What are prefelts? Commercial vs. handmade prefelts

Apr 06, 2024

Years ago, I wrote a couple of blog posts about prefelts, but there are many details I didn’t mention back then. Since I still get a lot of questions about the topic, I thought it would make sense to write a new, more complete and up to date series.

This first part caters to new felt makers, who I know are often a bit confused about prefelts.

If you’re more experienced, this won't be new to you. But, as I explore the topic further, there'll be more details that may be useful for you too. So, I recommend keeping an eye on the rest of the series, if this is a topic that interests you.

We’ll start by looking at what prefelts are, and then talk about how and when to use them. So, let's dive in!



As the name suggests, a prefelt is a partially felted piece of wool felt. In other words, it’s simply a stage in the wet felting process before the fibers fully compact.

That, of course, means a prefelt can be further felted. And that is precisely why prefelts are so interesting. Since you can felt prefelts further, you can incorporate them in many different ways into your projects.

So, you may be asking yourself why you should make a piece of prefelt to add to a project. Why not just add wool of another color to your base wool to create decorations?

The thing is that adding shapes cut out of a prefelt instead of just unfelted wool allows you to get a crisp and well-defined design. The image below shows you one of my first wet felted bags. I used prefelts to create the squares. That’s why they’re so crisp. You’d never get that definition if you’d just used completely unfelted wool.



You may have already heard that there’s a difference between commercial/industrial prefelts and handmade prefelts. If you’re not sure what they are, and why you should choose one or the other, let’s have a closer look at both.

I recommend watching the video above to see what each of them looks like.


Industrial prefelts

Industrial prefelts are also called commercial prefelts or needle punch prefelts. They’re industrially produced (with short fiber wool) using machines with lots of felting needles.


  • They’re ready to use and very easy to work with.
  • They have an even thickness.


  • They’re more expensive than handmade prefelts.
  • They come in a lot of colors, but you may need a color that is simply not available.
  • They vary a bit in thickness, but not as much as handmade prefelt can, since you can choose how thick you want to make it.


Handmade prefelts

The handmade one is crafted with two or more layers, using wool tops or batts. and exactly the same process you know for wet felting. The only difference is that you don’t finish the felting process. You stop when the fiber is still loose and, for that reason, can still attach to new fiber.


  • They’re cheaper than commercial prefelts.
  • You can make them in any color you want.
  • They can have any thickness you need.
  • They can be more or less felted according to your needs.
  • They can be made with any type of wool.
  • You can add other fibers, patterns or even fabric to them.


  • They take time and work to prepare.
  • It may be difficult to make them even.


I use both industrial and handmade prefelts, depending on what I want to make. Later in this series, we’ll go deeper into that.

And that’s it for today. Next week, we’ll be looking at how you can make your own prefelts and how you can use them.

See you then!


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