I have never made felt other than the needle-felted variety and have always felt (no pun intended)that the traditional method of felt making involved a tremendous amount of effort. Today at my weekly workshop I was introduced to a new way of making felt. Unfortunately I didn't take photos at every step but I do have some to show you.
The first step is to take small amounts of wool tops and comb them/card them on metal brushes. Instead of using actual carders we used metal pet grooming brushes, the ones with softish tines.
Photo from here
The teacher had bought her brushes from Wilkinsons. You lay a small amount of fibres across one brush and then brush it, one brush against the other, until the fibres are smooth. We laid them down on one half of a piece of J cloth, facing the same way and then laid more fibres at right angles and laid a third layer against the run of the first layer and at right angles to the middle layer. Clear as mud? When I have a go at home I'll take photos at each step to clarify the process. If you wish you can include snippets of threads or other fibres between the layers.
I think you can sort of see the arrangement above.
The next step is to make a parcel by folding over the other half of the J cloth, turning in the edges and stitching down and stitching a grid of squares to hold the fibres in place. Ideally the next step is to place the parcel into a pan of boiling water and boil for about 10 minutes. Unfortunately, we didn't have access to a stove but we did put the parcels into a bowl of boiling water and agitated and turned with tongs. After about 6 or 7 minutes the water was tipped away and cold water poured over.
Once the cloth had been cut away, voila! A piece of felt! I was absolutley amazed that this had worked even without proper boiling.
This is the reverse side of my piece of felt. The finished size is about 4" square. Obviously this method limits the size of the piece of felt produced but it would be possible to sew pieces together or to make pieces to use in a small project. I am really keen to make some more felt and also to make some in cream coloured wool tops which I can paint myself.