Felt

From Academic Kids

Felt was also the name of a 1980s' UK indie band.
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Felt_800.jpg
A selection of felt cloth

Felt is a non-woven cloth that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibers. The fibers form the structure of the fabric.

Felt is the oldest form of fabric known to man. It predates weaving and knitting, although there is archaelogical evidence from the British museum that the first known thread was made by winding vegetable fibres on the thigh. Felt dates back to at least 6,500 BC where remains were found in Turkey.

Felt is now widely used as a medium for expression in textile art as well as design, where it has significance as an ecological textile. (See International Feltmakers Association (http://www.feltmakers.com) for more information.)

Felt is made by a process called wet felting, where the natural wool fibre is stimulated by friction and lubricated by moisture (usually water), and the fibres move at a 90 degree angle towards the friction source and then away again, in effect making little "tacking" stitches. Only 5 percent of the fibres are active at any one moment, but the process is continual, and so different 'sets' of fibres become activated and then deactivated in the continual process.

This "wet" process utilises the inherent nature of wool and other animal hairs, because the hairs have scales on them which are directional. The hairs also have kinks in them, and this combination of scales (like the structure of a pine cone) are what react to the stimulation of friction and cause the phenomenon of felting. It tends to work well only with woolen fibres as their scales, when aggravated, bond together to form a cloth.

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A traditional Styrian felt hat, now specially produced for the tourist market

Knitted woollen garments which shrink in a hot machine wash can be said to have felted — an example of how the fibres bond together when combined with the movement of the washing machine, the heat of the water, and the addition of soap. This explains why we hand wash or cold machine wash woolen clothes.

Cheaper felt is usually man-made. Man-made felt, if made using the wet method, has a minimum of 30% of wool fibres combined with other manmade fibres. This is the minimum required to hold a fabric together with the fibres alone. It would be difficult to achieve a stable fabric by hand at this ratio. All other wholly man-made felts are actually needle-felts.

Needle-felt is a man-made form created by the use of barbed needles forcing groups of fibres through a web of carded fibres to create a non woven fabric structure. This is not true felt.

Loden is a type of felt originally worn in the Alpine regions, which has recently gained worldwide acceptance as a textile for fine and durable clothing.

See also: felting, fuzzy felts.de:Filz eo:Felto fr:Feutre nl:Vilt (textiel)

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