When you were a kid in school, you likely made arts and crafts projects out of felt, but did you know that there is a lot more you can do with felt than making kiddie items? The truth is that felt can be used for a variety of projects, and sewing with felt projects does not have to be as complicated as you likely think it is.
Felt is made when several different types of fiber are meshed together, and most felt is made out of either acrylic, rayon, or wool. This is a non-woven textile type of fabric that doesn’t fall apart, so it’s actually strong enough for you to use it for various projects.
Sewing with Felt: Tips to Make it Easier
Considering that felt is unlike most other fabrics you’ll ever work with, it may seem that it’s a little difficult to work with, but it really isn’t. In fact, it just takes a short time to get used to the texture and maneuverability of felt and then you’re ready to make all types of projects with it.
The truth is that working with felt sometimes means skipped stitches, problems with the tension on the sewing machine, and thread that breaks or jams. Fortunately, these challenges are a lot less common once you learn exactly how to work with felt and what you can do for your projects to turn out flawlessly.
In fact, felt is great for beginning sewists, especially if your goal is to make projects for kids. It is easy to cut and doesn’t fray, and you’re going to be surprised by how many different colors and patterns are now available with this type of fabric.
These things being said, let’s take a look at some of the tips that can make sewing with felt projects a whole lot easier.
The Best Needles for Sewing with Felt
Sewing felt and being successful at it means that first you have to choose the right needle. For hand sewing, choose a medium-weight hand-sewing needle. For sewing felt on a sewing machine, sizes 70/10 or 80/12 are two excellent choices.
Of course, if the felt you’re working with is thicker or you’re sewing more than two layers together, you might have to go with a 90/14 needle. Be extra careful and don’t use needles that are too thick because those sometimes leave holes in the fabric.
The Best Thread for Sewing with Felt
If you’re sewing by hand, a good embroidery floss works great on felt. Embroidery thread is made up of six individual threads, but when you’re sewing with felt, you should use two or three threads at the most. If you’re sewing with a machine, an all-purpose thread made of either cotton or polyester, as well as quilting thread, are all good choices.
How to Cut Felt
Felt is much easier to cut if you use either extra-sharp fabric scissors or a rotary cutter. Cutting felt can be a challenge in the beginning, but the sharper your instruments are, the easier it will be. And make sure that you practice so you can get better at it!
The main thing that you want to remember when cutting on felt is that the cutting instrument has to be super sharp, and it also helps if it is short and has some type of a pointed tip. Some people have even had success using extra-sharp exacto knives or regular embroidery scissors!
How to Transfer the Pattern Onto the Felt
There are many different ways to do this. You can use the fusible self-adhesive type of web or transparent tape. Some people even use freezer paper, and once you research the various ways to do this, you can choose which one is best for you.
The freezer paper method is easier than you think. Simply trace your pattern onto a sheet of freezer paper, then place the shiny side of the paper onto the felt and iron it. The freezer paper sticks to the felt and makes it much easier to cut the pattern pieces.
When you’re finished, all you have to do is lift the freezer paper off of the felt and throw it away.
How Do You Wash Felt?
When working with regular fabrics, it is always recommended that you wash the fabric first, but if pre-washing is recommended when sewing with felt projects, make sure that you wash the felt by hand. Use cold or lukewarm water and a gentle detergent to get the felt clean, and never use the washer and dryer as you do with regular fabrics.
What Type of Felt Should You Buy to Sew?
As mentioned earlier, felt can be made out of acrylic, rayon, and wool. The acrylic felt is found in arts and crafts stores and is super cheap, but this is not the type of felt recommended by most experts. Instead, felt made out of 100% wool is usually recommended.
Why is this? Because full wool felt is sturdier and won’t bobble or pill like the cheaper felt does; plus, your creation will last and keep its original shape much longer. It also doesn’t fray like the cheaper types of felt and is fairly resistant to mildew and staining, so the project will look better for a longer period of time.
And if you’re thinking that wool felt doesn’t come in the variety of colors that arts and crafts-types of acrylic and rayon felt do, think again. In fact, the number of colors may surprise you once you start looking for the best pieces of felt for your next unique creation.
You can find deep colors, vibrant colors, and gorgeous pastel shades, among others. Regardless of what you’re making, wool felt comes in the perfect color to make your project look amazing.
Wool felt is also easy to find because it is usually carried at sewing and quilting stores, as well as many online stores. Wool felt costs a little more than the other types of felt, but once you make your first project with it, you’ll likely never want to go back.
How Do You Care for Your Felt?
Just as with regular fabric, you’ll want to take care of your felt in between projects. Wool moths are not that uncommon, so you might want to consider storing the felt in flat layers inside of a container that comes with a lid.
For sewing with felt projects where you’ve decided to use 100% wool felt, you can iron the felt when you need to, but just make sure that you cover it with a press cloth first so the wool fibers are protected. Also, you’ll naturally want to use the wool heat setting on your iron for the best results.
Of course, the number-one rule for caring for your wool felt is obvious: never put it into a washing machine or a dryer. For projects made out of wool felt, you can spot-clean it or send it to a dry cleaner. Both of these are better options than throwing it into the washer.
When sewing with felt projects, the task is a lot easier than you think. Just buy the right type of felt and the best tools, and as with any other crafts or sewing project, a lot of practice helps!