Last week I happened upon the mother-load of wool sweaters at my local thrift store - only $1 per piece! I'm always hunting for 100% wool for felting, but it's sort of hard to come by these days, so I definitely felt like I hit the jackpot last week!! I love felted wool, but haven't done a ton with it. So this last week, I spent the day over at my mother in-laws felting all my wool finds from the thrift store (she has a super-awesome washer and dryer).
Felting wool is very simple. In order for the wool to felt, you need 100% wool (or close to it). If the sweater or garment has acrylic in it, it will not felt. Additionally, most natural animal fibers will felt well - try searching for alpaca, mohair, cashmere, just to name a few. Check the garment label for fiber composition.
Felting is caused by heat agitation and can take a regular knitted sweater and turn it into a solid piece of wool felt - very cool! So here's how The Cottage Mama felts wool........
Gather your wool for felting. As you can see here, I have many different pieces - sweaters, pants, blankets, blazers, skirts, ect......you can felt just about anything as long as it is 100% wool, natural animal fibers, or a combination of the two.
Place your wool for felting into you washing machine. You may want to put your wool inside a delicate washing bag or a zippered pillowcase as it does tend to produce a lot of lint. It's up to you.
I set my mother-in-laws washing machine on "sanitary" because that is the highest temperature and longest agitation. Set your washing machine to the highest temp. setting - extra hot/cold or hot/cold for the longest length of time. I do not add soap.
After the wool has cycled through the washing machine, place it in the dryer and dry the wool on the hottest setting possible. Generally this is the cotton setting.
Once dry, remove from the dryer and see if the felting is to your liking. Felting has occurred if your garments have shrunk a considerable amount and the stitching is less noticeable. On some garments you will not be able to see the stitching at all and on others it will just be less noticeable. Some items will felt better than others. You can always run your wool through another washing and drying cycle if you aren't satisfied with the felting on the first try.
The sweater above is one that felted really well. This started out as an x-large woman's sweater, but once felted, you can no longer see the individual knitting stitches and it would not even fit my 2-year old. Felted sweaters tend to get thicker and a bit more stiff after felting as well.
Once wool is felted, it becomes an entirely different piece of material to work with. I almost equate it to working with fleece (but much cooler). As you probably know, fleece will not fray on the raw edges so you don't really need to hem garments or worry about finish edges. Wool felt is the same way - once felted, the fibers are bonded together and will rarely fray.
This weekend we had some fall fun at the pumpkin patch and I made my daughter, Savannah Rose, a felted wool sweater coat to keep her toasty in the cool autumn air. This sweater coat was made entirely from thrift store items - total coat $4.00! Here is the design I came up with.....
For this sweater coat, I used three different wool sweaters and one piece of felted wool suiting. I left the bottom edge of the coat and the sleeves unfinished.
The back panel was the piece of felted wool suiting. I cut leaves out of the other three sweaters and stitched them onto the back. I used a straight stitch around each leave. I also cut two elbow patches and stitched them with a straight-stitch as well.
For the front button closure, I simply cut a slit into the wool flap - no button hole! I added some basic embroidery stitching and finished it off with a little mushroom button.
I cut a peter-pan collar from the wool suiting and left all of the edges raw.
I added some simple embroidery stitches onto some of the sweater leaves as well.
I love the earthiness of this coat - perfect for fall!
It was a gorgeous fall weekend. This is definitely my favorite time of year in the Midwest.
Sometimes it just feels so good to scoop up those fall leaves and throw them all over your head!
I think Miss Savannah likes the little fall coat her mama made for her!
Cottage Mama's Note: Stay tuned for a felted wool project tutorial coming later this week!Pin It