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How to Make Felt


How to Make Felt at Home

 

Felting is the process by which animal fibers (wool) are fused together with the application of heat, water, agitation, and pressure to form felt. You can create felt easily at home.

  1. For felting, you will need wool roving, also called wool top, which is wool that has been washed, combed, and carded into a thick rope before being spin. If you have a bunch of un-carded wool, you can use a wooden carder, which is basically a wooden pad with small nails resembling a giant hairbrush, to straighten the wool. Or, for a messier look, use your fingers to straighten the wool. If using wool roving, pull out wool pieces about 4-6 inches in length.
     
  2. A straw beach mat, bamboo placemat, or sushi mat can help in pressing the wool together but it’s not essential. A fabric envelope can be created by folding the fabric around the wool “mat.” You can also felt in the bottom of a cake pan without any additional materials.
     
  3. If using a straw or bamboo mat, put this on top of a towel on a flat surface. Lay down a layer of overlapping wool with the fibers running the same direction. Make another layer with fibers running perpendicular to this layer. Make a third layer with the fibers running the same direction as the first. These three layers create the “warp” and “weft” of the felt, giving it strength and durability.
     
  4. Once you have a “mat” of wool, squirt liquid detergent over the wool or sprinkle power detergent over top. Pour about ½ cup of boiling water over the wool. Allow to cool some, put on rubber kitchen gloves and press down (into the pan if you are using one) firmly. You can use a potato masher to press down the fibers and not burn your hands. If using a mat, you can place a piece of bubble wrap over the felt and rub down vigorously, or use the fabric envelope.
     
  5. However you choose to do this, massage the wool all over for five minutes. As the wool begins to firm up, massage more vigorously. After 10 minutes, you should be able to flip it over. Add more soap and water if necessary and continue massaging the wool down.
     
  6. Run hot water over the felt mat again or plunge it into hot water, washing away the soap. Then, immediately run cold water over the mat or plunge into very cold water. This will make the fibers hold to one another.
     
  7. You can continue to massage the wool under hot water, making it thicker and smaller (as the air is squeezed out), but it’s not essential at this point.
     
  8. Lay the felt flat to dry. You can use an iron to assist with drying and flattening.
     
  9. For an even easier method, fill up your bathtub with several inches of hot water, add laundry soap and roll up your layered wool mat in the bamboo mat. Put on gloves and immerse the rolled mat in the water. Roll the mat back and forth, moving your hands around it for 3 to 4 minutes. Gently unroll the felt mat on a towel, very gently lift the felt from the mat and turn it perpendicular to the direction of the bamboo. Repeat the process. Remove from the mat and press between towels. Lay flat to dry.

 

 You can also create felt without water with special felting needles. Here's how.

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