Tag Archives: felting

Wool felt questions Part 3: The difference between wool felt and felted wool.

25 Aug

If you’ve just joined us it may benefit you to know we are on part 3 of our 5 part series covering the most common questions about wool felt, so far we’ve seen aflow chart, solved a mystery and today we witness a MURDER… bum bum bum!

Question 3:   What’s the difference between felted wool and wool felt?

Felt (a noun) is created by agitating fibers either by using barbed needles or by getting the fibers wet and tangling them into each other to make a nonwoven felt fabric. Non woven fabrics including felt are awesome because they require no seams and are as user friendly as a fabric can get.

Wool Felt begins the felting process as wool roving or batting. Felted wool starts the process as a wool or wool blend woven fabric.

To make something “felt” (a verb) or “felted” (an adjective) implies washing a pre-woven, or knitted, wool or wool blend fabric in hot water to agitate it and force the fibers to lock making it impossible to untangle or loosen the fibers. Felting the wool fibers will make them contract and give you a  thicker fabric than what you started with as well as a bubbly texture.

To make this even more clear I have volunteered my husbands dress pants for this assignment*

Dressedin WoolSuit Pants 2006 – 2011 –

 These amazing wool slacks lived an wonderful long life. Ahh the good times, here they are in all their pin-stripy glory, so full of hopes and dreams.

Rest in Projects, my wooly friend!According to their owner Pants assisted in many aspects of business. Without Pants many deals simply would not have been made! In a world filled with Saggy Pants, Skinny Jeans and Culottes, Mr. Pants stood out from the crowd, a beacon of professionalism in a seemingly increasingly ill fitting world. The Pants spirit will live on in the lives of felted wool items for years to come.

Warning the following are actual pictures of a crime against wool taking place you may wish to avert your eyes.

Pants murder

Actual Crime Scene Photos.

As you can see from these photos Pants put up quite a fight, but in the end he was no match for hot water and Tide with bleach alternative.

Here’s a 9″ x 12″ sheet I cut after the felting process was complete, as you can see the felted wool still frays easily this could be because of a low wool content or  they could use another trip or two through the wash cycle to really get the fibers to lock. 

The difference between wool felt and felted wool.

Your felted wool results may vary based on the way the material was woven, wool content, or water temperature.
Most felted wools will not fray along the edges, and felted items have a beautiful thick bubbly texture to them.
This texture is the main reason to “felt” an object rather than just starting with felt.

Sure felt snobs will argue that felted wool is not a true felt because it started out it’s life as a woven fabric rather than as wool roving or batting. But since I am the only felt freak you’re ever likely to meet  you have my permission to call it whatever you like.

On a related note, I finally got around to making that felt bird!

wool Felt bird

Thanks Pants!

* No actual usable pants were harmed in the making of this blog post. 

~Andie

All your wool felt questions answered* Part 1

18 Aug

*Provided you have less than 5 questions about wool felt fabrics and that they are the same questions I will be answering.

I get emails nearly everyday asking some basic questions about felt fabrics. I thought I would re-post the top 5. Of course if your question isn’t here email me at customerservice@feltandcraft.com and I’d be happy to help any way I can.  So here we go with…

Question 1:  

Which kind of felt fabric is best for my project? Acrylic felt, Wool Blend Felt, or 100% wool felt?

That depends on many factors however 75% of the time my answer is wool blend felt. Wool blend felt combines the beauty and durability of 100% wool felt fabric with the lower price point of an acrylic. I actually find that the wool rayon blend felts are nicer to work with in small sculpture (felt food, stuffies. plushies etc.) compared to 100% wool felt, since it moves and drapes into shape beautifully. If you follow this blog at all you probably know my feelings about Acrylic felt. In short I think it is horrible!!

For more specifics on which felt to use see the Felt Smack down where in I discuss all the ins and out and light stuff on fire too!

Still stuck? Have no fear for I have created this handy flow chart:

What kind of felt should I use

~ Andie


Jelly Beans!

30 Jan

What is it that makes Jelly Beans so exciting? It could be that every bean is a new taste sensation sure to be delicious (except of course the nasty black jelly beans and the slightly mouthwashy green ones), or their bright colors heralding in spring and warm weather days, maybe it’s because they are only available once a year. No matter what the reason I always feel a little giddy when I see them roll out the first bags of beans at my local stores.  What little felt food play store would be complete without a few boxes this Easter?

