Part 2 of whats the diffrence ?
Everything you ever wanted to know about felt, and probably a bunch of stuff you didn’t. In this post we’ll look at Acrylic/ Eco-felt, please see my other post on wool felt and blended felt, or for a more simplistic match up check out Felt Smackdown. But if your the kind of person who likes to read the back of a can of peas read on…just kidding it’s really not that bad.
The Wonders of Modern Science -How acrylic and eco-felt is made
Acrylic felt is made by interlocking acrylic or acrylonitrile which is made from natural gas and petroleum, ie a type of plastic. These fibers are then interlaced to create a felt. Eco -felts are identical in every way to acrylic felt and are created in the same way but instead of being made from plastic pellets it is made from recycled plastic bottles. Yep that’s the only difference! So from here on out when I refer to acrylic felt I am also referring to eco-felt.
Wear and care
Here is where acrylic both shines and falls short. Acrylic is very easy to care for, since it’s made of plastic it is stain resistant as long as it isn’t an oil based stain, like lipstick or gasoline, of course if you have stained your acrylic felt with lipstick and gasoline something tells me you have bigger problems. Because they are plastic acrylic felts wash very nicely and won’t shrink. I have heard that the nicer acrylic felts can look very similar to wool felts. Although in my experience these nicer felts are a myth, and frankly just like spiders I have never seen an acrylic felt I like! These felts will not take any dyes or bleach, the colors will not fade with normal usage since it is the plastic fibers themselves which hold the color. However acrylic is not suitable for craft projects or pieces which will be handled often because it will pill and fuzz. Acrylic also tends to stiffer and more see though than some other felts and therefore may not layer well. Some people find this felt itchy to the touch furthermore its weaker nature may result in seams which are easily prone to tearing. On the upside it’s incredibly affordable (read cheap) and will last practically forever well… unless you intend to touch it.
Safety and environmental impact
Due to the fiber content and the lofty, air filled pockets acrylic felts burn readily. When exposed to flame acrylics will ignite almost instantly and burn or more specifically, melt rapidly which is why they must be chemically treated if used in children’s Pjs. Acrylic does not take even a moderate amount of heat before burning and melting. A good argument for not crafting with these felts in the Saharan desert with a magnifying glass or while attempting to break the world record for most cigarettes smoked before vomiting.
When assessing enviormental impact you have to ask not only where did it come from before but what will happen to it after. Even if you intend to keep your pieces forever the scraps still have to go someplace. While acrylics are very durable, like all plastics are they degrade very slowly and acrylic felt is comparable to all plastics in its impact on the environment since the manufacturing of plastics often creates large quantities of chemical pollutants. Bummer I know.
Acrylic is technically recyclable but only if available in your area and that is if you’re willing to disassemble your pieces and scraps from other fibers and those in charge of your recycling program don’t mistake your felt for fabric, so basically the recycling thing is more of a theory. Don’t get me wrong I totally think we should recycle this plastic but I think they should be made into something more useful and long lasting than most people’s craft project, and the idea that this is somehow better for the enviroment than sheeps wool is far from truthful.
Acrylic can be glued and sewn, and melted … although this is not a crafting technique I have ever heard of. You cannot needle felt* or wet felt with acrylic.
(* note one commentor says that you can in fact needle felt acrylic)
Many people avoid acrylics/ eco-spun because they are made of plastic. They are not dye able and are often see through. They will fuzz and pill easily. When used in wearable’s they are often referred to as itchy and irritating because they do not “breathe” allowing for air flow and the plastic itself can irritate skin, well that and they are often see through and shiny when exposed to light which could also be very irritating! In synopsis; unless you are looking for something shiny, itchy and see through…you know… thats not lace, I would not recommend doing any “keeper” projects with acrylic also acrylic is not the most environmentally friendly option, yes even the eco-stuff but you know if you hate the planet be my guest…I am kidding of course.
A legal disclaimer: In the interest of full disclosure I am not a fan of acrylic felts never have been never will be that’s why we don’t sell them on our website, also I don’t like grapefruit, am incredibly competitive…I like to make mini competitions in my mind without telling others and I win almost every time and yes I am a good sport, I almost never perform a victory dance, also have been told I walk like a duck, in a cute way…yeah I don’t know what that means either…