Wool Dryer Balls: How to Make and Sell Them | Ancestral Evolution | Skillshare

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Wool Dryer Balls: How to Make and Sell Them

teacher avatar Ancestral Evolution, Traditional skills for the modern world

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Project and Materials


    • 3.

      Ball Construction


    • 4.

      Wet Felting by Hand


    • 5.

      Wet Felting by Machine


    • 6.

      Finishing the Balls


    • 7.



    • 8.

      Marketing Dryer Balls


    • 9.

      Variations and Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Welcome to "Wool Dryer Balls." This class will teach you how to make and market your own wool dryer balls! Do you want to minimize your and your family's exposure to chemicals? Wool dryer balls are a great alternative to fabric softener and dryer sheets. They help soften clothes naturally without any chemical additives. These balls are surprisingly easy to make and they contain only one ingredient: wool! 

In this class, I'll teach you how to make your own wool dryer balls that you can use in your own household, give as gifts, or even sell. Your project will be to make a set of dryer balls and post a picture of them.

Materials you will need:

  • Wool roving of some kind (~6-8 oz)
  • Pantyhose or an old pair of tights
  • Yarn
  • Soap
  • Washer and dryer

This class is for the absolute beginner. NO experience is necessary!

You will learn:

  • How to choose an appropriate fiber
  • How to assemble the balls
  • How to wet felt by hand
  • How to wet felt by machine
  • How to troubleshoot and finish your dryer balls
  • How to market your dryer balls

Music Credit: "Jack in the Box" by Silent Partner

Hope you enjoy the class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Ancestral Evolution

Traditional skills for the modern world


Hello, we are Eliza and Dave! Join us on our adventures with homesteading, the ketogenic diet, and science of natural living. We run a small farm with a flock of fiber animals made up of several different kinds of sheep and a guard llama named "Banjo." We look forward to sharing what we've learned along the way with the Skillshare community. Whether you are thinking about starting a small farm or just embarking on a journey into fiber, we hope to have something for you!

