Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Felt Enlightened

Ya know when I set out to make funky felt cocktail rings, I bought a package of colored felt like the kind I used in grade school. Yet when I was researching felt projects and tutorials for my etsy shop, I discovered that there are different types of felt. Who knew? So, I feel that it is my duty as a felt artisan to edify the masses as to the differences. After all, I felt enlightened myself.

 The most widely used felt among crafters is acrylic felt. It is formed from acrylic fibers and is readily available in a wide range of colors at a reasonable price. This is typically sold in sheets of different sizes and colors. The felt sheets that are commercially available are formed by tightly pressing fibers together and then agitating them until all the air is removed and a firm tight fabric has been produced.

A second type of felt is handmade felt. There are many fiber artists who produce handmade felt using a variety of techniques. These are beautiful textiles that work well for a variety of projects. The traditional way of making felt is known as wet felting. The woolen fibers are laid out on a board and then dampened with hot water and agitated. The combination of heat and movement causes the fibers to mat together and then shrink forming a firm fabric. Felt is also made by fulling (shrinking) knitted and woven fabrics. Anyone who has popped a wonderful new wool sweater into a washing machine only to retrieve an item that has shrunk to a fraction of the size will understand the process. The only difference is that producing felt from knitting is done on purpose! The felting of knitting and weaving pulls the fibers tight and, like other felt, the fabric will not unravel. Some examples of handmade felt are wool and bamboo.

Needlefelt (also known as prefelt) is half way between commercially produced and hand made felt. Made from pure wool, it is a loose fabric formed from lightly felted fabrics. These can be worked with as normal, but will still shrink and felt further when finished, meaning that these are a good alternative for people looking to make creative surface designs or 3D projects.

So that's what I came upon during my research. I just ordered some felt books from Amazon so I'm sure there are other types as well. I'll keep you posted.

I hope you FELT somewhat enlightened.


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