Flax field

Flax field

Monday, March 4, 2013

It's warmed up a bit...so time to make felt

It's warm enough that I can get out in the garage and start to make felt.  This is wet finished felt so, lots of dripping water.  That is why I put the machine in the garage, but it is colder in there and felt takes longer if it is cold.  Now that the temperature is up above 40 degrees, I need to get some work done.

Today I have been felting some needle-felted pieces.  The customer wanted to have something that was a more stable fabric than the needle-felt is.  This felt was thicker that the other needle felt that I had worked with and it was much denser.  But it is dirty...it feels greasy...like it still has lanolin in it.  I'm not sure how it was processed to get to this point, but with the lanolin, it is taking longer to wet out.
Here's the first batt
Here is what the backside looked like after a jug of water...about a half gallon.  I had sprinkled it on and patted it to get it to work through, but when I turned it over this is my surprise   It took another half a jug to wet it.
White batts on blue bubble wrap
On the white batts, the color of the bubble wrap showed through where the felt has wetted out.  There was some unevenness in the batt, but most of what you see is where the batt is wet the blue shows through, where it is white there is a dry area.  It was just hard to get the water in the fiber and without wet fiber....I can't get good felt.
Wet floor...see why I do it in the garage!
The water was running out of the roll, and then when I unrolled the felt, I still had dry spots...like the stuff was waterproofed.  It took more time to wet out this wool than I am used to, I guess it is the lanolin.  It is a lot nicer to felt with clean wool.

The other interesting part was how the felt held together.  I tried to fill in some thin places like I usually do.  Take some wool from a thick place and put it on the thin place.  But it is not so easy with the needle felted wool.  It holds together quite well.
Test pull on the felt surface.
The white was a little softer.
Test pull on the white batt before wet finishing.
The white batt was softer, but when I tried to separate a section of the felt, it just stretched out of shape, but would not let go.  Interesting...so the fibers are felted together, but they will pull out of shape quite easily.  Good for a batt in a quilt, but not so good for making a felt item.  It would probably work well for shoe inserts...if it was clean...but not for cut and sew projects.  I am learning lots about needle felting with this project.

Needle tracks on the first batt.
Another interesting thing is the needle tracks.  On the needle felted pieces I had wet felted before, the tracks almost disappeared from the surface.  This time they remain pretty dominate.  Is this because these batts were needle felted longer?  The other batts were much softer and when I felted them they flattened and thinned.  These are so densely needle felted that they do not flatten or thin out.  I even tried the vibrating sander on the surface to see if I could get a different look, but to no avail...it still had needle tracks.  On the darker wool, there is a pin-stripe effect.  I think it will be fine in the finished items, in fact, it will add a bit of interest to the surface. I don't know if the customer will be adding a design to the surface, but it will look good with or without additional decoration.

The wet finished batts are nice.  They hold together well, these will not stretch out of shape, and they will make some great cut and sew projects.  I am pleased with the ones that I have finished.  The white ones are still on the machine, with the softer surface, I think they will show less of the needle tracks.  I'll take pictures for you tomorrow or Wednesday.

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