Hey you. I’m Moxie and I’d like to welcome to my corner of the MrXStitch universe! Here we’ll explore the medium and makers of my favorite material – felt. But what is felt, exactly? So glad you asked!
Made without sewing or weaving, felt is traditionally a matted fabric. The word “felt” comes from Latin and originally it meant “to beat.”
The first felt was made by wetting the wool fibers and then agitating them to cause the fibers to lock together, creating durable multi-use fabric.
Note: You can’t just use harsh language or emotional manipulation to make wool into felt… you have to agitate the fibers physically by rubbing them together, just like the above women in Central Asia.
Needle or “dry” felting is the process of turning wool fiber into felt using barbed needles that force the wool fiber to attach to itself. (Industrial felt is made using thousands of these needles.) The felting needle is punched or pushed repeatedly through the wool fiber which locks the fiber together.
Many people, including me, use felting needles by hand to create intricate designs, flat fabric and 3-dimensional shapes. I call it “fiber alchemy” because it’s so magical when the wool changes and takes shape.
Note: While my hand appears super-sonic in the above photograph, please know that no other part of my body moves this fast. Also, I am not a robot, I promise.
There are some inspirational felt communities online where more info can be found and art can be worshiped. For wet felting, you have to see the Felting Team and Feltragem Manual Flickr pools. For some glorious needle felting, get over to the Needle Felting Flickr pool.
Finally, for felt of all kind, there’s a great community over at the Felting Forum. Lots of good discussions, tutorials, photos and more.
Got a favorite feltmaker I should know about for future installments of Felter Skelter? Drop me an email!
Moxie is an artist, fiber pusher and genuine human being. She likes you very much indeed.
The Kingpin of Contemporary Embroidery. Committed to changing the way the world thinks about needlecraft.