Can anyone help us with a problem please? We are trying to find a method of felting large pieces of machine-knitted fabric.
We have knitted alpaca yarn on quite a loose setting, pressed it, sewn it to a backing cloth (to stop it curling up) and felted it in the washing machine. This works well on small pieces, but the problem when we tried a larger piece is that it felts unevenly, I suppose because it does not get evenly exposed to the agitation.
Any tips please?
Brocade, what are you felting large pieces for? How large? When I've felted knit pieces, it's never been sewn to a backing material.
I'm making large pieces so that I can try sewing jackets out of it. The alpaca seems to felt well and makes lovely sheeny fabric with the small samples we have tried. I sewed it to a (temporary) backing fabric to stop the knitting curling up at the edges - if it is not held apart from itself it just felts into a solid lump!
My method may work for you. I full a test piece of the fabric - not too small - and then make a rough calculation of the amount of shrinkage in both directions. Then I cut the remaining fabric into pieces to be used for the back, fronts, sleeves etc, allowing for this shrinkage. If you monitor the washing process, you can ensure the pieces don't shrink/full more than you want. I dry the pieces, press as for wool and then cut out the garment pieces. I find this easier than trying to deal with the whole piece at once.
As far as I'm aware a bamboo blind is used when making felt, and not when fulling a knitted fabric. In the case of felt making, wool roving is used. Here is a link about making felt.
You may find the following link useful also:
Thanks Katina - but how do you stop the cut pieces unravelling and curling up?
Serge the edges first, or zigzag stitch if your fabric unravels easily. Fabrics behave differently according to their type. Or perhaps you could full the entire piece very lightly, to 'control' it, then cut the pieces and wash some more. You usually have to experiment to get the required results.
Katina, that first link has another link that has ZILLIONS (may be slight exaggeration) of links on felting/fulling. I bookmarked that for any felting obsession that may hit me later.
Wish I could tell you more but recently, somewhere, I read something about a woman felting/fulling large pieces on a table by wrapping them in a wooden blind that she rolled and used to agitate. Maybe worth trying?
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