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Wool Felt Fabric - what's it all about ?

Saturday, 18 January 2014  |  Sarah

I had a meeting with a business completely unrelated to ours last week and the guy said to me "So, felt.  How do you actually make it and what's the difference between your felt and the felt my wife buys in the local craft superstore"?

Well, for the benefit of the businessman last week, and yourself (in case you're interested), I thought I would write a little article explaining the whole thing.

100% wool felt is one of the oldest documented textiles.  It is made by soaking unspun wool in warm water and agitating the fibres so that they "felt" together.  You may have made your own felt in the past, probably accidentally when you put a lovely cashmere or 100% wool jumper in the washing machine on a hot wash and it came out all teeny tiny and had turned into a lovely piece of felt !!

As 100% wool felt is made from 100% wool, it is generally the most expensive type of felt that you can buy.  However, this means that it's usually the BEST type of felt that you can buy.  Once you've used 100% wool felt I can pretty much guarantee you won't go back to a wool mix or acrylic felt.  The 100% wool felt we sell at Blooming Felt is available in 3 different thicknesses. 



Our 3-4mm thick wool felt is all handmade.  Because it's handmade, this means that the thickness will vary in places and the fibres are slightly looser than a machine made felt.  But, if you're looking to make cushions, bags, drinks coasters, placemats, oven gloves or any type of item that needs a thicker felt, then choosing our 3-4mm wool felt will make this easier for you.  With it being so thick, you probably won't need a stiffener or need to use an interfacing or lining with it.
 

Our 1mm thick 100% wool felt is a machine made felt.  It's made by giant "needle punching" machines where the fibres are laid flat and the giant needles move backwards and forwards across the fibres, "punching" them.  This is basically a giant form of needle felting.  If you've ever bought our felting needles before you will know that they're not like normal sewing needles - they have tiny little barbs on the sharp end and it's these barbs that when "punched" or "stabbed" into the fibres, felt them together.  Our 1mm thick wool felt is fantastic for all sorts of uses - making dolls and dolls clothes, applique, making toys .... the list goes on.
 



Our 1.5mm thick wool felt is a "woven" wool felt.  It feels a bit like your favourite blanket (although not quite as thick).  This particular felt is all hand dyed in giant baths - dying felt this way means that you might get a mottled colour rather than a solid colour.  But as many of our customers tell us, this adds to the charm of this particular felt as every piece is unique.

 


The types of felt you will find in most craft shops are generally what's known as a wool felt mix.  Typically they contain between 30% and 70% wool, with the remaining 70% or 30% being acrylic.  Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with this type of felt, you will definitely feel and notice a difference between this type of felt and 100% wool felt.  However, if your project is very price-driven, this particular felt is a good substitute.  Some craft shops sell felt costing around 20p per sheet - this felt will be made from 100% acrylic and will stretch and tear quite easily.  Personally (as I'm a felt-snob !) I would never buy this type of felt, but if you're looking for something cheap for the kids to use, then this would probably do the trick.

There are 2 other types of felt that can be purchased (usually from specialist suppliers) - one is made from bamboo and the other from recycled plastic bottles !!  I'll tell you all about them in our next blog post.

See you next time :)