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How to fix felted wool

Is it possible to un-shrink a sweater? If your favorite wool sweater (or other garment) shrank after a hot water wash or dryer cycle—or both, you may be able to fix it. Use these tips from fiber-expert Kristi Porter to see what can be done to restore it.

This post will show you how to assess the damage, and (hopefully) get that sweater back to normal. Otherwise, you can turn your felted sweater into a pet bed.

How to fix felted wool

Unshrinking Sweaters

How to fix felted wool

Is There a Way to Unshrink a Sweater?

I consulted with my friend Kristi Porter, author of four knitting books and a long time contributor to Knitty.com, including a column called Frankenknits about repurposing knits. Kristi definitely knows her fibers, so I knew she’d be able to help.

This tips work for various wool fibers including cashmere, merino, and angora.

We’re talking sweaters here but the same tips apply to any wool garment including hats, scarves, mitts, jumpers, and so on.

Here’s what you need to determine first.

Is It Shrunken or Shrunken and Felted?

The first step is to determine the extent of the damage.

Did the sweater just shrink down a bit or are the fibers actually felted?

  • If the wool has just shrunken down a bit, there’s hope.
  • If the fibers are felted (i.e. shrunken, and tightly schmooshed together), you’re out of luck for unshrinking. Though there’s plenty of other projects you can make with the felted material (see below).

How to fix felted wool

Felted Test

There is no specific test to determine the degree of feltedness other than your own observations.

Examine the garment:

  • Can you still see individual fibers? Or is it all fuzzy with no real distinction between fibers?
  • When you gently pull a small 2″ square section in opposite directions, is there any give?

Tightly felted knits have no stretch left which means the fibers can break when pulled. At this point you have an unwearable sweater, so you can either experiment with unshrinking or proceed to fully felt those fibers and use the fabric to make something else. Or give it to someone with a tiny body and long arms. Or your cat.

Multi-Fiber Items

What if the sweater has several different fibers in it?

It’s impossible to give advice on all the possible variations (various natural and synthetic fibers in varying percentages). You’ll have to decide if you want to experiment with unshrinking or intentional felting.

How To Unshrink a Wool Sweater

Remember, this will only work if the sweater is made from wool and has not felted.

What Products Can Help Unshrink Wool?

The two recommended products are Soak or Eucalan.

  1. Fill a clean basin or sink with warm water.
  2. Add wool wash (like Soak or Eucalan) according to product instructions.
  3. Gently add garment and press it into the water. Do not stir or agitate at all.
  4. After 20 minutes, drain the water with the garment still in the basin. Do not rinse.
  5. Gently press the water out of the knit, but do not squeeze or wring. When you pick it up, do so gently from the bottom.
  6. Remove excess water by rolling in a towel or spinning in the salad spinner (So effective! Your knits will dry twice as fast!).
  7. Lay the garment out and gently stretch, paying attention to any seams because that’s where you’re going to hit your limit on how much you can stretch.
  8. Don’t overstretch the sleeve width, for instance, if the armhole insists on staying small.
  9. Keep flat until dry.

Drying Tip

  • Don’t put your knits outside to dry in direct sunlight! Drying knits outside on a picnic table is great for air circulation and really speeds up the process, however, some dyes used on yarns are enormously photosensitive and can fade or darken over a couple of hours! Cover your knits with a sheet or tablecloth to avoid damage.

Can I Use Other Products?

  • You may see things like baby shampoo, fabric softener, and hair conditioner recommended for washing or unshrinking wool. These are not recommended. Stick with a product made specifically for wool fibers that does not require rinsing.

Wool Garment Care Tips

If you want to avoid this problem in the future, these tips will help.

  • Avoid frequent washing of wool garments. A workaround with sweaters or tops is to always wear an undergarment like a t-shirt to absorb any sweat or body odor.
  • If the label says to dry clean only, do so.
  • If washing at home, only use a gentle product like Soak or Euclan.
  • For washing machine, use delicate cycle.
  • When handwashing, handle the fibers as little as possible.
  • To dry, roll item in a towel and apply gentle pressure. Never use a dryer or hot, direct sun.
  • Store away from moths. Wrap in tissue paper to absorb odors.
  • If you suspect moths or moth larvae in the garment, place in large freezer bag and chill below freezing for several days to kill the larvae.

