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Thread: Wool Felting from thrift store finds

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Wool Felting from thrift store finds

    I've found a number of patterns I'd like to make using wool felt and found some skirts and blazers at the thrift store to use. I've searched the forum and I see that most of you wash in your washing machines at home. I have an HE front loader I'm not crazy about in general and I'm on a septic tank that I don't want messed up with a lot of fibers. No laundromat within a reasonable distance. This may be a stupid question, but I was wondering if the fabric could be boiled and stirred and then dried? Would that work? And I saw some advice to put the fabric in a pillowcase. Do you do that in your dryer as well or just when you wash it?

  2. #2
    Super Member MaryMo's Avatar
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    I've tried wool felting in my washing machine without success, even washing on hot. So my next attempt will be to boil it on the stovetop to see what happens. I'm just waiting to find 100% wool fabric item at a ridiculous low price --- $.25 day at the thrift store.
    Make it a scrappy happy day!

  3. #3
    Super Member PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Well another name for felt is boiled wool, so sure, you can boil and stir it, but the agitation is what really does it. I have felted in a 5 gallon bucket of very hot water (add boiling water from a kettle off the stove) and used a BRAND NEW toilet plunger. Worked kind of OK. I did this because I had just traded in my top loader for an HE front loader and had read that you couldn't felt in it. That's baloney. I have a cycle called "Sanitize" which uses very hot water, select the highest soil level you have available and NO SPIN. The difference between the top loader and front loader is that you can better monitor your felting in the top loader. With the front loader, you have to let it go the whole cycle. You want to select no spin because any creases that are made during the spin cycle will be permanent. I make a lot of hand knit felted bags.which I decorate with shapes cut from thrift store felted sweaters and blazers. If I think that it's not felted enough, I run it thru another cycle. I went to the Salvation Army and bought 2 pair of white denim jeans which I throw in with whatever it is that I'm felting to increase the agitation. Remember to felt like color items together because they will run like crazy during the felting process. I also have a septic field, so I put the item in a pillow protector with a zipper, not a lingerie bag with holes. It keeps any fuzz contained.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  4. #4
    Super Member ckcowl's Avatar
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    marymo, why has your felting attempts not worked? what has gone wrong? i've been felting wools for years- and the only ones that did not work were the ones that were either a blend (not 100% wool) or ones that were the (new-washable wools) that have been treated to not shrink-
    everything else (especially wool men's jackets, pants, skirts, dresses) felt wonderfully-
    i fill my washer with HOT water- i put the tea kettle on the stove & heat more hot water- i use a small amount of detergent & a regular aggitation cycle- on the longest cycle- i keep a watch on it- when it is almost to the point of draining- i shut it off- turn the dial to the beginning of the cycle again & add more hot water- some times i start it over 3 or 4 times-
    then i let it spin out (i've never had a permenent crease from spinning in the washer)
    then i RINSE IN COLD WATER this is an important step-
    then toss into the dryer & dry on hot heat setting.
    when the wools come out you can cut them up & use them in any way you want- they will not shrink any further- are washable, durable, and make wonderful appliques, garments, quilts, rugs, bags/purses, what ever you want to make out of wool. i don't know how using a pillow case would work- since the aggitation is an important part of the process- and i've never had any issues with fibers in the washer- we have a septic tank too...i've not ever clogged a drain or caused any problems - and like i said i've been doing it for years 15+ years...
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  5. #5
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    I just want to mention that there are different types of septic systems. We have a newer one that has a front-end filter on it, and that filter can get clogged up fairly easily. Our state mandates inspections of this type of septic system every 3 years, but we have had the filter get clogged from light use much sooner than that. (My dh figured out how to clean the filter himself, but it's not a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon!)

    I believe a lot of the older septic systems (and perhaps those in other states) did not have these pre-filters.

  6. #6
    Super Member ckcowl's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Prism99;5535632]I just want to mention that there are different types of septic systems. We have a newer one that has a front-end filter on it, and that filter can get clogged up fairly easily. Our state mandates inspections of this type of septic system every 3 years, but we have had the filter get clogged from light use much sooner than that. (My dh figured out how to clean the filter himself, but it's not a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon!)

    funny how (they) tend to improve things - and make more maintenance necessary on so many basic things- the first time i made a raggy quilt i about had a heart attack when i opened the washer & saw all the (loose fluff) coating the whole inside of the washer- i was sure that would clog the pipes good- i've been lucky & it hasn't happened- but i don't really get much (stuff) from my wools- nothing like making raggy quilts- i get fluff in the dryer lint trap but not much in the washer.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

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