Felting wool sweaters, blankets and other products to produce wool felt is a great way to create unique fabrics that can be used in many craft projects. Not only is this a wonderful way to produce unusual felts that cannot be purchased in stores, it is also a good recycling project and green craft.
Types of Wool Sweaters to Felt
Most types of wool sweaters or other wool garments or items can be felted. It is important, however, to make sure that the wool is not machine washable or preshrunk. Some woollen products are pre treated so they will not shrink when washed in a washing machine and as such these will not felt. Other items, for instance an old wool blanket, may have already felted and shrunk over the years so the finished effect may not be so dramatic. Wool mixes are likely to felt, however this is dependent of the percentage of other fibres mixed with the wool. Yarns made from fibres such as cotton and silk will not felt. Therefore if a wool sweater has stripes or a pattern knitted in a different yarn, when felted the wool will have shrunk and felted and the cotton or silk will remain its original size. This can create interesting textured results.
How to Felt Wool Sweaters
Felting wool sweaters is very simple. All that is required is a washing machine. Place the wool sweater into the washing machine on a hot wash cycle and leave the washing machine to do the rest. For best results it is a good idea to have other items in the washing machine to add friction and agitate the wool sweater. Old towels or jeans will work well.
While it is almost impossible to go wrong when felting a wool sweater or other wool item, there are a few tips that will help to ensure great results:
- Remove any buttons or embellishments before felting the sweater. They will be more difficult to remove later.
- To stop the arms felting together, thread an old pair of tights or stockings through each arm. The nylon will not felt to the wool and this will help to keep the arms open.
- The dyes used to colour some woollen items may run at hot temperatures. It is best not to felt deeply coloured wool items with white or light coloured clothes.
- Use the hottest available cycle on the washing machine for maximum shrinkage.
- Remember, the felting process is irreversible. Therefore be absolutely sure that felting is the desired result before proceeding.
Buying Wool Items for Felting
Wool items that are suitable for felting can be found at jumble sales and charity shops. As pure wool items are regarded as luxury and long lasting items, they are sometimes sold at a premium. However, damaged, stained or flawed items are all perfect for felting. Simply cut away any damaged or stained pieces after felting. These can often be found for a low cost and this can be a good option for people on a budget. Online auction sites are also a good option for people looking for items to felt. The popularity of this craft, however, means that wool items can often be sought after and therefore this might not present a cost effective solution. Families and friends can also be a good source of material. Once they know that someone is collecting woollen items for felting and craft they are often delighted to be able to pass on their cast offs.
Felting sweaters, blankets and other woollen items can be a great way to produce unique felts. The finished felt can be used in many ways and is a great way to produce unique results.