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1. Introduction: Hey there, I'm alive today. I'm gonna teach you how to make your very own full dryer. Polls will drive. Balls can be a great alternative to fabric softeners and dryer sheets. If you're looking to reduce your exposure to chemicals, the's dryer balls are the way to go. Not only are they made completely out of wool, but they can last up to five years if they're made well. So today I'm gonna teach you how to put together your very own Dr Balls had to decorate them if you want. Great and also how to market. I've been running a small fibre business out of my house for the last couple years, and I must have made it sold several 100 of these dryer balls. I've learned a number of things along the way about how to make these rival successful. I have a bunch of tips for you so you could be successful. This class is geared toward the absolute beginner. No prerequisites are necessary. And you don't need to know anything really about Willard fiber before we get started. So I hope you join me. Chemical free dry clothes are on their way 2. Project and Materials: your project for this class is to create your own set of wool dryer balls that could be completely playing. They could be decorated to the hilt. They could be little. That could be big. Whenever you decide to dio be creative, show me a picture of your dry balls in the project section and I'll take a look before we get started. Make air balls. There are a couple of items we're gonna need. First of all, you're gonna want some wool robing. Now, this can be either roving that you've purchased or you can card it yourself using a drum. Carter, I have some bats here of roving that I carded using a drunk Carter things you do not want to use our will top. That's not gonna felt well. And also, it's kind of a waste. Keep it and spend something nice with it. I don't use it for Dr Als. Another note is, dry balls are a great way to use up coarser fiber or fiber that is not as nice for sitting . It's not going to make as much of a difference in a drinkable. So this is a great, great way to use up the parts of the fleece that are not as nice and that are coarser. Or if you have a coarser breed of sheep, that would be fine. Also, I recommend that you use wool for this project and not another animal fibre. While you can use something like alpaca or llama four dryer balls, in my experience, they don't last as long, and it's much harder to get them to felt. So for the purposes of this class, I Hedley recommend that you use the sheep wool of some kind. What I'm gonna be using today is some border Leicester wolf from our sheep, but you can use pretty much any kind of wool. Secondly, you're gonna need some kind of either tights or pantyhose, something that we can put the dryer balls into. If you are wanting Teoh, make a number of these you probably want theme or heavy duty tights, thes air with some old heavy duty ballet tights from back in the day. But they worked really, really well. Pantyhose also works just fine, but the pantyhose is not gonna last for multiple batches of these. So if you are wanting to make thes as part of a business. I recommend you get the more heavy duty fights. But where else? Also gonna need some pieces of string. You can either use acrylic or cotton. I have some acrylic string. Hear anything? Basically, that's not wolf because we don't want it to felt in with our both. Next, we're gonna need some soap. Really? Any dish soap? Liquid dish soap will work. This is just fine. Some people really like to use palm olive for felt ing. You can also use a A bar of soap. But I find that the dish works a little bit better and lets me get the film. Things started a little bit better than the barbs up, so I recommend a liquid dish soap of some kind. If you have Pall Mall, that's great. Next you're gonna need a bowl and you're gonna need some hot water. I recommend as hot really as you can as it comes out of the tap. Last but not least, you're gonna need a washer and a dryer. Today. I'm gonna be demonstrating on a top loading washer. I believe you probably could use a front loading washer, but I've never tried it. So if you do try it. Put a little note in the comments below or in your project tab, and I'll take a look. Let me know how ghosts but I can. I can really only speak to a top loading washing accepts predominately what I've been using . If you wanting to decorate your dryer balls, you're gonna want some colored wool roving of some kind. Just make sure that it is 100% wool. You don't want other fibers in there. This is not the time for things like fire star or bamboo or cotton or anything like that. We want the wool to felt to the ball, so anything you used to decorate the ball should be, well, everything that's going in this ball is wool. 3. Ball Construction: All right, so let's talk about how to construct our wool ball. Now we're basically creating a felted wool bo wool fibers have little barbs on them. And when you add heat and agitation and soap in particular, these barbs kind of stick together and create felt. First things first is you're gonna take your roving and you're gonna split it into thin strips. I have my bat here, and I'm gonna split it into This is a for inch bat and I'm going to split it into four sections. Here, you four and I got one more. I should mention that I like to make my wool balls about two ounces. I find that any smaller than that, they don't do a good job in the dryer. So two ounces is kind of the the sweet spot in terms of getting your clothes dry and softened and also being able to fit in your tight to your panty house. So each of my that's here is about 3/4 of an ounce, and one thing that I do and that you can do to if you want Teoh is I typically use a core in my will balls now when you Jews, I recommend that A You make sure that whatever use is wool, don't use another kind of material. Um and B, I would make sure that you use no more than 1/4 of the weight of your ball in the core. So here I have some fleece that hasn't been carted. It's got a little bit more vegetable matter