What Causes Felting?

Almost any animal hair will felt. If you examine a strand of your hair you’ll notice that your fingers will glide smoothly down the strand but squeak or catch going “the wrong way”.

This is because hairs are covered with little tiny scales.

For a fabric to felt, the little scales on the hairs need to be opened up, then, as the hairs rub against each other, the little scales stick together and get the hairs all tangled and stuck like velcro, pulling the hairs closer and closer together.

Felting happens best with moisture, temperature shifts, and agitation. A high pH level (which soaps can cause) is another factor.

You can see how a trip through the washer with a hot wash, cold rinse, lots of agitation, and detergent is sure to shrink your sweater!

Repurpose Ideas for a Felted Garment

Once something is really felted, you can treat it like fabric and cut and sew wherever you like.

Wool jumper shrunk in the wash? Restore it to its original size with this handy clothing hack.

If you wanna know how to unshrink wool, you’ve come to the right place. Yep, we’ve all been there before. Wool jumpers especially don’t like washing machines and dryers – a lesson we’ve, regrettably, learnt the hard way. But, feat not. There is a way to restore your favourite knit back to its former glory (praise be!).

Nope, it’s not a myth, you really can reverse the old ‘shrunken jumper in the wash’ situation. Here’s our easy guide on how to unshrink a wool jumper, along with a few handy wardrobe pro tips to prevent it from happening again.

How to unshrink wool

How to fix felted wool

Popped your fave wool sweater in the wash by mistake? Fear not, because you can return your favourite knit piece back to its original condition, with just five easy steps, courtesy of HowCast:

  1. Fill your sink with lukewarm water and 1/3 cup of hair conditioner
  2. Add the jumper and let it soak for about 10 minutes
  3. Pull out the plug and let the water drain. When the sink is empty, press the jumper against the sides of the sink to rinse the jumper out, but do not wring it.
  4. Lay the jumper flat on an absorbent towel and lay another towel on top and press gently to dry the jumper.
  5. Stretch the jumper back into its original shape.
  6. Lay on an airer to dry naturally.

Alternatively, watch this step-by-step video for a more visual demonstration:

Why does wool shrink?

How to fix felted wool

The mother of all questions: Why does wool actually shrink while other fabrics come out in pristine original condition after a wash? Well, according to the National Cleaners Association, wool contains an outer layer of scales. “Heat, moisture and mechanical action cause the wool fibre to shrink and the edges of the scales to interlock, preventing the fibre from returning to its original position.” In other words, when you pop it in the wash or dryer it causes the fibre of the wool to shrink in a way that means the fibre won’t let it expand out again.

How to prevent wool from shrinking

How to fix felted wool

Whether it’s a mohair jumper, cashmere cardigan or your favourite wool dress, there’s really only one easy rule to follow when it comes to washing knitwear: don’t put it in the washing machine or the dryer!

How to wash wool correctly

The safest bet to prevent shrinkage is to hand wash each wool piece separately in cold water with sunlight soap or soap flakes (iIf you’re using flakes, make sure to dissolve the flakes in hot water first).

  1. Start by soaking the item in cool room temperature water.
  2. Rinse the item three times under cold water and make sure to get all the soap suds out
  3. Next, very gently squeeze all of the water out of the piece without wringing it out and lie flat on a towel (preferably in the sun) to dry. This process works like a charm every time and the wool’s shape will stay intact.

So there you have it folks, the dos and don’t of washing wool and how to successfully unshrink your cosy knitted staples.

How to fix felted wool

A few weeks ago I pulled out the storage bag where I keep the small amount of kids’ clothes that I’ve deemed special enough to keep for nostalgia sake, or that are otherwise waiting for the right-sized kid to fit into them. I wanted to see what few baby things I’d saved and to get a sense of what we might need with another little one on the way. To my delight I found a woolly fleece suit of Silas’s that I’d lent to my sister (and that we’d both forgotten she’d already returned to me), and a favorite wool sweater I’d received when Faye was a baby, that had since also been loved by Silas. Unfortunately, both beloved woolens had suffered a bit from time and our affection: I found a tear along a seam of the woolly suit and evidence that the sweater had been snacked on by unbeknownst-to-us resident bugs.

