How to make your own prefelts

Apr 13, 2024

As we’ve seen last week, a prefelt is a partially felted piece of wool felt. That means, it’s made in the exact same way as a piece of felt. The only difference is the degree to which it’s compacted.

I usually make my prefelts by wet felting Merino tops. For some projects, I have also needle felted wool batts. This second method is a way of imitating the industrial prefelts. But I find it’s only a good option for small projects.


What do you need to pay attention to when making a prefelt to use in other projects?

1. Evenness

It’s important to create your prefelts with an even thickness. If this is difficult for you, start by training your layout skills.

Do you need help with this? You can find everything you need to train your layout skills in the blog post “Resources To Help You Perfect Your Layout”. (Click link or image to access!)

2. Thickness

The thickness of your prefelt will depend on which projects you’ll be applying it to.

If your goal is to use it to create any kind of surface pattern on a felt, you should create a thin prefelt, so that it becomes part of the surface as opposed to being elevated on the surface.

If you’re planning a differential shrinkage project, your prefelt will need to be thick. I suggest at least double as thick as the base felt. This is exactly what creates the differential shrinkage, since a thinner felt shrinks much more than a thicker one.

3. The degree to which it’s compacted

A prefelt can go all the way

  • from the fibers just holding together (with a shrinkage of 10% or less; you can easily pull it apart)
  • to being much more compact (like the one in the video above; nearly impossible to pull apart).


Now, you may be asking yourself when to opt for the softer or for the harder ones. So, here are a couple of principles to guide you:

  • A soft prefelt attaches very easily to your background since the fibers still have a lot of potential to felt. But, because of that, it will blend more with the background as well.
  • A harder prefelt, on the other hand, can be very difficult to attach to the background since its fibers are much more felted already. But, because of that, it will retain its shape a lot better than a soft one.


Again, the decision to compact it more or less will largely depend on what your goals for your project are.

There’s a little trick you can use to help a harder prefelt attach to the background. You can use a dog brush (or even a metallic brush from the hardware store) to pull up some fibers on the side of the felt that you’ll be attaching to the background wool. These teased out fibers will more easily bind to the new wool than if your prefelt is completely smooth. (Check out the video above for more information.)


What can you add to your handmade prefelt?

Prefelts can be made with any wool type you normally use for felting. Consequently, you can also add all possible embellishment fiber or other materials to your prefelt that you would add to your felt.

As I mentioned last week, this is one of the biggest advantages of making your own prefelts to use in your projects. This alone gives you a huge potential to use handmade prefelts to decorate your projects.

These are the guidelines you need to start working with prefelts. Unfortunately, I can’t give you any precise recipes because there aren’t any. You will need to experiment, make samples, and get to know how wool reacts.

The more you work with prefelts, the more you’ll be able to make them even, and get a feeling for how thick and how compact they should be for the effects you want to achieve in your projects.

Next time, we’ll dive even deeper into this topic, and talk about the best felting techniques to create your prefelts, as well as how you can use them for your projects.

I hope you’re enjoying this series and I’ll talk to you soon!


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