How to Create Textured Textiles with Felting

comments (7) October 1st, 2008     

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LindaPermann Linda Permann, contributor
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A sweater banded with small, smooth rocks, shown before and after felting.
A sweater banded with plastic craft rings, shown before and after felting.
A sweater pinched with binder clips, shown before and after felting.
A sweater banded with small, smooth rocks, shown before and after felting.

A sweater banded with small, smooth rocks, shown before and after felting.

Photo: Linda Permann

I love the idea of felting, especially when it comes to creating lots of texture. But what I don't love is the labor involved in crocheting or knitting all of the cables and bobbles, only to shrink them in the wash . . . I'd rather start with a sweater. Here are three easy ways to add lots of texture to your felted sweaters using simple tools you have around the house. For information on how to felt the sweaters, see Diane's post on the subject. One small change: DO NOT run these sweaters through the dryer because that might melt the rubber bands or binder clips you are using, and it may mess up the shape of your project.

The first way to create texture is to rubber-band several objects into the sweater before you felt it. The basic idea is that the sweater will remain stretched (and unable to felt) in the tied-off area, but the rest of the sweater will felt. Therefore, when you're done felting and you remove the rubber bands and objects, the sweater will maintain the shape of the objects. Before you get started, practice with a scrap (like a sleeve) to see how the sweater will react in the wash. This way you won't waste time banding things into a sweater that doesn't felt after all (I learned that the hard way!).



A sweater banded with small, smooth rocks, shown before and after felting.

Above, I rubber-banded several small rocks into a sweater, and you can see the before and after effect. You can purchase smooth rocks like these at craft stores. Little vase filler marbles work really well, too (unfortunately, my practice sample didn't felt at all, but next week's project will incorporate this technique if you're curious). A patterned sweater is particularly nice for showing off these effects, if you're lucky enough to find one in the thrift store.



A sweater banded with plastic craft rings, shown before and after felting.

Next, I tried plastic craft rings. You can definitely get a more uniform result with these, and the sweater felts to leave flat, disc shapes. You could also try coins or bottle caps to get this effect. The bottle caps might even felt inward a bit for an interesting effect. I think it would be fun to felt a plain sweater this way, then needle felt into the centers of the rings with a contrasting color (let me know if you try it!).


A sweater pinched with binder clips, shown before and after felting.

And finally, I used binder clips to create a cablelike effect. You can use as many binder clips as you like, and any size will work. Clip sections of the sweater to form raised bumps, or try making two or three folds in the sweater and clipping it together at intervals. There are many different shapes you can make if you have the time to experiment. This would work well on smooth, thin sweaters.

Throw all of the sweaters into the wash (hot wash, cold rinse) with a pair of old jeans and run them through until the sweaters are felted as desired. Again, do not place them in the dryer. Air-dry them on a drying rack and remove all of the objects. You'll be amazed at the results.

Next week I'll show you how to use one of these techniques to transform an old sweater into a very cool scarflet, just in time for cool weather.

posted in: sweater, felting

Comments (7)

AuntieLaney writes: Thanks for sharing. Very cool and creative and interesting. I'm eager to try this.

Posted: 3:48 pm on March 22nd
gracie_girl writes: Neat idea!
Posted: 12:17 pm on March 9th
CalPatch writes: so cool! i've tried the same tying-around-objects technique for dying, but not (yet!) felting... now i'm thinking you could throw some dye in the washing machine and do it all at once! (sigh, can't WAIT to have my own washer one day!!!)
Posted: 1:38 am on October 3rd
heyrachiekae writes: So cute! I have been making recycled wool sweaters into cloth diaper covers (longies) and this would be such an adorable embellishment. It would be even cuter on a wool skirty!

Thanks

Posted: 3:53 pm on October 1st
kaytet writes: i love this! if i ever have time to craft for myself again, i'm totally going to try this!
Posted: 1:04 pm on October 1st
LindaPermann writes: LaughingPG--It definitely adds a new layer of excitement when you open the washing machine! Now I just have to be careful not to buy a bunch of old sweaters that clog up my craft room....too late.
Posted: 11:41 am on October 1st
laughingpurplegoldfi writes: what a fun and fabulous idea... I've done loads of felting with old jumpers, but this is a novel twist I will HAVE to try!
Posted: 3:08 am on October 1st
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