Saturday, July 2, 2016

Felted wool vs Woolfelt® vs wool felt - what's the difference?

Oh gosh, life can sure get crazy. Last post I promised to show you a new technique, and I will share it with you very soon. I will also share a free project.

First, I thought it might be best to explain some basics about the difference between felted wool, wool felt, and Woolfelt®.  They are all very popular for making stitched projects such as mug rugs, penny rugs, table runners and all manner of cute pincushions, dolls, and adorable stuffed toys, etc.

Of course it all begins with these fuzzy sheep.....that's where wool comes from.

So, what's the difference between felted wool and woolfelt?

Felted wool is created by taking a wool fabric item such as wool yardage, a wool blanket, a wool suit, or wool skirt, and transforming it, by "felting" it. The felting process makes the wool dense, similar to felt.
The wool to be felted, must be at least 80% wool, and should not be worsted wool. Worsted wool is designed not to felt.
Once the wool is "felted" the fabric will not fray hardly at all along the edges. You may get a thread end that peeks out here and there, but only a tiny bit. It does vary with how well it was felted, and the quality of wool used. Here, you can still slightly see the weave of the fabric of these felted wool samples.
Felted wool samples

Using felted wool allows you to create raw edge appliqués. The appliques are finished with embroidery stitches such as the blanket stitch, stem stitch, feather stitch etc. The applique sample below is finished with blanket stitches.

wool applique by Thistledown and Company
felted wool applique

There are many fine purveyors of felted wool, so you don't have to do the felting process yourself.
Personally, I would rather shop for felted wool, than felt it myself.
Here are a few sites to help get your collection started !

Bird Brain Designs
The Woolery
Moondance Color
Week's Dye Works

Now, what about Woolfelt® or, wool felt?
Felt, regardless of fiber content, is made by pressing fibers together using a combination of pressure, moisture and heat to create a bonded felt textile. It is a not a woven fabric like felted wool is.

Woolfelt® is a brand of felt made by National Nonwovens. They make a large variety of dreamy felt with several options of fiber content. They offer 100% Woolfelt, along with blended felts containing wool, rayon, and even bamboo.
Full disclosure......I am a pattern partner of National Nonwovens and receive product samples from them to design with. That said, I do love their products. They have a large range of luscious colors and I love the consistent quality of their Woolfelt®. It's a real delight to work with with.

Wool felt  (not the brand) is any felt made with wool content.

Here is a closeup of Woolfelt®, you can see there is no woven characteristic to the felt and there are no stray threads along the raw edges seen at the right side of this picture below.
You can achieve a felted wool "puffy" appearance with Woolfelt® by washing it in hot water and drying it in a hot dryer. It will shrink and get a more dimensional (puffy) texture. You can also just use it as is, for a smoother, flat, felt texture.

Woolfelt® sample
 I enjoy working with both Woolfelt®, and felted wool. The texture is wonderful, the colors are divine, and it showcases hand embroidery stitches and decorative machine stitching, beautifully.


If you haven't made a project using wool, give it a try. It's very enjoyable to work with.
I have several patterns available that use wool. Jump over to my Etsy site and take a peek.

Baaa-tik pattern by Thistledown and Company

Next post will have a new technique and project for really. 

Keep stitching.....

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