My new obsession...and one I think might stick around for a very long while...is WOOL! For those of you who have been playing with wool for many years this is going to be old hat to you. I have avoided it for the longest time as it was just a bit out of my budget. I am after all a stay at home mom before anything else, and I could not justify spending $25 a yard (or more) on wool fabric to "experiment" with. Well, and also I find that wool takes a little bit of researching to become familiar with and how it behaves. What I have discovered though is that wool is not as intimidating as I had originally thought - and that folks have been economically building and adding to their wool stashes for years in a way I hadn't thought of!
THRIFTING! If you know me I'm kind of the yard sale/thrift shop queen. I love a good bargain or rummage sale. Who doesn't? A quilting pal years ago suggested thrifting my wool from 100% wool garments - yet I was still intimidated by wool. I really don't know what motivated me to go shopping but this past week I finally did pick up two wool jackets to play with for a whopping $4.
After some reading I realized - what is so scary? Two things that put me off - felting and dyeing. Felting as it turns out - isn't so difficult!
I am sticking with 100% wool - and from what I understand it can be any kind of wool, not just sheep's wool. My rule of thumb is as long as it adds up to 100% it can be any mix of lama wool, camel wool, cashmere, or sheep's wool - anything that will felt and does not contain acrylic, nylon, rayon, or other synthetic fibers as they don't dye the same way as wool and they don't felt like wool.
So I bought my two jackets and proceeded to "de-bone" them in a similar manner to what Bonnie Hunter does with shirts for quilts. Being jackets, I discovered both had a lot of this really tightly fused interfacing inside about 50% of the jacket. A quilting pal on Instagram suggested I go ahead and felt those sections and that it may tear away. I suspect it just depends on the particular piece and how well it's fused - unfortunately even after felting I couldn't tear that interfacing off...but I did save the scraps for experimenting. As it turns out, when hand stitched down you cannot see the facing, and it even acts as a bit of a stabilizer. So I think I'm safe to use those pieces so long as they aren't for the bottom of a penny rug or something where that unsightly facing might be seen.
I asked my friends and debated on saving the linings...but ultimately I did. I don't know if I'll always save them but these are great colors that I might use for doll clothes or the linings of purses/totes. They are just acetate - not a very expensive material to begin with but as a quilter you won't find me seeking it out at the fabric store...so I'll just keep it on hand.
This was the result (below) of my de-boning...there was quite a lot more fabric with interfacing...I filled up an entire grocery bag of that as a matter of fact. It won't look nice and pretty on a shelf but I'll keep it around.
To felt I washed in hot water and dried twice. Below was my end result - it looks pretty felted to me! Though I might experiment with a third wash and see if I can't get it any tighter...but after trimming it appeared to no longer fray which is my goal!
I wanted to be sure it would not fray with sewing so I goofed around and stitched a little...my hand blanket stitch and french knots leave a lot to be desired. I'm still new! But I rubbed my hands over this pretty aggressively to see how it might hold up and it looks pretty good! I am so excited at all the possibilities!!!
Of course I immediately the next day went to another thrift store and came home with more wool garments to felt! This time I bought another jacket because I really liked the weight of the felt that resulted with the first two jackets...and I also bought a cashmere sweater to experiment with. I suspect I might not like it as from what I have read it results in a thicker felt...but we'll see. I mainly intend to use the wool for penny rugs, maybe try some rug hooking, and quilts. I have been reading about how to dye wool too as it dyes a little differently than cotton...and I'm SO EXCITED to try it! I'm going to go thrifting again this weekend for wool to dye and play with that next! :)