How To Cut Out Felt – REVISED

EDIT: Whenever somebody works with any materials long enough, they come up with shortcuts and techniques that save time and give better results. Last year I shared a tutorial on how to cut out felt. I got so many “thank you”s from people that followed the instructions and got the results they were looking for. I later realized there was something else I do, that I didn’t consider sharing. When cutting out 2 pieces of felt, I often staple the pattern and felt pieces together. The staples lay flatter than pins, which is why I tape, and the staples can be removed (I have broken more than 1 nail doing this, however :) and most felts will be left without a trace. (Always test on your felt first to make sure it doesn’t snag of leave marks.) I will often staple pieces together with I am sewing. This prevents the pieces from sliding and keeps your work much flatter than pins. As a bonus, your thread isn’t constantly getting tangled in your straight pins.  I am reposting the blog on Cutting Out Felt with the revisions in red. Hope the new techniques work for you.

 One of the most common questions I get is “How do you cut your felt so straight and even?” I must admit I’ve developed a technique that works well for me that I’ll be happy to share. There may be better ways of doing it, this is just how I do it. So here goes! 

The biggest secrets to great looking felt projects is to have clean cut edges. I have a couple of tricks I use. FIRST, and I can’t stress this enough, get yourself very sharp scissors. I use Fiskars Razor Edged Scissors. You can find them HERE.  These scissors are at my side ALWAYS! The give a straight and very fine cut. I also own the Fiskar Sharpener. They can be found HERE. Note: I only need to use my sharpener on my old pairs of Fiskars. You shouldn’t have to sharpen the new scissors for a long time!

Then, when I’m cutting out felt, I use wide packing tape. NOTE: The packing tape can pull and stretch the felt if you are not careful. Before you use tape on your felt test it on a small piece. This technique does not work well on craft felt. The fibers are too loose and the tape will distort the felt. But it works well on high quality, dense, smooth felt. Experiment for yourself.

NOTE: Some people like to use freezer paper. I have done this on occasion. To do this print or trace your design to the dull side of the freezer paper. You can then iron this directly to the felt. I prefer the tape for a couple of reasons. First, I’m lazy. I do not keep my iron or ironing board out and I’d rather not hassle with it. Second, I have had some of the wax from the paper make some felts shiny, and lastly, I shrunk a piece of handmade felt even though I used just a warm setting on the iron. If you do like to use freezer paper, then simply skip all my comments about the tape.

How To Cut Out Felt Pieces: 

1] Cut out a paper pattern rather close to the cutting edge.

2] When cutting a single layer of felt, place the pattern on top of the felt and tape all the edges of the felt down. Then, when you cut, nothing slides. If you pin your pattern on, the edges can be slightly distorted and the pattern can slip along the edges. When you are cutting only 1 layer of felt, this is a wonderful technique. The tape will never touch the finished piece of felt since it is under the pattern piece. (Note: When cutting out a single layer of felt, the tape does not need to overhang the sides, it just needs to extend beyond the pattern piece by at least 1/4″. In the picture below, I show the tape overhanging the felt. This was only done so you could actually see the tape!

3] If you need to cut out 2 pieces of felt that will be sewn on top of one another, cut them out together so they are EXACTLY the same size. There are two ways that you can do this. For the first method, start by cutting out the 2 pieces of felt about 1/2″ – 1″ larger than the pattern. Then cut out the pattern as explained above and tape it on the front piece BUT this time, make sure your tape overhangs the top piece of felt by 2 or 3 inches.

4] Now, flip over the pattern and 2 pieces of felt. Using the extending tape, tape the back piece of felt. REMEMBER: The tape can pull and slightly stretch felt.  Use only enough tape to hold the pieces together. Do not press the tape down hard. And make sure there is always a part of the felt not taped on the back piece. This will be the spot you will use to help remove the tape.

5] To cut the felt, hold the felt tightly in one hand while cutting with the other. Hold the felt together close to the edge you are cutting.

6] Turn the piece over and gently remove any tape remaining on the back piece. Use a technique of removing the tape with one hand while the other slides under the tape, holding down the felt, preventing stretching.

7] You should now have 2 pieces of felt, exactly the same size, with clean, evenly cut edges.

NOTE: The sticky substance on the tape can get on the blades of your scissors. When that happens just wipe them down with some GOO BE GONE, found HERE, and they will be good as new!

