Sewing With Wool Felt - A Beginner's Guide To Blanket Stitch

We LOVE sewing with wool felt here at Oliver Rabbit. Our new lesson series is designed to teach the beginner, or remind the pro, how to appliqué and sew wool felt together using the blanket stitch.

This simple guide is a preface to our beginner lessons and provides very basic information for the true novice. We hope you find it helpful and embark on many happy hours engaged in the magic of making something.

What is wool felt?

Simply put, wool felt is a non-woven textile made from natural wool fibers. In a process that combines moisture, heat and friction, the fibers are condensed and pressed tightly together, creating a texturized matt effect. It is available as pure wool and wool blends, commonly combined with rayon.

Wool felt is available in flat sheets of various sizes and by the yard. It comes in different densities, measured in mili-meters. For most of our sewing projects, we work with felt that is 1mm - 3mm thick.  

Why do we love it?

Wool felt is a great choice for hand made sewing projects and crafts, especially for beginners and young children learning to sew. Here are just a few of the reasons we love it:

  • Color - available in a plethora of vibrant color palettes
  • Durability - strong yet soft to the touch 
  • Texture - beautiful wool fibers, rich with character 
  • Crisp edges when cut - it doesn't fray
  • Kid and earth friendly - available toxin free and Oeko-Text certified

What thread is best for working with felt? 

Cotton embroidery floss is most commonly used for hand sewing or appliquéing wool felt. It is flexible, soft, colorfast, fade resistant and comes in 458 colors! It is also inexpensive. Each skein is comprised of six easily separated strands. I like to use two or three strands, depending on the project. 

Perle Cotton is a highly mercerized, (treated to increase strength and add a bit of sheen), single-strand, cotton embroidery thread. It is extra soft and lustrous, thus the name, "Perle," and does not kink or knot as frequently as the regular six-strand floss. Perle cotton comes in either a ball or skein and is available in different sizes (thicknesses). Color options are more limited than the six-strand floss. I like to use Perle cotton thread to add dimension and volume to my stitching.

Thread Length - For blanket stitch appliqué, you will need a length of thread approximately four times the distance of the area you are going to stitch. Long working threads can be cumbersome, curl and knot. We show you how to seamlessly end and begin your thread in Beginner Lesson 2 so you can use shorter lengths.

What about thread color?

Choosing the thread color for your project depends somewhat on the effect you want. If you want your thread to "blend" with your felt, choose a color slightly darker than an exact match. Contrasting thread color can be an effective way to create highlights and depth to your project.  

What type of needle should I use?

We use embroidery needles when hand sewing and appliquéing with wool felt. Embroidery needles are similar to regular sewing needles, or sharps. They have the same sharp tip but are slightly longer because they have a larger eye for thicker threads to fit through. Needle sizing is universal. Keep in mind that the smaller the number size, the larger the needle. So, a size 6 needle is larger than a size 10.

Choose the smallest needle that will accommodate the thickness of your thread and that you are comfortable sewing with. The smaller the needle, the less likely you are to have unsightly holes in your felt.

What is the blanket stitch?

The blanket stitch is a decorative, hand-sewing stitch, traditionally used to finish the edge of an un-hemmed blanket.  It is now commonly used in sewing and crafting projects from beginner to expert levels. It is worked from the front of your piece and can be sewn from right to left or left to right. When used as an edging, it can be seen on both sides of your felt. 

The blanket stitch is also used as an appliqué embellishment stitch to secure one piece of fabric to another, as well as for sewing two pieces of felt together.

Choose Quality Felt

Get the good stuff! You will be much happier creating your project if you use pure wool felt or a wool/rayon blend. Acrylic felt, very inexpensive and available at most craft stores, is fuzzy and less smooth than wool felt. It can tear and become weak in the middle, distorting your project shape. Check your local fabric store to see what they offer. There are also many online shops offering quality wool felt for sewing and craft projects.

Use Sharp Tools

Wool felt, even the 1mm density, is thicker than most other fabrics. Use sharp scissors to cut your pattern pieces and a sharp blade if cutting with a rotary cutter. Take advantage of those crisp edges that don't fray!

Take me to the lessons, please!