Table of Contents
- Types of wool felt: the composition of wool fabric
- Purchasing wool felt: the main sizes to consider for your felt projects
- Retail VS wholesale felt: read this before buying wool felt online
- Specialist craft felt for your felt projects
- Cutting craft felt: some important considerations when you are crafting at scale
- Should you stick or sew felt? Some important notes on making felt projects
Felt is a type of non-woven and non-knit textile that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibers together. Felt can be derived naturally, for example from animal wool; or synthetically, for example from petroleum-based acrylic; or both, for example from both wool and acrylic-based fibres. Due to its versatile nature, composition and qualities, felt fabric is used for a wide variety of industrial and domestic purposes. As a crafter, it is vital that you should know what kind of felt fabric you need for your felt projects. Below is our ultimate guide to felt fabric to make your decision a breeze.
Types of wool felt: the composition of wool fabric
Craft felt is broadly categorized according to its fibre composition. Different mixes of fibres in the felt fabric will make it suitable for different purposes.
100 wool felt fabric
100% wool felt, as the name implies, comprises entirely of wool fibres. As such, it is perhaps the most expensive types of craft felt available on the market. At the same time, it is also considered the highest quality among crafting felts. However you might find that the colour palette of 100 wool felt is somewhat limited compared to the other kinds of craft felt.
Synthetic felt aka polyester felt or acrylic felt
Synthetic felt is made entirely of acrylic or polyester fibres. Essentially it is felt fabric made out of pressed plastic fibres. As a crafter, you can soon begin to tell the difference between the textures of 100% and synthetic felt. The former is softer and has more of a matte finish compared to acrylic felt fabric. Synthetic felt also has a scratchy, slightly shimmery finish that is considered less desirable compared to other types of felt. Besides, it is also less fire-safe and skin friendly among the various types of craft felts. Synthetic felt is also more prone to irreversible bobbling and stretching compared to other craft felts. However synthetic felt does have a rather unique benefit compared to other kinds of felt. Read on to find out what that is.
Wool mix felt
Perhaps the most popular kind of craft felt is wool mix felt. This kind of felt fabric contains a mixture of both wool fibres and synthetic fibres, resulting in a felt fabric that is of a reasonably high quality while managing to keep production costs down due to the cheap acrylic fibres. Wool mix felt also comes in a mind-boggling array of colours to suit all your crafting needs. When purchasing wool mix felt fabric, remember that a higher percentage of wool signifies a better quality fabric, but also raises the price. To keep your budget from spinning out of control, aim for a 20% or higher composition of wool mix felt. A 30% or higher composition of wool will give you a beautifully soft felt fabric that is pure joy to work with.
Purchasing wool felt: the main sizes to consider for your felt projects
When you set out to purchase your craft felt, you might feel bamboozled by the wide variety of felt fabric sizes available on the market. Don’t despair though as there are a few basic sizes in which most shops sell craft felt.
Felt squares are most popular for making high quality wool felt craft projects. Felt squares usually come in sets or packs of 10, 20, 40 etc. This allows crafters to experiment and craft with a wide variety of high quality craft felt colours at a competitive price, as opposed to larger craft felt sheets. Therefore felt squares are most popular in felt projects like making Christmas ornaments or small felt softies.
Craft felt sheets
Craft felt sheets are larger than felt squares and are also usually available in packs of assorted colours. In order to keep prices down, shops usually sell these large felt sheets (usually A4 sizes or larger) in acrylic materials or very low wool composition. The resulting felt fabric is inferior in quality compared to most higher quality wool felt sheets of the same size. On the up side though, the fabric is cheaper and therefore more affordable for most crafters.
Felt by the yard
If you are an avid felt crafter or need to create larger felt projects, buying felt fabric by the yard might be the way to go for you. Felt by the yard is available in all kinds of compositions. Of course wool felt by the yard will be pricier than its synthetic or wool-mix felt counterparts. However the per-unit price of felt fabric will certainly be cheaper compared to, say, craft felt sheets or felt squares.
