Felt is a versatile fabric that has been used for many different projects for a long time. It is a non-woven fabric where the fibers have been meshed together. To make felt, there is no need for looms or spindles and that is why it is one of the oldest fabrics you can find.
Felt is used in making rugs, shoes, and clothing because it can retain warmth. It is also used in industrial applications such as soundproofing and padding. For crafting, you can use felt to make decorations, brooches, and different toys and keepsakes.
There is a variety of felt fabrics available in the market. You will find more synthetic types and also some that are more natural, made from sheep’s wool. You will be able to find a lot of color variants in the synthetic felt types while the natural ones will be undyed. Different weights and thicknesses can also be found.
So is felt waterproof? While felt is water repellent, it is not entirely waterproof. There are ways make felt waterproof but that might come at the cost of its softness. Its water-repellent properties still make felt popular for hats and warm clothing.
In this guide, we’ll talk more in-depth about whether felt is waterproof or not. We’ll go over the ways that you can make it waterproof and how you should be treating it if it has to come into contact with water.
Is Felt Waterproof?
Felt fabric has traditionally been made from natural fibers like cotton that are meshed together. It is often inexpensive and easy to find is well-appreciated for its water-repelling characteristic. There are also synthetic felt fabrics as well as natural ones. These are also only water repellent, not waterproof.
Felt can absorb water as it is a natural insulator. Fibers in the felt fabric don’t have a very tight bond, so water will make its way into these spaces.
This is precisely what helps felt take on fabric dyes so easily, but the fabric is still not made to be wet for long periods. Felt can withstand a fair bit of wear and tear, but too much water soaking into its fabric can change its shape and even ruin your project.
Caring For Felt Items
It is best not to submerge your felt crafts in water if you need to wash them or clean them. You can always use a damp cloth and brush to clean it, but don’t submerge it if you don’t have to.
You can take your felt clothing to the dry cleaner, and if you really must wash it, opt for a quick hand wash – spot-treating, if possible – and avoid using the machine.
If you would still like to have waterproof felt for your craft projects, you can always buy treated felt fabric. Polyester felt is often treated with chemicals that make it waterproof. It won’t have the same feel as a normal felt fabric but it will provide you a waterproof element.
If polyester felt is not something you want to use for your crafts, you can always try to protect it. Protecting the felt will help you in preventing too much water absorption. Stiffening felt fabric can also help in reducing water absorption.
How to Make Felt Waterproof – and Stiff
Felt is not waterproof by nature. It can repel water to some extent but will absorb water if wet for too long.
If you need a waterproof felt for your project and treated polyester felt won’t do, you can always make it waterproof yourself.
Many fabric waterproofing sprays can help you with felt fabrics. While felt is not the same as many manufactured fabrics, these prays will help you attain some sort of waterproofing which can then enable you to wash and clean them much easier.
Most waterproofing fabric sprays are heat-activated and water-based. This means that they should not affect the color, feel, or flexibility of your felt fabric.
How to Make Felt Stiffer
Stiffening your felt fabric can also help you protect it from absorbing too much water. It can make it less susceptible to absorbing too much water again enabling you to clean it better and display your projects outside.
To stiffen your felt fabrics, you can use the following process:
- Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan.
- Mix 2-3 tablespoons of corn-starch with ½ cup of cold water until smooth and milky.
- Mix this mixture into the boiling water and stir consistently.
- Keep stirring on the stovetop for about 2 minutes until it thickens up.
- Coat the felt in this solution, starting with the lighter colors first.
What Are the Disadvantages of Felt?
Felt can attract moths due to its absorbent nature. The moths feed off of the moisture which can create holes in your felt crafts and clothing.
What Fabric is Similar to Felt?
Any fabric made from real wool will produce a fabric of similar texture, feel, and drape to felt. Likewise, it will be somewhat water-repellent, though not truly waterproof.
Are Felt and Fleece the Same?
No felt and fleece are not the same. They are made differently and of different materials and have their own finished looks and textures.
Felt is made from natural or synthetic wool fibers meshed together; the process uses the natural characteristic of fibers to want to stick together. Fleece is typically made of synthetic fibers that have been spun in a certain way to help it resemble items made of wool.
Felt is a very versatile fabric that you can use to make clothing, hats, upholstery, and many different craft projects. While it is water repellent, it is not waterproof. This is because it is naturally made and will absorb water in between the spaces of its fibers.
If you want to waterproof your felt fabric, you can try waterproofing sprays to make them close to waterproof. You can also stiffen it to prevent too much water absorption from occurring by using a mixture of corn-starch and water.