous Design
    January 5, 2012 / 12:31 am

    These are awesome!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      February 24, 2012 / 1:10 am

      Thanks, Linda! I'm flattered šŸ™‚

  28. katiecups
    February 24, 2012 / 5:43 am

    this project is fabulous! i want to get started on them for my wedding! can you give me an approximation of how much they cost per stem? if not maybe how many billy balls you got out of a 2oz package of roving?

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      February 24, 2012 / 1:43 pm

      Hi Katie! Thanks for your compliment. I bought my rovings in a bulk bag with other colours & they weren't weighed, but in this post I have a picture of how much felt I used to create my billy buttons (which yielded about 18-20, not all are pictured):http://dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.com/2011/07/felted-billy-button-troubleshooting.htmlThe amount I used is about the size of a grapefruit . . . so that should be about 2oz . . . Billy Buttons will shrink by about 50%, so that should help you gauge how much of your rovings will yield how many billy buttons. Also, how densely you felt yours will also affect how much roving you use.I hope this helps?Let me know if you have any other Q's! It might take one or two for you to get the hang of it, so start small. Make a couple, let them dry, and see how they look. I don't recommend making a batch of 200 until you try a few.

  29. Katie
    May 23, 2012 / 8:37 am

    I love these billy balls. I made some in autumn colors for a birthday present and they looked so beautiful. To dry them, I tied them individually in an old stocking with a knot between each one and put then in the dryer. Worked a treat!

  30. cred
    May 29, 2012 / 3:06 pm

    I have to leave a comment b/c I loooove your blog. I had pinned your felted billy buttons awhile ago (still have yet to make them- need to get some roving). But curbly has directed me to you blog, yet again. I have been perusing your diy projects & house tour and can't tell you how much I love it. Your style is beautiful, I strive for this kind of design. I can't quite pull it off- I struggle with editing pieces and having enough storage. But I just love everything on your DIY page- I've made my kids a play kitchen myself, recovered a MCM chair for a sewing chair (and would love one like you have in your guest room or living room- love them both), in the process of replacing ugly ceiling fixture with a drum shade. And then I scroll down to see your christmas spiders (I made those a few years ago, too). Everything you've done, however unrelated, is right up my alley. I have subscribed today but now I'm busy reviewing past posts…. lots still to see!thanks for the creativity and beauty you share….your newest fan, also in Ontario

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 31, 2012 / 1:16 pm

      Hello fellow Ontarian! Thanks for the hugely flattering comment(s). You definitely made my day and have motivated me to get off my butt and make something. Right now. I love knowing someone is excited about my projects, and it's so fun we've made similar things! I'm hoping you have a blog so I can be inspired by your fabulous creativity šŸ™‚

  31. Susie (So Blessed)
    July 10, 2012 / 2:46 pm

    May I ask about the details on the paintings? Love them!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      July 10, 2012 / 3:26 pm

      Of course! The paintings above the sofa and also the one in the dining room are by my Hubby's grandfather, Bert Weir. He is a professional artist and here is his website: http://bertweir.com/

    • Susie (So Blessed)
      July 11, 2012 / 1:50 am

      Thank you…I will check out his website!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      July 11, 2012 / 2:38 am

      No problem! Those pieces are from the 1980s (his best work, in my opinion) and I believe he still has some left. He is quite prolific.

  32. Britni
    August 23, 2012 / 7:19 am

    I am just loving these billy buttons! This is such a great idea and I can't wait to try it out myself. I also saw the one's Tamsyn {from Max & Me} made with your tutorial and they look great as well! I will be coming back to follow your tutorial when I am ready to try it out! Thanks so much for sharing. I shared this over on my blog šŸ™‚ http://www.hubbymademe.com/10-needle-felting-projects/

  33. Carrie @DreamGreenDIY
    October 15, 2012 / 2:10 pm

    Thank you SO much for your wonderful tutorial!!! I made my own version of your felt Billy Balls over the weekend and was SO happy to see them turn out okay =) http://wp.me/p1s8eD-33b Thanks for the inspiration!!

  34. Angela
    May 15, 2013 / 9:15 pm

    Hi! I made a few of these to see how they would turn out. They look great, but I can't get them on the stems. Is there a trick? I have 18 gauge floral cloth wire and it doesn't pierce the balls at all. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 16, 2013 / 1:29 am

      Hi Angela. Great question! Your wire might be dull on the ends (to keep people from hurting themselves). Use a pair of wire cutters to trim the ends at a sharp angle. When I made another set and used different wire, that's what I did because the balls were felted so densely it wouldn't pierce. This should work! If it doesn't, you could try using a thick needle to form a hole and then inserting the wire, but make the end of the wire sharper by cutting it on an angle should work. Good luck šŸ™‚

    • Angela
      May 16, 2013 / 6:17 pm

      Thank you so much for your quick reply! It worked!!!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 16, 2013 / 7:53 pm

      I'm so happy it worked!! I'd love to see a photo of your billy buttons: [email protected]. I'm always so excited when people make these!

  35. VERB @ SpicyPimps Radio
    July 31, 2014 / 5:02 pm

    This is a done deal here! I am so on top of this. My cats aren't allowing me to have fresh flowers and I so desperately need color in my space.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 1, 2014 / 6:45 am

      Oh no, bad kitties!! I hope they don't find these tasty. I'm so excited you'll be trying out this project šŸ™‚

  36. Serviced Apartments London Lady
    July 1, 2015 / 12:12 pm

    Wow these are cool, they've got quite a Swedish vibe to them I think.

  37. Melissa
    December 5, 2018 / 3:56 pm

    Iā€™m really having trouble getting the stem into the felted ball. Any tips?

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      Author
      December 5, 2018 / 4:30 pm

      Some of the metal stems are less sharp than others. Try poking it first with a large needle or even a kitchen skewer (like for kabobs). That should help create a hole so you can get the stem in. On the bright side, this probably means that you felted it really well: it’s really dense, so YAY šŸ™‚

Dans le Lakehouse is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. If you click on a link that leads to Amazon, I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases - at no cost to you. Thank you for your support!