April Tatom of Louisville, Ky., sells felting supplies on her website, www.feltorama.com. When she decided to try her hand at appliqued clothing for children and experimented with various fabrics, “I found that nothing matched the lush texture of felt. It just beckons to be touched and adds a cozy dimension to any project. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ side to it. Felt toys are wonderfully tactile for little fingers and visually stimulating for kids of all ages.”
For her own kids, Tatom recently completed a felt “picnic” set complete with a lunchmeat-, cheese- and lettuce-filled baguette, and a cookie for dessert. She also recreated one of her son’s favorite book characters, Lowly Worm, from Richard Scarry’s “Busytown.”
Food is a popular subject for felt crafters, often as soft children’s toys but sometimes so realistically rendered that it’s elevated to something more artful.
Roving, a washed and carded wool with a texture similar to cotton candy, is the basis for many sculpted felt creatures and items. The fiber is pulled into strands that can be formed and poked with fingers or needles into shapes. Many of the animals on Etsy and in stores are crafted this way; it’s easy to manipulate roving and no sewing is required. Check out www.livingfelt.com for supplies and kits.
Alternatively, a method called wet felting uses hot, soapy water and agitation to enmesh wool or other fibers so tightly that they cannot be pulled apart.
Additional online sources for wool and wool-blend felt, Levine says, include: www.purlsoho.com, www.achildsdream.com and www.commonwealthfelt.com .
Or you may not have to buy anything at all if a common laundry mishap occurs.
“If you’ve ever shrunk a wool sweater, scarf or hat, you’ve created felt,” Levine laughs.