Felting to the rescue. In my thirty-five years I’d never embarked on a full felting repair of my own, but when over coffee with Rose, I bemoaned the fate of my favorite woolens, she assured me that I was up to the task. In typical Rose style, when she saw me next, she arrived with a pouch of materials I could borrow to make the fix.

The process was so easy and so satisfying. Not to mention, stress-relieving. It’s been such a great week for repeatedly stabbing an inanimate object with a sharp needle. Just one warning: Once you start, you’re not going to want to stop.

Materials needed and instructions below, plus a few woolly resources.

How to fix felted woolWool suit, wool roving. How to fix felted woolBarbed felting needle. How to fix felted woolWool suit, all patched up. How to fix felted wool

Materials

+ Wool item to be repaired (As a general rule, felting works best when working with 100-percent wool, though for smaller projects especially, don’t shy away from blends if that’s what you have. In my felting fervor, I had lots of luck felting over some goody bag masks that my kids were given, and they were decidedly not one-hundred percent wool.)

+ Felting needle (I borrowed a single needle from Rose to make these repairs and it was perfect. If you’re tackling a larger project or planning to felt a bunch, you might opt for a wooden needle felting tool that comes with a range of needles and the option to use multiple needles at the same time.)

+ Felting mat (I borrowed a felting mat similar to this bristle-style felting mat. You can also use a firm woolen mat as your felting surface (or, if you have one already destined for the landfill, a piece of dense styrofoam).

How to fix felted wool

Instructions

+ If your sweater is damaged due to moths or other pests (like this one), make sure you’re starting with a clean sweater to ensure there are no larvae present.

+ Place your felting mat underneath the small hole or area in need of repair.

+ Tear (don’t cut) a piece of wool roving in the color and size that you need and use your fingers to shape it into a puffy sphere. Place the roving on top of the hole and use your needle to puncture the roving into the wool you’re seeking to mend.

+ With every pierce of the needle, the roving will adhere itself to the wool sweater. Continue piercing the roving until it is well adhered and flat against the surface of the sweater.

+ Note: I used circles here in contrasting shades because I was repairing a baby sweater. If circles aren’t your style, feel free to choose matching roving or to work your roving into a different shape for more subtle (or creative!) repairs.

How to fix felted woolIncorporate the wool roving into the knit sweater by using a sharp felting needle. How to fix felted woolOnce felted, the repair should be flat and firmly adhered to the surface of the sweater. How to fix felted woolHave fun experimenting with colors, shapes and sizes of your felted patches. How to fix felted wool

Other woolly things:

+ Fibershed is an inspiring nonprofit organization committed to developing regional and regenerative fiber systems on behalf of independent working producers. They do this work by “expanding opportunities to implement carbon farming, forming catalytic foundations to rebuild regional manufacturing, and through connecting end-users to farms and ranches through public education.” Head to their site to learn more about their Climate Beneficial Wool Certification and the soil-to-soil lifecycle. The Fibershed Marketplace is also a great place to search for wool products you can buy: Climate Beneficial Wool Roving among them!

+ Elizabeth Suzann, maker of my favorite wool cocoon, is launching Cold Weather Collection 2.0 next week, on October 28. With the collection comes the return of wool to the company’s product line. All of the wool in their new collection is traceable, domestic, and Climate Beneficial.

+ For kids, Chasing Windmills is a favorite shop for making cozy, wearable merino long johns. Misha & Puff is another favorite shop of ours for hand knit hats, scarves, and sweaters (you can even knit your own!). Their latest women’s collection launches October 29. (Just please stop asking me if I’m selling either of my sweaters. I love you, but no.)

+ My dear friend, collaborator, and lender of the felting supplies used above, Rose Pearlman, has a whole book of woolly projects coming out just in time for the holidays. Modern Rug Hooking, is available now for preorder and will be released on December 2.

If you have a hole or thin spot in your felt you may think that your goose is cooked for this felted project. Perhaps you have other projects piled up in a drawer that need to be fixed but are too discouraged to show them the light of day and give it a go at fixing them? Well, here is some good news, holes and thin spots are easy to fix, much easier than knitted or cloth fabric. In this short guide, I’ll cover how to prevent holes from occurring in the first place, and how to fix them, either during or after felting, if they do occur.

