Felting is one of the oldest methods of making fabrics. Primitive people made felt by washing wool fleece, spreading it out while still wet, and beating it until it had shrunken together in fabric like structure or form. In modern factories layers of wool or wool blends are built up until the desired thickness is attained and the heat, soap and vibration are used to mat the fibers together. Finishing process for felt resemble those for woven fabrics.
True felt is a mat or web of wool, or mostly woolen fibers held together by the interlocking pf the wool scales. Most craft felts are not true felt because they do not include wool. They are usually wet to dry non woven fiber webs.
Felt do not have grain and do not ravel. They are stiff, less pliable, and weaker than nay other structure. The quality of felt depends on the quality of the fiver used.
Felt has many industrial and some clothing uses. It is used for padding, soundproofing, and insulation, filtering, polishing and wicking. Felt has been used as pads under machinery to absorb sound and vibrations, but cheaper foams have been replaced felt in this end use.
Felt is not used for fitted clothing because it lacks the flexibility and elasticity of fabrics made from yarns. However it is widely used in products such as hats, slippers, clothing decorations, and pennants, Because fel does not fray, if needs no seam finish. Colored felt letters or decoration on apparel may fade in washing and should be removed before washing or the garments should be dry cleaned.
The following are characteristics of felt:
- Wool fibers are carded (and combed), laid down in a thick batt, sprayed with water, and agitated, causing the fibers to entangled.
- Felt has no grain; it does not fray or ravel.
- Felt has poor pliability, strength and stretch recovery.
- Felt us used in apparel accessories , crafts, and industrial matting.