What’s the Difference?
One question we get asked all the time is what’s the difference between felts? Here is everything you ever wanted to know about felt, and probably a bunch of stuff you didn’t. In this post we’ll look at wool, please see my other post on acrylic/eco felt and blended felt, or if you have a short attention span skip ahead to the felt smack-down, and yes there will be fire!
Generally when referring to wool felt either 100% wool felt or a wool felt blend can be inferred but for the sake of my fingers and your sanity wool felt here will refer only to felt which is made from 100% wool.
How wool felt is made
Wool felt is made from agitating wool to create a non woven fabric. The wool shaft has scales which interlock and form a fabric through felting, because felt is nonwoven it will not unravel and the edges do not need to be finished making it, in my humble opnion the greatest textile ever!
Wear and care
100% wool has many advantages most importantly it holds up to wear and reasonable stress along it’s seams without giving way it will not pill, has a slight elasticity and takes the proper dyes and tints easily. The thin waxy coat on most 100% natural wool is both stain and water resistant, liquids will pool for some time allowing them to simply be wiped away think, wool jackets. Because wool is made from fibers dirt and other stains can also be cleaned easily by simply brushing the spotting loose from the fibers. Wool felt can be manipulated in many ways making it useful for many different applications.
Safety and Environmental Impact
Wool is naturally fire resistant wool has been used to make fire fighters uniforms practically forever although I can’t imagine how hot those poor guys must be however since 99% of the time when wool is exposed to flame it will smolder and extinguishes itself I’m sure is worth the discomfort.
Wool fibers also have a high concentration of fatty acids, this gives wool anti-bacterial properties this keeps wool fabric from mildewing or retaining odors. Some people worry about allergies but wool is actually hypoallergenic. Since wool is composed of the same proteins as human hair and fingernails it is rare that someone has an allergy to wool. But some people are allergic to sunlight so never say never. More often than not people will cite the fact that their skin is irritated by wool as evidence of an allergy the fact is some wool like some relatives are just irritating to everyone. Since dust mites are the most the common cause of allergies and triggers for asthma attacks wool is actually a good choice for those bothered by general allergies. Dust mites live in warm humid environments. Because wool is both slow to absorb moisture and is made from interlocked fibers that allow air flow dust mites avoid wool. Another great advantage to wool is that it is both ecologically and animal friendly. It is a natural and sustainable resource. And if you get your 100% wool from AFC you can rest assured that we only use wool from free range happy sheep!
Wool felt can be sewn, needle felted, glued and molded. If you’re interested in wet felting, and let’s face it who isn’t…you will need to use wool roving.
For all of its wonderful advantages wool felt has some drawbacks; Wool felts tend to be thick and lofty which can make sewing and shaping it more difficult. It can be itchy to the touch and may not hold well on seams, can have an odd smell when wet, it will stretch itself out shape when pressure is applied and shrinks 3″-5″ per yard when washed improperly. Wool felt can be hard to find in a large array of colors since it’s cost can be prohibitive to a lot of people however it can be dyed at home, which will give you the fun extra of trying to explain your purple hands to your friends and neighbors.Up Next Acrylic/Eco Felt or skip to part 3 Wool/Rayon Blend