This week on True Up is dedicated to wonderful wool felt. We have interviews, a source list, book reviews and roundups, and of course, a giveaway. But first off, let me introduce you to this fabric in case you’re not already acquainted, and demystify some terminology.
What is felt? Felt is a nonwoven, non-knitted textile, produced by mushing loose fibers together. It can be made from animal fibers (usually sheep’s wool), a blend of animal and other fibers (usually rayon), or 100% acrylic. Wool fibers felt because they are covered with microscopic scales that tangle and interlock when that magic combination of heat, pressure, moisture, and friction is applied. Wikipedia compares the structure of wool fibers to pinecones, which was helpful in helping me understand how the fibers become permanently interlocked.
I’m not quite sure how the acrylic fibers stick together. If you’ve ever had an acrylic felt project fall apart, you might argue that they don’t stick together!
What’s up with “fulling” vs. “felting”? Especially if you’re from the knitting world, you’ve probably heard people getting uppity about usage of the terms “fulled” and “felted.” The difference is simply this: fulled textiles start out life as woven or knitted fabric, to which the matting process is then applied. Just think of weaves and knits having tiny spaces between the yarns, and the heat/moisture/friction combo causes those spaces to be filled. Since the process and end result is so similar, I grant you permission to use the terms interchangeably around here! Fuzzy Galore has a thorough account of fulling vs. felting here.
Several types of wool fabric are fulled: blanket cloth, boiled wool, coating, loden, and melton. These would all work for most projects calling for wool felt. They vary in thickness, drape, nap, and weave of the pre-fulled cloth, but are similar enough in texture and durability.
Wool felt is expensive, but so are all wool fabrics. But a little goes a long way, and once you try it you’ll never go back to the cheapo craft store stuff. It is soft, super sturdy, comes in tons of gorgeous colors, and is incredibly easy to cut and stitch. It doesn’t fray and there is no nap or wrong side. Since it is so pricey, most people use it for small things: stuffed toys, pincushions, and other crafts.
American Felt & Craft wrote up a great “felt smackdown” comparing acrylic and eco-felt, wool blend felt, and 100% wool felt on several factors. No shocker here, but wool felt wins, with wool-rayon blends coming in a close second.
Any questions? We’ll answer them by the end of the week!