Felting is one of the oldest fashions of textile work. It is considered as more of an art; rather than a production process. The art of felting dates back to the medieval ages. You have most probably come across numerous products of felting spanning from poaches to textile decorations, dolls, phone covers; the list is endless. I recently found a forum website that is totally dedicated to the felting wool niche, I am already a member of this site, I would suggest you join www.feltingwool.com
So how does felting work? If you have worked with other types of textiles before, felting is quite different but probably simpler than other techniques such as sewing. On the other hand, if you are a complete novice, it may seem a bit strange.
The good news is, felting is not rocket science. Don’t you worry because, in this article, I will give you a simple step by step guide on felting for beginners? It will not make you a virtuoso at it, but it will surely give you an inkling on where to begin.
So let’s start with the main material. Contrary to other textile works that require thread as the main “tool of the trade”. Felting utilizes very soft and tender textiles derived from wool. This gives its products their characteristic cozy feel. Preparing fibers for felting is one of the most important steps in the process.
First of all, you need a couple of towels, warm water, soap and most importantly, the wool. Divide the wool into portions that can fit in the available mesh bags. Add the warm water and liquid dish soap and ensure that all the wool is soaked for about half an hour.
Take it out and rinse it in cooler clear water. Do not agitate it during washing. Press the wool between towels to get rid of excess water and then place it on a dry surface and let it dry in the sun. You can dye the wool at this stage to any desired color. To get the felt ready, you may have to use a simple hand carder. Portion the fibers into thin palm-length stretches of fluff and press them using the carder. Voila! Your fiber is ready.
Well, the above technique is what is commonly referred to as wet felting. On a smaller scale with lesser wool, you will require the same items and an additional spray bottle. Layout the wool in layers of thin tufts. You can do this by simply holding the wool at one tip and pulling it in a stretching fashion using the other hand.
Use a spray bottle to wet the wool with soapy water. Cover it with a bubble wrap and sub it until its completely worked. Ensure all the wool is sufficiently wet, you can add more layers of wool and repeat the procedure. The result will be exactly what you need for your welt felting project.
Alternatively, for needle felting, you will require barbed needles. This process does not require any water. First of all, you need to lay the wool in thin sections just like in the prior procedure. Use the felting needle to poke the wool and pull it backward Do this until the resultant pad layer holds together and is thus ready for working with.
You can use felt in place of normal thread in stitching. All you need to do is to stretch and cut out the yarn into thin threadlike sections. You may need a needle with a wider eye for this. Once the threads are stretched out, they are ready for hand stitching with yarn.
So there you have it! A simple map of where to begin as you venture into the new world of felting. All you need to do is get creative and let the fun begin.