in it. You could use, for instance, like sim felted old sweaters that have been cut up. You could have used pieces of fleece. That of that I've gotten felt it on the sheep, and I can't really use for anything else. This is a great place for it. Or like Belly will, Rumple, anything like that you don't really want to use for something else. So this is a great place to use it. So we're gonna take our core here, and we're just going to start wrapping our strips around it. And the idea when we're wrapping is we want our rule TB in layers, and we want the layers to be kind of perpendicular to each other. This is going to create the best felt in the strongest ball that we can. So we're just gonna can it continue wrapping? So I did one layer that kind of went once each direction. And now when the ball gets bigger, I use one strip kind of in each derek direction. So I'm gonna take this and go perpendicular to my first strip here and just wrap it around and you want to make sure that you pull this as tight as you can. That can be tricky and kind of getting a feel for as you make a couple of these, it'll get easier, but kind of getting your attention right? It makes things a lot easier. So again, I'm going perpendicular to my last strip wrapping around next one. You also want to make sure that your strips are thin enough. Don't go trying to wrap a whole big honkin piece of roving into a ball because it's not gonna felt well, and your Balkan fall apart much more easily. So things strips is what you're going for, really is seen as you can comfortably work with. So I'm just continuing. Teoh this on top. If you do you have any strip step, for instance, have vegetable matter in them or something else. Dog hair. You can always put that those strips towards the middle of the ball, so that can kind of hide things a little bit too most on here. All right, so here we have our racked will bone. I'll meet you in the next section, and we're gonna talk about how to wet felt. 4. Wet Felting by Hand: All right. So we got our wool ball that's been wrapped. And now I filled up my big bowl with hot, hot water, and I'm just going to you dip it in and get it completely wet here. And then I'm gonna take my just soap and kind of poor merisel, some over the top trying to get it distributed. Get some of your hand too, Your other hand wet. And we're just going Teoh gently, very gently. Take this soup and spread it on the ball and we're just going Teoh kind of agitate the outer surface of the ball at first. Very like I said, the review gently at first until you start to see how did the wool fibre sticking together And as they stick more and more, you can get a little bit more aggressive with it. But still, you don't wanna go crazy. Just being very gently is the key with this and as Ugo, the wool fibers will compress and become more solid in your hands. I recommend kind of using your hands back and four, you can do circles also. Now we're gonna be tilting these balls in the washer dryer as well so we don't have to get it completely. Felt it in this stage. We just want to get the outside of the ball nice. And that is the goal here. So being going for a little while go, that's That's pretty well, pretty well felt it on the outside. We're gonna leave this soap in this ball, and we're just gonna set it aside. But let's make another driver. Now that we've got the beginnings of some dryer balls here, it's time to think about decorating. I typically make mine without decorations because I'm a little bit of a purist in that way . But this is the time when you want to put on some decorations. If you're wanting to decorate your balls, so you're gonna take your dryer ball. That has been felt it on the outside, and you can take some pieces of colored Roby. Like I said, you want to use wolf for this Onley. Don't use any kind of other fiber if you can help it, and you can basically just put this wool on the outside of your ball in whatever way do you want to you? I'm just gonna put some colored strips, kind of around outside here. You can get as creative with this part as you want. Teoh, get the sweats more here. I'm gonna have a bit more suit my hand, and then I'm gonna spread it on the ball. - Do you have any stray bits that wants to You become detached from your ball, add more water and more soup. Soap acts nicely, is kind of the glue. You give it a little a little gentle rub to attach it to the ball. All right, so I'm gonna make some more, and I'll meet you back here in a couple minutes. 5. Wet Felting by Machine: Once you've made about three or four dryer balls, it's time to put our balls into our tights or pantyhose. So I got one leg tights here, and I just tied a knot on one end to prevent the ball from getting way down into the toe. And I'm just going to kind of turn this inside out here, and I'm gonna stick my hand in it. And we're just gonna graham one of our bowls and gently, gently as you can transfer it into the tights. All right, So once you have one ball in your tights, you're gonna take a little piece of your either cotton or acrylic yarn, and you're gonna tie a secure knocked. All right, now we're gonna put our next volume. Same deal. We're gonna come a turn it inside out here on Strange that tights as much as they will go get our second ball in this and tie our next piece of yarn here. All right, we're gonna keep going until we have all our balls in our leg of tights. Here. When you get to the last one, you're gonna tie your you're on the end of it as usual and Then you're gonna take another piece and you're gonna take a new gonna tie another knot around this very end. The reason being is when you get these in the wash in the dryer and they're being agitated pretty vigorously, Sometimes this last piece of yarn will pop off and then you'll have some road dryer balls in your washer or your dryer picking up all sorts of linked and other things that you don't want your balls step. See, you end up with kind of this string of pearls kind of effect, and the next step is at the washer dryer. So I'll meet you downstairs. All right, so here we are at our washer, and