Retail VS wholesale felt: read this before buying wool felt online
As crafters, we often end up making impulse purchases of craft materials that we might not need immediately. This is certainly true for fabric enthusiasts. In the world of felt crafts, this is where wholesale felt holds a place of its own. If you love purchasing things on Ebay or Amazon, you must have come across felt squares or craft felt sheets online and almost given in to the impulse of purchasing that packet of oh-so-cute fuzzy fabric.
However if you hold back a bit and look around for some specialist felt fabric suppliers, you will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of money you can save by purchasing from them. Specialist shops are also super helpful if you approach them directly and are often more than happy to send out free felt fabric samples, swatch cards of all their fabric colours as well as discount codes and vouchers for purchasing directly from them. This makes crafting with felt an even more delightful experience. The same goes for purchasing from wholesale sellers, although you might have to open a free account with them first to start purchasing. They might also have a minimum purchase amount but you will find that this is usually very reasonable and that too ends up being cheaper per-unit as opposed to going down the retail route. So if you are in the market for purchasing some craft felt, look around first and then decide what quantities you need and from whom. You will end up saving a good amount of money.
Specialist craft felt for your felt projects
Most of the felt fabric that we have talked about is the regular, soft craft felt that is commonly available at craft shops. However there are two more types of felt fabric available to suit your needs.
As the name implies, this kind of felt fabric has been stiffened to give it a crisp and rigid feel. Stiffened felt can come in handy for certain types of crafts where it is important that your creations retain their shape, for example for making tea coasters, hair bows or Christmas decorations. You can also easily create stiffened felt of varying stiffness at home.
Craft felt usually comes in thickness ranging from 0.5 mm all the way up to 4 mm and beyond. Purely for crafting purposes however, even 1 mm thick felt sheets can appear to be a fair handful. You must carefully think about your crafting needs before purchasing your craft felt. A thicker felt might look and feel beautiful, but it can be difficult to put under the presser foot of your sewing machine.
Cutting craft felt: some important considerations when you are crafting at scale
There are a number of different ways to cut craft felt. The most common method of course is to use scissors and a steady hand. While this is an accurate and effective way to cut wool felt fabric, it can get tedious and nearly impossible if you have several craft items to cut. Here, die cutters – both manual and electric – can come in handy to cut your felt fabric. If you need an even higher precision and speed of cutting, you can rent a local laser cutting service. You will first have to send them a felt fabric piece and ask them to laser cut a sample shape for you. If you like the price, precision and speed of production, you can send them more felt fabric to cut for you.
An important thing to remember here is that wool felt fibres burn under the cutting laser, compared to their acrylic counterparts. Therefore the higher the quality of your wool felt fabric, the higher the wool fibre composition in it, the darker the colour of the laser burn on your laser cut-out. Here, acrylic or synthetic fibres become the most desirable as they do not suffer from burn marks. Rather the laser seals the fibres and keeps the fabric cut-out from fraying around the cut edges.
Should you stick or sew felt? Some important notes on making felt projects
While sewing felt is definitely a good thing, depending upon your craft project, you can choose to stick felt fabric pieces as well. This has been made all the more easier by the availability of adhesive backed felts.
If you choose to sew felt however, remember to never use adhesive backed felt as the sticky backing can gum-up your sewing needle and compromise the performance of your sewing machine. Also use a ballpoint needle in your sewing machine as it can nestle between the felt fibres to make perfect stitches. This is all the more relevant when making felt applique on knit fabrics like t shirts. The ballpoint needle works well both for the top felt applique pieces as well as the lower knit fabric, making an easy job of a fun felt project.
Additional sewing supplies for crafting with felt
Just like the ballpoint needle mentioned earlier, if you want to sew felt, it is good to know some additional sewing supplies that can give you superior crafting results.
Iron-on interfacing can give craft felt sheets extra body and strength, making your felt projects easier to cut, sew and last longer.
Fusible web can help you to position and firmly stick your felt applique project onto the base fabric, making it easy to sew your project and giving it a superior finish.
Invisible thread for sewing felt is ideal when you are working with a wide variety of colours on a single background. It can save you time in top-stitching and blend in with all the different felt fabric colours you are working with.
And there you have it: the ultimate guide to all you need to know about wool felt fabric. Now go ahead and make some wise decisions about the kind of craft felt you need before starting your felt project. Happy crafting!