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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.

Acrylic Felt

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.

Bamboo Felt

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;

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.

 

Ireland

Limerick Quilt Centre * – heavy wool blend and some 100% wool felt

https://www.limerickquiltcentre.ie/product-category/fabrics-woolfelts-wool/woolfelt/?v=48483983fdfa

 

UK

Billow fabrics * – heavy wool blend

https://billowfabrics.co.uk/collections/wool-blend-felts

Paper and String * – lighter wool blend

https://www.paper-and-string.net/premium-wool-blend-felt

Woolfelt Company – big selection of blends and thicknesses

https://www.woolfeltcompany.co.uk/wool-felts

Cloud Craft * – 100% wool felt

https://www.cloudcraft.co.uk/collections/pure-wool-felt

 

United States

Benzie Design – wool blend and 100% wool

https://www.benziedesign.com/collections/color-palettes

Weir Crafts – National Nonwovens range

https://www.weircrafts.com/wool-felt/100-wool-felt.html

The Felt Store – acrylic and wool blend

https://thefeltstore.com/

The Felt Pod – 100% wool felt

https://www.thefeltpod.com/merino_wool_felt_rolls_s/1859.htm

 

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.

https://www.etsy.com/ie/search?q=wool%20felt

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