Felting with Alpaca Fleece - Beginners Guide

JulieH Feb 23, 2009 Arts & Crafts
Alpaca fleece is the most luxurious naturally occuring fibre and is ideal for felting. Felting is something anyone can learn very easily and, once the fleece is felted, you can create great products for yourself or gifts for friends. There are a number of different felting techniques, however, this step by step tutorial provides an easy technique for beginners and children. I suggest that for your first attempt at felting you start with a small piece say 12 - 18 inches square.

 

GETTING STARTED

Before you start felting it is essential that the fleece you use has been carded, which essentially means combed, to remove any vegetable matter and so that all of the fibres in the fleece are running in the same direction.  You can either comb the fleece yourself (which is a little time consuming unless you purchase a drum carding machine) or purchase fleece that has already been carded.

 

 

What you will need

You will need:

1. Carded alpaca fleece (the number of rolls of carded fleece you use will determine the thickness of the felt you make)

2. Natural Soap Flakes

3. Hot and cold water

4. Bubble wrap cut slightly larger than the size of the felt you want to make

5.Two pieces of material (sheer curtain material is ideal) also cut slightly larger than the size of the felt you want to make

Preparation

1. Add the soap flakes to hot water (about 1 cup of flakes to 2 litres of water) and mix in thoroughly

2. Lay out bubble wrap (bubble side up) on a flat surface

3. Place one of the pieces of cloth on top of the bubble wrap

4. Unroll one bundle of fleece and lay on top of cloth

5. Repeat step 4 with all the other bundles of fleece making sure that each layer is crossing the one underneath (ie fibres in each layer are at 45o to the layer underneath)

Method

1. Completely soak fleece with soapy water mixture and flatten down gently

2. Place the other piece of cloth on top of layered fleece and dampen down

3. Starting from bottom edge, roll bubble wrap and layers into a sausage and then roll the sausage backwards and forwards 50 times

4. Unroll the "sausage" and then spin the layers 45o so that the side edge is now at the bottom

5. Apply more of the soapy water mix over the top of the cloth on top of the fleece

6. Starting from the bottom edge, roll the bubble wrap into a sausage again, and roll the "sausage" backwards and forwards 50 times

7. Repeat steps 3 to 6, eight to ten times so you have done a total of between 400 - 500 rolls.

Finishing

1. Once you have completed the rolling process, unroll the sausage and remove the felted alpaca fibre from the top and bottom layers of cloth and bubble wrap

2. Dunk the felted alpaca cloth in hot water and then lay it flat on a table

3. Apply more of the soapy mixture over the top of the felted alpaca and rub it in using a small circular motion working your way all over the felted cloth (for about 10 minutes)

4. Flip felted cloth over and repeat step 3 on the other side (what was previously the underside)

5. Take the piece of felt and scrunch it up and then throw it down on the table, and repeat this about 6 times (this stresses the fibres)

6. In a cold bucket of water, wash all of the soap out of the felt, ring out and then lay flat to dry.

Once you have mastered this simple process of felting you can become more adventurous and felt straight onto silk to create beautiful scarves and other garments.  You are really only limited by your own imagination.
What did you think of this tutorial?
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2 CommentsAdd a Comment
Jane legault on Feb 21, 2017
 
Nice information, thanks
JENNY GILLELAND on Jun 12, 2012
 
wow thank you have justgot my fleece today 4 colors can`twait to begin ..
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  • Last Updated : Feb 23, 2009