DIYdiy projects

diy project: felt craspedia (a.k.a. billy buttons)

by Kate Pruitt

There was a time — and maybe we’re still in it — when almost every stylish home contained a vase of craspedia, also known as “Billy Balls,” “Billy Buttons,” and a few other terms I’m not aware of. And why not? Craspedia are a very cool-looking flower, after all; definitely a great choice for mid-century modern fans, with those long, skinny stems and graphic yellow balls. I have a bunch of them in my home as well, and I do love them. However, I don’t like that the dried ones lose their vivid color and the fresh ones don’t keep long.

Enter this super simple felt version by Tanya of Dans le Townhouse: an almost perfect substitute for the real flower. Each one takes only a couple minutes, and then you get to enjoy them in all their bright yellow Billy-Ball-glory forever! I can’t wait to grab some felt roving and get started. Thanks for sharing this simple tutorial, Tanya! — Kate

Read the full how-to after the jump!


  • mustard yellow wool roving (found in yarn/craft stores or online)
  • one bowl of hot, hot, hot as you can stand water
  • one bowl of cold, cold, cold as you can bear water
  • cloth-covered stem wire (from the floral section of craft stores — I used 20 gauge)


1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 fibers and is part of the felting process. Plus, you want to rinse out the soap.

5. 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 ball has become.

6. 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 countertop. I recommend making a few as a “test” before diving in to a dozen or so for an arrangement.

7. Once your felted-wool ball is dry, simply pierce it with the end of the floral wire, and twist and 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. Then bend the wire as you please, making droopy flowers or more rigid ones. Bend the wire gently — you don’t want any kinks, just soft bends.

You’re done!!

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  • Tanya,
    Thanks for answering my questions, I need to try this again and i’ll check out your blog too! I also couldn’t get my wire which may have been 18 gauge into the felt balls. I’ll try the 20 is it possible I rolled them too hard and they are too taught? Thanks again!

  • Billy balls are my favorite… So vintage and unique… I used them all over in my June wedding, and now I want them in our home… Thanks for this tutorial! One question though… I made a set of six and in each ball, I had a problem with the rolling together. Where the roving meets it’s other end, there always seems to be a cracking issue. They haven’t yet dried, so I’ll see how they look when finished, but do you, or anyone have any suggestions to reolve this issue? Thanks!!!

  • Wow! I wish I had found this tutorial before my wedding! Your finished flowers look great. I hope I can find time to try this soon. Thanks for sharing.

  • I felt in love with felting and needlefelting a few years ago. There are many kinds of wool roving out there depending on what sheep it is taken from. Some wool just felts better than others. There are very silky long fibers and then there are shorter nubby fibers. It’s good to experiment to see what works best for you. Some research on the internet about fiber types and you’ll be a pro. I usually buy my wool from Ornamentea online or Felt Alive online. Both supply a nubbier wool and have great colors and prices (not to mention customer service). Have fun!

  • Hello again D*S readers. For anyone who had issues with cracks in their Billy Buttons, check out this troubleshooting post:


    You will find two techniques for making those pesky cracks disappear. They happen, but with practise you will find that they become less and less of an issue.


    If the wire won’t go into your balls, use wire cutters to trim the wire into a point – so it is more needle-like at the end. This will help pierce the billy button.

  • I have fallen in love with Billy Buttons, but there are so expensive. This is a great way to cut cost. Thanx for the idea, tutorial and troubleshooting. Would have never though there’d an crafty way of doing. I have more than enought time to get this done for my wedding……thanx again!!!!!

  • Amazing Idea! Can’t believe sponge can be used to make such elegant decor. Definitely on my list to try out. Thanks for the DIY!

  • This is a great tutorial…I have been making these like crazy and wish I could find a faster way to do it but this method works well. I am going to use these as part of our centerpieces for our wedding in yellow, gray and teal so I have to make around 180-200…yikes…but it will be worth it in the long run.

  • Love to try this. My mother has a prize winning photograph of biily buttons. A bunch of these would compliment the photo

  • Hi,
    Awesome DIY tutorial.Just made these in different colors instead of only yellow. Look cute but I’ll wait for them to dry before I get excited. lol..Another issue apart from the cracks in the finished balls I found was trying to get them all to be of equal size. The wool roving I bought was in different colors and quantity. ( The blue was more than the orange) and also wasn’t equal in thickness. I think that affects the size of the balls. So though I tried my level best, some might be a tad bit smaller than the other. Is there a fix for this issue?
    They look so cute though in different colors. Can’t wait to put them up! Thanks!

    • hi cristina

      you could put these on a cake, but they’re felted, so they will likely leave some fibrous strings behind after you remove them (to eat the cake).


  • Do you need to put glue on the wire for it to stay long term? I want to make a bouquet of them but I’m afraid they can fall off

  • Great DIY tutorial for those who are interested to make their own crafts. Now i will have to try to make the one like this! Excellent!

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