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ACRYLIC, WOOL/RAYON BLENDS, AND WOOL FELT – THE DIFFERENCES
Acrylic felt is also known as “crafting”felt. One of the main differences you will notice immediately is that acrylic felt is very easy to find and fairly inexpensive. Wool/rayon blends cost more and are a little more difficult to find in the stores. Pure wool is the most expensive and the hardest to find in the stores.
There are differences when using felt to stitch. Acrylic felt does not sew very well. It will tend to pull at the stitches, leaving a gapping hole where the stitch pulls, and you would not want to use if you are stuffing an object, as the felt could rip. The wool and wool blends tend to only leave the hole where the stitch is, not pulling the hole open when stuffed.
A wool blend tends to be softer than the pure wool. Pure wool is more durable, able to withstand more wear and tear, as well as being better suited to needle felting due to the repeated punching of the needle.
Can you use different blends of wool in the same project? Of course you can! However, if you are felting the wool prior to using it for your crafts, note that the higher percentage of wool, the more noticeable the felting effect will be. It is personal preference whether you like the looks together. Pure wool also tends to be a bit thicker.
Another common question – can you use an old wool sweater, pants or blanket for your projects? Yes! Thrift store finds are wonderful for finding unique pieces of wool. There are different weights of 100% wool. Heavy would be coats. Those might be too heavy, depending on the craft project. Skirts and jackets are the best!
All you need to do is felt it first. Wash it in your machine on the hot cycle with some detergent. After washing, throw it into the dryer on the hot cycle and you are ready to use when it comes out. Just cut along the seams to remove the stitching from the usable piece, there is no need to rip out the seams as the edges will not ravel on pure wool so you can just cut. Have fun!
One note of caution from a penny rug creator – when using wool sweaters, you may find they are too loose of a weave for penny rugs. Experiment and see what fabric you like to work with best.
WHAT IS FELTING WOOL
Felting refers to the process your wool or wool blends go through when you wash in hot water and dry. This will shrink the fibers in the wool piece and bond them together, giving a felted look, sometimes referred to as a boiled felt look. The higher the percentage of wool in your piece, the more noticeable the felting effect will be.
To felt your piece of wool, you will need to wash it on the hot cycle in your washing machine, or even hand wash in hot water. Throw it into the dryer on the hottest cycle and when it is dry you have a wonderful piece of felted wool! Have fun creating!!!
Note: when you are working on projects with specific measurements, your wool will shrink when you felt it. You will want to give yourself extra yardage when felting so you make sure you have enough to work with on your project. Plus scraps are always good to have around with penny rugs!
If you can’t find the wool color you need, you can always dye it! Be sure to check out our tutorial on dyeing wool in the General Craft section of the Learning Center. If you are working with woolfelt, you can also use RIT dyes on white woolfelt. The woolfelt will end up being ‘felted’ after the dyeing process too.
ONLINE SOURCES FOR WOOL FELT: