How to Make Easy Homemade Felt From Sweaters
I love to make my own homemade felt. It feels and looks so much warmer and richer than the wool felt you buy at the store. And the cheap polyester stuff doesn’t even hold a candle to it. The good news is that it is crazy easy to do and it is much cheaper than buying it.
Maybe the reason why I like making felt so much is because it makes me feel so naughty. You basically disregard everything your mother has ever taught you about taking care of wool sweaters. You grab a wool sweater and you stick that bad boy into the washing machine. Crank up the water as hot as it will let you and then you wash it! Gasp!
After the cycle, you pull the sweater out and you totally ignore your mother’s years of instructions on how to lay it out flat to dry. Instead you stick it in your dryer on high and dry the heck out of it.
There are more complicated ways to do it, but I have noticed that this method works just as well and it is lots easier. The key is to get those wool fibers to totally freak out and get tangled up.
When you pull the sweater out of the dryer, take a good look at the yarn. If you can see the individual strands of yarn then you need to send the sweater through another wash cycle. If it needs a lot more felting, put it in for another high agitation cycle. If it just needs a little, opt for a shorter cycle.
Here are a few other tips you may want to keep in mind:
• It helps to wash the sweater with other clothes, especially jeans and towels. Their rough texture does a wonderful job at getting sweaters to felt. But you wouldn’t want to stick a white wool sweater in with a batch of black knit shirts or a dark sweater in with a bunch of whites. You will be picking off the lint forever and the colors may bleed. If you are worried, some people also put their sweater in a pillowcase with a towel or pair of jeans to keep the lint from getting on other stuff in the washer.
• It helps if you choose a cycle that includes more agitation. On my machine I have a “heavily soiled” cycle that works well.
• Just use detergent. Don’t add any fabric softener.
• Don’t cut up the sweater before you felt it. This can cause it to unravel.
• For the best results use 100% wool. Cotton, rayon, silk, and polyester sweaters won’t work. Cashmere and angora are a little risky, but are fun to experiment with. You can also use things like wool scarves, suits, skirts, and blankets.
• Don’t forget that when you felt something, it gets smaller—a lot smaller. So if you are planning on making a pillow or something larger, you will want to make sure your sweater is big enough.
• Remember that the yarn used and how it is knitted will make a difference in how your felt turns out. You may have to experiment a little. I once used a wool and angora mix with cable stitching and the resulting felt was so thick and stiff I could hardly cut it. I wasn’t able to use it for flowers like I was planning on, but I eventually used it for some eyes for a caterpillar I was making. It was perfect! The extra thickness and the bumpiness added some great dimension to the eyes!
• Sweaters with colored patterns can be fun. It is interesting to see what the pattern does when felted. I have found that the patterned felt is too busy for some things, but it works great for others.
If you are having a hard time finding wool sweaters, try enlisting the help of friends. Once I did a swap where I promised a felted flower hair clip for every sweater that somebody brought me. I got a ton of sweaters and the hair clips are super easy to make!
And you can make a ton of things besides flowers with felt. It works great for purses, pillows, stuffed animals, potholders, appliqués, etc.
I got totally addicted to making these cute little birds from
You can use pastel colors for Easter or Christmas colors for the holidays. They look super cute in a Christmas tree. For the wire legs, I bought some wire over in the floral section of the craft store that is wrapped with a brown thread. It looks amazing. Especially with the more “earthy” look of the homemade felt.
Next I will show you how to do the easy monogrammed felted pillow in the photo. And maybe after that I will show you how to make my caterpillars with the felted eyes. I use them under my kids’ doors when they nap to muffle the noise from the house.