When your favorite wool sweater wears out, make it live on forever by making felt flowers. Using a process called wet felting, the wool fibers in the sweater are bound together, creating a sheet of felt that can be cut without the edges unraveling.
Wet Felting Wool Sweaters
Felting a wool sweater is a simple process that consists of washing the sweater in hot water, then running it through the dryer. However, there are some important things you should know about felting.
During the process of felting, the sweater will shed some fibers. These fibers can get tangled up in your washing machine and cause clogging or damage. Prevent this by placing the sweaters in a drawstring mesh laundry bag before washing, which will trap the fibers. Also be sure to clean the lint trap of your dryer frequently during the drying process.
Only animal-based fibers can be felted, such as wool, cashmere, or alpaca. 100% animal fiber sweaters will yield the best, most consistent results, though most sweaters with at least 80% animal fiber content will felt well. Look for feltable sweaters at thrift stores or use your own old sweaters that are past their prime.
Each sweater will felt differently, with heavier wool sweaters creating a thick sheet of felt and lightweight materials such as cashmere making softer felt with more drape. Once felted, the individual stitches of the sweater’s knitting should no longer be visible. Some sweaters are stubborn and may require a second or third washing to felt completely; continue until you can’t see the stitches.
Making Felt Flowers
You can either cut flower shapes out of the felt freehand, or you can use a template to cut them. To make your own template, draw a flower shape on cardstock or other stiff paper and cut it out Use a safety pin to hold the template in place while you cut around it. The felted sweater will not fray at the edges when cut, so it is not necessary to finish the edges.
Cut two flower shapes, one larger than the other. Layer them with the smaller flower on top and use a needle and thread to sew them together at the center. To make the center of the flower, cut a strip of felt that is 1/2 inch wide and 1 1/2 inches long. Cut slits all the way across the strip at 18 to 1/4 inch intervals, being careful not to cut all the way through the strip. The result will be a strip with a fringe along one edge. Roll the strip up and sew the uncut end of the roll to the center of the flower. You could also sew a colorful button to the center of the flower as a charming embellishment. Make fuller flowers with more body by adding more layers of flower shapes before sewing.