Monday, September 7, 2009

Wool Felt vs. Eco-Fi Polyester Felt Comparison

Ahh, the great debate - ok, for BugBites Play Food that is... The question of which material is better to use for felt food toys. I have been debating for years which felt to use & have come up with a complete breakdown of Wool/Rayon Felt vs. Eco-Fi Polyester Felt, with both Pros & Cons listed.

Wool/Rayon Felt
  1. Wool is a Natural Fiber
  2. Rayon is made from Cellulosic Fibers (made from cotton or pine wood). Rayon is one of the most peculiar fabrics in commercial use today. Rayon is a manufactured regenerated cellulose fiber. Because it is produced from naturally occurring polymers, it is neither a truly synthetic fiber nor a natural fiber, it is a semi-synthetic fiber. Strictly speaking, it is not an artificial fiber, because it is derived from naturally occurring cellulose. It is not, however, a natural fabric, because cellulose requires extensive processing to become rayon. Rayon is usually classified as a manufactured fiber and considered to be “regenerated cellulose”. This complex process results in a great deal of environmental pollution. Courtesy:
  3. Stronger than polyester, doesn't stretch.
  4. Renewable & environmentally friendly resource.
  5. Highly resilient, retaining its strength & unique properties for decades.
  6. Dry Clean Only
  7. Allergy Risk for those with wool allergies.
  8. Expensive - around $8 a yard (36"x 36") - or $16 a yard when compared to the 72" yard of eco-felt.
Eco Felt
  1. Ecospun is a polyester fiber made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.
  2. Ecospun enables billions of plastic containers to be recycled each year, instead of them being buried in landfill. 10 bottles = 1 pound of fiber or 2 yds of felt
  3. Recycled Eco-Felt is compliant with the Consumer Product Safety Act, including lead limits, making it a great choice for children.
  4. Machine washable
  5. Allergy-Free
  6. Vegan
  7. Inexpensive - $6 a yard for a (72"x 72")
Also, Eco-Fi has the capacity to keep billions of plastic PET bottles out of the world’s landfills each year by using post-consumer plastic bottles instead of virgin materials in the fiber manufacturing process. By doing this, we can lower harmful air emissions and save millions of barrels of oil from being used which, in turn, reduces the harmful effects of acid rain, global warming, and smog.

Fabrics made from Eco-fi fiber are chemically and functionally nearly identical to those made from non-recycled fiber. The difference is that Eco-fi fiber is made without depleting the Earth’s natural resources. With properties such as strength, softness, shrinkage-resistance, and colorfastness, market applications for Eco-fi are expanding every day. Courtesy:

Here’s how the Ecospun process goes:
  1. Plastic containers are collected from curbside and community recycling centers
  2. The containers are sorted by type and color
  3. All labels and caps are stripped off
  4. The plastic containers are then washed
  5. Then they’re crushed
  6. Then they’re chopped into flake
  7. The flakes are then melted and extruded to create fiber
  8. The fiber is crimped, cut, drawn, then stretched into the desired length (based on its strength), then baled. Courtesy:
I have been using the Eco-Felt for 2 years & am loving the durability, color selection & price, above all, as it lets me keep my costs down to make felt food more affordable. I also love the fact that Eco-felt is machine washable! I wouldn't dry it in the dryer, as it tends to "pill" up, but the thought that I can wash the toys - especially after they have been mouthed & played with, is great. One of the only downsides to Eco-felt is that it tends to stretch, which can be helpful when making the toys, as it "gives" a bit when making certain shapes, but the downside is that it can be torn out of shape if stretched & played with too roughly. Wool felt does not have this problem.

After working with wool felt exclusively for a rather large wholesale order for Palumba toys, I am seriously considering offering wool felt food in my shop as well. I am enjoying the feeling of the wool, its strength, its softness & the beautiful colors available (though I have to order it online). I greatly dislike paying almost twice as much per yard as the Eco-Felt, but I think there are people out there who love the feeling of wool despite its price & non-washability.

So for me, I think I am going to enjoy the best of both worlds & use Eco-Felt & Wool/Rayon Felt interchangeably throughout my sewing, enjoying the benefits that each material has to offer.


Krissy @ B.Inspired, Mama! said...

Thanks for all of the great info. I am working on some handmade toys for my little ones and am also loving the eco-felt.

Great shop, BTW!

Candy Bello said...

I love your Etsy store!