Sewing felt has many unique qualities that make it versatile and decorative. Felt comes in many amazing colors and patterns making it perfect for a wide variety of felt crafts. Learn how to sew felt find out the best felt stitch so you can enjoy its soft texture and vibrant colors.
Sewing Felt Tutorial
Felt is a non-woven fabric with fibers made from wool or synthetic fibers such as acrylic that have been matted together. Sewing felt can be purchased in squares or by the yard on a roll. There are generally large selections of different colors and prints when purchasing squares of felt.
Read more about what is felt
Felt is a great fabric for beginners to use. Their bright colors and easy to sew textures are perfect for all sorts of little gifts.
Felt Sewing Projects
Whenever you need a little handmade gift, get out the felt scrap box and rummage through all your bits and pieces to cut, make and trim little, felt sewing projects.
Ideas or sewing felt include
- Christmas decorations
- Gift bags
Every sewer needs a felt pincushion! This free pincushion pattern with a sewing machine applique makes a perfect gift for any sewer.
How to Sew Felt - TIPS
Learning how to sew felt is not difficult. Felt can be machine stitched together or hand embroidered. Here are a few tips and tricks for buying and cutting before sewing felt.
1. Best Types of Felt for Sewing
When sewing felt, there are 2 main types of felt - craft felt and wool felts. You can read more about what is felt.
Acrylic Craft Felt
Craft felt is generally bought in pre-cut pieces of 9" x 12" (23xm x 30cm) from craft shops and is 100% acrylic or polyester. Occasionally it can also be purchased on rolls at fabric shops.
Acrylic felt can be a cheap option for items that won't be washed such as felt gift bags and pincushions. Purchase it in squares from your local haberdashery or craft supplies shop. Acrylic felt is great for projects such as felt flowers and pincushions and kid's craft projects.
Wool Felt and Wool Blends
The second type of sewing felt is wool felt which can be 100% wool or more commonly, blended with rayon. Where possible, choose the best quality felt made from wool as it is generally easier to work with and softer than acrylic felt. Pure wool felt of course is more expensive than the blended variety.
Take note of the washing instructions that come with wool felt. Most should be hand washed in cold water to prevent shrinking and pillage. Wool felt is great to use for doll and toy making, and ragdoll hair as it lasts well and doesn't pill as much.
2. Cutting Felt
Cutting felt is easy too! Use a pair of sharp scissors to cut straight lines and small scissors for the curves. Felt is very forgiving as it does not fray.
The edges of your felt will not unravel or look ragged as you cut and trim. In fact, if you make a little mistake or have some extra offcuts just store them in a felt scrap box to use later. There will be an endless supply of shapes and sizes to add decorative trims to the items you make.
How to Cut Felt with Freezer Paper
For smaller, hard-to-cut pieces, use freezer paper to get accurate cutting. Freezer paper is a kitchen product that can also be used for sewing and quilting.
Freezer paper has a waxy surface on one side that can be ironed to your felt on a cool iron setting. You can then draw shapes on the freezer paper and cut through both layers.
For the below sample, I cut the freezer paper to my printer paper size and printed the shapes. Make sure you print on the unwaxed or matt side of the paper. After you have precisely cut your felt shape, gently peel off the freezer paper.
3. Sewing Felt By Hand
The most basic of embroidery stitches look great on felt. A simple running stitch, blanket stitch, and chain stitch with some buttons and sequins add to the most basic designs.
Here are the hand sewing tips for felt:
BEST NEEDLES FOR SEWING FELT - When sewing felt by hand, use a medium-weight hand sewing needle. If you are using a thicker embroidery floss you will need a thicker needle with a larger eye such as a crewel or embroidery needle.
BEST SEWING THREAD FOR FELT - Use either a strengthened polyester thread or embroidery floss for a decorative look. Embroidery floss comes in strands that are twisted together so you can separate the stands and vary the thickness. Thicker threads look great for a decorative look, especially when using contrasting colors.
THREADING: For hard to thread floss, use a needle threader to pass the thread through the eye of the needle.
