How to do Needlefelting
needle felt foam
Needlefelting - getting started
If you're looking for a new hobby that's quick and easy to learn, fun to do and doesn't need a lot of expensive equipment, why not try needlefelting? It's great for beginners and you can quickly make great looking needlefelted sculptures that you can turn into brooches, decorations for bags or hair accessories, or just give as a gift.
If you have pets it's fun to make little miniature needlcrafted versions of them and maybe even put them in a little basket, or make little accessories to finish them off. They make great gifts for anyone who you know spoils their furry friend.
To get started, you will need some quite basic equipment: wool rovings, felting needles and a felting pad (which can be made from foam or bristles, like a big brush). The drawback of the foam pads is that bits of foam can rub off onto the wool you're using and discolour it slightly.
When you're looking for the needles, you might like to try a needlefelting tool that has a cover around the needles that only exposes them when they are punched into the wool, so there's less chance of you stabbing your fingers. You can use one single needle, or use a tool that has a number of needles. You can tape a bundle of needles together which speeds up the process.
The actual process is very straight forward as the videoclips show. Once you've decided what you are going to make, find the wool that is the right colour and start to think of the shape you'll need. If you're making an animal, you can make the limbs by rolling and felting the legs, or you can take a piece of wire and wrap the wool around this before felting it to make a sturdier shape. Some people prefer to use cheaper white wool for a base, and add the coloured layer over it.
It makes it easier if you have a look at images of the animal you want to make to get a good idea of the shape you need and the colours. Break off a piece of wool roving and roll it into a ball in your fingers. Holding it steady on the felting block, take your needle in the other hand and with very quick, sharp stabbing movements, stab the woollen ball with your needle (being carfeul not to catch your fingers). Continue to roll and stab the ball until the wool becomes compacted and hard. After a while, you can take the ball and mold it into shape like clay or play-do and tease it into the shape you need. You can pull out small pieces to make little ears and a nose.
To make the head and limbs, take other balls of wool and roll and stretch them to the shape you need. To fix them to the body, place it in position and using the same stabbing movements, join the two shapes together so that the fibres fuse together. The more you stab at these shapes, the more tightly knit they become.
Once you get the basic shape, you can sculpt it into the more realistic shape you need and continue to work it into shape, adding extra firmness with more stabbing where necessary. You might want a soft look for a fluffy animal, which will need less stabbing.
When you're happy that you have achieved the shape you need, you can add finishing touches by sewing in eyes, ears, whiskers, and noses, using either fabric, seed beads or buttons. Add a little piece of ribbon to make a collar or lead.
You might want to try making needlefelted flowers to embellish a hat or felt bag, or make seasonal items such as pumpkins, Santa Clause and his reindeers (don't forget the red nose for Rudolph). You could make a huge hairy spider to sit in a web for Halloween, or some fluffy yellow chicks for Easter.
Once you discover how easy and effective needlefelting is, you'll be full of ideas for your next project.
As you become more expert, you might like to consider listing your items for sale on sites like Etsy or maybe take a stall at a local craft fair and earn some extra money from your craft. People may commission you to make their pet into a needlecrafted version.
You might even like to have some fun making stop-start animations with your new woolpets!