I kind of lost my mojo for wet felting projects at the moment and want to do something else. I’ve decided to turn some of my sample projects into brooches or cards. For this I needed some felt. I already have some A4 pieces of wool and acrylic felt. I am not a purist in this department. I can get a nice square of ‘felt’ from my local haberdashers for £1 per sheet. World of Wools sells A4 felt sheets for £1.95 per sheet. It depends on what type of project you are doing. For this one, I can use either, but I am limited with my colors so I thought I would make some and this type of wet felting doesn’t require too much brain input.
I haven’t made a sheet of plain flat felt before, only pre-felt. I wanted something thin that I could use as a backing for brooches or that I could needle punch onto with the embellishing machine. If the felt is too thick, I could end up breaking needles while adding fabric on top of it.
I had some natural white (more like cream color) merino batt that was in lots of bitty pieces that was leftover from another project. I spent about 20 minutes picking it apart and making a base layer. Hey, I am not in a hurry for anything these days. I then laid out two fine layers of Merino tops in Lightning, 23mic. Here it is all wet out and sanded, measuring 17 x 22.5 inches. I left it overnight as it was very soapy and I wanted to wait before fulling to see if it needed any more wool. This felted together quite well at this stage and it looked like I had a very good piece of prefelt. I checked the piece the next day and there were no bare patches so I went to the next step of rolling. Sanding a piece does not mean you can skip on the rolling. It just means that you don’t have to rub so much, which is really helpful when making large items. I gently rolled it in the bubble wrap 30x in each direction, but it didn’t shrink. It did, however, bind together a bit more to make a sturdier prefelt, which is something to note when making prefelts in the future. I did a lot of rolling on this piece as for some reason it didn’t want to felt down in size, even when I heated it up. Things didn’t start moving until I got out the large bamboo mat and a dowel. I kept rolling with that on all 4 directions and both sides and kept heating it up in the microwave until I got a piece of felt that is 14 x 16 inches.
Here is my piece all ironed. I didn’t go crazy with the iron. You can see where the wool has migrated from the back to the front. A bit of migration is expected, especially when using shorter fibers under long ones. I wasn’t bothered about having a super white piece of felt as it will get covered anyway. I am happy with how it turned out as I have a nice piece of flat felt that is consistent in thickness.
I was going to make some red felt and started to get out the red tops when I remembered that I had a meter of red prefelt I purchased from Wingham Wool Work. I hadn’t used any of it before and was a bit disappointed when I opened it all up to find a lot of debris on the inside folds. It looked like someone dropped it on the floor and forgot to dust it off. There were also lots of bits of Angelina pieces for some reason. I spent about 10 minutes cleaning up the felt before I cut a piece 18 x 21.5 inches.
I had already wet out one side before remembering to take a photo! If you look closely, you can see many holes from the punching machine. I read in Felt Magazine (from Australia, but you can download issues) where they did a 9 square challenge and discovered that you could get a really good felt without using soap. Imagine that! However, if you really think about it, when you wash your hair, the shampoo helps keep the hair strands separate so that they don’t get too tangled up. That is why you need to rinse out the soap a bit during felting if it isn’t fulling down and probably why I had issues in the first piece. When I felt, I usually have a piece of olive soap in a plastic jug that I add some just boiled water to and then top up with cold. By the time I am ready to wet out, the water has cooled down enough and I have a nice soapy concoction. If I don’t use it all, I tend to save it and top it up. If it gets too diluted, I just add soap onto my wet wool by hand. I had some very diluted solution left over and decided to use this and no extra soap to see how it would work out on the prefelt.
I wet the prefelt and with plastic gloves on I dispersed the water across the piece to get it all soaked up. I then put a thin piece of plastic on the bamboo mat and rolled it in each direction and on both sides. I could see that it was felting and did this a few times and whacking it in the microwave to heat it up. The piece was quite big for my mat and I ended up with irregular corners, so I had to spot full the corners on the bubblewrap for an even shape.
Here it is all finished and ironed. I have a very nice flat felt that is thinner than my handmade piece. It is not as firm as a commercially prepared piece of felt, but it is sturdy and will do as a backing for brooches or cards or other 2D projects. I could probably felt this down some more, but I want to be able to use it on the embellishing machine. I ended up with a piece that is 16 x 18 inches. I think it felted down really well considering that barely any soap (it didn’t even suds when rubbing) was used. That is something to think about if you run out and then think you won’t be able to felt anything.