Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Tuesday Workshop

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.


artisbliss said...

You go to the best workshops. That sounds like fun, and a really hands-on process.

Genie said...

Thanks Julie for sharing, You do seem to be having some fun workshops Lucky you.

Gina said...

Interesting method - I've never tried that before. I've often used bubble wrap and lots of hot water soap and friction. Gets messy though.

Dilly said...


Dilly an Mummy goin mayke felt!

Order merino wool tops on internet. Arrive today! Wun be GWEEN! Dilly tayke owt packit, hide hind chair an mayke nice soft nest.

Mummy an Dilly also get book. Get fwom Amazon, second hand but good!
Also arrive today!!!!

Be calld, "Beginner's guide to feltmaking".

Hav bowt cardin in, like be Julie doin.

Be nice to see!!!

Dilly look forward to mayke things.

Dilly hope Mummy mayke Dilly sum pwitty clothes wiv felt. But not yet as not hav pink wool.



sharon young said...

HI Julie
What a very simple method to make felt, your sample looks lovely too. I shall have to try this one, thanks very much for sharing this one.

silverpebble said...

More workshop magic - I love the colour of the finished felt. I've actually never made any (except by accident - jumper on a hot wash). Why did Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall feel the need to use, to put it bluntly, wee to make felt in one of the River Cottage programmes? Is this a normal practice? Surely the finished felt would be a bit niffy?

Thanks for your lovely comment about my new arrival


Lesley said...

Thanks for sharing Julie. I've only made felt the messy way so I think I'll have to give this one a try :)


Frances said...

I like making traditional felt and this is a great way to do small pieces, I love the way threads and slithers of fabric pucker and wiggle when the wool shrinks, have fun experimenting,