top of page

Do you have a question?

What is felt?

Felt is a fabric made from wool by using friction, moisture and heat, without the use of stitching, sticking or weaving.



How is felt made?

Felt fabric is made by locking together wool fibres using friction and moisture. This is the traditional ‘wet’ felting technique, although there is also needle felting, which doesn’t require moisture or friction, instead using needles with sharp barbs to lock the fibres together.

Wet Felting is a process that involves a loose pile of wool fibres, the addition of soapy water, massaging the fibres until they hold together (felting) and then shocking the cloth to shrink and strengthen it (fulling).

Who invented felt?

Felt is probably the world’s oldest textile. The earliest archaeological evidence of felt dates back to 6500 BC, making this fabric older than any knitted or woven textile.

Various cultures have competing myths regarding the origins of felt.

In Wales the invention is attributed to Roman soldiers who lined their uncomfortable leather foot-ware with sheep's fleece they found on their travels to prevent blisters. After a hard march these fibres would have turned into felt due to heat, pressure, and sweat.



Early cultures in India used felt for blankets and saddles, and the people of ancient Iran and Turkey commonly made felt floor mats.

Felt making arrived late into the UK as traditionally, most sheep were owned by wealthy landowners who paid locals to spin and weave their wool – but not to felt it, as the skill was not known then in the UK.

An industrial felting technique that developed before needle felting was sometimes called ‘carroting’ and was used to make hats. Rabbit fur was blown onto a mould and treated with a mercury compound that often caused mercury poisoning in milliners. Mercury poisoning can often cause brain damage – hence ‘mad as a hatter’.

What is wet felting?

Hot, soapy water and friction are used to mat, compress and fuse wool or other animal fibres together to make felt.

What is nuno felting?

Nuno Felting is a technique which combines an open weave fabric plus loose fibre – usually wool – to create a lightweight felt fabric. Wool fibres work through the woven fabric before felting takes place, then as the wool shrinks the fabric crinkles, producing interesting shapes and textures.



What is needle-felting?

Needle felting as a craft developed from an industrial process, rather than the other way around. The technique has been developed within the last 100 years, using triangular-shaped needles with notches that push and intermingle the wool fibres to create felt – no water or friction is required. Non-woven fabrics from piano felt to tennis balls are made this way.

Can I make felt using my pet's fur?

It is possible but the end result is likely to fall apart due to the shorter and thicker fur and it will take you much longer. If you really want to use your pet's fur, I would suggest using just a little as an embellishment.

What can I felt?

Felting can be used to make clothes, bags, hats, pictures, jewellery and 3-dimensional objects. You can also make felt rugs – the equivalent of sheepskin rugs, but without having to kill the sheep to get it. Wet felting is very easy, doesn’t need specialist kit and can be done with children. There are no right and wrong methods, but there is a difference between good and bad felting techniques in terms of whether it’s useful for the purpose for which it was intended. For example, if you’re making a picture, it’s fine if it’s loosely felted, but if you’re going to use the same piece for a handbag, it will probably fall apart if it’s not tight felted or fulled enough.

Is wet felting difficult?

No, but some people complain of sore hands which will happen if too much unneeded pressure is used.

How long does it take to make felted item?

From a few minutes to a few days depending on what is being made.

Do you use hot or cold water to wet-felt?

I would suggest luke-warm water for the first felting process when you are encouraging fibres to fuse together. Then, when you are fulling - or strengthening - the felt, use hot water which will speed up the shrinking process.

What are the main conditions for felting?

There are three elements required to make felt - water, agitation and heat. The felting process works best in a slightly alkaline liquid and soap or detergent is all that is required to create this condition.

Why do you use olive oil soap?

I prefer olive oil soap as it has low lather and isentle on my hands, but any soap can be used. Soap has the important function of helping lubrication during agitation and making your hands slide easily over the wool. However, dont use too much soap as too much lather will get between the fibres and prevent them from contacting with each other.

What wool is best for wet-felting?

Merino, which is readily available online. It is a smooth, fine fibre that creates lightweight, smooth products. It is soft, durble and great for learners.

Can you wash a wet-felted item?

Yes, it is possible to wash felt fabric. Handwashing is always the best and safest method for washing felt - but be careful, as felt is sensitive to water temperature and agitation, and it can shrink if not treated properly.

Can felting be reversed?

No, unlike knitting or crochet for example, felt-making is irreversible. You cannot 'undo' your felting to end up with a bunble of fibre in the same way tyou can do with knitting or crochet.


Why not come to one of my workshops if you would like any further information?

35 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page