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Felting Question

Ritzy | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I purchased wool jersey years ago online with the idea of felting.  I basted all raw edges together and have washed the yardage seven times, without detergent. However, soapsuds are appearing without even adding detergent. Has anyone had this result from felting?  


  1. katina | | #1

    You don't say if the fabric has reacted to the washing - has it become denser?Presumably you've used hot water?

    1. Ritzy | | #2

      Yes, the fabric has become much denser. The 10yd pc. has shrunk to 4yds. now, but I really don't care for the texture. I took the fabric to the coin wash to dry in a super hot drier, but I guess they have reduced the temp. as it didn't get any hotter than my drier at home. Decided I should just agitate longer, so I am washing on hot and agitating for 36min.(this is the second time for that length of time). Suds still showing up while agitating. I am really baffled as to the appearance of "suds".

      1. Ralphetta | | #3

        There have been times when I have continued to have suds when It didn't seem at all possible.  I began to suspect it was something in my water.  Maybe I'm nuts but does anyone know if that is possible?

        1. lovestosew | | #4

          Oh, no, you're not nuts - it may be something in your water. Do you know if you have hard or soft water? Hard water has more minerals than soft water and might be contributing to this situation. Um, that's about as scientific as I can get and someone much more knowledgeable than I could probably explain it much better. Hope you don't mind the "two cents" contribution.

          1. Ralphetta | | #5

            It;s bit so hard that I have rust stains, etc.. I rinse hand washables repeatedly and then at some point decide that's as good as it's going to get.  I guess the point that I was trying to make to the person doing the felting, was that she might NEVER reach a point of no sudsing at all.

            I too, am "chemical-knowledge challenged."  Maybe someone knows the answer.

          2. Ritzy | | #6

            We  have had a water softener over 32 yrs. I have not done any laundry since I began this project. I was assuming that after six times aggitating and rinsing  the suds would disappear. O well!

          3. katina | | #7

            Many years ago I was told to 'boil out' my washing machine occasionally. To do this, you set it for the longest cycle with the highest temperature and the maximum water level and let the machine run all the way through the cycle, without any items in it. This really cleans out any detergent residue - perhaps you could try this?

            Good luck.


          4. Ritzy | | #10

            Katina, I have not done as you recommended but have heard of doing as you suggest.  I also heard that adding white vinegar to the cycle, as you recommend, is also a good way to clear suds.

  2. Catherine2 | | #8

    At the risk of sounding like a "know it all", what you are doing is not felting, but fulling. To make felt you start with unspun fleece. The question is why are you tring to full wool fabric without soap. Wool is hydrophobic and without the soap to lubricate the scale and help the water to open them up the fabric will not full propperly ... no matter how many times you wash it. The suds you are getting are most likely from the factory applied finish (size) added to the fabric before shipping. I would sugest that you try again with a soft wool wash soap and a hot wash in short bursts. This should full the fabric evenly.

    1. Ritzy | | #9

      Thanks for the info Catherine. What exactly am I looking for when you recommend the "soft wool wash soap". Woolite? Thanks again.

      1. Catherine2 | | #11

        I use any washing detergent that has a neutral PH (acid / alkaline balance) and that says it can be used for wool. Just hot wash as per normal, stopping the cycle fairly often to check on the progress of the fulling. This method gives far greater control over the process. Once fulled, rinse the fabric in cold water; you should feel the fabric harden up slightly more as the cold water hits it; then, if you are happy with the fabric, air dry it, if not, a clothes drier will continue fulling the cloth, again though, check it fairly often. The surfce should be puckered, if you want a flatter finish, iron with a hot iron, through a wet cloth. If you add some white vinigar (1/2 a cup of vinigar to a litre of water) to the water used to wet the cloth it will help to smooth the surface. Have fun!

    2. mem | | #12

      this is a bit off the track but did you know that in the middle ages Fulling of wool was done by submerging the woven woollen cloth in stale urine and stomping on it for hours with the feet!! Hence the name "Fuller".

      1. Catherine2 | | #13

        I did know that ... and the it worked better if the urine was stale ... (PEWWW) just as well soap has come such a long way???

        1. MaryinColorado | | #14

          Ewk! That is what I call real trivia, hard to believe isn't it?   I don't know if you can use fabric softner on this, but when a washer oversuds adding fabric softner corrects it.  White vinegar might also work.

          1. Catherine2 | | #15

            The development of mechanised fulling (less Smell) was one of the drivers for the Industrial Revolution and the punch card system for the Jacquard Loom was possibly the world first computer, a first in the Technology Revolution  .... so you could say that textiles have driven the greatest changes in society .... somthing to ponder, particularly when someone describes us as "Doing a bit of Sewing" ???

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