Ever wondered how to get those luscious layers of long fluffy fur on your needle felted animal? more importantly how can you get them to look natural and stay put!?
Whilst making a badger I took some photos of him along the way to show you. It is fairly simple to do but does take quite a long time although once done it does give you a real sense of satisfaction and the fur really does feel soft and fur-like. Of course the end result texture does depend on the type of animal you are felting and the type of wool you wish to use.
If you are new to this amazing art form then before you get started – check out my tutorial ‘what is needle felting’ for basic needle felting techniques.
What wools to choose?
For my needle felted badger I had already made his body shape by sculpting with natural carded wool. I recommend wool batts which come in long thick sheets, making it easy to pull sections off and the wool is really fast to felt with.
Then for the top coat (which I will be demonstrating in this tutorial) I mixed grey and black merino wool tops with a few strands of some natural undyed wool tops for a rich cream colour. I particularly love the merino sheep wool as it comes in a variety of animal colour options and is lovely and soft to touch. Natural wool tops in breeds such as Jacob or corriedale are quick to felt and are a little more fibrous to the look and feel. When using wool tops the fibres all lay in one direction so they are perfect for cutting lengths and adding these to resemble long fur on your needle felted animal. If you would like to you could use other luxurious fibres such as baby alpaca.
What tools will you need to attach the fur?
Very simple you just need:
- barbed needle/s – I would recommend 38G Star Needles or 40G Triangle needles.
- a felting base e.g. a basic foam pad, a wool mat or a rice bag (see how I make one here).
- small scissors (I just used nail scissors but you could get some really cute stork embroidery ones for your projects – really sharp and useful for trimming long fur)
- you can also use a small ordinary sewing needle to fluff up fur at the end.
NB I didn’t want to completely flatten my fur down but allow it to stand out with some volume so only used one needle at a time rather than a multi-needle tool and changed my needle depending on detail and thickness of wool being needled. .
As you can see I have completed my badger except for his back fur and tail at this point. For how to make a badger head please see my tutorial here.
I love the fur on a badger’s back, it is greyish in colour but with flecks of black, brown and cream.
Now you could use carding brushes or dog brushes to blend the colours of wool but I wanted to keep the fibres all going in one direction as much as possible at this point and with block strands of full colour in black / cream / grey so not fully blended.
To achieve this lay lengths of each colour on top of each other and then using your thumb and first finger of each hand at each end of the wool lengths, pull your hands apart pulling the wool away from each other. Lay each layer again on top of each other (fibres all in same direction) and keep going until all the wool is blended as much as you want it to be.
Then take narrow strands of the mixed wool the width of one or two fingers
… and cut these into small pieces, roughly the same length. The length will vary as we felt as some areas will have longer fur than others…
They don’t need to be perfect as no badger will have its own hairdresser with a perfect hair cut. 🙂
I will now demonstrate what you will do with each piece..
Take a piece and slightly pull in the centre in a bow-like shape
To layer the fur we need to felt from the back end of the animal layer over layer until reaching the head… so place the first piece at the very bottom of the badger’s rump.
Felt using your barbed needle along the centre parting of the wool piece in various directions, the depth should go down to the first few barbs but the aim is to felt shallow but in many directions for the wool to stay put.
You can also felted slightly below the centre line onto the bottom half of the piece to ensure it is in place.
Now carefully pull down the top section
… and ensure there are no stray edges by encouraging the wool in from both sides..
Now felt along the top folded edge until it is firmly in place.
Felting along the centre and then on the top edge in this way helps the wool to stay in place. Give a tiny tug to check it doesn’t easily pull out. NB a really good tug will likely pull fur out hence why these cute little animals are not meant to be toys to be pulled around…they should take cuddles and some handling though so ensure you felt well.
Again ensure you felt in many directions and then continue on to the next piece…layering the wool to create a fur look..
When moving up to the next layer, position the wool just above the last layer – you don’t want gaps in between of core wool showing so don’t leave too big a gap…
Don’t worry about the fur being too long or tufts sticking out, as you can give the end of the fur a trim as you go (time to use your hairdressing skills :-))
By the way this doesn’t need too much skill and I am definitely no hairdresser, just trim in various directions for a more natural fluffy look.
Any bits you trim off can be used for other felting projects or even for any areas you wish to fill in later at the edges so don’t waste them just put aside in a neat pile for later..
Optional; For the back end of the badger I wanted this to be extra fluffy with the fur standing up slightly on end so to achieve this, run fingers through the strands of wool to fluff up and stab the wool all over between the strands, not to felt down but to fluff up…(
As you can see we have a way to go but we are on our way !!
Aw look at him waiting so patiently to be finished 🙂
You may find it easier to turn his body as you go – work with whatever position you find comfortable and whatever means less squishing of his cute little nose into the felting mat..
As you reach the main length of his body you may now decide to cut the lengths of wool a bit longer
For a more realistic look vary the colours so that you sometimes get more black or cream in the strand you felt…mix it up a bit..
Almost there… take a breather – have a hot chocolate !!
Specifically for the badger- when reaching the neck line, overlay some strands of black wool at the base of the ears …
Then finish off with some more of the cream at the base of his head..
You can use a normal sewing needle now if you wish to carefully fluff up the fur where it may have flattened slightly..
And there you have a gorgeous badger! fully furred waiting to be cuddled and fit to be loved!!
I added his tail after this which also had several layers of wool as fur…
Here he is all completed !! so playful !!
Long Animal Fur video!
Find it easier to learn by watching how it is done?
My ‘Long animal fur’ video tutorial is NOW AVAILABLE on my YouTube channel in 4 parts.
<<<Click the donkey picture to start watching part 1
You’ll learn even more techniques for adding long fur (as demonstrated on this adorable miniature donkey).
Did you find this tutorial helpful? What would you like to learn about next? Please leave comments. Why not post a photo of your own creations?
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