Felt in Fashion

Wool is pretty magical: it can be warm and cool, drapy and fluffy, soft and durable. That magic might be clearest in felt, the process by which little individual fibers are joined together into an inseparable fabric by friction.  Abracadabra! What was many fibers . . . is now one fabric!

 

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And wool has a way of sneaking in where you least expect it. In clothes, sure, but on clothes, and right through the tiny spaces in a silky woven scarf. With nuno felting, those little individual fibers work their way into a laminated design that latches onto an underlying woven fabric, creating a surface design and distorting the fabric into an artfully puckered, crinkly texture.

 

This technique, also called “laminated felt,” is one of the newer ones in the age-old history of feltmaking. With it, you can make something felt and light as air. And you can try it yourself with Sharon Costello’s new kit.

 

Here are some surprising things I learned from Sharon’s video:

 

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•When you’re selecting a fabric to form the base for your nuno felt, try blowing on it. If you can blow through the fabric, it will probably work. If it just blows away, keep looking—it probably won’t let the individual fibers pass through.

 

•Start the nuno felting process with cold water. You’ve probably heard that most felt is formed with hot water, soap, and agitation, but to start off with, cold water will let the fibers make their way through the fabric before interlocking. This makes the felt fuse to the fabric instead of staying on the side.

 

•There are different levels of aggressiveness for different stages in the felting and fulling process. What starts with a little patting progresses to throwing the felt at the table repeatedly. (Felting is definitely aerobic activity.)

 

Besides Sharon’s wonderful video workshop, this new kit includes the materials (handpicked by Sharon herself) to make a stunning nuno scarf. No searching for the perfect base fabric or testing out different fibers to make sure they make good nuno felt—just open the package, gather some supplies, and get felting.

 

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