Updated: Dec 9, 2017
Lets talk about quality of felt today. I have seen many felted items of amazing quality and texture and I also saw some which needed just extra 5-10 minutes of attention. When making a felt item, we are looking to make sure that it functions according to its purpose. A felted hat has to keep the shape, felted clothes look beautiful if felt drapes well, a shawl or scarf to be soft and light.
How to understand if the felt is ready or requires another 5 minutes of rolling or fulling? It is very difficult to say that felt is done when it is wet. I would recommend to leave your felted item to dry first and then examine next day. Felt looks beautiful and shiny after steaming and ironing. Check first if your felt is ready without the temptation to iron. As ironing can initially mask a few problems and just a week after using a not very well felted item, the problems will appear, fibre starts to peel, surface will have bubbles: removing which will lead to holes. If you made an item for yourself, then it will be a lesson to you. However, what if you sold that felted scarf? You are probably now wondering?
What are we looking for then?
Lets talk about the set of criteria which determine the quality of felt. How to achieve good quality of felt is my next blog topic.
I have to warn you, that a complexity of criteria and not just one or two tell us about a quality of felt.
The first criteria is the monotony
The felt has to look like a finished fabric. We should not see lines of wool or fleece or other fibre. All fibres should be mixed well together.
The first image shows felt which is in process of felting and the felt which is ready on the right.
Lines of fibre and little holes are distinctive in the first photo on the left which should not be present in the well felted item.
The image at the left shows that silk fibre has not been attached properly in comparison to the image on the right which was finished by my student. The silk is embellished into felt better. When wool shrinks, the silk does not and has a wavy effect.
The second criteria.
We are looking at the surface of the felt. Well felted felt before steamed or ironed should have not even surface, little corns, looking perhaps like an orange skin. However, not like cellulite like it shown on the first photo on the left.
The third criteria is elasticity of the felt.
The felt should not look and behave like paper. It drapes well, sounds different from the not well felted. Not well felted felt sound is dull.
The fourth criteria is a felt shines.
Well felted items with merino wool reflects light and looks shiny. Not well felted item with many pockets of air and looks dull. However, the shine of felt depends on type of wool used. The picture below shows felt which reflects light and shines well.
The fifth criteria is edges of the felt.
Not well felted edges look like melted ice cream. The edges needs to be smooth and no thinner then all the felted item, unless the design requires.
The edges can look more organic or a straight line. There are many techniques to achieve a straight line. I felt and shape the edges just with my hands, rubbing and shaping.
The sixth criteria is to check on movement of different layers.
Felt consists of many layers of wool. Rub felt between your fingers and if you feel any movement of fibre inside, keep rolling and then fulling your felt. An extra 5-10 minutes make a difference.
The seventh criteria is percentage of shrinkage.
Shrinkage is one of the criteria of quality of felt. However, how much felt needs to be shrink, 10%, 20%, 30% or more? If you create a large item, then you plan coefficient of shrinkage. The felt then should shrink according to the planned coefficient.
The eight criteria is water absorbance.
A well felted item would not absorb water.
I use all the above criteria to determine the quality of my felt. If you know any other criteria, please share with us. You can not base your felt quality on just one, e.g. shrinkage. Making more felts, the quality check becomes part of the felt making without thinking.
I will be talking what affects quality of felt in my next blog in June.
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