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What have we got here or bonfire of the antiquities – How to tell what kind of felt you have.

9 May

So you just got a great deal on felt sheets from a tag sale and you want to know how good a deal you actually got.

Is it wool, acrylic, or blend?

felttypes2

 If you can’t tell by looking or your just ridiculously optimistic. There is a simple way to find this out called the burn test, and yes this is dangerous and no I didn’t make this up so I can set stuff on fire.

OK,  when I say dangerous you should know it’s not,  jumping 12 buses on a motorcycle dangerous, but it’s definitely cutting onions dangerous. And I know it seems like I have an obsession with setting felt on fire, let me assure you this is NOT the case.

 

First things first you’re going to need a small sample of your material your willing to part with, a plate or pot and a long match or lighter used for lighting BBQ’s, if you don’t have that I’d suggest tongs and whatever you do have. Basically get yourself setup like Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, (the scientist from the muppetts.) you don’t want to be too close to the felt when you light it up since plastic felts (acrylic and eco-felt) will melt and trust me you don’t want that to drip onto your hand.

Drum roll please….. now carefully set your sample ablaze…

fireEco

Does it emit black smoke, smell like a Tupperware top on your dishwashers heating element and form a hard ball at the end, that’s eco- felt (sold under the names eco-fi and eco-spun) or acrylic.

 Your felt is made of plastic these felts usually retail form about $0.25  a 9x 12 sheet, usually less when bought in yardage.

fireblend

 Does it form a soft gray ash? With no real smoke or plastic smell.

That’s most likely a blend, these retail for anywhere from $0.75   to $3.50 a 9 x 12 sheet, again less in yardages.

lovefeltfirewool

If you have a difficult time keeping it lit and it turns into a fine ash that practically disappears when you touch it. Hallelujah you have wool!! Commence victory dance…Keep in mind that the high wool ratio blends will be hard to distinguish from 100% wool since the burn test reflects the main composition of the felt, but regardless you have some very nice felt on your hands. Prices in wool vary widely by thickness, quality type of dying process and country of origin so giving you an esitmate on it would be impossible.

There’s got to be another way! I can’t bear to burn my precious felt!

What you don’t want to go around yard sales with a pair of tongs and a lighter turning peoples felt sheets into mini bonfires… fine … here’s another easy, although less accurate trick. If the sheets are a little shiny and slide across each other easily they are likely acrylic although some blends may be a tad shiny as well and both may sometimes show no shine at all.

Blends are often cut and put under things like lamps and display pieces precisely because they will not slip easily, the same is true for wool, so if it helt there must be wool in your felt (actually this isn’t 100% but it’s as much info as your going to get without a match.)

I know much less fun than the fire thing huh?

Happy Crafting! And yes I know helt isn’t a word, it was a tough rhyme cut me some slack!

Andie

Felt Smackdown, 4 felts will go in only one can emerge victorious!

4 Apr
felttypes3
The number one question I am asked is, what is the difference between types of felt although I go into this in detail on the Posts Whats the diffrence 1 wool , 2 Acrylic and eco-spun & 3 wool felt blends, sometimes you just need a basic visual reference. With that I proudly present the moment you’ve waited 3 posts for…  the Felt Smack-down a grudge match in which 4 felts will be tested but who will come out on top? Insert theme from Rocky here….

These felts will be put through the 6 tests and a winner will be declared after each round.  But first the details;  Each felt square will be cut into a 5×7 squares, both the wool and wool blend are from American Felt and Craft and the acrylic and eco-spun (now called eco-fi) are from my local craft store.

Challenge #1 Appearance

felttypes2

OK well this one is tough since it’s largely dependant on what your looking for personally I love the bouncy loft of the 100% wool but you can declare your own winner….

Challenge #2 Transparency

feltbackround

This is a very basic challenge each felt will be placed on the above scrap booking paper to see the level of transparency.
Acrylic $0.25

Acrylic $0.25

Eco-Felt $0.30

Eco-Felt $0.30

 

Wool/Rayon Blend $0.75

Wool/Rayon Blend $0.75

Wool 5.00

Wool $5.00

Winner: Wool Blend  with 100% Wool in a close second.

Challenge #3 Stitching

Each of the felts were cut into smaller strips and machine sewn together (wool to wool and so on) with red thread, I gave them 1 good  tug and here are the results.

acrylicsewn

ecosewn Blendsewn

 woolsewn

When I placed the sewn pieces down I noticed that the act of yanking them distorted some more than others so I thought I’d show you that too.

matchupsewn

Winner: Tie Wool’s loft almost completely hides the stitches but blend holds a nicer looking seam and wasn’t easily pulled out of shape as much as wool.

Challenge #4 Fuzz Factor

Each of the felts was cut into a free hand circle I then pinched along the edges to see how much fuzz each felt produced:

felt

I also wanted to see how much fuzz was produced with normal usages, I am nothing if not though, so I cut apart my stitched felt (which is why the sample pieces are a bit wonky) and placed a clear return address sticker onto each piece of felt smoothed it down and removed it VIOLA!

 fuzzacrylicfuzzecofeltfuzzblendfuzzwool

Winner: Blend    Second Place:  Wool     Voted most likely a waste of money: Acrylic, seriously it almost has a hole in it at this point!

