Felted wool or wool felt? What are the differences in these and can you use them both interchangeably? How do you go about felting wool? These are a few of the things I’ll cover here today before revealing my block for July.
First, the difference. 100% wool that is felted is a woven textile. It is made when the wool roving is spun into thread and then the threads are woven into the piece of cloth. To turn it into felted wool, it them must be washed in hot water and dried at a high heat. The thickness and weave among these cloths can vary so you get primitive or rustic feel to a project. This wool looks the best when it is hand stitched and is the more expensive of the two.
Wool felt is also 100% wool but it is not a woven textile. It starts with wool roving just like the felted wool but instead of spinning it into thread, the roving is “bonded” by a process that includes heat and moisture and agitation. This causes the roving to matt together tightly to make wool felt. This wool is less expensive than felted wool. It tends to be more “uniform” looking but it’s still 100% wool! It’s less rustic looking when appliqued because there is usually no fraying. This wool also looks just as good whether it is machine or hand stitched.
So, can you use them both in the same project? Of course you can! Some stitchers like to use all felted wool where others will use felted wool for the large pieces and mix in wool felt for smaller accents or vice versa. I have been known to use a large piece of wool felt for a background and then my applique motif is felted wool. It’s all based on your preferences! Wool felt is not as soft and as felted wool, so a project with a lot of wool felt will feel a little stiffer. But, if it’s a wall hanging, that’s not a big deal.
Felting Wool. Have you ever been to the thrift store and found a sweater, skirt or other wool item in a beautiful color and thought “I’d like to use that in a project?”. Well, you can! You can “felt” wool in your washing machine at home. It’s a process that takes time and practice, but you can do it. Here are the steps:
- Use a hot water wash/cold rinse setting on your washer. You’ll want to keep darks and lights separate, just like normal laundry.
- You can put the wool into an old pillowcase and tie it closed to avoid getting a washer full of wool threads.
- Add in some old towels or jeans to increase the friction during the agitation cycle. *Some people stop here and air dry their wool. They will repeat the washing cycle as many times as needed.*
- Next put the wool in a hot dryer to continue the felting process. Each piece of wool can felt differently. Repeat the wash and dry regimen as needed to get the consistency you like.
- Be sure to check each piece of wool through the felting process in the washer (and dryer if you use that step) because if it felts too much and becomes too dense, it can be ruined.
- Once the wool is dry, you can cut it into the pieces you want.
2019 BOM Block 7
Not really a block because it’s the long side panel of our wall hanging. This panel is a celebration of full on summer when the flower pots you planted in May are bursting with color!
Looks like fun, huh? With this block, we’re over half way done! The year is flying by and before you know it we will be putting the whole project together.
Here are the instructions for this block: 2019 BOM Block 7
There will be a limited amount of wool only kits in my store beginning at 5pm central time on Monday, July 15th. The cost will be $17.00 each.
Eleanor from RI says
I was told to do this to felt wool—–Bring water to a boil, add wool and simmer for 15 minutes. Have you heard of this method?
I have heard of that method but have not tried it. I might try it with the next piece I want to felt to see if it works. It’s great to learn new methods!