Trying Commercial Prefelt

Trying Commercial Prefelt

A couple of weeks ago, Zoe from Heidi Feathers kindly sent me some prefelt samples to try out. I don’t have a massive amount of experience with prefelt, I’ve made my own a few times for specific projects, and have tried a couple of thicknesses of plain white Merino prefelt as a base for a few things. We’ve talked about commercial prefelt on the forum a few times, wondering things like whether it keeps its shape well, is it thick enough to use for surface design, etc. I had no idea so I was looking forward to trying it out.
For the first piece I made, I used a couple of layers of Merino tops, then did a very basic ‘weave’ using strips of prefelt, silk  and cotton gauze:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI didn’t do anything to the prefelt pieces, just laid them out. As you can see, the silk didn’t attach to the prefelt in a couple of places because it is quite firm and there aren’t any visible loose fibres.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn my opinion this is definitely a good thing, I’d much prefer a prefelt to be firm with definition, and when using with fabrics which might not attach easily, you can rough up the prefelt where you need it, using an old toothbrush or wire dog brush. For the next piece I tried out, I used the same ‘mirror’ idea from the Studio Challenge and repeated patterns either side of an imaginary line across the centre of the piece. I started with two layers of Merino for this too, then just cut a variety of oblongs, triangles and squares in matching pairs and added them to the top in a random reflective design.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI really liked the way this turned out. It gave me confidence that a more complicated pattern would work well, keep the defined edges and shapes without distorting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe last piece I tried was just a little test using some scrap pieces. Left to right: Some geometric shapes; a piece that I rolled between wet hands; a piece I dampened slightly and coiled; a piece I twisted with some Merino top; a piece I twisted on its own; some very thin off cuts I laid out or twisted and another prefelt/Merino top twist.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI took this on an angle so you can see  there is some thickness to the shapes while still firmly attached.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThanks a lot to Heidi Feathers for the prefelt, who are also doing a generous giveaway and a Meet The Supplier in a couple of days, so please check back on the 28th for that 🙂

25 thoughts on “Trying Commercial Prefelt

  1. You have been busy! I love the mirror image piece.

    You’ve demonstrated that there is a useful place for commercial pre-felt in everyone’s stash and Heidi Feathers has some lovely stuff for sale.

  2. Thanks Zed for sharing your own experience in experimenting with prefelt. Interesting, just recently I’ve made some prefelt of my own to decorate my work (used only two layers of merino and felted it a little just enough so that I could cut out different shapes). I can see lots of new opportunities in this.

  3. Thanks for sharing zed. I really like the one you did with the scraps. 🙂 Hadn’t heard of Heidi Festhers, will have to take a look.

    1. Thanks, Judith 🙂
      I was pleased with how that turned out, the pieces used on the asterisk shape were really just straggly strands.

  4. Zed, Great job of showing the variations using prefelt. I use it a lot for a base and cutting out small designs. It looks like Heidi has some nice colors and a good thickness. Sometimes if prefelt is too thin it just melts into the background which is fine of that’s what you’re going for. This prefelt seems to have some good substance.

    1. Thanks, Marilyn 🙂
      Yeah, that was always my concern with buying commercial prefelt, this really worked well.

  5. The reflection piece shows what wonders can be achieved by using pre-felts. I have only used pre-felted merino a couple of times but found it difficult to use with fibers other than merino (it slipped and slid around). Since that first experiment, I have used a pre-felt base in making samples using all merino wool and it felted well. My understanding is that pre-felt comes in different thicknesses, so that must be considered when using in your designs.

    1. Thanks, Cathy 🙂
      I did a bunch of experiments as a favour once with some lightweight prefelt I’ve used the thicker/heavier one as a base a few times, the one time I used 2 layers it turned out really thick. I’m not sure what weight this one is, it’s the first time I’ve used commercial coloured prefelt, but it worked well even layered up.

  6. I wouldn’t have guessed pre-felt would work so well! Is it “regular” pre-felt or less felted? If you know what I mean…

    1. Thanks, Leonor 🙂
      I don’t know the weight, it felt less flimsy than the lightweight stuff I’ve tried before, but that was natural merino, not dyed. It felt nice and firm, but not too thick, if that helps 🙂

  7. Very nice set of experiments with prefelt. For people who are wondering about thickness, you can always use several layers of prefelt if the commercial kind that you have is very thin. The “challenge” piece is really well done. Is it for a book cover?

    1. Thanks, Ruth 🙂
      I thought I’d used the same template I used for the challenge pieces, it turns out a good size, big enough for a book cover or small bag, or a good size for on a sideboard, under a vase or couple of bowls.

  8. Great experiments Zed. I haven’t had a problem getting silk to attach to the commercial prefelt I have. I like the thicker stuff better too. The thin stuff just isn’t as nice for what I have done, even when you layer it to make it thicker. The challenge piece is great. You have really gotten into the challenge this time. I think you will have a record for most entries.

    1. Thanks, Ann 🙂
      I had no trouble getting silk to stick to natural white merino, but I think that is fluffier. I found the thin stuff pulled a bit, I’m sure there are uses for it 🙂
      That piece wasn’t really for the challenge, I just didn’t have the ideas for a design, so used the ‘mirror’ idea again! Ruth probably would have been better to show off the design uses of prefelt!

    1. Thanks Judy 🙂
      I don’t have a coffee table, but they’ll probably end up used for something like that.

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