Washing wool to promote its usability in a quilt is called fulling. The word felting was often substituted for fulling in many web sources for sweater quilts, so out of curiosity, I looked up both words in the dictionary:
Today I continue with answers to questions about washing sweaters before cutting them up to make a quilt.
Q: How do you prepare the sweaters?
A: This was the easiest part of the entire project!
1. Sort by color. I had four loads: light, medium, dark and red.
2. Add detergent (I used Cheer) in an amount appropriate to the size of your load.
3. Toss in a pair of old (done fading) blue jeans. The jeans supposedly aid in abrading and matting the sweater fibers.
4. Hot wash/cold rinse.
5. High spin.
6. Now it’s time to babysit the dryer. Run the dryer for 5 minutes on high heat. Stop and vacuum the lint screen.
Repeat until the sweaters are dry or nearly dry, vacuuming after each 5 minute cycle.
7. When you are finished drying the load of sweaters, wipe down the inside of your dryer with a clean, wet cotton cloth.
Do not skip this step. You will be amazed at what you collect.
Q: If there’s that much fuzz, why risk washing and drying the sweaters at home?
A: Some sources did recommend washing at the laundromat.
Others recommended securing the sweaters in a large pillowcase to contain the fuzz. Doing that, however, would not allow the sweaters to agitate freely, something most web sources insisted upon. I took a chance and washed mine at home, primarily to avoid the hassle and expense of a commercial facility.
Q: Should the sweaters be cut apart prior to washing?
A: I decided against it.
Although some sources recommended cutting before washing, I was concerned about losing valuable inches due to possible raveling in the washing machine.
Q: How much did the sweaters shrink?
A: My wool sweaters shrank
from 2% to 26%.
The ones that shrank the most looked like they might fit a four-year-old! Coincidentally, those were the ones that were easiest to work with.