Felt is a soft fabric made from natural fibres, such as wool. Wool felt is created when wool fibres are compressed and matted together using heat, moisture and pressure, creating a dense, strong fabric made up of permanently interlocking fibres.
Wool has many natural features and benefits, so felt made from wool offers benefits across many different products, as well as being 100% renewable and biodegradable.
Why does wool make great felt?
Wool makes naturally great felt and felted fabric thanks to the complex structure of wool fibre. The outside layer of wool fibre – the cuticle – consists of overlapping scales. When rubbed together or dampened, the scales interlock with each other, creating a durable felt material.
How can wool felt be used?
Wool felt is also used in a number of practical products such as tumble dryer balls. Durable and lasting for 1000’s of loads, wool naturally ‘fluffs up’ fabric, helping to dry clothes by absorbing moisture. Using tumble dryer balls made from wool also reduces the need for fabric softener.
Felted soap (a bar of soap surrounded with a layer of wool) lathers through the wool, providing a natural skin exfoliant. Using wool also makes the soap last longer, with a completely biodegradable ball of wool left at the end of the product’s lifetime.
Wool felt for craft
Wool felt is also created in craft, making an ideal material because it’s soft, strong and durable. The process begins with wool roving or wool tops – fleece that has been washed, carded, and then combed to align the fibres in the same direction and remove shorter fibres.
The needle felting – or dry felting - technique uses a special needle to agitate the wool fibres, which has tiny barbs on the end pointing in one direction. When the needle is pushed through the wool, the barbs pull the fibres in, but not out, locking them together in a tight bond to create sculptures made entirely from wool.
The wet felting technique uses water, soap and agitation to interlock and compact wool fibres together. Sheets of felt can then be cut, embroidered or act as a base to be needle felted into.