This is why I use wool felt.
I designed the pattern for this little gizmo cozy (it’s free here) in February 2011. I’ve been using it to protect my MP3 player in my purse ever since.
That’s 3 1/2 years this little thing has been tumbling around in my purse and look at it! It still looks great!
The photo on the left is from the day I finished it in 2011. The photo on the right is from today.
The corners have gotten a little smooshy and rounded. The threads of the embroidery are a bit more embedded in the felt. The edges of the applique aren’t as crisp. The big lazy daisy flower in her hair is definitely looking a little flattened.
But there’s no pilling! If this were made of cheap acrylic felt I would have thrown it away long ago because it would have looked so grubby and terrible.
How do I know this? Because when Jo was little I made her a felt board. Not knowing any better, I used cheap acrylic felt from the craft store. Honestly, I didn’t know there was anything else!
Jo wasn’t any especially grubby or rough kid, but within DAYS those felt pieces started to look terrible. They pilled awfully. They seemed to pick up and grab onto every speck of dirt or dust. And in no time at all they had lost almost all their cling. The feltboard quietly disappeared and I didn’t work with felt again for a long time. Why put a lot of work into a material that’s going to look awful almost right away?
And then I discovered wool felt. Online – of course – because there’s not a single brick and mortar store in my area that carries it. People wrote about how durable it was compared to the acrylic stuff. How it doesn’t pill. They didn’t mention how nice it feels in your hands, and how pretty embroidery looks on it, but I discovered that on my own pretty quickly. 🙂 I fell in love with felt! I couldn’t buy it locally, so I started carrying it in my shop.
I’ve made a lot more felt projects since then – so many things that I had to create a whole section in my shop for felt patterns! But it all started with this little gizmo cozy. 🙂
If you’ve never used wool felt before, give it a try! There are a bunch of free felt patterns here. Enjoy!
I have never worked with wool felt, but acrylic felt deteriorates with contact. That is why what you say makes sense to me.
Hi, just read the post on wool felt. It is beautiful, however, it makes me wheeze and itch. Sooo, have you tried the bamboo felt? I just bought some and the colors are pretty. I have no idea how it will hold up. I’m hoping for the best. Probably won’t be as durable as wool but for me it’s better for the allergies.
I have and it’s lovely – but it doesn’t seem to have as many colors to choose from as the wool felt. The yucky craft felt is 100% acrylic, the bamboo felt is 100% rayon made from bamboo – two very different things. Acrylic has a very pronounced tendency to pill, while rayon is very smooth and silky and doesn’t pill. I don’t think you’ll have any problems with your projects not holding up. 🙂
Thanks, Wendi. I’ve always wondered why someone would use wool over acrylic felt. Now I know. I’ll have to start buying wool felt instead.
Once you try it you’ll never go back. 🙂
Absolutely. It’s wonderful stuff.
I am looking for wool felt to do an appliqué on a T-shirt. Is the wool felt washable and should I wash it before using it in case the color runs?
Wool felt – like any wool – will shrink so I’m pretty careful about using it as applique on pieces that will be washed. I usually only use it for tiny bits like eyes and noses. I wonder if this would be a good use for the bamboo felts? They’re rayon, so they won’t pill, and I don’t think they’ll shrink at all. I’d do a test before I invest a lot of time or materials, but it seems like it should work. I definitely would NOT use acrylic felt. It’ll be a horrible pilled mess after one wash.
Hi! Would you say that the felt in your shop differs at all from the 35% or 20% wool you might find on the bolt at a craft store? I embroider with felt a lot, many thanks to your wonderful blog!
My guess is it’s about the same, but I can’t say for sure because my local stores don’t carry ANY wool felt on the bolt. 🙁 The main thing you’ll
need to look at is the thickness. Most felts are about the same, but sometimes you’ll run into some very thick felts. They’re lovely for some
projects, but also usually quite expensive.
I bought some felt from my local specialty store and I think it was 80% wool. Is that also good in the same ways you describe? One thing I didn’t understand is the two sides of the felt seem to be a little different. It’s felt always like that? Or are the two sides usually the same?
80% is great! The felt I use is 15-20% wool and 80-85% rayon. The main thing is that you DON’T WANT any acrylic. That’s what pills so badly.