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What is wool felt? Natural materials vs plastic.

The Dutch can be so nice and direct. But you can also learn from it. For example, when I was still at markets and fairs with my felt bags and covers, I regularly heard comments along the lines of "I can buy a felt cover like this at Hema for 5.00 euros."

Because I always only work with pure wool, this was almost unimaginable for me. But in a picture, via the internet, it looks a bit the same. But that's the only thing, because you compare a sheep with a Coke bottle. Yes really, the difference is that big. You cannot convey the texture, the feel (the "touch") and strength of wool felt via a picture. So .. High time for an explanation! There is of course a huge difference between felt from Hema (or other store such as Action, Blokker, etc.) and that from Westerman Bags. In this blog I explain exactly what that difference is. Read more about sustainable wool felt, plastic wool felt and historical textiles below.

Felt - Hip or old-fashioned.
Felt and wool felt is completely hip, but did you know that felt from sheep wool is the oldest known textile type? It was used for socks, shoes, and hats long before our era. This is of course WOOL felt, because for a long time only natural fibers were available. In Mongolia they still make tents of it:


From sheep wool to felt - how?

Wool fibers open up when they get wet and are treated with (natural) soap. The fibers then interlock to form a larger whole. You call this wet felting. You can read more about this free (art) form of felting on us inspiration Pinterest board about hand felting.

Organic shapes with wool felt art object wet felt

By hand or by machine.
With hand felting or wet felting you can combine beautiful shapes and colors as an art form or you can transform it into a commodity. You can clearly see that the whimsical and organic shapes form a big contrast with the sleek shapes of the felt Westerman Bags bags. That's because we buy our felt from a filter shop. There the felt is mechanically felted to form a tight piece of fabric. The process is exactly the same as handles, except that a large part of the process is done by a machine. This felt arrives in large rolls of 2 meters wide in our studio and forms the basis of every design.

Rolls of machine felted wool felt in our workshop


Natural vs synthetic

What are the cheap felt covers made of? Made of plastic! Because you can also felted synthetic fibers. Synthetic felt is made of polyester or acrylic. This is not biodegradable and if your case has turned into waste it will be waste forever. If it is not collected at a rubbish dump, it ends up in the plastic soup. Wool, on the other hand, comes from a sheep; a renewable resource because a sheep keeps making new wool. The basic colors of our collection are 100% biodegradable; they are made of pure wool, without dyes.

An intermediate form is polyester felt; this synthetic felt is made from recycled material, such as PET bottles. I've been a fan of it for years Patagonia; they started as a clothing brand in the 90s with using recycled PET bottles for their fleeces and recently also have a clothing line made of recycled wool.


What makes wool so precious?

Shearing sheep is a time consuming job. A relatively large area (read grassland) is also needed per unit of wool. The demand for wool has increased enormously in recent years, which has pushed up the already high price even more.

The challenge for Westerman Bags!

We recognize our challenge in this; our pursuit of a good product. Because a material as precious and beautiful as wool felt only deserves a well thought-out design and functional product so that the special properties of the wool can come into its own.


Annemieke Jagat Prem:

Hi Johan, het is alweer even geleden dat je deze vraag stelde. Ik kan je er niet zoveel over vertellen aangezien ik uitsluitend 100% wolvilt gebruik, de natuurlijke variant. Groet, Annemieke Westerman

Sep 13, 2020

Johan Kraaijeveld:

Mooi artikel over wol en polyester en acryl. Ik lees echter niet het verschil tussen polyester en acryl. Kunt u mij hier nog iets meer uitleg over sturen?

Sep 13, 2020

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