Disclosure: This information may contain affiliate links which means if you click and buy, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. See full Disclosure for details.

Preventing holes and thin spots

Prevention is better than a cure. So, although this guide focuses on repairing these problems, I want to cover how to prevent them in the first place.
Repairing a hole or a thin spot in your felt can be done during the felting process or after. The best time to catch a thin spot is while you are laying out your wool. Check with your finger tips after you place your final layer on, gently press down on every bit it with your eyes closed and consider whether it is thinner than the rest.
Then when you wet down the wool closely inspect it for thin areas, if you see your felting mat or template underneath, now is the time to add more wool to that area.

How to fix felted wool

The next precautionary measure is to be gentle in your felting, being to aggressive with your rubbing in the early stages is a sure way to form a thin spot or hole.
Holes and thin spots can still occur later on, but these three measure are a good way to prevent it from occurring.

Fixing by felting

If you are in the process of felting and you notice a thin area focus your rubbing on the area. It seem counter intuitive, but applying GENTLE pressure and agitation to the area will cause the most felting in that area, and will draw the fibers in to thicken it up in that spot.

How to fix felted wool

Fixing by needle felting

If you’re beyond that stage, it is time to so one of two things: get the needle felting tool out or your hand carder. If your felt piece is thin, delicate or has a design, I recommend using a felting needle, as a hand carder would likely make the problem worse. Alternatively, if your felt is large, thick and plain, I recommend using a hand carder as it will be faster to fix. To fix a thin spot with the felting needle, turn your felt inside out or back to front. Use the same colour wool on the back and needle felt it in until it is as thick as the rest of the felt. Turn it over and do the same on the front if you need to fix up the design. Once that is done, keep wet felting so that it blends in with the rest of the felt.

How to fix felted wool

Fixing by carding

To use the hand carder, turn the felt over and brush the felt over the thin spot, the fibers will be loosened and should look woolly. Do this over and around the thin spot. It may create a hole, but don’t worry. Once that is done, lay more of the same wool over the fibers and wet felt it in. If your felt is gone beyond the pre-felt stage be careful not to add new fibers beyond the boundary of where you carded or you may create an odd seam in your felt.

How to fix felted wool

Other felting articles you might be interested in

If you found this information useful, you might be interested in check out these other articles. How to fix wavy and wonky edges on your felting fabric, and 10 felting hacks that will salvage any unsuccessful felting project.

Don’t Let Minor Repairs Block You from a Great Thrift Score!
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This first photo is of a wool scarf I found at my favorite shopping spot, the Durham Rescue Mission Thrift Store, Durham NC. It’s the shade of gray I wanted, but unfortunately, it had a hole in it! Not a problem because I thought I could fix it. Plus, it was only $1.

How to fix felted wool

A couple of YouTube are below. One is to repair a hole in a sweater with needle and thread (I do this first when the hole is larger, then felting). I’ve also included a YouTube video on felting.

I bought a bag of wool roving (wool that hasn’t been spun) in different colors. I also bought a felting kit that you’ll see in the other photos. Amazon links are below.

I laid a piece of wool roving over the hole (on the wrong side of scarf), then used the pick to blend the wool into the scarf. The last photo is the result. Now I’m ready to wear my wool scarf with no flaws.
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NOTE: I also repaired a larger hole in a sweater. I first sewed crisscross and up and down over the hole with a matching thread. No pulling on it. Then blended in the roving. See first video below on this technique.
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When you shop second-hand, from removing stains or replacing missing buttons or fixing holes, don’t let minor flaws be the reason you pass on something great.
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I’m on Instagram with images showing how I mix quality clothes from my closet with items I thrift, sew, and repair. Check out my page and follow me https://www.instagram.com/peggysduncan/

Needle Felting Kit SIMPZIA Wool Felting Tools Kit: Felting needles (they come with some type of oil on them, so spray with alcohol and wipe down before you use), needle felting foam, scissors, wooden handle, awl, glue stick, finger cots.

YouTube video on how to repair a hole in a sweater with needle and thread. I do this first when there is a larger hole. Then felting perfects the coverage.

