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What is Dry Felting?

Christine Hudson
Christine Hudson

Felting is a common way to add embellishments to many sewing projects or garments. This process bonds fibers together, but there are many ways to felt. Dry felting involves using dry strands or sheets of roving or felt, typically made of wool, to adorn fabrics. A felting needle, which is made with tiny barbs on the sides, is used to push the roving fibers into the base fabric's fibers and adhere the design onto the fabric. A needle felting machine may also be used for most dry felting projects.

Felting can be done on almost any fabric or project imaginable. Where wet felting requires the loose wool to be condensed into felt using hot or warm water, dry felting allows the wool to be used as is. This means less preparation is needed, but it may require a bit more practice to get used to.

Woman painting
Woman painting

Clip art or designs may be found online and used as patterns for dry felting projects. If the project is for personal use, there should be no problems using online resources. Projects which will be sold, however, will need permission from the copyright holder of the design for it to be used. There is also the possibility of simply creating patterns by hand, which can then be used for any purpose.

When a dry felting pattern has been chosen, it is then important to get all materials gathered. These include the base fabric, roving, and felting needle. A felting sponge to place under the base fabric is also recommended, and if needed, a fabric pencil for drawing the pattern onto your project is also suggested. If the pattern is not drawn by hand, it can be printed onto tissue paper and then pinned to the fabric. Once the felting has been done over the tissue, it can be simply peeled away.

Learning to dry felt may be as easy as looking for instructional videos online or purchasing how-to books. In some areas, classes that teach felting techniques to beginners are hosted at fabric stores and even local libraries. As there are so many types of felting, it is usually recommended that the student be sure the class they wish to attend is on dry felting or will at least cover it briefly. It is also generally important to know what materials will be provided by the class, what the student will need to bring, and what the cost may be.

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