Which is the best type of felt to use for making ornaments and dolls?
Felt comes in a number of different fibre compositions and thicknesses, as well as (luckily for us) a huge range of lovely colours.
The type you should choose depends on what you plan to make, as well as your budget and how you feel about natural versus synthetic fibre content.
I’m often asked about the felt I use myself, and what’s the best kind to use for my doll and ornament patterns, so here are my thoughts on the different types available. Don’t worry though ~ most felt from a reliable supplier will be nice to work with and give you good results.
1mm or 2mm thick felts are best for ornaments and dollmaking. 3mm is sometimes available, but too thick for our purposes.
Basic Wool Blend
This has varying proportions (40 – 60%) of wool with synthetic fibres, is usually 1-2mm thick and is widely available in all sorts of colours.
I use it for the dolls’ heads, hair and bodies, and for the applique details on embroidered scenes and ornaments. It’s nice and soft and can be moulded into shape by stretching it slightly when adding the filling.
Marl or Heathered Blend
This has a bit more weight and solidity than the basic wool blend, and I use it for the base shapes of my ornaments, and for dolls’ shoes and bags.
The cut edge is more hardwearing than the softer felt, and the outer edge stays crisper and more defined after stitching, whether you use backstitch or blanket stitch.
It comes in a nice range of subtle, flecked colours as well as solids, and is made in the US by National Nonwovens.
I wouldn’t usually recommend this because the acrylic felt often sold in craft shops is not very nice to work with, being thin and stiff rather than soft, so it doesn’t make a smooth shape when stuffed. Also the colour range is usually quite basic.
However, I do use a white felt with a high synthetic content for the small details on my ornaments, like the puffins’ faces or the little cottages, because small shapes can get a bit fuzzy and undefined if cut from softer felt. It’s worth having a few small squares of this type to use for small details.
100% Wool Felt
It’s no secret that pure wool felt is by far the nicest felt to work with, having a lovely soft, smooth finish, and nice crisp edges when cut.
The only downside to this option is that it tends to be very expensive compared to the blended felt. I have a few pieces in my stash which I ordered because I couldn’t resist the colours!
It really is lovely to work with, and worth investing in for your special projects.
This could be a good vegan alternative to wool felt. It’s made with a combination of bamboo and rayon fibres. I can’t tell you more than that as I haven’t tried using it, but if I can get hold of some I’ll come back with an update!
So here’s a summary of the different types;
Standard Wool Blend Felt
- Widely available in a huge range of colours
- Nice to work with and gives good results
- Reasonably priced
- May go a little soft and fuzzy at the edges
Heavy/Heathered Wool Blend Felt
- Lovely quality and weight, more durable
- Cut edges stay more defined
- A bit stiff for dolls and toys where seams are turned to the inside
- More expensive than standard wool blend
- Can be useful where you need a crisp edge
- Available printed with dots, stripes & patterns
- The least expensive option
- Less pleasing texture, can be stiff and shiny
- Colour range is usually basic
100% Wool Felt
- Lovely quality, a joy to work with
- Comes in beautiful colours
- Natural fibre, biodegradable
- The most expensive option
The best all-round choice
If you’re starting from scratch I’d recommend going for a wool blend and buying a few packs of squares in assorted colours so that you can have a nice selection without buying whole yardage of each. Some packs are sold in colour palettes so you can make a selection of ornaments which will be beautifully coordinated, or you can have fun picking your own colour combinations – always my favourite part!
Here are a few suggested suppliers, some of which I use or have used in the past few years (marked*), some of which I’ve come across during my periodic felt-Googling! If you can recommend a good supplier online or in your area, please add them in the comments below.
Limerick Quilt Centre * – heavy wool blend and some 100% wool felt
Billow fabrics * – heavy wool blend
Paper and String * – lighter wool blend
Woolfelt Company – big selection of blends and thicknesses
Cloud Craft * – 100% wool felt
Benzie Design – wool blend and 100% wool
Weir Crafts – National Nonwovens range
The Felt Store – acrylic and wool blend
The Felt Pod – 100% wool felt
There’s also a huge selection of felt available on Etsy – just bear in mind that the term “wool felt” is often used to describe wool blend, so if you want 100% wool, check the description before ordering.
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