Trying out a new way of making prefelt

Trying out a new way of making prefelt

I recently heard about a no water, no needle way of making prefelt. I thought I would give it a try and see how it works. It’s fairly simple. You layout your wool on a mat or plastic and roll it dry. When I teach resist felting I usually dry felt the layout by just pressing and wiggling to make it stick together well enough to pick up and move, so we can make the second side. I am sure we have all found that ball of roving in the bottom of a bag that is well on its way to bing a solid felt blob. Taking this idea further just makes sense.

On Sunday it was Library day at the guild and I knew it would be a fairly quiet one so I took my supplies with me. Here is my try at dry non-needled prefelt.

I am using a rubbery placemat and a plastic grocery bag. The Grocery bag is because I put the little piece of plastic in my coat pocket and then didn’t wear my coat. I picked 2 colours so I can see how much migration there is if any. I did jiggle the felt to stick it together, the same way I do when I want to move a layout.



I rolled it 100 rolls in each direction flipping it between as well. It came out very flat and has started to shrink.



I rolled it some more. I had intended to do another 100 rolls in each direction but we were chatting so I am sure it got much more than that, especially on the last set of rolls. It definitely shrunk in both directions but not a lot.



I cut it to see what it looked like. the edges are thicker and flatter than the middle but it’s still pretty solid.

Jan took a movie of it with her camera. It shows how sturdy the prefelt is.

I rolled it again to see how the edges would fair. There were wisps that migrated out in the direction of the rolling. I think it would have been better to just finger rub the edges. There was really no migration to the surface by the opposite layer.


All in all, I think it worked well with very little fuss. Next, I am going to try cutting out some shapes and felting them on their own, to prefelt and on a fresh layout. Have you ever tried this method? how did it go?



21 thoughts on “Trying out a new way of making prefelt

  1. It will be interesting to see how the dry pre-felt performs when you experiment with it. I liked the video showing your pre-felt.

    I did try this way of making pre-felt in the early days but I didn’t have the success that you did so I went back to wet felting my pre-felt.
    Maybe the fibres I used were fresh and new because you are right – some of my older fibres show signs of felting all on their own!

    1. It was something I hadn’t heard of before but made some sense when I thought about it. Everything old is new again. You should give it a try with your now more experienced hands. I am not sure bubble wrap would work. I think it would be to soft.

  2. This is the first time I’ve heard about this method of making prefelt but it certainly looks helpful. I quite often need small pieces of prefelt, especially when I have blended different colours using my dog comb/carders. I’ll be adding a mat and some light polythene to my project bag for future use. I assume that a carded bat would dryfelt this way even more easily than drafted tops?
    Looking forward to seeing the results of your further experiments.

    1. I think it would be very helpful when your trying to match colours or blends. I think bats would be great they start out more tangled then pulled top. I may try a batt and compare them. Next is going how it felts.

  3. I have made dry felted prefelts before – I learnt the technique from a Russian felting artist. However she stopped short of rolling the felt as it was just a means of laying down and preparing a background for pictures which were then ‘painted’ with viscose fibres. It don’t think the result would stand the test of being cut through as it was still very fragile.

    So I like your next step Ann – the rolling part. It has produced something that is a lot more solid and ‘cuttable’ . I especially like that the fibres have not migrated at this point, although that might change when it is finally wetted down.

    Looking forward to your next experiment with this.

    1. Interesting. there was something similar people were talking about in the wet felt makers group. They were laying out writing paper-size clouds of fibre and staking them between pieces of paper for faster layout later. They were not felting them at all, just making stacks.
      I am curious as to how the migration goes too.
      I think I will be able to make simple shapes, I don’t think complex ones will work but then they don’t work well even with commercial prefelt.

  4. It makes perfect sense that this should work, after all, how many times have we accidentally felted woollen clothes through friction? (looking at you, underarm areas in my cardigans)
    Still, I’m flabbergasted it worked so well! Can’t wait to see how it fares when you cut it.

  5. Ann! welcome to the dry side of felting!
    itsnt it nice to keep your hands perfectly dry while you felt? it was vary exciteing to watch as you opened and checked the felt after each rolling. it seemed like a respectable prefelt from my side of the table!

  6. That is a neat trick Ann! makes sense when you think about it, I have always made prefelt wet but will certainly give dry a go.

    1. I thought it was an interesting Idea and yes, it does make scene when you think about it. I think I will be making more of these.

  7. Interesting that the colors didn’t migrate together. May be a good way to “strengthen” a project that has been needle felted or such and you don’t want the fiber colors to blend. Example keeping the colorful fibers on top if the bottom layer is white. Thank you for video and experimenting.

  8. Very Interesting!!! Will watch to see how it works for cutting shapes . Method would save a lot of drying for prefelt.

  9. Great idea Ann! I have dry felted some pieces before then wet felting. Speeds the wet felting process up. I look forward to hearing how the cutting goes.

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