Monday, November 12, 2012

Felting Wool Fabric

I bought a kit for a felted wool fabric wall hanging (except that I'm going to use it for a Thanksgiving table mat) at a quilting show my mom and I went to last week.  I've never made anything except little ornaments from felted wool - and that was the type that looked like actual felt, not woolen fabric - so I thought a kit would be a good way to start.  Okay ... the first thing I learned is I should have checked the colors of the fabric in the kit before I bought it!  Quite a few of them didn't look like the sample at the booth I bought it from or the photo on the front of the kit.  And I'm not talking "some fabrics may vary slightly from the photo" - they weren't anything like the photo!  This wouldn't have been so bad, except that the fabrics were all dark, so they wouldn't have shown up on the black wool background.  And, while I'm not usually one that has to have everything look like the example, I do feel that sunflower petals should be some type of yellow and not brown!

Luckily, Joann's had all of their woolen fabric on sale this weekend so I was able to pick up some quarter yards of fabric I felt better about.  Except ... when I got it home and put it next to the other fabric it was so, well, smooth and unfelted.  Duh!  I've felted roving into fabric before, but have never tried felting (or fulling) patterned wool fabric.  How do you make sure it doesn't get too full?  After reading about several different methods I decided to try the method that looked like the least time consuming - the washing machine and dryer.  This was the method I was most nervous about, so I only used half of each fabric.

I have a front loading HE machine that I can't open midway through the cycle to check on the felting progression.  So, with great trepidation, I threw all the fabric in the machine with soap and a small hand towel, set it to medium spin on the delicate fabric setting (figuring that I could always felt it more, but couldn't undo too much felting), and pushed start.  They looked promising after they were done!  I put everything in the dryer on medium and a 20 minute cycle.  Perfect!  The fabric on the right is the felted one and the fabric on the left is how it originally looked.

Here's another piece ...

... and here's one of my felted fabrics compared to one of the provided fabrics.  They have exactly the same amount of felting!

I really like the full feeling of this felted woolen fabric!  Looks like I need to make a trip to Goodwill and see what kind of wool suits I can find!

Happy Creating!  Deborah


  1. Definitely do the Goodwill/thrift store for wools...I always look for skirts(easier to take apart)and long coats without too many seams. One thing I learned to check for is what type of interfacing is used. as you probably want to remove it-easier the better...although I did have some that I could not get off, and felted it came out with a real cool texture when the wool shrank, but the interfacing did not.
    I especially look for white or off white items, as they can be dyed, too! Have fun

  2. I do the Goodwill thing also to find wool to felt. I have found more Pendleton skirts for a couple dollars and they are loaded with yardage because of all the pleats. It's a great resource.

    My thermometer for knowing when the felting is complete is when I can cut it and it refuses to ravel.