Felt: A Fabric Guide

I’d hazard a guess that most people have used felt at some point in their lives. Who remembers Fuzzy Felt?! I used to love putting together Fuzzy Felt scenes when I was small. Felt comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes and quality, here’s a guide on choosing the right felt for your project and some handling tips.

Felt is a non-woven, non knitted fabric created by sheets of fibre that tangle when needled, or exposed to heat. True felt can be made from a variety of fibres including wool, fur, mohair, cotton, rayon/ viscose or other synthetic fibres. Felt is made by pounding the fibres, compressing them, shrinking them and then the felting is achieved by applying moisture, changing the temperature, applying pressure and then roughing up the fibres abrasively. Phew!

Felt-Squares.jpg

What is felt suitable for?

This very much depends on the type of felt, most of the felt available from retail outlets is either acrylic felt or wool felt.  Acrylic felt or glitter felt is ideal for craft projects like embellishments, Christmas ornaments, appliqués. This kind of felt won’t withstand much rough and tumble so if you’re making soft toys and other projects that will be handled a lot it’s best to look for wool felt. Wool felt usually contains 20%-35% wool and as well as sturdier craft projects wool felt makes nice bags, hats, and can be used in garments such as under collars and cuffs.

Felt.jpg

Some Felt Facts…

  • Felt does not unravel so there’s no need to finish a seam
  • Felt is very stable and easy to sew
  • Whatever you do, don’t dry clean felt! It’s likely to misshape in the process
  • Felt can bobble and pill as it’s susceptible to further abrasion
  • Felt can tear when under strain and cannot easily be mended
  • Careful using felt in garments – it does not recover well when stretched and will bag out at the elbows, knees and bottom!
  • Felt can be damaged by steam

Felt-dogs.jpg

Tips for sewing with felt

  • Let the felt feed naturally through your machine
  • Do no dry clean!
  • Use little or no moisture when pressing. Use a pressing cloth.
  • Hand wash felt in cool water with mild soap, rinse and squeeze out excess moisture. DO NOT  wring or twist felt as it will misshapen. Leave to air dry.
  • Cut felt with a rotary cutter for more accuracy. Felt can also be cut with scissors but don’t use your best fabric scissors
  • Thread: Use Polyester or cotton thread
  • Needle size: Most needles will be fine with felt, use an 80/12 to start with
  • Stitch length: 2.5mm – 3.0mm
  • Presser foot: Use a standard presser foot
  • Seam finish: Press straight seams open. No seam finish is necessary as felt wont unravel
  • Always sew a test seam

A note on felted fabrics

Felted fabrics such as boiled wool, melton or fleece are not true felt. True felt is made from raw fibres, where as felted fabrics have been shrunk and fulled to produce a felt like fabric. Compared to true felt, felted fabrics are less dense, more durable, drape better and are much better suited to dressmaking projects.

Making your own Wool Felt

100% wool felt is hard to find so you might consider making your own. Old wool blankets or jumpers are a great choice for this – just machine wash your 100% wool fabric in hot water with a gentle care laundry detergent and then agitate the fabric for about 30 minutes then dry in a hot tumble dryer. For more details check out this tutorial.

Do you have any tips for using felt? Please share them if you do!

 

 

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