Ah felt! I feel like we throw around words like “easy to sew” a lot, but in the case of felt, felt really is a cinch to work with.
Felt doesn’t fray, it doesn’t move around on you when you start stitching, and it’s cheap and easy to find (unless you upgrade to wool–more on that later). You can sew it by hand or with a machine, and it comes in umpteenmillion colors.
I love felt for little decorations, Christmas ornaments and other small projects. If you have kids who are interested in sewing, felt is a great first fabric. They can use felt to practice some basic skills like sewing seams, sewing on buttons and tying knots. Equally awesome: felt sews up by machine without any fussy seam finishes or special techniques.
Here are some things to know about felt plus some simple felt projects to try out for yourself.
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What is felt anyway?
You’ve all seen felt in craft stores in little sheets. It’s a nonwoven fabric that’s a big mat of fibers that have been compressed together. Felt can be made of different fibers from recycled plastic to acrylic to wool.
Felt is naturally warm, fluffy to the touch and very stable, making it easy to cut and sew.
You can make “felt” yourself at home by taking 100% wool and washing it in hot and drying it on hot. The fibers will shrink up and clump together. If you’ve ever shrunk a sweater, the felting process is essentially what’s gone on in the wash. This can be a fun way to reuse an old sweater. And if you’ve done it by mistake, and your sweater is still wearable, know that you can make yourself a sweater shrug!
Types of felt
The biggest difference when you go to shop for felt is what your felt is made out of. There’s two main types of felt: craft felt and wool felt. Here you can see that craft felt is a little fluffier, more fleece-like. The wool felt on the right is denser, and the fibers are more uniform and compacted together.
Craft felt is very inexpensive. It’s typically made from polyester or acrylic fibers. You can buy it in yardage at fabric stores, or buy it in small sheets about the size of a sheet of paper. These smaller sheets are great for a variety of projects. At 15-50 cents/sheet, craft felt can be a cheap way to dive into sewing.
Craft stores almost always have a really good selection of colors that you can buy by the sheet. If sewing with felt is something that you know you want to do more of, than a big multipack like this one is a nice option too.
Wool felt is one of the times that paying for quality really matters. While absolutely you can sew with craft felt, wool felt is so much nicer. It cuts cleaner, it ages better, looks nicer, and I think it sews much more readily than craft felt. After working with both, I can definitely say the wool is just lovely to sew.
If you’ve sewn with felt before and want to see how wool felt fares vs. regular craft felt, I would definitely treat yourself! Over the River Felt has a great selection of colors of wool felt made in the USA. I love this fall blend of wool felt from them!
For cutting felt, use your sharpest scissors or a rotary cutter for cutting large pieces. For finer work like on appliques or small shapes, embroidery scissors are a great option.
I personally like my Kai 7230 shears for cutting felt. Be sure to check out my full review of the Kai 7230 shears.
It’s also possible to cut felt with a Cricut machine.
Needles for felt
For sewing felt, use a 70/10 or 80/12 universal machine needle.
Hand sewing needles
When you sew felt by hand, use a small to medium size sharp needle.
If you add any sequins or beads by hand to your felt project, you’ll need a good beading needle.
Adding some oomph to your felt with fusible fleece
If you’re making felt projects like small ornaments, a layer of fusible fleece can really help give your felt some dimension. It’s a great cross between interfacing and batting. Any time I’m working on a felt project with 2 layers of felt and some embroidery on the top layer, I always add a little fusible fleece for the best look.
To use fusible fleece, you simply cut a piece slightly smaller than your felt piece. Fuse it glue side down onto the back of your felt with some steam. From there you can sew whatever you need on the right side.
Simple projects to sew with felt
As for projects you can make with felt, check out Fabulous Felt Christmas Cookies. This Eguide will walk you through how to sew 12 easy felt Christmas Cookie ornaments. It’s part simple sewing, and a whole lot of fun. I think you’ll love what you create with this guide!
Click on the picture below to learn more about the guide.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.