Tuesday 6 December 2011

How to felt a woollen jumper

A few people have asked me how I felt the items I use for making my brooches, fingerless gloves and scarves. It is very simple...

1. Get your hands on a 100% wool jumper, scarf, hat (anything really, as long as it is made from 100% wool. It won't work well if it is a nylon mix).

I get my woollen items from friends who have accidentally shrunk them and from charity shops (usually in the sale section because they have been slightly shrunk already or have moth holes). I am trying to set up an arrangement with second hand shops where they give me their shrunk, therefore unsellable woollen items so I can rescue them from being discarded.

This one I bought yesterday was in the sale section because it was already slightly shrunk. I couldn't quite see the label but knew it was wool because of the feel and the fact it had been slightly shrunk already.

2. You wash your woollen item on a hot wash in the machine. I try to save up a few items to do at once, to be economical with the energy. It is good, however, to not fill the machine too full because the bashing about in there helps the felting process too (as well as the water and the heat). Oh, and a fast spin helps too.

3. I tend to tumble dry mine next, mainly because I am impatient to see them finished (sadly, I find it quite exciting)! I wouldn't think you have to tumble dry them but I think it helps the whole process and to help fuse the fibres more.

This is the jumper after felting. It has got smaller, thicker and bobbly (just pick these off or use a de-bobbling tool (whatever they are called! -I don't have one...yet!)...oh, also the bottom section is now purple because I felted a purple scarf at the same time. Obviously, this jumper had been slightly shrunk before I bought it but if yours hasn't, it will shrink lots more (although I have found cashmere not to shrink so well). It still makes me giggle when I pull them out of the machine!

4. Oh, a very important thing to look out for is - if your woollen item says 'super wash wool', it WILL NOT shrink/felt. I believe it has been treated in a special way to prevent it from washing wrongly.

Also - Some wools I have used in the past have needed a second wash because the fibres didn't fuse totally the first time.

5. So now you are all ready to think "mmmm, what can I make with this?". You can cut it and it will not fray, which is great! You can hand sew or use the sewing machine. If using the machine, I have found it needs to be on a very low tension.

That's it! I hope you have fun felting, making and saving tired old jumpers from being thrown away. Why not make an upcycled brooch as a gift for a friend?


  1. love your ideas!!! wish you lived round the corner, i'd love a coffee and craft morning with you!!xxx perhaps your next fundraiser???? Becky Saywellxxx

  2. Thank you Becky! What a great idea for a coffee and craft morning!

  3. Hello! Post update: I tend to no longer tumble dry my felted items now as I prefer the smoother effect I can get from just air drying them. Also...you can buy brooches and other upcycled felt items from my facebook page... www.facebook.com/upcycledcreatively

    Happy upcycling :)

  4. Thankyou so much for this instructive tutorial :) Its something I will do with a few cardigans I have set aside :)

  5. I am trying to felt a cashmere jumper with moth holes. Do you have tips on what kind of soap/ detergent I should use? It has had three washes now and still looks the same.

    1. Hello, so sorry I'm only just replying now! I very rarely have time to blog these days and tend to do lots more on my facebook page.

      It may be that the jumper you are trying to full or felt is machine washable at 30 degrees - unfortunately I have found that those do not shrink, even though they are 100% wool (these are the type of jumper I mentioned in point 4 in my post). What I have done though, is used old jumpers that do not felt and made them into mittens or puppets (because the seams are enclosed, so when it frays a little, it won't matter). I'll put a link to my puppet tutorial...

      Hope that helps,
      Naomi :)

    2. http://upcycledcreatively.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/cat-puppet-made-from-old-jumper-tutorial.html

  6. Thank you for sharing. I came across your site from doing a google search on how to felt old jumpers. I have since had a look around and love everything you make! I especially love the mittens. I am going to have a go at that now, just found a good pattern. Maybe if I start now I may have enough items to do a Christmas craft show next year hahahahaha

    1. Thanks so much Tilly! I'm so pleased you are going to try the mittens too, I hope they go really well. Just to say, in the post above, I said I tumble dry them, but I don't anymore because I find it makes them bobble. If I air dry them, they stay smooth. I'd love to know how you get on! Send me a message or post your progress on my facebook page. I'm on there much more than here these days.

  7. Great to read. As a total non crafter it was really interesting.