Felt Manufacture

Felt is a type of non-woven fabric that is usually made from wool or other types of animal hair. From the mid 17thCentury to the 20th Century popular types of felt were Beaver, Rabbit and hare. Nowadays felt is usually made exclusively from sheep wool , but it can contain other fibres such as rabbit hair.

Felt is made in a process which uses heat, water and pressure to compact all the fibres so much that they become entangled together to form a fabric. This process is known as ‘Wet Felting.’ This process is successful because of the fact that wool and other natural fibres have a natural crimp to them and are covered in scales. This makes them easily become attached together; the application of pressure makes this into an evenly surfaced fabric that is the same thickness all the way along.

Artificial felts can be made using this process, but they must always contain some wool fibres to bond together properly. This is usually 30% natural fibres and the rest can be synthetic fibres. Felts that are 100% synthetic have to be made via another method called Needle Felting.

Needle felting is very similar to Wet felting, but instead of wetting the fibres, several needles are punched into them to make them become entangled. This is usually used for smaller pieces or to create detailing.

Properties of Felt

  • No Stretch at all
  • Tears easily
  • No grain line means that it doesn’t matter which way the fabric is used
  • No right or wrong side
  • Good Insulator
  • Dyes Easily
  • Available in many colours
  • Does not fray
  • Shock Absorbent
  • Flexible
  • Versatile

End Uses of Felt

  • Used frequently in millinery
  • Slippers
  • Coats and Jackets
  • Scarves

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Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

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