When I am asked if I use craft felt in any of my classes, I like to let my students know what the differences are between craft felt and wool felt. For starters, craft felt is created with manmade fibers, mostly plastic and synthetic fibers, which have been needled and/or heat processed to cause the fibers to adhere to one another. Wool felt is made primarily or entirely from natural animal fibers, mostly, sheep wool.
Wool felt is more expensive than craft felt, and for good reason: animals require care and feeding in order to produce their wool over and over again throughout the life of the animal. Most wool producing animals (sheep, alpacas, llamas, etc.) are sheared once or twice a year, to keep the animal comfortable and healthy. Wool is a sustainable resource for this reason.
When it comes to using a felted base for needle felting, I think that wool felt allows for the addition of fibers to be more cohesive, easier to adhere those additions without distortion, and gives a final feel to the project that feels more complete. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use craft felt as a base-it’s merely a preference of mine, your mileage may vary, as it were.
If you have a chance to play with both craft felt and wool felt for an experiment, I suggest you give it a try so that you can decide for yourself which you prefer. Wool felt can be purchased at a number of places, a couple of my favorites are these:
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