Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wool, Zippers, Linings, Buttons, and Fulling your Wool

Thrift store shopping,looking for more wool, does it ever end?

I found these lovely skirts at 50% off day at Value Village.
Two nice plaids, one was an Alfred Sung, very nice.
I don't mess around getting these felted.
Also known properly as fulling or fulled wool.
Another term is boiled wool
Remember not to bring used wool items into your house until you've cleaned them. You don't want any woolie creatures taking up residence in your other woolens, i.e. moths!
Cut out the zippers,
remove the buttons and lining.
Does anyone have a use for lots and lots of lining?
I have lots and lots!

After I quickly remove the non wool bits, I tear the seams apart, run my scissors along the hem stitching and toss the wool in to a hot or warm wash with a bit a soap. (keep your darks and lights in separate loads)After the wash ( *added NOTE Sept 2013: I used to use hot wash all the time, but now I use warm wash), cold rinse, into a hot dryer cycle.  If you don't get results with a warm wash, do another wash, the second time with hot water.  I have ruined some nice wools using a hot wash the first go around.

Some folks don't like to fluff their wool in the dryer, so try line drying as well.

  added Note: Remember to clean the lint out of your dryer after every load.

Some wools will felt more than others, sometimes a warm wash is enough if you don't want a thick garment to get even thicker.

added Note:  some wools will not felt at all.  
These could be Superwash woolens that were treated in the factory not to shrink in a wash. 
Be thrifty - don't spend much.
Use the wools that don't felt up/full for other parts of your projects, like the backing.
Remember, experience and experiment.

Onto more tidying in the studio. Lots to share, never enough time!

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  1. Welcome back from Hawaii. I know your trip must have been wonderful. Will you overdye these wools now, or will they go on the shelf they way they are? They are beautiful now, but if you dye them, what do you use?

  2. I have not been keeping the linings and zippers until I read the post about the little purse. You can bet there will be a basket or bin in my sewing room for them now. Thanks for feeding the stash!


  3. Hi there! I added these woolens to the shelf. The light ones may get overdyed, but I like the blue plaid and the green just the way they are. I usually overdye with tea and or a mix of Tintex dyes or Rit dyes...the grocery store brands. Either work well for me. Sometimes I'll use Koolaid. I've even dyed a whole rug after it's done! I'm always experimenting.

    I used to use my linings for Father Christmas gowns. I don't make Father Christmases anymore. But being a good craft scrounge, I find it difficult to toss those linings....I have more than I will every use!

  4. Welcome back from your trip! I have more jars of buttons and zippers than I will use in my lifetime too! I have made a few small crazy quilts with colorful lining but never seem to have time for the stitching anymore. Isn't it fun looking for wool treasures in clothing?

  5. Hi Miz, Crazy quilts is a good idea...! or another u.f.o! Buttons, good grief, me too, but don't you just love looking at them all!

  6. You treat your thrift store wool exactly like I do! I have a few pieces out in my car right now that are waiting to be dismantled. About the linings - I read that you can bleed the color out of them in a pot of hot water, then use it to dye wool. I've not had much luck with it, but maybe you can try!

  7. Thanks for tip the Gail! Yes, I've heard that about wool as well. If you get a "bleeder" it's a great thing to use to dye other pieces.

    I suppose the older linings would bleed more than the newer fabrics.
    I'll test a few. It'll be something to blog about!

  8. Hello! I just found your site--great information!

    I also did the same when looking for wool--the fabric stores had little choices and they were $24.99 a yard! Yikes! I went to our Volunteers of America store and found wool coats in a $4.99 bin and bought about 8 coats of different colors. For $40 (less than 2 yards at fabric store prices) I had several yards of wool, as most of the coats were long. One was even cashmere! (a shame to rip that one up, but it had a torn lining and was quite dated in style). BE SURE to check lint traps on the washer, too! Ours got so full of wool it caused a little overflow!

  9. Hi Amy, good point about watching lint traps I have a front loader, so I clean the drain after every felting wash and I clean my dryer trap after every load of wool. I often vacuum the dryer trap as well. I know a friend years ago that had a fire start in her dryer....she wasn't cleaning the trap. (internal combustion)

  10. I just found your site and am new to wool felting. It appears that you felt more then sweaters. Is the other wool (woven, like from a suit)good to felt also? Will it ravel? I didn't know to only get sweaters (or just forgot) at my first 'find' when I remembered about wanting to try felting when I stumbled upon a sale where everything was 50cents. I got men's suits and later realized that it was sweaters I had read about.

  11. Hi Brandy,
    You can use any kind of wool. Knits tend to felt up thicker than wovens. Experiment and try cooler temps if you are unsure. You can always wash/full in a hotter temp later. But remember,not all wools will felt up. Some may have been treated at the factory. 50 cent items are a great way to experiment!

  12. If some of the wools do not felt up do you still use them? I bought several wool coats.

    1. These would be superwash wool. That's the experiment part of the using used clothing. You never know what you're going to get. So don't pay too much. Be thrifty. If the wool doesn't felt/full and you like it, use it for a backing. It will have a use, keep it. There are not rules. The process of blanket stitching holds the edges of a loose penny in place.


    I have bought several wool coats at Goodwill, I have noticed that several have changed in texture but have not gotten thick, is this still ok to felt in penny rugs?

    1. This again could be a superwash wool. It was likely treated at the factory not to shrink when washed. You never know what you're going to get, don't pay much. Experiment and experience. Clean out the lint traps and use the fabric for another part of the project. If you really like it, it can still be cut into pennies, there are not rules.

    2. Another trick I have is to run it through another hot wash and see what happens. Always start with a warm/cold then move on to hot/cold.
      I have ruined some really nice wools because I used hot water first.

  14. Just discovered your blog. Do you sell any of your items on Denman Island? I saw a beautiful penny rug at a store there a couple of years ago I haven't forgot and just wondered.
    When you say you've "ruined" some nice wool w/ hot water.. what happened? Did it just thicken up too much to use? I thought this is what you did w/ all your wool fabrics(wash with very hot water) and have noticed the same thing.. some full fine and some get so thick that they wouldn't probably be useful except as a large blanket, etc... Thanks, F

    1. Hello F. No I don't sell on Denman Island, but that doesn't mean that someone isn't selling something I once made. I used to do many craft shows and sold many rugs and kits. Yes, you can ruin nice wool by washing it in hot water. You never know the end result. Use caution and start with a warm wash and hang to dry. If you don't get the results you'd like, try hot wash. Use the dryer if you want more shrinkage, it will also fluff the wool. Experiment. Use your thick wool as a rug base or to line a basket or bin....or?