For this project you will need:

Colored roving: I used both sets in our mini packs (brights and pastels).  About 6″ of roving per bean.

Dish soap

9″ x 6″ piece of felt in color  you’d like your box, I used honeydew and matching thread

White felt scrap – 1.5″ X 3″

Thin Clear Vinyl– 3x 3 square

Cross stitch thread

Sewing and embroidery needles

Scissors

Rattle insert (optional)

Templates at the end of this post.

Making the beans:

You will need to make your jelly beans and allow them to dry before the next few steps, fortunately the jelly beans dry quickly (an hour or two) and if you have some little ones around you can easily whip up a whole slew of beans in less than an hour.

To make these jelly beans you will need to wet felt them, ok breathe…don’t panic, it’s easy I swear! How easy, allow my adorable 4-year-old daughter to demonstrate:

Here is a more detailed run down.

Step 1:

Pull off the amount of roving you need from the rest (about 6″ long ). Pull into a thin strand. Starting at one end roll upwards (it may help to have slightly damp fingers) wrap around and over to create a ball shape.

Your felted piece will be approximately 50% smaller than this so you want your roving ball to be about the size of a large gum ball or quarter.

Step 2:

Once you have a reasonable facsimile of a ball shape you will need to begin the felting process. This is done by agitating and shocking your wool. If you have ever been a teenager you should be well versed in shocking and agitating. Begin by gently dunking your ball into a bowl of warm water add a small drop (almost a half a drop) of hand dish washing liquid to the top of your ball. Gently move the ball from one hand to another squishing it ever so slightly. Dunk in cool water and squish and then warm water. Lightly rub the wool so the wool catches on itself.

DO NOT roll  between your hands yet, if you do this the fibers will come apart and you will end up with a very unsightly shape.  Continue cradle and lightly squish your soon to be jelly bean from one hand to another for about 30 seconds to 1 minute better to overdo than underdo. You will need to be gentle to prevent your roving from coming apart, my daughter likes to pretend that the ball is an egg. I think that’s a good way of thinking about the level of stress you want to put on your piece at this point.

Step 3:

There! You’ve finished the hard part now to finish the jelly beans. making by rolling in between your hands moving the piece from warm to cool water to help shock the wool into place. You should begin to feel your piece firming up. While it still has some give to it roll between your palms in one direction to create more of an oval shape.

Step 4:

From here you want to manipulate into a  bean shape you can do this many different ways. Working it so that one end is thinner than the other, by thinning out the middle or by pressing a finger into the center while pulling the ends upwards. Experiment and see which method works best for you.

Lay out to dry and repeat as desired.

Making the Jelly Bean Box

Step 1:

Cut out template pieces

Cut 2 of each A, B and C from the color felt you have chosen for your box.

Cut the jelly bean shape out of only 1 of your A pieces.

Step 2:

Place your vinyl piece over the window area and stitch down using a running stitch.

Step 3:

Trace out the letters for Jelly Beans onto your white felt scrap insuring that they will fit on the front of your finished box. Using cross stitching thread and whatever style stitch you like , stitch the letters into place.

Cut around the letters to create a more fun feel.

Stitch label into place.

Step 4:

Assemble the box by adding one side piece (B) to the side of your completed front and overcast stitch up the side.

Continue with the other side piece.

Add back to the box by stitching side pieces (B) to back (A).

Stand box on it’s head and stitch the bottom piece (C) in place using the overcast stitch.

‘Before continuing you will need to decide if you plan on having an open jelly bean box or a closed one.

If you plan on using a rattle insert place, box front side down and add your jelly beans until nearly full, slip the rattle into the back so it isn’t visible and adjust jelly beans if needed. Place box right side up again and add top the same way you added the bottom.

To make an open box start attaching your top from where you want the opening to begin, stitch around until you reach the matching point on the other side. Continue your overcast stitch around the unfinished edges to create more of a polished look.  Enjoy!

Templates

Copyright American Felt and Craft for personal use only.

Don't forget our great Easter collection pattern available now for a limited time only!

Felt Food 101 – Lesson 3 Needles, How to make felt food.

8 Jun

felt food how to fall veggies

Please stop into our store sometime and take a look around. And as always if you have any questions I am just an email away and I’m happy to share my knowledge and a few of my favorite patterns with you!