STITCHES: Learn how to sew basic hand embroidery stitches such as
- Blanket stitch (Great for joining seam and applique)
- Whip stitch (Best stitch for joining seams)
- Running stitch (Use for applique)
- Backstitch (Use for applique)
- Ladder stitch (Best stitch for closing gaps with an invisible stitch)
- Chain stitch (Great stitch for applique)
4. Sewing Felt by Machine
Here are the machine sewing tips for felt:
NEEDLES: Medium-sized, sharp sewing machine needles are best as a thicker needle will make holes in the fabric. Universal sewing needles work well. (Read my guide to sewing needle sizes).
THREAD: Use a strong all-purpose polyester thread for sewing felt. Cheaper threads tend to break more easily so purchase a good quality like Rasant, Gutterman, or Coates.
MACHINE FOOT: For most projects, an all-purpose sewing foot can be used for sewing felt. Glitter felts and other felts with a textured surface may benefit from using a Teflon foot instead. A Teflon foot will glide over difficult fabrics that would otherwise stick to the bottom of a regular metal foot.
STITCH LENGTH: If you are sewing felt seams on a sewing machine, a short straight stitch around size 2.0 works well. When sewing applique, you can use a small zig-zag or 3 step zig-zag to seal the edges. The length of the zig-zag should be longer than you would use on woven fabrics as felt does not fray on the edges. Start testing with a width of 3.5 and a length of 2.0 and see if you like how it looks.
Sewing Felt Projects
The patterns and ideas for sewing felt crafts are endless. You are sure to become a felt fanatic when you realize the wealth of sewing opportunities felt can bring to your sewing table. Now you know how to sew felt why not try some fun patterns!
Sewing Felt Video Tutorial
Sewing Felt FAQs
Does Felt Need to be Hemmed?
Since felt doesn't fray on the edges, it doesn't need to be hemmed or finished. This makes sewing felt much quicker and easier than sewing many other fabrics. If you do wish to hem felt, use a machine straight stitch or a small running stitch by hand.
Should I Wash Felt Before Sewing It?
When sewing felt, I don't advise that you wash it first. Most felt projects are not designed to be washed, so there is no need to prewash your fabric. Decorations, pincushions, and felt toys don't need to be washed ever.
If you do have a felt item that will need to be washed regularly, then you should certainly prewash it. Check the care instructions for the felt. Generally, you would do a cold hand wash and dry flat in the shade.
Does Felt Fray When Cut?
No felt doesn't fray when cut. This is one of the many reasons sewing felt is so popular. There is much less work involved in finishing edges. If you do wish to finish the edge of the felt, consider a hand stitch-like blanket stitch that covers and protects the edges.
Is it Better to Glue or Sew Felt?
While sewing felt is a long-lasting and strong option, there are occasions when it is faster and better to glue felt. If your felt item will not need to be washed, it can be glued together instead. Use a craft or fabric glue that dries clear for best results. Applique felt is ideal for using glue instead of sewing, while felt seams are better to be sewn.
Does Felt Have a Right Side?
Most felt has no right or wrong side. It has no direction in the pile and can be cut and sewn on either side. The exception to this is some felts with a printed pattern or glitter on one side. These are normally craft squares that are stiffer and not suitable for all felt projects.
Can Felt Be Ironed?
Most felts can be ironed. Check the composition of your felt and change your iron settings accordingly. Wool and acrylic felt will need a low iron temperature and a pressing cloth between the iron plate and the felt. This will protect the felt from melting or marking. Hanging the felt overnight or placing it in your steamy bathroom while you shower may stop you from needing to iron larger pieces of felt.
How to Hand Sew Felt with Blanket Stitch
Blanket stitch is a popular stitch to sew felt applique and join felt pieces. Start by inserting the needle a short distance from the edge at (1).
It will exit at (2) on the edge of the felt piece. Before pulling through the needle, make sure the thread is under the tip.
Pull through and you will have your first blanket stitch. See my full tutorial on how to do blanket stitch.
How to Sew Felt - In Conclusion
Sewing felt is easy with the right needles and thread. If you are in a hurry, use your sewing machine; otherwise, enjoy doing some felt hand sewing with a beautiful blanket stitch.