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Felting Wool Sweaters

 

Felting is the process by which animal fibers (wool) are fused together with the application of heat, water, and pressure to form felt. For a shortcut, felt a wool sweater in the washer with hot water and soap. Once felted, the sweater should have shrunk dramatically and you should no longer see the stitches of the original garment.

 

  1. Only animal fibers will work for felting. Use a sweater made out of wool, mohair, cashmere, alpaca, or some combination of these. If synthetic fiber accounts for 20% or less, the sweater will probably work for felting. Check the label to see if the wool sweater has been specially treated to be washable, as if you see “superwash,” since these will not work for felting.
     
  2. Keep in mind that thicker 100% wool sweaters will be better for thick and sturdy felt craft projects, such as tote bags.  
     
  3. Make sure you safeguard your washer before throwing in the sweater. While felting, the sweater will release a bunch of wooly fibers, which can clog up your washer. Put your sweater in one of those mesh laundry bags (used for delicates) or zippered pillow protector. If it has a drawstring, secure the strings with a safety pin. (Mine have zippers.) Top-loading washers seems to work better than front-loading washers for felting, but you can try repeating the process a few times. A sturdy pair of jeans added to the washer will also help with felting.
     
  4. Remove the sweater from the mesh laundry bag before placing in the dryer. You will have to clean the lint trap frequently during felting.
     
  5. You may have to wash and dry the sweater again and even once more to felt some wool sweaters.
     
  6. Cut off any labels, embellishments, and ribbed cuffs, and cut the sweaters apart for pieces for felt pieces. Now you are ready to craft with your homemade felt!

 

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