PRE-FELTS OR HALF FELTS
Half-felts or pre-felts are used for inlaid work. I make mine by laying down about three layers of merino roving, covering it with protective netting and wetting it down with soapy water. I then rub it on one side only, just until it begins to hold together. You should be able to carefully pick up the felt and have it stay together as a whole piece. This can then be used to make cut-out designs which can be placed on the surface of an unfelted background of fiber. They will then become incorporated into the entire felt piece during the felting process. If you want to retain the integrity of the color of your half-felted design, be sure to inlay it onto a similar color of background fiber, so that contrasting fibers don't travel up through from the background and dilute your color -- unless of course you are aiming for a mottled or muted effect. I have used navy over cream and achieved a nice "denim" look for vests in the past.
I have laid wet half felts on a dry background and then wet the whole thing down and felted it, or I have used dry half-felts on a dry background with equally good results.
Surface interest can be created using items other than half-felted wool. Decorative yarns that have a large proportion of natural fiber content can be wound around on the surface of your fiber layers before felting. Pieces of knitted fabric from old sweaters or such can also be used, as can pieces of woven fabric. The latter should have a fairly open weave and preferably be of natural fiber content such as cotton, silk, linen, etc. Concerns about synthetic yarns adhereing firmly can be alleviated by sprinkling sine wisps of wool fiber over the surface of the yarn. This will help "trap" the yarn to the background fiber.
Just lay on your designs and felt as usual, giving a little added rubbing to the inlay pieces during the early stages.
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