How to make felt

Check the downloads for more details and felting in the washing machine, my favorite way to felt yardage. 

Wet Felt

In simple terms felt is a non-woven fabric of matted wool fiber.

How it's made

A generalization: although there are as many methods as there are felt-makers, this is how I make a flat sheet of felt: I work on a sheet of solar pool cover (heavy duty bubble wrap), bubble side down, topped with a sheet of very thin plastic. I evenly place layers of wool fiber in perpendicular layers, each overlapping the other, similar to shingles on a roof-top.  

Surface decoration is added (ribbon, yarn, fabric, old felt, partially or fulled felt, etc).

The project is wet down with water and soap (I like Dawn, unless I am going to be working it with my bare hands, then I'll use olive oil bar soap, shaved and dissolved into a some water). I cover the fiber with a sheer curtain or screen, and using a crunched up grocery bag dipped in soapy water, press the soap and water into the fiber through the curtain.

The pile is topped with a second sheet of thin plastic, and carefully rolled up around a swimming noodle and tied. The roll is rolled back and forth over, and over, and, over, and then over again until the fibers start to tangle. Once it's holding up, it's felt, and can be fulled.

I have several methods of fulling that I do according to the piece these include:
  • Working on a glass washboard (not metal). This by the way, I find is the best way to make hard felt dread-locks or felt "snakes".
  • Plunging in a pail with hot water using a toilet plunger (this plunger is exclusive to this purpose!).
  • Getting sopping wet with hot water and tossing in the clothes dryer.
  • Rubbing with or on the pool cover/bubble wrap.
  • Rubbing with or on a rubber textured mat, such as a carpet runner, or Welcome mat.
  • Rubbing the felt onto itself. 
  • Tumbling small pieces in a rock tumbler with some marbles. These machines were designed to run for weeks on end and keep the contents wet and warm. The perfect environment for fulling!

    See the images in the downloads on a sample project.