8] The other method to cut out 2 pieces of felt at the same time is to staple the pieces together. IMPORTANT: Before stapling the felt for a finished piece, try it on an edge. This method works fine with most felt, but you want to make sure it doesn’t leave marks in the felt. Begin by taping the pattern to the top piece of felt as described above. Place a second piece of felt under it.

9] Staple the 2 pieces together near the edge. Make sure you keep the 2 pieces of felt flat and smooth. You don’t need lots of staples, just enough to keep it from slipping.

10] Cut out the felt.

11] Turn the felt over, loosen the staples, and remove.

12] In the finished piece you should not be able to see the staple holes. It really is no different than pinning the felt together, this just lays flat.

NOTE: You may also staple felt pieces together for stitching. Remember, always check on a scrap to make sure your particular felt won’t snag or show the staple marks.


 

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Comments

  1. Guest says

    This is a great technique. One I will put to good use. My mother does cake decorating and has recently purchased some low tack tapes to temporarily hold icing pieces in place. Maybe this kind of tape may help with the ‘pulling’ of some of the craft felts without the distorting and tearing of the fibres.

    Just a thought.

  2. says

    I never thougth of that, I’ll put it on use, inmedeatly! ^^

    But what give’s me real troubles are the Inner Cut-offs… such as the “O” inner circle… any help? :S

    • Kimara says

      Before you tape your "O" or anything with an inner circle to your felt, cut out the inner circle on your pattern. Then, when you tape your pattern to the felt, there will be "tape on felt" in the inner circle. This will hold the pattern firmly to the felt as you cut out the inner circle. I cannot stress the importance of razor sharp scissors. And, it is a good idea to have small, embroidery scissors for small spaces. Hope that helps.

  3. Rebecca Smith says

    What kind of felt do you use? I’m having a hard time finding anything with higher quality than the cheap craft felt that is everywhere.

    • Kimara says

      I mostly use what is referred to as "wool felt" which is a blend, usually 15% to 20% wool, and the remainder a synthetic. I buy my felt online from "Wool Felt Central". Notice their button in the upper right column. If you buy felt from there make sure to use the code WEEFOLKART on check out because you’ll save 20% on your order.

      Wool felt differs from what is normally called 100% felt, which is, in fact all wool. There are many shops on line that sell 100% felt.

      I use the wool felt blends mainly because they are far cheaper than 100% wool felt, and I go through so much felt, the 100% wool felt would be cost prohibitive. Note: both the wool felt blends and the 100% felt are usually not colorfast, and they will shrink, so if you are using it for clothing or for items that will need laundering, it can be problematic.

      There are some decent 100% synthetic felts available. The little crafting felt squares you can buy at craft shops are not not and ball up rather quickly. 

      If you have a regular fabric store around your house, you might be able to find the wool blends or 100% wool felt. If not, many companies on line do sell them. Hope that helps. 

  4. Caroline says

    I just discovered your blog a couple of months ago, YAY for me, and I thought I made my way through all of your crafts but I missed this. I always wondered why your felt projects always look neater than mine, now I know. I also like the idea of stapling. I’m forever getting poked with pins or my thread gets caught in it. This is great. Now my work can look as good as yours. (Just kidding, hehe)

  5. Cindy B says

    This is genius. Thanks for sharing. And those puppies are so stinkin’ cute I wouldn’t get a thing done if they were at my house except cuddle and play with them of course.

  6. sarchix says

    You are the best! Would have never thought of using staples even though I have several boxes of them lying around.

    Keep up the amazing ideas!

  7. says

    This is so helpful! I have about a dozen little felt bears to cut out, and I couldn’t figure out how to do it without the pattern constantly slipping. The tape and staples are brilliant ideas. I’ll have to try them.

  8. Lia says

    I’m from Brazil and I’m starting working with wool felt now.
    Thanks a lot for the tips and help !!! Your site and your work are so beautiful !!!
    Warm hugs,
    Lia

    • Kimara says

      I’m so glad you found this helpful. I love working with felt and do a lot of it, so I’m delighted to be able to share some tricks I’ve learned over the years :)

  9. says

    I’ve been working with felt for a few months now and couldn’t figure out how to get the pattern pieces to stay on the felt (sandpaper works, most of the time) or how to keep from cutting 2 different sized shapes all the time. Your tutorial seems very straightforward and incredibly helpful – I will definitely be trying it for my next project. Thank you!!