 Challenge #5 Shrinkage

For this test I threw my 5×7 inch sheets from challenges 1 & 2 into the washer with a few pairs of jeans for agitation and washed them on warm, which here in Arizona means scalding hot, basically the worst conditions for felt.

 ShrinktestacrylicShrinktestecoShrinktestblendShrinktestwool

Winner: Eco-felt Second Place: Acrylic

Challenge #6 The moment you’ve all be waiting for…FIRE!

For this challenge I took a small swatch of each felt equal in size and lit them on fire waited 10 seconds and took a picture of what was left,  in some cases the flame just kind of died out on it’s own but only the acrylic had to be put out before 10 seconds.  All tests were conducted outdoors in a well ventilated area, don’t try this at home.

As silly as this test seems it’s actually a serious matter. If you intend to attach your felt to clothing or make toys that a child might sleep with melting plastics can cause serious burns. Because fire can be extinguished but melted plastic actually sticks to and continues to burn into the skin, melted plastics are far more dangerous in a fire.

fireacrylic

The Acrylic did not self extinguish and created a thick black smoke as it melted,  giving off drips of plastic. It burned surprisingly rapidly and frankly between the smoke and the quick burning I got a little nervous and blew it out, so this is it after about 5 seconds. It left behind hard plastic globules (I have always wanted to use that word).

fireEcoThe Eco-felt was a little bit of a slower starter which was surprising considering it’s composition is identical to acrylic I can only assume it was treated with some kind of chemical however once it was ignited it melted very rapidly and created the same signature black smoke. Burnt areas once cool enough to touch (about a full minute after burning) were hard solid plastic masses.

fireblend

The blend felt did not create any real smoke to speak of and self extinguished almost immediately in fact the only time it seemed to want to burn is when direct flame as applied. The burnt areas created a soft grey ash which when touched fell into dust.

firewool

As odd as it sounds I couldn’t actually get the wool to burn at all. I held the lighter to the wool the entire time and this was all I was able to accomplish, there was no smoke although there was a faint smell of burning hair although nothing like the smell of human hair and what I did manage to burn created a soft ash which fell to dust on contact.

  Winner: Wool  Second: Blend

Well there it is, I welcome your questions, comments, or suggestions.

lovefelt

 

Wool Felt Blends- part 3 of Whats the difference between wool, acrylic, wool blend, and eco felt?

3 Apr

acrylic wool eco blend felt

AFC wool felt rainbow

Meet me in the middle, part 3 of whats the diffrence.

In this post we’ll look at Wool/Rayon felt blends, please see my other post on wool felt and Acrylic/eco-felt , or for a more simplistic match up check out Felt Smackdown.

Wool Felt Blends

Wool felt blends are blends of wool felt and another material most often rayon. Rayon is made from wood pulp a naturally occurring polymer. It can be manufactured to look like a number of different fabrics in this case wool. Rayon’s properties are similar to cotton or linen and it is the obvious choice for blends because it’s blends with other fabrics easily and in the case of wool it removes the “itch” factor and provides an added softness.

Wear and Care

Wool blend felt wears in a similar way to wool in that it holds up well to wear and stress it does however pill after friction is applied.  Generally this is not a problem in any normal situation as it takes a great deal of friction to cause this, in which case I do not want to know what you are using this felt for. Oh who are we kidding yes I do.  Wool blend felt has a very nominal amount of elasticity and will not be pulled out of shape as easily as wool.  The addition of rayon to the wool does not affect dyeabity at all allowing the felt to achieve very vivid colors. Rayon generally speaking is not damaged by bleaches, although it will alter the fabrics color.  Unlike 100% wool, rayon does not build up a static charge so when blended together the felt will not hold a charge. Rayon blend felt is soft and quite comfortable on the skin. The blended felt will wrinkle but will easily flatten out with time or the application of a low temperature iron. The blends generally resist insect damage and retain the mildew resistant qualities of wool so if you live in the wettest most bug infested place in the world (see Florida) your still in good shape with a blend. However only a moderate amount of water resistance is retained so you’ll want to wipe up spills as soon as possible. Blends generally wash well if washed correctly and spots are easily removed.

Safety and environmental impact

Rayon/ Wool blends retain a good amount of the fire resistant qualities of wool and when it does catch flame it generally burns out. Wool felt blends must contain a minimum of 20% wool in order to be felted without chemical processes this gives wool felt blends similar anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic properties but in a lesser amounts than 100% wool.  Since rayon is made from wood pulp a relatively inexpensive and renewable resource it can be considered a more environmentally friendly option than acrylic/ eco felts.

happysheep

Usages

Blends can be sewn, needle felted, glued and molded.

DisadvantagesAFC felt stack

Rayon blends will shrink, although slightly less than wool. And when cut into shapes less than 1/3 of an inch they will come apart when strongly pulled however this effect is somewhat lessened when the wool percentage is higher. All in all Rayon blends span the vast chasm between wool and acrylic felts.

Now that your a felt expert why not put all that knowledge up to good use in Felt Smackdown. Of course if you missed part 1 or 2 you can go back and catch up.

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
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