Felting is one of the earliest forms of textile processing that we know and is used to produce a non-woven fabric - felt. The oldest finds containing evidence of the use of felt are in Turkey. Wall paintings that date from 6500 BC to 3000 BC contain felt appliques. In Southern Siberia felt was found inside a frozen tomb that dates from the fifth century BC. Roman soldiers were equipped with felt breastplates, tunics, boots and socks. Felt sheets believed to be from about 500 AD were found covering a body in a tomb in Norway. Today felt is still in use in many parts of the world, especially areas with harsh climates. More recently there has been a growing interest in felting with contemporary felt making designs and techniques becoming more widespread.
Felt is a non woven fabric formed when wool or animal fur is subjected to heat, moisture, and pressure or agitation.Felting is a simple technique requiring very little equipment and the main advantage it has over other textile techniques is in producing a finished product in much less time. The creation of felt using traditional techniques, welt felting, simply requires wool, water, soap and two hands. Wool is laid out in layers with each layer going in a different direction. Hot water and soap is added and gentle agitation begins. The process of agitation varies depending on the methods of the felter and the piece being created, but the result is the same. the more agitation, the tighter the resulting fabric. Wool fibres have scales and the process of agitation causes these scales to grab onto neighbouring fibres and interlock.
Needle felting, or dry felting, emulates the process of soap and water through the us of a needle. Felting needles have small downward barbs that entangle the fibres together. Needle felting is currently less practiced than wet felting but it is gaining in popularity amongst crafters and artisans.
Here are some great examples of felted products from members of the BrisStyle and Dust teams: