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The History of Felt

Felt is a fabric with a surprisingly complex history. The origin of felt isn’t known, but the fabric is thought to date back to prehistoric times in Central Asia. It was made from moistened, compressed, and agitated wool created from the hair of sheep, camels, or goats – or from fibers taken from the coats of certain animals, including beavers and rabbits. A good insulator that is windproof and resistant to rain, felt played an important role in the early lives of many Eurasian nomads, who often lived in tents made of felt. Beginning in the Middle Ages, felt also played an important role in fashion and was used to make many items, including men’s hats. In fact, after Charles VII of France wore a beaver felt hat in 1449, similar items became so popular that beavers were extinct in Western Europe by the late 1500s. Felt hats continued to be popular well into the 1800s, and in the middle of the century, felting machines were developed that allowed for the making of man-made felt. Today, man-made felt is often used for hats, slippers, toys, linings, and much more!

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