I felt a need for wool
September 2, 2011 3:48 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have a good source for buying wool felt?

All that I can find in the box stores is acrylic felt, which is not what I want at all. I would like wool and/or wool/rayon blend felt. I see it offered in small squares, or sheets in some places, which will do, but Ideally want larger pieces, or on a roll. Good prices would help. Online sources are great. Thanks so much!
posted by annsunny to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Are you willing to shop online? If so, googling "wool felt yardage" brought me here.
posted by KathrynT at 3:52 PM on September 2, 2011

Or here.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:54 PM on September 2, 2011

annsunny, Rug Hooking Magazine has an advertiser's index online; at least some of the wool suppliers (listed under "Wool") should carry wool felt. Can you say what you need it for? That might help narrow down sources.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:55 PM on September 2, 2011

Response by poster: I have a few projects in mind, MonkeyToes, including projects from this book, the pincushions book, and I have a project or two from this book on cloth boxes.

Acrylic felt might work for some projects, but I hate the texture. It sort of squeaks. *shudder*
posted by annsunny at 4:06 PM on September 2, 2011

Hmmm. You might be able to get 100% felted wool for cheap by buying wool sweaters at the Salvation Army (or its equivalent) and putting them through the washer and dryer. Some ideas: one; two; three.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:18 PM on September 2, 2011

I recently found this Etsy shop, but I have not ordered anything yet:
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 4:25 PM on September 2, 2011

Google turns up quite a few, including Thefeltpeople.com and colonialcrafts.com. I have heard good things about colonialcrafts, though I seem to remember that they're expensive. I don't know anything about thefeltpeople, but they do seem to have a nice selection.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:53 PM on September 2, 2011

I know you say you've checked the box stores, but our Joanns carries it on bolts. I needed a boat-load of felt to line the top of a wall unit before putting things on top of it, and I accidentally bought the wool without realizing it, and then washed it when we spring cleaned. Ooops.

That said, MonkeyToes has hit the nail on the head. I make little felted pieces (like these and this) and find it a lot easier and cheaper to go to thrift stores. Just last weekend I went to ours and ended up with a bag of cheap cashmere sweaters to turn into throw pillows for our bed. You'll end up with a nicer (if not random) variety of shading and textures that just regular felt won't bring you. :)
posted by librarianamy at 5:18 PM on September 2, 2011

I know you said "buy", but it's extremely simple, cheap, and satisfying to make. Buy one (or several) sweaters at your local Salvation Army or other thrift store. They should be at least 80% wool to maximize chances of shrinking, with 100% wool being ideal. They should also be labeled "dry clean only", not treated with some special treatment to render them washable. I've always found lambswool shrinks particularly well. Put them on a hot/cold wash (putting them in a zippered pillowcase minimizes wool fluff clogging up your washer), and then through the dryer. Be sure to clean the lint screen throughout! If they're not shrunk enough for you, you can run them through again. The advantage of this over store-bought wool felt is that you have total control over the color and patterns. Stripes in particular show up very vividly when you shrink sweaters. Textures like cables are also very cool when felted, and I'm not sure you can buy that at JoAnne's in the felt section. Another advantage of home felting is that you can also make felted material out of sweaters that may be difficult/expensive to find in bolts at the fabric store - e.g. cashmere or alpaca. The thicker the sweater, the thicker the felt. So if you get that handknit Irish fisherman's sweater, you'll get something super thick when it's felted (perfect for things like potholders), whereas a thin drapy wool/nylon/angora mix will be much less stiff - depends on what you're after! Memail me if you're interested in more help with the thrift store route, as I go every couple of weeks to our local store to buy cashmere to turn into felted things...!
posted by UniversityNomad at 5:45 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

McMaster-Carr sells wool felt in a variety of thicknesses and hardnesses, but this is industrial material, so gray and white are the only colors available.
posted by Bruce H. at 4:44 PM on September 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the info! You're great!

I will check the box stores farther away from home. Hancock's doesn't carry it here, nor have I seen it at Hobby Lobby. I will check the JoAnn's farther from home, to see if it might be in store there.

I have considered felting thrift store finds, but you have encouraged me to put it on my to-do list.

You all deserve best answers!
posted by annsunny at 2:51 PM on September 6, 2011

Response by poster: Update:
I went by the local JoAnns' to get a few things, and lo a behold! They had wool and wool blend felt! The color selection wasn't too great, but I am feeling silly now. I am still going to need to get some colors online, and will probably do some hand-dying, too.

Thanks again, everyone!
posted by annsunny at 2:35 PM on September 11, 2011

FYI--my best wool-dyeing results have always come from Cushing's acid dyes for wool as well as the remains of crushed walnut hull (for browns). Don't count on RIT, which, though easily available, is intended for cottons.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:53 PM on September 11, 2011

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