There are so many things you can do with wool. It’s a versatile material that can be used for all kinds of projects, from garments and accessories to home decor and even DIY food. Felting is a process that involves friction as well as moisture in order to make fibers smaller, denser, and more compact. Without the assistance of chemicals or additives (like those found in some industrial felt), it’s almost impossible to felt natural fibers like cotton. However, there is one way you can transform your cotton into a material that feels like wool — by combining it with another fiber and then felting the result! In this article, we’ll explore how you can achieve this effect when working with cotton.
What is cotton felting?
Cotton felting occurs when you felt cotton by adding fiber to it and then felting the combination. The added fiber helps the cotton to felt faster, making it denser and coarser than pure cotton. The resulting material is more like wool felt than cotton cloth, which makes it a great material for home décor crafts and unique clothing items. Cotton felting is often used in garments and accessories, like bags and hats. But it’s also useful for crafting other items, such as bags, coasters, baskets, decorations, wallets, and even dolls. Depending on the ratio of cotton to other fibers and the amount of time it takes to felt them, the felted item may look like pure wool or have a mix of characteristics from both fibers.
How to felt cotton with wool
Cotton felted with wool is a popular combination, but it’s important to note that you can’t just toss them into the same felting bag. The fibers need to be kept separate until the end, when they’re ready to be felt together. To felt the two fibers together, first card the cotton until it’s the desired thickness. Then, card the wool until you have a fluffy, bat-like look. Next, blend the fibers with a blender or your hands until they’re evenly combined. Finally, place the blended fibers in a separate felting bag from the wool that you’ll be felt. If you’re working with a piece of fabric that has been partially felted, you can blend the fibers with the carding process mentioned above. Just make sure that the fabric has been separated from other fibers, such as fur, wool, or synthetic fibers, before blending with the cotton.
Why felted cotton isn’t the same as pure wool
While blending cotton with wool is a great way to achieve a material with a wool-like texture, it’s important to remember that you’re not creating a 100% wool fabric. Because you’re combining the fibers rather than just creating thicker cotton fibers, some of the properties of cotton will still show through. For example, you’ll notice that the felted cotton fabric is less dense and doesn’t have the same structure or crimp as wool. Because of this, felted cotton isn’t a suitable substitute for 100% wool fabrics, like sweaters and blankets. You should also keep in mind that the combination of cotton and wool likely won’t achieve the same thick, dense fiber that pure wool does.
Can 100% cotton be felted?
While you can achieve a wool-like texture when combining cotton with other fibers, you can’t create a 100% cotton wool fabric. That’s because the process of felting locks the blended fibers together, which means you can’t unravel the fabric to use it for non-wool projects. Cotton fabrics that have been partially felted are more useful for non-wool projects, since you can still unravel the fabric. In fact, it’s common to use a combination of fully felted and partially felted fabrics in one project, like when creating a rug. Because you’re blending the fibers, rather than just adding a small amount of wool to the cotton, the end result is a mix of properties—not just those of wool. For example, the fabric will still be breathable and have some stretch, unlike wool.
Tips for felting cotton with other fibers
- Wool blends. Some fibers, like silk, may work better with cotton than wool. However, you need to use a high-carded blend for maximum felting potential.
- For best results, use short fibers, like silk or tussah (a type of wool). Long fibers like camel hair, alpaca, and mohair are difficult to felt, as they don’t entangle with each other.
- You can also use synthetic fibers like polyester or acrylic to help cotton reach a desired texture. However, you’ll need to use a lot of these fibers to achieve the same texture as a small amount of wool.
- You can add a small amount of synthetic fiber to cotton to help it felt faster. Blending small amounts of synthetics is often necessary with cottons that are too thick for the fiber to be easily entwined.
- You can also use a small amount of acrylic fiber to help cottons resist pilling and odors. This is especially helpful in garments.
- Consider the qualities of the fiber you’re adding to cotton. For example, you may want to use silk in garments as it has a nice glide between the fibers and skin.
- Be aware that blending fibers can change the hand and shrinkage of the fabric. This is especially true when combining fibers with different degrees of crimp, like cotton and wool.
- Don’t use treated or dyed fibers, as they might transfer color to the cotton.
- Remember that the blended fibers will take longer to felt than pure cotton, as they have to be felted together.
- Consider the color of the finished fabric. Fibers with a lot of color, like wool and silk, will result in a lighter-colored fabric, while a blend of white fibers will make a darker fabric.
- You can use a small amount of starch when blending fibers to help them adhere to each other.
- If you’re blending a large amount of fibers, use a blender, not your hands.
- Don’t blend different types of cotton, as they’re too different to be felted together.
- Be sure to use the same type of cotton when finishing a partially felted piece.
Cotton felting is a great way to use two versatile materials for one project. In addition to providing texture and pattern, it’s also a great way to recycle used fabrics. You can also use felting to change the texture and look of fabrics that have been fully felted. For example, you may want to add a felt-like texture to a garment without making it too bulky. Because of the differences between fully and partially felted fabrics, it’s important to keep them separate when creating the item. Fiber blending also allows you to customize the look and feel of fabrics. You can blend fibers to create a new look, or use a combination of fibers to create an effect that one fiber can’t do on its own.