Felt Your Sweater!: A Felted Wool Tutorial

sweater before feltingWherever you might normally stand on the felt controversy, I think that we can all get behind the claim that felted wool?

Is awesome.

Felted wool has all the benefits of wool for crafting–it’s sturdy, can be shaped, holds a dimensional structure well, is durable, and has an appealing texture–and has the eco-friendly attributes of being natural and second-hand. As part of my green crafting manifesto, I do not buy new things, nor do I intentionally buy products exploitative of the world’s creatures (please, don’t ask me about glue!), and yet when I buy a wool sweater from the Goodwill Outlet Store, I don’t have to worry about whether or not the wool has an organic certification, or about the high price of organic wool. I just think, “Yay, recycling!”

And yet, the wool sweater you take home from the thrift store requires some work before it becomes that versatile wool felt. Here’s exactly the work you need to do:

pieces I'm not going to felt1. For your wool sweater to felt evenly, you first must cut it apart at the seams (completely cutting away the seam–sometimes they can be thick) and cut off any ribbing or reinforced seams. You can still felt and use the ribbing, but it will felt differently from the rest of the sweater.

2. Set aside any parts of your sweater that you might want to incorporate into a project without felting–pockets, for instance, or buttoned cuffs. Also cut off any snaps and buttons to reuse in another project.

pieces of wool I am going to felt3. Machine-wash your pile of wool. The best results come from heat (choose a hot setting), agitation (choose a setting appropriate for heavily soiled clothes), and a little detergent (if I’m felting a sweater that’s already slightly felted–perhaps it made its way to the Goodwill Outlet Store because its original owner accidentally washed it–I often skip adding extra detergent, but I do have a high-efficiency washer).

4. If your wool comes out of the washing machine felted to your satisfaction, you may line dry it. Otherwise, dry your wool in your dryer, on a warm or hot setting.

felted wool5. If your wool comes out of the dryer felted to your satisfaction, you’re all set! Otherwise, you can repeat the washing and drying steps to continue felting your wool.

Now that you’re finished, make cupcakes!

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

Fab Fabrics: Vintage Kimono Fabric from Shibori

Get Sewing and Save Some Trees