Felting with velvet

I had a couple of comments earlier this year about felting with velvet. Lord knows I’m hardly an expert – my only previous experience of felting with velvet was a dismal failure: I ended up using machine embroidery to attach the velvet to my nuno scarf!

Looking back, I concluded that the failure was probably due to two factors:

  • there wasn’t enough wool underneath the velvet to help it stick
  • it was probably synthetic velvet rather than silk (I just dug it out of the Morley scraps box, so didn’t know what it was made from).

However, after seeing Lisa Hawthorne‘s work at the Chelsea College MA Textiles Show, which included some lovely velvet felting, I decided to have another go. So I bought some silk velvet. As felting pots inside out seemed to help the wool slubs felt in more effectively, I thought it might work for velvet as well. And this was not nuno,  so there would be more wool that would also encourage felting.

Just to be sure, I checked in Lizzie Houghton’s Creative Felting, which suggested laying “a few wisps” of wool over the top of the velvet to help anchor the velvet. Of course, as I was felting inside out, this meant laying the woolly wisps underneath the velvet, which I laid out face down.

Unfortunately, in my excitement that it might actually work this time, I forgot about the wisps when I laid out the wool on the top half of the resist! What this means is that I ended up with a controlled test pot, the top half of which had no wool on top of the velvet, while the bottom half did.

The results, however, are inconclusive. Most of the velvet did felt successfully, whether anchored by wool on top or not. But the three places where it didn’t felt were on the top half or middle of the pot. So it seems that adding a few strands of wool on top of the velvet is useful but not always necessary for successful felting.

These “anchor” strands may also be useful to prevent the velvet from moving around – as you can see from the photos, the strips of velvet on the top half of the pot moved quite a lot from their initial positions (which I couldn’t see because they were on the inside layer).

However, I do find them a bit intrusive – they tend to obscure the lovely crinkled effect of the velvet that I’m aiming for.

Verdict: Better than my first attempt, but not there yet!

Edited to add that Nicola Brown of Clasheen has also been experimenting with felting velvet – rather more successfully!

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