  10. Meg says

    Your tips are great!! Who would have thought of staples.
    I trace the patterns on to freezer paper and iron to my felt. If I have to cut out a few of the same pattern piece I cut one out peel it off and iron it on to the other one. So far if I keep the iron setting to just before cotton the cheap craft store doesn’t seem to melt. I’ve been doing it this way for years!

    • Gurugal says

      I’m a freezer paper user, and I like to print the patterns on the backs of the freezer paper on an inkjet printer. I like to do penny rugs, and they require lots of circles. I print several circles on a piece of freezer paper and this allows one to iron many circles on the felt at once, saving time to and from the iron.

  11. Ivory says

    I always use freezer paper for the pattern but I love the idea of using staples instead of straight pins, it works great.I found a better way to loosen the staples that won’t tear apart your nails. You know that little thing on nail clippers that swings out, you’re supposed to use it to clean under your nails or soemthing, that thing is great for getting under the staples to loosen them up. Hope all that made sense :)

    • Melissa says

      The nail file thingy makes perfect sense! What a great idea… much better than using the scissor blade tips to pry the staples!

      • Lesley Jackson says

        Just wanted to say – you can buy proper staple removers from large stationery stores. They are little, inexpensive tools with a pincer like movement that gets staples out easily : )

  12. Kimara says

    Thanks Ivory and Meg for your suggestions to use freezer paper. I use freezer paper for many things and I must admit pure laziness stops me from using it with felt. All my felt supplies are in my crafting area on our main floor. My sewing supplies, including freezer paper and the iron are up in my sewing room. When I decide to make something out of felt, I simply hit my downstairs stash. And since the paper and tape work so well, lazy me does not make the trek upstairs to open the ironing board :) Also, like the idea of using the file to take up staples. I hate to admit I often use my nails (bad, I know) especially considering I have an actual staple remover! Once again… laziness :)

    • Kimara says

      I have worked with felt so much, it seemed a shame NOT to share some techniques that worked for me. Glad you found it helpful.

  13. Guest says

    I have a question, I want to cut my felt with those jagged scissors but they are not sharp enough. I tried to look at Michael’s for a sharper pair but couldn’t find any. It just bends the felt and doesn’t cut it. I have seen people do it before so I know it can be done. Any tips or do you know of any good scissors? Thanks!

      • Kimara says

        Thanks Tracy. I've had no luck with pinking shears and felt BUT although I've had them sharpened many times, I'm using the same pair I had in college… and I graduated in 1976! Perhaps time to see what's new :) 

  14. Guest says

    Thanks so much, I’ve been making my own felt and hadn’t a clue how to cut shapes and had been trying to draw round templates with a fabric pen, which didn’t work!
    Brilliant tips!

    • Kimara says

      All methods that I have come by over years of working with felt. Hope it will give you some shortcuts that work well for you!

  15. Sarah says

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I had been using pins, and they don’t hold the patterns flat enough to be of much use, but the staple idea was absolutely perfect! Of course now I’ll actually start going through staples..

  16. Guest says

    Hi- I just did a search on how to cut out felt so it all lines up as I’m finding I’m cutting it out and trimming it to match as I’m sewing!!! Frustrating, anyway just wanted to say thanks for sharing!!
    Theresa

  17. Mania says

    I’ve found that freezer paper works wonders in cutting out all sizes of felt pieces. If you trace the pattern onto the “paper” side of the freezer paper and then iron it onto a piece of felt (with the shiny side down on the felt), you can cut out the pattern and then just peel off the freezer paper and you have a perfect shape. No taping, or mess.

    • Kimara says

      Agree, freezer paper works well. I tend to go the other way only because I don’t need to trace the pattern on freezer paper, I just use the copy straight from the printer. I do like freezer paper because it is easier to cut through. Occasionally, I need to clean the blades of my scissors with Goo Be Gone because they can get sticky. Thanks for sharing :) ((hugs))

      ~Kimara~

  18. Rosemarie says

    I love your site. Appliques will be perfect for grandson’s quiet book. Thank you for your darling patterns and free offerings.

  19. Marieke says

    Hi, thanks for your wonderful tutorials! I was astonished by your tips on cutting felt, because I’ve always heard that the scissors you use for fabrics shouldn’t be used on paper or other materials. That’s supposed to make them blunt quicker. What is your experience with this?

    • Kimara says

      The wood pulp in paper can dull scissors, but I think felt can also dull scissors. I tend to buy a new pair of scissor for my felt projects every couple of years, then hand-down my scissors to be used for other projects. I always use Fiskar and their sharpeners really help keep a good edge on the scissors.  

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