Felted wool – a great fabric for quilting and banners

A friend recently asked me if I still use felted wool.
The answer is a resounding, “YES”.

I still use it, search for wool for it in suitable colors (always on the lookout for great greens BTW), and felt it.

It is my fabric of choice for applique motifs. I never use craft felt on banners. Felted wool is so much better.

The following directions are from a handout I gave to students who took my Penny Rugg classes.


How to use Felted Wool

Wool yardage or sweaters can be abused in the washing machine. They become a wool product that lends itself beautifully to applique. (Boiled wool or European loden-type wool is a controlled version of what we attempt at home.) It produces a dense, thick, moisture-resistant fabric. It does not ravel easily. It adds a new dimension to quilts, wearables or home dec projects.

It is a thicker fabric. And the finished project can be stiff and heavy. It does not drape well. Great for banners but not good for garments! Try to minimize seams in vests, coats or jackets. Seam allowances can be difficult to turn. Because of this I usually work on a foundation fabric and butt edges of felted wool if possible. Use bound edges for finishing or use linings that turn under.

How to full wool

Select wool yardage, wool clothing, or sweaters that are NOT labeled “Washable wool”. (This finishing technique helps the article resist abuse. It’s good new for consumers but bad news for our purposes.) Blends can only be use if the fabric content is at least 80% wool. The resulting textures of blends can be somewhat bumpy as the fibers may shrink at different rates.

Prepare the fabric
Repair small moth holes, tears, etc, with matching colored thread.
Large holes and tears should be marked with different colored thread.
Remove buttons, stay-stitching, interfacings, collars, waistbands, etc.
Cut into large, flat pieces.
Cut sleeves open to lay flat. Cut off cuffs to use elsewhere.
Fair Isle sweaters have carrying yarns on the reverse side. Clip them if they are longer than ½ inch.
Clip selvedges on new yardage.

The felting/fulling process:
Use small loads. Like colors together.
Use the longest, hottest wash cycle.
Add a small amount of detergent. NO BLEACH or bleach products.
Check several times during the cycle to shake out pieces and redistribute them.
Add hot water if necessary to keep warm.
Rinse in cold water only , no softeners/conditioners.
If you dry in the dryer, clean out the lint trap several times.
Press flat with a steam iron.

This process produces a lot of lint. Clean out your washing machine and dryer.
If you dry in the dryer, clean out the lint trap several times.
Press flat with a steam iron.


Try felting some wool and see how it works in your projects.


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