When making a wool soaker or wool longies from 100% wool recycled sweaters, you always want to felt the wool to make it thicker so that it has greater protection against wetness. During felting, the wool fibers join tightly together, permanently shrinking and thickening the sweater. Depending on the type of diaper item you are making you may want your sweater to be very felted (thick) or only a little felted (thinner). You should always felt the sweater before you make your diaper item, if you felt after the item will shrink and will be too small.
How to felt:
- Put your sweaters into the washer, add some detergent, wash on hot, rinse on cold.
- Dry on hot in the dryer. (Make sure you empty the lint catch, felting causes a lot of lint buildup)
- Look at the thickness and stretchiness of your sweaters…..If you want them thicker repeat steps one and two. If not, go ahead and sew your soaker/longies/wraps from your newly felted sweater.
In general, washing on hot only once will not fully felt your sweater, it will only be partially felted. This is fine since you are looking for that particular texture to make your diaper item. However, because the wool is not fully felted, you must always wash that diaper item by hand so that it does not felt further. Putting it in the washer/dryer once it is sewn will only result in a super small diaper that will only fit a newborn (if your lucky!) A fully felted sweater will be very thick and very tight and not actually all that appealing to make a diaper with anyway (in my opinion). Washing by hand isn’t really a problem because you are going to want to wash with Eucalan wool wash and lanolize with lanolin anyway.
Felting is really an art because in some ways you can control how felted the sweater is, by the number of times you wash and dry, but in other ways you can’t: it never ceases to amaze me how each sweater comes out of the dryer looking totally different. Some shrink a ton right away and become thick matted rugs, others remain soft and manageable regardless of how many trips they take through the washer/dryer.