And this is a video of felting to repair a sweater. You’ll develop your own technique. For one, I use the finger cots in my kit to protect my fingers!

No more passing on that fabulous garment or no longer wearing it just because of holes!

It’s the worst feeling isn’t it? You open the washing machine or dyer and realise your favourite wool sweater, cosy winter socks or beautiful merino wool throw has shrunk. But don’t despair. We can show you how to unshrink a sweater or wool throw and restore it to its former glory.

Shrinking a wool throw or a garment often happens when it is washed or tumble dried in unsuitably warm temperatures. It is still may be possible to restore the original size of your merino wool throw or garment. Depending on a range of factors, it is possible to increase your throw or sweater by as much as a size and a half using this process (which can also work for other wool knit objects).

How to fix felted wool

So, what is this magic-sounding process? Follow these steps to unshrink a wool throw, and remember to be gentle with your wool throws, blankets and clothing in the future.

How to unshrink a sweater or wool throw

  • Fill a bath tub with lukewarm water – there should be enough water to cover the item you wish to unshrink.
  • Now a little trick: Take your hair conditioner and add a generous amount of it to the water. If you also want to freshen the wool throw, and some mild detergent. The secret is that the hair conditioner will relax and loosen the wool yarns. This will allow you to re-size the blanket or knit item without deteriorating its shape. Agitate the water well with your hands to dissolve and mix the detergent and hair conditioner.

How to fix felted wool

  • Submerge your merino wool throw or garment in the water and gently knead it for some time. Once you’ve worked the conditioner and detergent mixture into the fibers, drain the water from the bath tub.
  • Gently press the throw against the bottom and sides of the tub to remove the excess water, then take the item out from the tub.
  • Lay the throw flat on a large bath towel or linen throw (or any large piece of fabric) and place another piece of fabric on top. Press down and continue to squeeze water out of the throw until both the upper and lower pieces of fabric have absorbed most of the moisture. If necessary, repeat this with dry pieces of cloth or towels.

How to fix felted wool

  • Now the important part. Lay the wool throw on a flat soft surface (e.g. a rug or bed) and gently pull it back into the desired shape and size. Stretch it very gently in all directions, trying to make the edges straight and symmetrical. If you are unshrinking a wool sweater or cardigan, concentrate your efforts on the sleeves, bottom edges and neckline – or any areas you think have shrunk the most. Allow the item to lie flat for a few minutes, then repeat the stretching one or two more times before it dries completely.
  • To end the procedure, wash the throw in cold water by hand or using a gentle machine cycle on low temperatures to remove the leftovers of hair conditioner. Reshape it again and lie flat to dry before using.

With these simple steps you might just be able to unshrink your merino wool throw or lambswool blanket. To avoid this happening again, always read the manufacturer’s care instructions and use mild detergent. For tips on washing wool throws in washing machine here.

How to fix felted wool

By licheness Follow

How to fix felted wool

How to fix felted wool

How to fix felted wool

This Felted Slipper Resuscitation project was the result of an exchange/barter arrangement I made to acquire an old washboard (to be used for another felting project)! The techniques I use in this repair, can be applied to many other felting repair projects.

Equipment list:

  • upholstery foam (to support needle felting)
  • felting needles (more than one!)
  • felting needle holder (if you have one, it will make repairs faster)
  • wool carding brushes (dog/cat brushes work well)
  • sewing machine or serger (could be done by hand)
  • leather needle for sewing machine (if you are using one)
  • leather needle for hand sewing
  • needle nosed pliers
  • thimble
  • scissors
  • chalk pencil

Material List:

  • small pieces of wool felt for patches (alternatively use loosely woven medium weight wool fabric, like stroud)
  • wool roving in various colours (to match project)
  • sewing machine thread
  • heavy thread or gut
  • leather (for soles)
  • duffel (for insoles)

Step 1: Insert Foam Support and Cut Wool Patch

One bite at a time, these well loved slippers were full of holes.

Insert a piece of upholstery foam that fits snugly inside your slipper, to provide support for your felting repair. The foam will need to be large enough to support all edges of the hole with a good border.

