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"Wargaming mats and terrain from felt" Topic

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1,148 hits since 12 May 2018
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MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2018 1:21 p.m. PST

Anyone had experience using commercial felt for wargaming mats, roads, forests, rivers etc?

Any issues with durability?

Any preferences about quality?


Striker13 May 2018 2:28 p.m. PST

I've used green for borders of wooded areas along with brown and black, sprayed with texture paint, to make templates for towns and cities.

Glengarry513 May 2018 2:30 p.m. PST

I've used felt "oblongs" to indicate forested areas but I wasn't happy with the monochrome appearance. I bought a couple rolls of Woodland Scenics Forest Green (it supposed to be shady) Grass Mattes and cut them into oblongs the same size as the felt mattes. To make them sturdier and less prone to slip (I play on felt) I glued the felt mattes I was using under the Woodland Scenics mattes and they work nicely. The pattern on the WS Grass mattes are subtle but effective and I added some texture with paint. I still use white felt mattes for my winter war games to indicate forested areas although without stiffening they do sometimes slip around a little. Eric Hotz of Hotz Mattes does wonderful things with printed mattes including a variety of roads.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP13 May 2018 2:31 p.m. PST

Our club has a load of felt cloths. They seem to hold up fine under substantial use (we have games 2-4 nights/week, every week).

The miin thing is to stay away from soldi colors. All of ours are a green color called "reets relish" that is (a) a more olive green rather than that Christmas kelly green that looks like crap IMHO and (b) has flecks of medium and ark green in it, so it looks much more natural.

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2018 2:41 p.m. PST

@Glengarry5, I wanted to order from Hotz but after initial, inspiring emails surrounding fulfilling what I thought a respectable order, he went completely "Black" on me. I have a philosophy about forcing people to take my money!

I figured just buy some felt and drape it over my table. Are you saying unbacked felt will slide off the table?

Good idea for the forest border area. What do you do for roads, rivers, lakes et al?

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2018 2:46 p.m. PST

@Extra Crispy (I think if I ate mice, I too would want them extra crispay)

I think there's something iconic about Christmas green felt but will look at relish reet. Any particular quality of felt you find works best?

Oberlindes Sol LIC13 May 2018 3:03 p.m. PST

My experience with felt has been good. It looks OK, holds up well, and is easy to cut into shape and to store.

I have only used small pieces, under 12in x 12in. I use them to indicate terrain, e.g., by putting trees on it to show the exact area where the "in the woods" cover benefit applies. I have not covered an entire table in fleece.

To make the solid colors look more like things that occur in nature, I have used very wet acrylic paint, irregularly applied, and a mist of spray paint. I put on colors similar to the felt, such as dark brown paint on tan felt.

You might consider polyester fleece, which someone mentioned in another conversation some weeks ago. I recently saw some tan/brown/yellow-brown/red-brown fleece at Joann's that would work as is for desert terrain. It was 48" wide, and $10.99 USD USD per yard, so for $22 USD USD, you have a 4ft x 6ft table cover.

Joann's is a fabric store chain in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Yellow Admiral13 May 2018 3:03 p.m. PST

I've been doing the same as Extra Crispy for years.

I've also experimented with using paint, gluing on flocking/ballast/sand, etc. to make the felt look less like "just felt", but with mixed results. Paint is still flat and it's hard find a glue that sticks felt and bits of foamy stuff together without also stiffening the felt.

- Ix

FusilierDan Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2018 3:11 p.m. PST

"reets relish" seems to be a wool blend. A better quality felt than other crafting felts. More expensive and comes in different widths. You need to check the width of the bolt you're buying. Fabric is sold by the yard but widths are different 36", 54", 72".

link 72"

link 36"

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2018 3:22 p.m. PST

Well reets relish in 36" width doesnt seem to cut it as a mat for a 6'x4' table.

There is the use of felt for a complete table top mat which may or may not prefer the use of wool vs polyester. And then, there is the use for patches of wood or roads/streams.

I actually have some fleece mats from Cigar Box and had considered buying another mat from them just to cut up for wooded perimeters. However, i thought fleece on fleece wouldnt work as well as felt on fleece. Perhaps I am wrong?

redbanner414513 May 2018 3:38 p.m. PST

There is a dizzying array of felt quality on the net. Go to a fabric store where you can touch it and see if it is thick enough.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2018 3:39 p.m. PST

Most of my roads are tan felt. No problem with durability, and they go up stepped hills better than vinyl.