I'm just gonna put our fair balls into the washer. And I've got some other things that I'm washing in there, too. Now you can combine your dryer balls with another load, for instance, like towels or sheets. Something like that. The key is that you want to wash it on hot with a cold rinse. So for this, I'm gonna put it on white heavy and get it started here. And then you're gonna add your detergent, make sure you add plenty you don't want to be skimpy on detergent when you're felt in these in the washer, we're just gonna add this. Well, let this cycle go, and then we'll get our balls out. So we finished washing our dryer balls. And so the first thing we need to do when we go to dry them is we need to take all of our other dryer balls out of the dryer. Just that I'm going to transfer the garbles we're making and the rest of my load of laundry to the dryer. So if you did not wash your dryer balls with a load of laundry and you didn't by themselves when you put them in the dryer, you need to put something else in with them, either, like some towels or some sheets or something, so that they don't impact the inside of your dryer too much. If you do that too much, you can actually damage your dryer. So I've actually got some diapers that I'm drying in with my marbles so they are ready to go, and when I go to do my dryer, I want it, at least on medium. You can dry them on high, but You don't have to. Um and I suggest that you do not use the low setting. All right, so I'm gonna drive this on medium, and we're gonna take them out when they're done, and then we're actually gonna repeat this process, so we're gonna put it in three. The washer one more time and through the dryer one more time. 6. Finishing the Balls: So here's the moment you've all been waiting for. It's time to unveil our dryer balls, so we put our dryer balls in our tights through to washer and dryer cycles on hot. And now we're going to just clip where you've tied the yarn carefully. You don't want to clip the tights, especially if you are playing to reuse the tights and you're just gonna pop our balls out of the tights. You may find that you get some areas that stick to the tights a little bit, and that's okay. I'll show you how we can kind of minimize the appearance from that interesting poor man right here, you. So after you've taken your balls out of your pantyhose or tights, now it's time to think about finishing them and what they look like. So if you do have any places that have kind of kept it up and stuffed here tights or the candy house, you can just go through and take some scissors and just treat him off some of the parts that are the fuzziest. Hopefully, you won't have a lot of area that's like this. Also, if you have a male friends who has an old set of clippers. Those work well on these two. I may have tried that you could also probably use a dog clippers or something like that if you have some really fuzzy areas. But but if not scissors work, find Teoh. All right, so after that, you were just going to take a look at them and see if there's any other parts that you want . Teoh remove. For instance, if you happen to have a long haired dog with dark hair who tends to shed like the dickens in your house, you may want to go through and take a pair of tweezers and just pick out any stray dog hairs that are readily obvious on your dryer balls, Um, or cap you. Or if you're working from raw fleece, if you have any little bits of vegetable matter or seeds or like a little piece of hay or something that's very visible in the surface, you could kind of delicately dig that out with tweezers. And that's not a problem. It'll 7. Troubleshooting: Okay, So in this process, there are a couple things that can go wrong and trust me pretty much. All these things have happened to me, So I don't feel like you're a failure if something goes wrong. Firstly, if you have a ball that tends to stick to your tights or your pantyhose a lot like it sticks too much and your entire ball is fuzzy. Um, in that case, I recommend that you spend a little bit more time on the hand, felt ing step and add more soap that is going to help the ball stick together and felt to itself rather than felt into your tights or the penthouse. The next thing that could happen sometimes is that your balls kind of full part, where you have a part that detaches from the actual ball and you have kind of a on an appendage on your ball, shall we say, um, and if that happens, that means that the strips that you used to construct a ball where too thick and you want to make sure those strips are a little bit thinner and you want to try to wrap them tighter , um, so that they they stick to themselves again and don't detach. Another thing that can happen sometimes is that especially if you're using a core in the middle of your ball, that the core kind of works its way out, and you can see the core on the outside when you get down with them. And if that's the case, then I recommend that you use a smaller amount of whatever used for the core again. Weight wise, I would only use 1/4 of the total weight of your ball in the core. And make sure you use wool in your core. Don't use something else. Um, The other thing is, you want to make sure again that your strips are small and that you're wrapping them tightly and that will help everything stay where it's supposed to and not shift during the machine melting process. And finally, the last thing that can happen sometimes is that your decorations can sometimes become detached from the actual ball and not stick to it. In that case, I recommend using smaller strips for your decorations. You really don't need very much at all. Teoh for color accents, just a very small amount of will goes a long way, so keep that in mind. Also, you want to make sure that you spend a little bit extra time on the hand. Felt ing step again with plenty of soap. You don't Don't skimp on the soap with us. Really? Really? Really. Um and just make sure you you give that areas some extra attention, and that should do the trick. 