Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sweater Felting Tools and Supplies

My plan is to do a tutorial of the process step by step over the next few months, but before we get started, here is a list of materials I regularly use.  You can do this with very little investment, but, as always, certain tools will enhance the experience.  
Sweaters - 100% wool, start with sweaters of the same weight and thickness, 5-8 sweaters with colors that will make for a beautiful design.  Neutrals can play the foil for brighter colors - gray is particularly good for this purpose and it is easier to find grays that will color match.  What about blends?  Look at the labels closely and avoid blends, they just don't shrink as well.  Start in the men's department of your local thrift shop and look for XXLs.  Merino wool shrinks down well, but don't start with the really fine merino unless you want an extremely lightweight blanket. Choose colors you love.

D-fuzz-it - very important as after washing loads of sweaters you will see that they collect fiber from each other; some sweaters will pill also.  The gadget I use is terrific.  However, I didn't know it existed initially and used scotch tape to clean up the sweaters.
Soap - a small amount for each batch you wash. You can use your laundry soap, but I've invested in Eucalan which is especially formulated for wool fibers. You can buy it online but again, first time around regular laundry detergent will work.
Iron and pressing cloth - linen works well but cotton is fine.  You will be pressing pieces frequently so you want a steam iron on the wool setting nearby.  The pressing cloth keeps the wool from getting shiny.
Scissors for cutting the sweaters up initially - good ones if you plan to take this up as a hobby.
Rotary Cutter - the larger size 60 really makes a difference when cutting through some of the thicker sweaters.  Again, you can use scissors, but the rotary cutter really speeds things along.

Straight edge and quilting templates - I rifled a large metal t-square from my husbands workshop and it really helps keep things square.  The quilting templates just make it all easier IF you like the shapes, and they are easier for easier for beginners.
Cutting surface - the self-healing mats are great but I've been working on a large luan-veneered table for 2 years.  I'm about ready to invest in a custom mat though as the veneer is finally starting to break up.
Thread - an important design element, it can really pull it all together.  Cotton works for me but I have occasionally used polyester. Buy two spools as you will go through alot of thread with the zigzag stitch.  Likewise, I usually fill two bobbins at a time so I don' have to stop too often to refill them.
Sewing Machine - you need a good zigzag so that the seams hold well. That doesn't mean an expensive machine, just a good solid zigzag. The stitch I use double dips the needle on each side which really keeps the seams tight.  My machine is an old White I found at a thrift store and runs like a dream.  Not fancy, but has a strong motor and the stitch I need.

While you gather your supplies I'll start working on our first lesson.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post! Very clear and well written. Thanks for the "tips" also.