How to make felt

Fleece can be made into felt. This is the only process of cloth making that does not require spinning. The fleece is processed by carding, and layering into sheets. It is then wetted well with warm water and soap, and worked together either by rolling round a pole or trampling under foot.

Why wool felts

Wool fibres have tiny scales along them, and the beating treatment allows the hooks on the scales to bind together. This forms a smooth strong fabric that cannot be parted into its original layers.

Fleeces that are particularly suitable for felting.

Different types of fleece produce different results.

  • Blueface Leicester and Gotland are easy to felt and give ‘classy’ attractive results.
  • Blueface Leicester and Wensleydale crosses produce textured felt.
  • Corriedale and Merino gives ‘solid’ felt that can be very fine.
  • Shetland and Icelandic can produce patterned felt by using the natural colours of the fleece.

Fleeces that eventually felt

Most other fleeces do eventually felt although Down type fleeces are very difficult. Spiral crimps resist felting. The only way to find out which fleece is best is by testing it.

Uses for felt

In Mongolia, when making felt for yurts, the wool is wrapped around a pole and dragged behind a couple of horses. On a more mundane level, felt is used in clothing, billiard tables, tents, as well as having many industrial uses.