Sunday 30 March 2014

How to... Techniques: Make felt in your washing machine

Introducing a new series: "How to... Techniques"! 

This is a technique I learnt in College- making felt in the washing machine using Wool Tops. It's a great way to make small amounts of felt and is much quicker than making it using the traditional hand felting techniques.

1) You will need

Two A4 sized pieces thin lining fabric, Wool Tops, scissors, sewing needle and thread.

A few notes on materials:

Thin polyester dress or curtain lining is relatively inexpensive to buy, but you may already have a jacket or a skirt with lining in and you're planning to up-cycle it for the fabric, so that would be a double up-cycling bonus! I have tried this with thicker materials, such as calico and t-shirt jersey, and although it still produces a felt, it is next to impossible to remove it from the backing fabric, so I recommend sticking with the lining fabric!

You don't need much wool tops at all for this as you're only making thin layers (I only used a tiny amount of the bundle you see below). I buy my Merino Wool Tops from Crafty Notions as they source their wool from a single trusted farm in West Faulkland, and it is produced without herbicides and pesticides. They have a great range of colours and a small bag will go a long way- they also sell packs of colours if you just can't decide! But you may already have a stash just waiting to be used...

2) Make your layers

Gently pull thin pieces of wool tops away from your main bundle of tops.

You're going to make 4 layers altogether. For your first layer, firstly, take a single piece of your lining fabric. Next, lay your wool tops vertically on top of the piece of lining fabric, overlapping each piece of tops as you do so. Leave a gap of one inch around the outside

For your next layer, repeat the same process again, but this time lay your wool tops vertically. I've used pink tops for this layer to create a two toned piece of felt

Your next layer will be horizontal

And your next layer vertically once again. On this layer I've again mixed in some of the contrasting colour

3) Stitch your fabric together

Next, lay your second piece of lining fabric on top of the felt layers you've just made. Poking any stray fibres back in, you can now tack your felt parcel together. Stitch as close to your felt layers as you can

Next, tack a cross diagonally across your felt pillow. This helps to create a flat finished piece of felt. If you don't stitch the cross, you will end up with a small screwed up piece of felt (have done this a couple of times when I've forgotten to stitch the cross!)

4)  Felt in the washing machine!

Your felt parcel can now go in with a  regular load of washing on a 40 degree setting. The friction from the other washing in the machine, combined with the heat and washing soap will cause the wool fibres to felt together

5) It's finished!

Don't be alarmed if when you take your felt parcel out of the machine it looks a little out of shape- undo the tacking and remove it from the fabric and you should have a lovely flat piece of felt! 

These small thin pieces of felt would be ideal to hand or machine embroider onto, or to cut pieces from to use for Applique. I'll be back in a future post to show you some examples of how you can use your felt.

Happy making!

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