Felt Food 101 – Lesson 3 Needles:

needlesAFC

Differences in sewing needles:

There are a ton of different needles out there so I just thought I would take a minute to cover the bases. The first and most important thing to note about needles is that they are all sized in the same manner. The smaller the number the longer and thicker the needle.  I agree that this is misleading and annoying, and yes I think they do it that way just to mess with people.

smallerlargerNeedles are sized in numbers from 1-12, guess which is the smallest? If you guessed 12 then your obviously a quick study, a cheater or you already know a little about needles. If you guessed 1..see I told you it’s really annoying.  Now that you know a thing or two about sizing lets get down to the knitty grittyfudgedesserts

Types of Needles

130x13-SharpsNeedlesSharps– These are you everyday standard needle. When one refers to a sewing needle chances are this is what they are referring to.  These are your standard Joe sixpack  needle, their tips are sharp (some needles aren’t so don’t make that face at me!) and they are middle of the road on length. Available in sizes 1-12

150x6-MillinersNeedleMilliners Needles– These are very long needles sometimes called Straw needles they most often used to make pleats, sew  ribbon embroidery and embellish hats, hence the name.  They are usually available in sizes 3 to 12.

150x8-EmbroideryNeedle Embrodiery Needles(s0me people call them crewel but I find them to perfectly lovely and very likable…sorry couldn’t help myself there) These needle have the same sharp tip but are a bit longer since the eye of the needle is longer to accommodate thicker threads. Available in sizes 1-10

beadingneedlefeltfoodBeading Needles– beading needles are the needle you should use when, you guessed it placing beads onto fabrics, the eye of these needles are skinny (we should all be so lucky) to accommodate beads sliding over them without getting caught. In sizes 10 – 15

feltfood101Quilting-BetweenQuilters needles or betweens– Since these little babies are used for hand quilting you’d think they’d be the perfect choice for hand sewing felt, you’d be wrong. They are very short and thin, making them easily lost in thick felt and can feel a little clumsy in the hand when working with tough material. They are however great for making very even small stitches. They are usually only available in sizes 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 (medium short to Danny Divto short, love ya Danny!)

DarnerNeedleAFCDarning Needles, sometimes called Darners- A Darning needle is a larger big eyed blunt tip needle. The larger sizes are often used in wool work however for felt food purpose’s a sharp or embroidery is probably your best option.

150x8-EmbroideryNeedleDoll Needles– If Quilters are the Danny Divito of the sewing needle world doll needles are the Arnold Schwarzenegger of needles. (Twins was on a lot when I was growing up) While like any needle they will vary in length and thickness they are usually long strong needles, useful for sewing through very thick felt food, such as felt Pumpkins, apples etc…

* I am not getting into the felting needle in this post since they aren’t used for sewing.

Gee thanks but I just want to know what to buy!

Just plain old sewing needles will do just fine when sewing felt food i.e Sharps.  I however like to use embroidery needles because I am a rebel and because they are a bit longer and easier to thread plus if I decide to do any embroidery onto my project I don’t have to dig out another needle. I find that for sewing felt you’ll want a thicker longer needle, I have actually bent one or two of the smaller sharp needles. I would use anything from a 3 to a 6 (remember the smaller the number the larger the needle) You will want to avoid too thick of a needle since it can leave a noticeable entry hole in your felt, although these will disappear after time or you can just gently rub at the surrounding felt and it will usually blend in better. I also use  a doll needle for sewing into thick objects and beading needles for you guessed it, beading!

Can I sew felt food with a sewing machine?

Nothing beats the easy and versatility of hand sewing when working with something small or thick however you can also use a sewing machine for most of your sewing applications involving felt food, this is very nice if you’re making a lot of something. The Majority of the time I think just loading the bobbin and thread takes more time than hand sewing and hand sewing seems to add a charming personal touch and can be done while watching re-runs of Bewitched because your BFF thinks the Tony’s are dumb, yeah I am talking to you Amelia! When using a machine there will be draping and curving issues that are unworkable since most machines are really limited in the kinds if stitches they can create.  Another downside to using a machine is that if you should make a mistake the stitches can be hard to remove and since you can no longer use cross stitch threads finding the right color of thread and then winding a matching bobbin can be a nightmare.

If you are looking to buy a sewing machine I would highly recommend talking to friends and family to see what they like to use. My favorite resource in this area is the sewing machine repair shop, these are usually listed in the phone book as sew and vacs, a good place will be able to give you some tips on what’s good, what’s not, what needs the most repair and maintenance and most importantly what costs the most to maintain. 99 % of the time they will also sell used machines, and generally offer a guarantee. You can also try Craig’s list or eBay although the cost of shipping can be prohibitive and it’s hard to know if something is in good working order until it’s too late.