I agree that most craft shop green felt is brighter than you'd want for a temperate zone battlefield, but it's easy enough to tone down with spray paint, and other colors work well for deserts--or Barsoom.

One advantage is that craft shop felt is cheap enough that you can paint it for a particular battlefield--paint the roads and rivers on the felt, and mark where the woods and hills should be. It's a great timesaver, especially in an away game.

Schogun13 May 2018 3:59 p.m. PST

I used felt for my Haitian Revolution mat. Got the synthetic felt because the nap was smaller = less rough and uneven, and less snagging. Color was light whitish cream, so had to dye it. Make sure to get dye formulated for synthetic felt. Bought two packs of brown dye. Used one and liked the light brown color. I wasn't confident with spraying shading with a can so I drybrushed paint onto the felt. Looks great and works great! The paint doesn't soak through so I can paint the reverse side (someday) and get two mats.

Photo(s) at:

blacksoilbill13 May 2018 4:40 p.m. PST

That mat looks really good Schogun!

Dynaman878913 May 2018 6:02 p.m. PST

I've decided on cheap felt for everything. JoAnn and Hobby Lobby (at least) have an olive drab color that works great which is sold in 9 by 12 pieces and most likely has it cut to order as well.

The reason I am going with cheap felt – I've decided I do not have the skill or inclination to go top notch and felt does very well.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP14 May 2018 4:34 a.m. PST

Here is what I mean. Here is a close up of some minis on the olive greenish felt:


This is straight from the maker – the flecks are in the fabric, they were not added.

Here are some pictures of the mat in use:


Trying out a game that uses squares, hecne the orderly shrubs marking off the corners of each square:


6mm Zulu Game:


Christmas green felt may be iconic, but it is iconically ugly.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2018 6:45 a.m. PST

Extracrispy, I believe we have the same and the Chinese stopped doing this one, unfortunatelly. Or was said so years ago this side of the great pond.

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2018 7:00 a.m. PST

@Schogun, the mat is nice and I love those Haitian cavalry. You must have fun with that.

@Extra crispy. Very nice, 6mm Zulus sounds like an experience.

How large is that table?

And,who is the maker of said mat? A full mat, not the tiles.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP14 May 2018 7:30 a.m. PST

I use them a lot for the basic tabletop.

No problems with durability.

I use regular acrylic, ink, and fabric paints on them and use fabric sealant to top it off. I have ones that have been used for years without the patterns fading.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP14 May 2018 8:02 a.m. PST

@JC Frog: Nope. Mine are made in the US of A and we have ordered recently (but sand colored in this case). We usually buy a bolt as a club and everyone gets a mat or two.


The mat is felt. The roads are ballast and sand. The table was 6x8 feet. The felt comes in 6' wide bolts and we cut to length. When we play on *really* big tables we lay two side by side and use painters' tape to hold them together.

This was a quick pick up game of zulus using "The Men Who Would Be Kings" we just use one stand of figures for each model that would normally be used.

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2018 9:27 a.m. PST

@etotheipi, A spray fabric sealant to prevent the felt from fraying or pilling?

@Extra Crispy, Intriguing. Where exactly do you buy your felt? If the source is top secret, please feel free to pm me.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP14 May 2018 9:51 a.m. PST

Not top secret at all. We buy from National Nonwoven direct. They are the manufacturer, which means you need to order in bulk (not sure what their minimum is). But they have retailers like:


Who sell as little as a 9x12" patch.

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2018 7:32 a.m. PST

@Extra Crispy, Thank you very much. I'll check it out.

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2018 10:20 a.m. PST

As per several comments about "reets relish" as an ideal blend for a grass war gaming mat; it does indeed have a good blend of colors but unfortunately does not come in 72" widths.

Unless someone has found another source.

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2018 12:55 p.m. PST

These comparable green colors with the look of a field may serve as well. The wool content is odd though.




Dynaman878916 May 2018 4:30 a.m. PST

MiniPigs! Thanks, those look really good, and cheap too.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP16 May 2018 7:29 a.m. PST

A spray fabric sealant to prevent the felt from fraying or pilling?

The fabric sealant (from Joann's or similar) or canvas sealant (from Dick Blick or similar) both protects the integrity of the fabric and binds through the paint to lessen fading/wearing off of designs.

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