Guest Author - Lili Pintea-Reed
Everyone has had the experience and of accidentally tossing a wool sweater into the washer (and maybe even worse the clothes dryer) a finding it as a small shrunken version of itself. Well, with out realizing it you have made felt!
You are an experienced fiber artist -- and you didn't know it!
You can make felt for projects out of old sweaters and other woolen objects with hardly any expense involved. The old name for this process was "boiled wool" or "fulling." In the years before artificial fibers many items that needed to be sturdy and warm were made of felted scraps.
As the frugal householder and crafter, you can use these old techniques to make all sorts of projects out of old woolen items that would normally be disguarded. You can buy cheap materials at the Salvation Army or rummage sales because items with minor damage will compress and cover the damged spots. These sort of materials can usually be had very cheaply as they are not fit for normal re-sale.
Many natural animal fibers can made into felt because they have hooks and ridges on the fibers that catch and mat. If you have dog that mats up after a bath or run in the rain you've seen this process in action. Big mats of hair form in their fur.
When natural animal fiber cloth or knitwear is subjected to soap and water of different temperatures the hooks catch and mat the fibers making it more dense and shrinking it. You can make "boiled flet" in your washer. No boiling required.
Take and old sweater that is at least 50 percent wool and and cut off the sleeves and separate the front from the back. Toss these pieces into the washer and wash with soap on hot cycle, and rinse on cold cycle. They should shrink like crazy. If you want them even more dense, toss them into the dryer too. They may shrink as much as 70 percent.
Now you have made felt.
Do this with several sweaters, ols wool blankets, etc. and then you'll have lots of colors and textures of felt.
You can take your felt and cut it into pieces and simply lap the edges and zig zag stitch them together. Now ou have a Crazy Quilt" type afghan. Cover the seams with handsewn ribbon cut from old silk ties. Fancy.
Make and inner liner the size you want out of scrap cotton and stuff with fiber fill. Make the felt cover and bit bigger. Sew it together with the double zig zag stitch for extra strength.
Both these projects can be done with hand sewing instead. Cheaper and more user friendly for some people.
Once you get started feltmaking can become a wonderful inexpensive hobby. Have fun!
Here are some links to felting sites:
A site with Fulled hat patterns and more.
The Feltmakers Site:
Felt making Links of all sorts
How to make felt from Pet Combings
Make felt from pet combings