Last Week : Thread              Next week:  Putting it all together, stitching and glues

Another Reason Felt Rocks!

4 Jun

feltRocks

How many times have you wished your kids had SAFE rocks to play with? Never? Well me neither but you should still check these out! These are actually made from wool felt, no kidding how cool are they?

They are part of the exhibit Fashioning Felt at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and are available for purchase from Molo design.

Can’t justify the whopping $240 price tag on these babies, make some of your own with our Felt Rocks! Tutorial. 

A perfect project for those who have never wet felted before and a great clean but messy project for the kids! Make few small ones for kid friendly coffee table decor and a sure fire conversation piece or throw a rattle in a big one for a baby toy Bam Bam would be proud to own! You could turn it into a learning activity by arranging the rocks from largest to smallest or Group the rocks by color or felt with lots of color layers and cut apart to learn how rocks are formed.happysheep

Happy Crafting!

feltrocks!

Felt Rocks! Tutorial.

4 Jun

AFCfeltrocks2!

This a perfect project for beginning wet felters and kids since you can’t mess up a rock!

AFCfeltrocks3!

You will need:

Roving in your choice of rock like colors or just plain fun colors our site boasts over 70 colors so take a look around but we used:

Greyrovingeye

Hot Lips

Dish Soap

Legacy 100% wool stuffing

A sink, kiddie pool, bathtub or even big bowls filled with very warm water and a drop or two of handwashing dish soap just enough that your water feels slippery between your fingers.

(optional) rattle or bell-  what could be more  fun than a rattling rock for your little cave baby?

Your little ones are sure to get soapy so dress accordingly

feltrocksstep1!

Step 1

Create a core for your rock using a handful of wool stuffing, pull off thin a piece of your roving and lay core on top. Place another thin layer of roving and roll up in the opposite direction.  Roll as you would a ball of yarn, changing direction and tucking in corners. Sometimes it helps to have slightly moist hands. Don’t worry if it’s not right you can always unroll and re-roll if needed. Place rattle in center of your core if you are using one, they are water tight so just throw them on in, you will want to keep your rock on the smaller side,  4 inches or less, so rattle sound will still be clear.  Your finished rock will be about two thirds the size of this looser form.  If you want to make your rock larger you can add more colored roving to outside, or start with a larger core.

feltrocksstep2

feltrocksstep2streaks

If you want to add streaks of another color to the outside, pull of wisps of streak colors and wrap around outside.

Step 2

feltrocksstep3

 Saturate your “rock” with water by gently submerge in water, you may want to cradle it in the palm of your hand since the wool will want to drift apart, especially if you didn’t roll tightly enough. Hold rock underwater until no more bubbles surface.

Step 3

Pass rock from one hand to another, carefully as if it is an egg, this will help toughen the wool rock and keep it from coming apart. This is the hardest part of wet felting and it’s really not that hard. After about 20 or so passes you will notice your rock will appear less stringy and more solid. This will take a few minutes and you’ll know your done when your wool feels more firm and looks more secure.

feltrocksstep5

Step 4

Keep rolling, squeezing between you hands, you do not have to treat it as delicately as before. Try to  keep your rock very wet and a little soapy.  As it felts, the wool will shrink and become firmer, and you can become more aggressive with it.

This firming will happen naturally if you try to speed the process your felt will buckle and create a kind of wrinkled look but your making rocks so that might be what you want, I did this with the round flat rock and I think it makes the rock look more realistic (on the bottom right hand side of the picture below.)

While felting try to keep your water warm, the warmer the water the faster your rocks will felt. Some people swear that dipping your ball from warm water into cold and back again speeds up the felting process, this just annoys me leave me with more dishes to clean so I just use the one bowl. Keep working it until you can’t separate the fibers from the surface of your “rock” anymore. Rinse soap from wool, a final rinse in vinegar water will return a woolly texture and feel to the outside.

While still wet you can manipulate your rock to flatter or more jagged looking forms, work it with your hands, bang it on the corner of a counter or on the concrete outside to make it flatter, use your imagination. You can also place your “rocks” in the dryer on high to felt them further although this does tend to round them out a bit!

feltrocks!

Have fun and send pictures!

Andie

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