Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Two New Projects That Combine 100% Wool and National Nonwovens Woolfelt!

Do you like to work with wool or woolfelt?  I certainly do!  You might remember from some of my earlier posts that I have trouble choosing which to use for my projects, since I love the luxurious feel and colors associated with hand-dyed 100% wool, but am also crazy excited when I get to work with National Nonwovens Woolfelt® (sometimes referred to as “craft felt” in your local fabric store).  Both 100% wool and Woolfelt have their own benefits and drawbacks, and I know I'm not alone when I have trouble choosing!

What's the Difference Between Wool and Woolfelt?  When I buy hand-dyed 100% wool, it comes pre-felted. That means the wool was placed in a warm or hot bath and then dried (usually in a dryer).  This causes the wool to shrink or "felt", as the industry calls it.  The "felted" wool can now be cut for rug hooking, quilts, applique templates and just about anything, because it can no longer fray.  That's wonderful, because now you don't have to worry about turning the edges under, which opens up a whole world of creative possibilities. 
There are many advantages to using 100% wool, and the most important are (1) unlimited color possibilities and natural mottling variations, (2) durability, and (3) it is washable. Once wool has been properly felted, you don't have to worry about further shrinking, so you can wash it and give it a little steaming to return your project to brand new. The main disadvantage is hand-dyed 100% wool is expensive and can ultimately run $30 to $50 a yard depending on where you get it. However, if I am working on an heirloom project that I want to last for 300 years, then 100% wool is my choice.

Sorbet Bundle by Bunnyhill Designs

Woolfelt is a Whole Different Animal!  Here in the United States, woolfelt is manufactured primarily by National Nonwovens in Massachusetts. There are many retail distributors of woolfelt, one of which is Commonwealth Felt (if you are buying in large quantities) and another is Woolfelt Central (a perfect source for smaller quantities). The woolfelt I use is a 20/80 blend or 35/65 blend of wool and rayon.  The advantages are (1) it is inexpensive, (2) it comes in lots of delicious colors, and (3) it is already felted and ready to use. Unfortunately, woolfelt should not be put in a washing machine and is not suitable for projects that will get heavy use in your home, like a bed quilt or a hooked rug.  However, woolfelt is great for table runners, candle mats, wall quilts, penny rugs, etc!

Autumn Accents by National Nonwovens

Woolfelt for Quilting!  Yes, that’s right—I love to combine fabrics and wools together in the same project!  One of my newest designs, Bee-Haven”, is a cute little 17” x 19” table quilt/candle mat which combines my love of quilting fabrics with National Nonwovens Woolfelt®.  No matter if you’re an experienced quilter or a beginner, because you’re sure to learn something new with this easy project.  It’s embellished with lots of fun embroidery stitches, and my pattern goes into full detail on how to complete the stitches, together with easy diagrams.  I have to admit I had so much fun making this quilt that I was disappointed when it was time to call it quilts and lay it out on my entryway table!

"Bee-Haven" by American Pie Designs

How About Combining 100% Wool with Woolfelt?  I couldn’t find any reason not to combine both of my favorite materials, 100% hand-dyed wools and National Nonwovens® woolfelt, in the same project.  Check out my new pattern, “Ghoultime Friends”, a cute little 16” candle mat that combines wool with woolfelt in the same great project.  Woolfelt was the perfect choice for the background and backing for the mat, because it has a wonderful texture and is inexpensive to use for large areas.  I switched to 100% hand-dyed wool for the skeleton, pumpkin, vampire and Halloween cat, and was very pleased with the result!  Again, my pattern explains the decorative stitches in full detail, and the best part is you don’t need a sewing machine to complete your project.  You can get the pattern alone or you can also get it in a kit with all the National Nonwovens Woolfelt® you’ll need to complete your own “Ghoultime Friends”!

"Ghoultime Friends" by American Pie Designs

We’ll, gal-friends, I’m back to the drawin’ board working on new ideas on how to combine fabrics with wool and woolfelt, and I’ve also got a hooked rug design running around my head.  Don’t forget to drop me a line or a comment, and I hope your week is busy and bright!  In the meantime, Happy Stitchin’!  xoxo--Melanie

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