Cut a piece of wool felt (real wool) slightly larger than the hole you are repairing. I used felted wool that I had wet felted using some of the roving, but you could also use woven wool fabric like stroud. This step may not be necessary, but adding a pre-felted or woven wool layer between the roving layers, should add extra strength in high wear areas.

Step 2: Prepare and Add Layers of Roving

Card the roving. Lay a handful of roving on one brush, and then using the other brush to pull it in the opposite direction. This will help you to clean up and align the fibres.

Pull small amounts of the carded roving off the brush, and lay them side by side in one direction across the hole to create a light layer of roving. Add another thin layer of roving perpendicular to the first layer, and then a third layer in the first direction. Layering the wool helps you create a stronger, more even and solid bond when felted.

Step 3: Begin Needle Felting

Take the felting needle (or needles) firmly in your hand and push it through the roving into the foam to engage and hook the wool fibres together. Repeat this motion hundreds of times, being sure to work the fibres well into the edges of your repair. Keep the motion of the needle up and down (not prying off to the side) to minimize breakage.

Warning: Felting needles are sharp! and they have tiny little barbs scattered along their length. Watch where your fingers are, as it is very easy to jab yourself.

Step 4: Add Wool Patch and Continue Felting

Once the needle felting is starting to hold the roving together, add your thin wool patch, centering it over where the hole was, and then add more roving, using roving colours that match the outside of your project. In my case anything goes!

Repeatedly push the felting needle (or needles) through the wool fibres into the foam block until you feel the fibres felting solidly together, and then, keep going a bit longer and then a bit longer again.

Add more roving layers if the patch seems too thin. Try to build the repair area up to the same thickness as the surrounding felt, and take care to make the edges as even as possible.

This may take you a while!

Step 5: More Holes, More Felting.

Once you are satisfied with your first patch, move on to the next hole, you will find that your technique keeps improving. When you are evening out your patch, you may occasionally need to add more roving on the inside.

Step 6: And More Holes.

I think you get the idea! Fix all the holes in the same way, making sure that your edges are even and the patches are the same thickness as the felt around them, so you will not feel the patches when you wear them.

Step 7: Cutting and Preparing the Leather Soles

Lay your leather on the floor. Using a chalk pencil, trace a line around the bottom outside edge of your slipper onto your leather and cut it out. Place this insole on another piece of leather and trace out the second sole. Be sure to place like sides together, (smooth against smooth). Cut out your second sole.

To pre-make stitch holes in the leather, put a leather needle in your sewing machine (don’t thread it), set the stitch length to about 1/4″ and without using thread, ‘sew’ along the outside edge of both soles, a 1/4″ in from the edge. This magically creates a line of small, evenly spaced holes, that make it so, so, much easier to hand sew the leather soles to the bottom of your slippers.

Step 8: Sewing on the Leather Soles

Pin the leather soles in position on the bottom of your slippers. I kept the rough (suede) side facing out, to add a bit more traction.

Thread your needle with your button hole thread, gut or other strong thread, tie a big knot in the end and get ready to sew.

You will need your thimble and pliers. Those little pliers will become your best friend. Use them to gently pull the needle through the leather when it gets stuck.

Start with the thread between the sole and the slipper to hide your knot, and then use a wrapping stitch to sew on the sole. Go down through the guide hole in the leather, grab a good bit of felt and come back up through the felt emerging close to and beside the sole. Move on to the next hole and repeat this, working your way around the outside of the sole. Regularly check the position of the sole as you go. Tie off your thread when you get to the end and tuck the knot out of sight.

Take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back, and then get started on the second sole!

Step 9: Making the Insoles

Lay down two layers of wool duffel on the floor. Stand on your fabric and trace around your foot with the chalk pencil. Pin the two layers of fabric together and cut out a double layered insole. Repeat for the other foot.

Using a serger or sewing machine, sew or serge around the outside edges of the insoles, to bind the two layers together (alternatively, you can sew them together by hand).

Adding insoles to your slippers will make them more comfortable and increase their (new) life.

Step 10: All Done.

Slip in your insoles, sit back and admire your hard work.

Better yet, put on those newly resuscitated slippers and kick up your heels!

How to fix felted wool

By Paige Russell Paige Russell Design Follow

How to fix felted wool

How to fix felted wool

How to fix felted wool

Felting old wool sweaters is an easy way to make room in your closet AND get really great material for all kinds of crafts!

