Acrylic felt & eco- felt (I.E eco spun) same damn thing! Part 2 of whats the difference between wool, acrylic, wool blend, and eco felt?

1 Apr

felttypes2

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.

acylicfelt

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.

Usages

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)

ecosupcut

Disadvantages

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…

lovefelt

You read all that? Congratulations you may now proceed to wool/rayon felt blends or backtrack to wool felt

14 Responses to “Acrylic felt & eco- felt (I.E eco spun) same damn thing! Part 2 of whats the difference between wool, acrylic, wool blend, and eco felt?”

  1. danielle Smyth August 26, 2009 at 6:58 am #

    Man I hate acrylic felt – good, honest posting!

  2. rowan - frankideas February 20, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

    at last some honest statements about “eco” felt. Thank you for your wonderful blog!

  3. D HARDY March 1, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    YESSSSSS

  4. Lin August 15, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    Just wanted to let you know that you can needle felt on acrylic felt, I do it all the time. It’s not as good as wool but it does work. hope this is of help to you.

    Happy Crafting

    Lin

  5. Tami August 22, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    I use wool felt and wool blends for almost everything felt. I like the texture, the feel and the weight of it. I even love the way it feels when my scissors cut through it (sick, I know..). However, I like to put felt on some baby onesies and I like the eco felt for that purpose because does not shrink or fade. They are used on the outside of the onesies and not against the skin. I notice Gymboree uses felt on some infant clothing…wonder what type of felt? Thank you for these comparisions!

    • AmericanFeltandCraft August 23, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

      I believe Gymboree uses a high quality polyester blend felt, which if your going to use synthetics, will give you the best results. As I am sure you saw with the testing acrylics really ball up in the wash and become easily misshapen. I have made my kids tee shirts using the rayon blend felt, I just pre-wash and I find that once stitched in place it really won’t shrink anymore. Hopefully I can do a tutorial on this for you guys really soon!

  6. Suzanne December 12, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    Lol great post! Just saw some Eco felt on some baby clothes yesterday and was intrigued. Ty for the info and giggles!

  7. linda June 9, 2011 at 6:03 am #

    in indonesia,, there’s only 1 type of felt. it’s acrylics😦 so i don’t have any option. but it’s cool.. i still can use acrylic felt to create a lot of dolls.. ehehehe .

  8. kirsten August 3, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    I really appreciate the info, I’m learning all sorts of wonderful things about felt! If you’re looking at wool blends, does it matter what it is blended with…rayon or viscose? Or the ratios, 20-35%?

    • AmericanFeltandCraft August 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

      Kristen,
      Felt is awesome! Such a fun material to work with!
      As for your question rayon and viscose are the same thing, When talking about blends the ratio of wool does matter to some extent although the real difference between a 20 and 35% is not really noticeable. In my experience the higher wool contents (40 +) tend to be a bit stiffer and coarse , also since the bulky fibers only fold in so far they create a little more of an even gather. The high wool content tends to be less transparent but I am not sure that anyone not working with felt all the time would notice that. Yep I’m a felt nerd!
      ~Andie

  9. Mandana Tarr September 5, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Can someone please tell me the best cutting tool for felt? I already have some Eco fi that I want to use, but thanks to your articles, I will probably buy some blend since I don’t want the fizziness and fall-apart qualities that seem to plague the Eco. Thanks!

    • AmericanFeltandCraft September 7, 2011 at 10:53 am #

      I use fiskars spring loaded razor edged scissors not only do they cut through felt like a dream but their spring loaded action does 1/2 the work, I have also use a guillotine chopper and I have it on good authority that sizzix die cutting systems will cut through even 100% wool felt. Anyone else have some tips?
      Andie

  10. Tina December 8, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Thank you so much for this informative post. I spent $65 on felt food that was made with eco-fi and ended up trashing it😦 I want to make my girls some felt food for Christmas and am debating between a wool blend and 100% wool. The blend is certainly more affordable, but I want something that will last and not pill… shoud I suck up the cost and go with 100% wool or will the wool blend do the trick?

    • AmericanFeltandCraft December 8, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

      Tina,
      Go with wool blend. It’s far more cost effective and it comes in a million colors way more than acrylic or wool! As far as it’s durability my children’s felt food was made with blend and 5 years in it still looks excellent. The wool blend felt we sell at American Felt and Craft is blended with rayon which only makes it more durable and less likely to pill. We offer 140 colors of wool and wool blend felt and if you join the email list there should be a coupon.
      Andie

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