8. Marketing Dryer Balls: I wanted to spend a couple minutes to talk about how to market and sell your balls and how Teoh turn this into a little bit of a business. So the first thing I find most important when I'm selling my balls is to educate my customer. You'd be surprised how many people do not know what they will dryer ball is. I've had multiple people walk up to me at a farmer's market or a craft fair and say, What is that? So I find it really helpful when I'm selling my balls to make a little card like a business card size card that basically says 100% wool dryer balls. Simply toss into the dryer to soften close naturally or something like that, just a little blurb that tells them a what it is and be how to use it. The other thing is, a lot of people will buy these dry balls as stocking stuffers or gifts for someone else. And when they do that, having a little card kind of explaining what it is and how to use it, it's really helpful and definitely help sell these. So they're two different strategies. You can go for when you're making and selling rivals. Um, if you do a quick search of the interim, it's you will find that there are a ton of people who are selling dry balls and there are a ton of sellers, for instance, on Amazon who are selling a lot of dryer balls for not very much money. So you have to figure out how to compete into that kind of situation. I found that there are two main ways to do that. One is to go local. So making your dryer balls out of fleece from a local sheep and then marketing at locally saying this. This wool is from a local sheep. If you can get the sheets name, that's even better. Say this rule is from this type of sheep and its name was X. That really makes the balls more personal, and people are more likely to buy them Thes. Second thing that you could do is Teoh. Just focus on uniqueness, making your balls as creative and unique as you can, so that's where the decoration comes in. Um, you can get this fancy like I said, with the decoration, as you want Teoh, I just recommend you just use wool. I've seen a couple really keep things online, where people have done like sheets, faces and all sorts of things on on their balls. So have fun with it. And don't be scared to experiment a little bit. Do a couple places that I've had success selling. My wool dryer balls are, for instance, a local farmers market. Another would be local crafts fairs that happened a couple of times a year and then, like a local yarn shop or craft shop, also would be a great place to approach and ask them if they would be willing to sell some of your dryer balls. And then, of course, you can sell them directly, also online or through something like etc. But with etc. You lose a little bit of the local. If you're going for the local market, then you lose a little bit of that by going through etc. But you can definitely have both going at the same time. I found that I've had plenty of business just going the local route and marketing through word of mouth because people start talking to each other and say, Can I have X number of dryer balls before Christmas. I'm gonna stuff my family's stockings full of them. So don't underestimate the power of word of mouth that it definitely can be a powerful thing. Last but not least, I want to talk a minute about kind of costs and sourcing your raw materials. The first way you can get your fiber for the roving is to find a fleece from a local sheep and process it or get someone to process it for you and to make the balls out of that. If you're interested in learning how to process from the raw sheets, please check out my class on how to wash raw sheep's fleece and how he's a drunk Carter. Those will get you to a place where you got roving, and then you can make the drug ALS. The second place you might think about, of course, is etc. Etc. Has lots of different options in terms of roving different colors, different types of wool, and you can get smaller mounds or larger amounts depending on what you're looking for. Now, if you are looking to turn this into you, a little bit of a larger scale business and you want a lot more Will you want to be producing a lot more of these balls? For instance, for a Christmas sale or something like that, I recommend going through somewhere like our Rachel Lindsay, and they are a wool merchant, and you can buy large quantities of wool from them relatively inexpensively. Now, to get free shipping through them, I think you have to buy a bump, which is somewhere in the realm of £13 of wool. So that's that's quite a bit. I would recommend you try it out first before you buy £13 of roving. That said, £1 of roving is only gonna make you ate two ounce Dr ALS. So if you're wanting to make a lot of them, you're probably going to need a lot of roving. The other place to look online is a place called Xiling Er's and this company is a wool processing company. They turn raw fleece basically into roving and into yarn, but they do sell roving straight up, and I think they give you they give you a discount if you buy larger quantities. Now, Bullseye Linger and Rh Lindsay the minimum you can buy is £1. So keep that in mind when you're when you're looking for where to buy roping. But like I said, I'm always an advocate for local fiber and finding a local fleece if you can. 9. Variations and Final Thoughts: these bones could be used for a lot more than just tribals. They make great dog toys. They make great kid toys. Another thing you can do is use them as juggling balls. I will not try to juggle because I cannot juggle. You can make a slightly smaller bowl, and you could put like a jingle bell or something in the inside of the ball. And that makes a great cat toy. You can do some needle filthy on the outside as decoration. You can make some really nice Christmas ornaments that way. So there you have it. I think that's it. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me, and I'll do my best to answer them. Have fun making your dryer balls. Please post a picture of your dryer balls in the products tab. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Don't forget to click. 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