How to Felt a Sweater. - The Magic Onions

How to Felt a Sweater.

I have poor little sick children today… stuffy noses and a barking cough. They need lots of ‘mummylove’ and some quiet and gentle activities to keep their minds off their sore throats and their watering eyes.
Felting sweaters is a great activity to do when you need to be indoors… and all the lovely treasures you can make from felted sweaters will make you crazy to start!
Just have a look at some of these gorgeous felted sweater creations I found browsing Etsy!

Gorgeous felted sweater bird softie

A colorful owl from The Lavender Tree.

Gorgeous felted sweater purseAn elegant purse from Needles and Kim.

Sweet felted sweater baby bonnetAnd a beautiful baby bonnet from Sesame Seed Design.

We had a few projects on our ‘to do’ that I had been saving for a day just like this. Out came my saved sweaters for felting.
Not just any recycled sweater will felt. It has to be made from animal fiber… wool, cashmere, alpaca, etc. Alas, synthetic or plant fibers don’t felt. A blend will sometimes felt… make sure it is at least 80% animal fiber and you might just get lucky.
I often find wonderful recycled wool and cashmere sweaters at garage sales… for a steal too! And there are always a few at The Good Will and other thrift shops to choose from.
Today, I felted two of my favorite cashmere sweaters… (chocolate stain and holes, alas!). Time to reinvent them and create new treasures to be loved just as much as I the old sweaters on a warm, wintery day.
Both were 100% Cashmere.

100 percent animal fiber for felting a sweater

I always put the sweater in an old pillowcase to felt it. You will be surprised at how much fiber comes free in the felting process and if your sweater wasn’t in a pillowcase, this fiber would be washed out with the soapy water and clog your washing machine. I also always put a few golf balls into the pillowcase as they help speed the felting process… don’t tell A Good Man that that is where his golf balls disappear to!
Golf balls in the pillowcase for felting a recycled sweater
Tie a knot in your pillow case and pop it into a HOT wash with the usual amount of washing liquid.
The felting occurs when the hot water, detergent and agitation shrinks the fibers in the sweater. The fibers shrink closer and closer together until the weave of the sweater is no longer visible. I usually find that I need to agitate my recycled sweaters for 3 washing cycles before they are felted properly.
When you are happy that your sweaters are felted, pop them into the dryer to solidify the felting process… the dryer fluffs the fabric nicely.
I extracted a handful of fiber from the pillowcase… glad it didn’t wash out with the soapy water as I’m sure it would have blocked my washing machine and turned our calm, gentle day, upside down!
My poor K, she got great comfort from resting her head on our newly felted sweaters, still warm and cozy from the dryer.
The soothing warmth gave us great inspiration to make her an Aromatherapy Rice Pillow. This treasure is now her favorite belonging and she went to bed tonight breathing a little easier for its comforting touch.
Tomorrow, I will share how we made our Aromatherapy Rice Pillow from our recycled sweater… you’ll see, I will think of any way to limit the need to sew! No one believes me, but I am dreadfully ‘sewing challenged!’
Blessings and magic until tomorrow.
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Donni Webber is the mom behind the popular natural living Waldorf website and blog, The Magic Onions - where the magic of nature and the wonder of childhood collide to make each moment a precious gift. She is a photographer, writer, crafter, wife and mother of two inspiring young children. Her work has been featured in many popular publications, including HGTV, Better Homes and Gardens, Disney and Apartment Therapy.

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  1. I never thought of felting cashmere… or putting them in a pillow case. That’s a “duh” and a ‘head smack’ for me. What would I do with out you? Now if only I had cashmere….

  2. I would not have thought about putting it in a pillowcase! To think of all the fiber clogging up the washing machine – yikes! Thanks for the tips! I have a sweater I’ve been wanting to felt for a while but never got around to and now I’m glad for the procrastination! :)

  3. Thanks for this! Can’t wait to try it. : )

  4. What a great way to reuse a sweater you loved but can no longer wear. I’m waiting to give this a go until I have the right sweater to do it with. Thanks for the tips.

  5. Thanks for posting – I can’t wait to see the projects! I have always love the felted look but never knew anything about it. Great inspiration!

  6. This is a blessing in disguise for me. I just thrifted a whole bunch of sweaters yesterday and felted them in the washer…didn’t use a pillow case and there sure was lots of fluff fluffing around in there. Sounds like I better make sure our washer isn’t clogged before doing another load! Thank goodness you posted this!


  7. I was JUST asking myself how this is done. This kind of stuff is talked about in my Holistic Mom’s Network chapter gatherings all the time! I am so excited. I can’t go to Good Will without coming home at least one sweater! My gremlins are coming along… I am so inspired by your work… thank you SO much for sharing all your tips and tricks. :)

  8. Oh, thank you for the tips! I’ve been wanting to try this. Is yours a top loading washer? I wonder if I’ll have problems using my front loader since it uses less water.

  9. There is no end to what you know how to do. I have been having a lot of fun with felted sweaters this fall, too, after a friend gave me a heap of them. I hope the children feel better soon. My child is also under the weather with stuffy nose, asthma cough, and earache. He too is very comforted by a pile of clothes fresh from the dryer. love, Beth

  10. A pillowcase to contain the fluff! Of course! {smacks forehead} I’m so glad I found you via One Pretty Thing. Next time I’ll use the pillowcase and the golf balls and see if my felting goes better. Thanks for the tips!

  11. beautiful! I have a blanket to felt, and this is an excellent tutorial. Thankyou

  12. I am so happy to have read your tips prior to my sweater felting frenzy. My washing machine is upstaris and I shudder just imagining the consequences of it clogging. I don’t want to associate those sorts of memories with happy crafting times!

  13. oh…exciting, I thought I might do this for little indoor slippers x thankyou x

  14. Thanks for this great ‘how-to’! I just tried my hand at felting yesterday, it wasn’t particularly successful, but enough to try again. I found the hard way about the excess fibers, thank goodness my washer didn’t break! Next I will be utilizing the pillow case, & golf balls, and expanding my search from just wool to other animal fibers. You’ve been so helpful! Thanks!

  15. Sometimes you have to felt them 2-3 times to get it the way you want it. There are so many things you can do with them, that I never tire of dreaming up projects:-)

  16. im happy that i found your blog post about felting, is very useful. And I have one question, can i mix different colors? like green and red, will they bleed color and ruin each other?

  17. I saw a suggestion to toss a Shout color catcher sheet in the pillowcase with the sweaters and golf balls to keep the colors from running. Hope this helps. I have yet to try felting and so look forward to it.

  18. Great help and instructive details. Don’t have any golf balls. Any other suggestions? Am a cashmere nut so will love to see what my old sweaters turn into.

    • Hi Eva,
      Tennis balls work well too. You’ll LOVE what you can do with cashmere… all kinds of wonderful projects that use felted cashmere.
      xo Donni


  1. […] it directly in the machine; put it in a pillowcase that you tie-up properly first. In short follow these instruction. I didn’t; I just did as  I was told. The pillowcase part is crucial but I didn’t add […]

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