Step 1: Check the Blend

There are only two things that are important to felting success:

1. The fiber type / blend:

I have found that a blend of 65% or higher wool content yields the best results. 100% wool is desirable, but not necessary.

2. The knit stitch:

This one is a little harder to pin point or predict. I’ve found that certain knits refuse to felt no matter what I do – even if the wool content is high. The best thing to be on the lookout for is stretchiness. If a knit is too stretchy, it will most likely not felt well. But I say if in doubt, try it!! If it’s something that’s just been taking up valuable closet real estate, you have nothing to lose!

Step 2: Get Felting!

Like I mentioned, this process is really simple. Felting occurs when the wool fibers of the knitted sweater are agitated enough to bind to each other. (aka, get fuzzy and stick to one another so fraying doesn’t occur) Here’s how I make that magic happen:

1. Place sweaters in a washing machine and chose a long, HOT cycle.
*For extra agitation, you can add a pair of old running shoes to the cycle. These will help ‘pummel’ the fibers into felted submission.
2. Add half the normal amount of washing detergent for a single load and start the cycle.

3. Once the wash cycle is complete, transfer the sweaters to the dryer (not the sneakers, if you chose to add them to the wash cycle).
4. Chose a setting that is long and HOT. ‘Cottons’ is usually a good one to use.

When the dryer is finished, pull the sweaters out and give them a good close once over. If the fibers do not appear bound/matted enough to not fray when cut, you can repeat the above wash/dry process as many times as needed. For your reference, the three sweaters pictured took 3 rounds of washing and drying to achieve their felted state.

Step 3: Shrinkage

If all goes according to plan, you will notice that at the end of your wash/dry cycles, the sweaters have shrunk considerably. As an example, the above cream sweater shrank just under 5″!

The true test of felting success is whether or not you can cut a piece out of your shrunken sweater without having the edges fray. The blue patterned and cream sweaters passed with flying colors. The green was just ok. As you can see in the above image the edge is fraying a tiny bit when pulled. It’s not unusable, just not as clean and felt like as the other two. This was one of those stretchy knits I warned about earlier. But I always think it’s worth trying if you’re unsure.

Step 4: Making the Most of the Material

How you cut up the sweater will affect how much usable material you’ll have to work with. Follow the above ‘Cut Line Maps’ to achieve maximum usable square footage.

Step 5: Get Crafty!

Now you have some wonderfully chunky and cozy material for winter crafting!

Make teeny-tiny and ruined wool jumpers a thing of the past with our handy tips on unshrinking a wool jumper.

How to fix felted wool

  • 13:35, 28 Nov 2017
  • Updated 13:40, 28 Nov 2017

It's one of life's cruel little ironies that the cheap clothes you buy can withstand even the most extreme washing conditions.

But those lovely delicate little numbers you spent a bit of money on?

It takes very little to ruin these.

Of course, we should be paying attention to the instructions in the label, but occasionally, an item will slip through the net.

Take woollen jumpers for example. One warm wash and they're ruined – reduced to teeny-tiny proportions.

But there may be a workaround.

Your shrunken jumper may be salvageable after all.

It depends on whether or the wool has become 'felted'. This, according to The Pool , is when the fibres have become so stuck together, stretching it is physically impossible.

If it's not felted, however, then there's a formula you can put together using products you'll probably already have in your bathroom.

1. First

Fill a sink with lukewarm water, add about two tablespoons of hair conditioner or baby shampoo and mix well.

Then put your shrunken jumper in and leave it for at least ten minutes to soak. If you can leave it for longer – up to two hours – then that's even better.

This soak should relax the embattled fibres and render the jumper more pliable.

2. When it's done soaking.

Drain the water from the sink, but leave the jumper where it is. Then press on the jumper to get rid of the excess water. Don't wring or twist it and don't rinse it – you need the conditioner left on.

3. Next.

Roll the jumper tightly inside a dry towel to squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

4. Lay it on a new towel.

And start to stretch it, remembering to be gentle and methodical using the seams as a guide for how much it can stretched.

5. Once that's done

Leave it to dry flat and then try it on – you'll probably be able to stretch it a little more once on your body.