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Little by little (a custom needle felted guinea pig)

Little by little  (a custom needle felted guinea pig)

Do you ever feel like you just don’t have the time to needle felt? Feel envious of those amazing artists who produce several sculptures a week whilst you work hard at your full time job and dream you could be stabbing some wool but then feel too tired when you finally get home?

Well you are not alone! …I really haven’t had much time at all recently. In fact I have felt so frustrated about it and have had to remind myself that I am not in a competition but this is my hobby and my style and my time.

This month I have proved to myself that you can still take just a tiniest bit of time out to have a little stab here and there even with a full time job …and guess what ? little by little you start to make some progress and when those deep brown eyes from that newly needle felted animal are staring back at you, you soon realise you have managed to create something quite wonderful and all that effort and time passing by has been worthwhile!! 🙂

Of course seeing that end result is very satisfying but it’s time to enjoy the journey too (no matter how long it takes) !!

So, the dark eyes staring back at me? Well they would be from the little guinea pig I just finished for a very doting guinea pig lover in Warrington in memory of her precious loved guinea pig.

This sweetie pie has taken me a while but I got there in the end!…. phew…. Hope you like her.:-)

Guinea pig (8) Guinea pig (11) Guinea pig (13) Guinea pig (16) Guinea pig (17) Guinea pig (25) Guinea pig (26) Guinea pig (27) Guinea pig (28) Guinea pig (29) Guinea pig (33) Guinea pig (36) Guinea pig (37) Guinea pig (39) Guinea pig (40) Guinea pig (41) Guinea pig (42) Guinea pig (43)

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Tiny feet and tiny toes – needle felt tutorial

Tiny feet and tiny toes – needle felt tutorial

How do I give my needle felted animal cute detailed feet or tiny toes?

This tutorial will hopefully inspire you with some ideas for how you might tackle felting animal feet and a step by step guide to making individual toes using wool wrapped over wire.

Basic feet

For some of my felted animal sculptures I decided not to give their feet too much detail. Here you can see that my hare and fox merely have simple dark rounded feet. Their sitting or standing positions mean that you only really see the top of their feet. Of course I could have spent more time on them but I didn’t want to over emphasise their paws and was satisfied with how they looked as they are. Their expressions and character come through enough in their faces and other cute features.

Needle felted bunny IMG_3400

A bit more detail

When it came to the mouse I made for my mum; his little feet were pink and would have looked a little bare with no detail. Again he is standing up so you don’t see his paw pads anyway for his back feet but I decided to add some tiny threads of wool fibre with a thin needle to show that he has separate toes. I also stabbed away to sculpt obvious paw shapes for his ‘hands’; one holds a beautiful flower and the other is pressed against his humble mouse heart to say ‘I love you!’

06-Needle felted feet (6) 08-Needle felted feet (8) 09-Needle felted feet (41)

Cute paw pads

Sometimes though you will want to do so much more! Have you ever looked in detail at the underneath of bunny paws and considered how absolutely small, perfectly proportioned and adorable they are? When making my bunnies and badgers I just couldn’t resist felting the little details that make them look so much more like real paws and make your friends want to say ‘squee’ 🙂 especially as these sculptures are laying on their backs with feet in the air ready to be cuddled or tickled.

To get ideas for how these should look, google images of paws or look at photos of your own pets. All I did with my bunny here was to just felt little blobs of lighter coloured wool onto the underside of the feet and then add some darker fibres on top as shading/ furry bits to make them look more natural. So simple but effective!

53-Needle felted feet (3.3) 52-Needle felted feet (2.2)

Why not have a go? As you can see in the pictures below, leaving their feet as just rounded shapes would not have had the same affect!

04-Needle felted feet (48) 03-Needle felted feet (47)

05-Needle felted feet (40) 01-Needle felted feet (39)

12-Needle felted feet (44) 10-Needle felted feet (42) 02-Needle felted feet (46)

13-Needle felted feet (45) 11-Needle felted feet (43)  54-Needle felted feet (4.1)

Tiny toes that bend

For some animals you may want to take it a step further and make some tiny toes. If you have enough patience you can carefully sculpt the toes from making long sausage shapes that you felt firmly together. You can see I did this with my Christmas owl.

owl2

I have found however that using wire makes this much easier, the toes don’t flatten or fray as much, they are stronger, take the weight of the animal’s body better and it also means you can bend the toes to the position you want them to stay in.

Those of you who already make your animals from wrapping wool over a wire armature will likely already know how this is achieved but please do read on in case there is anything you find useful. Those who prefer not to use a wire armature for the main body can still use wire for the feet , why not mix it up a bit?

There are several ways to wrap wool over wire to make tiny toes; one way is to wrap the wool over bare wire (See my video tutorial afterwards to demonstrate this). This works really well especially for animals where you really want the toes as thin as possible and make them taper at the ends or for projects which are on a very tiny scale. (Some people use hot wax to fix the first layer of wool)

Another simple way (and far less messy if using wax!) which I will demonstrate in this tutorial is to felt wool over a pipe cleaner to ensure it says well (which is basically a very thin piece of wire already wrapped in a layer of material such as cotton or chenille). These can be used for feet where toes can be a bit thicker and for medium or larger projects.  I used this method for my guinea pig and Chestnut, my red squirrel. You can see that I  also added a bit of paw detail on to the guinea pig afterwards.

14-Needle felted feet (51) 15-Needle felted feet (49)

51-Needle felted feet (1.1) 16-Needle felted feet (50)

2014-02-10 22.25.29 46-Needle felted squirrel (62) 50-Needle felted feet (5)

Step by step guide for felting feet with tiny wired toes

I will demonstrate here how I made Chestnut’s feet. I decided that each foot would have four toes. My guinea pig however had three toes at the back and four at the front like a real guinea pig. You can decide what you think looks best!

What you will need:

  • Pipe cleaners (I bought 30cm length cotton ones)
  • Scissors to cut the pipe cleaners to size
  • Wool (I used merino wool which felts well and is soft to touch)
  • Barbed needles (thinner ones are best for tiniest toes)
  • Felting pad/brush (to prevent you from stabbing your knees)
  • Lots of love and patience and time – this is worth the effort believe me! 🙂

1) Cut two lengths of pipe cleaner for each of your feet (I measured one twice the length of my index finger and the other slighter shorter) It is easier to make two toes from one piece. Prepare these for both feet at the same time.

17-Needle felted feet (12) 18-Needle felted feet (13)

2) Take a thin piece of wool measuring at least one and half times the length of the pipe cleaner and roughly a finger’s width.

19-Needle felted feet (14)

3) Tightly wrap the wool over each length of pipe cleaner; keep the wool flat and wind around, carefully overlapping the previously wrapped fibres all the way along. You can start at the end but I prefer to go from the middle and work to each end.

20-Needle felted feet (15)

The tighter and smoother you wrap the less felting will be needed later on to fix it in place.

22-Needle felted feet (17)

4) On reaching the ends tightly fold the fibres over the end, hold a finger over the end to keep in place whilst overlapping the work you have done very tightly for a few wraps back the other way towards the middle until you reach the end of your wool. Pull off any excess wool if you find you have too much (you don’t want to make the toes too thick).

23-Needle felted feet (18)

5) Using your barbed needle, stab the fibres in place along the length of the structure and especially at the ends to secure them and prevent them from fraying, taking care not to break your needle by hitting the wire as you go.

27-Needle felted feet (22) 24-Needle felted feet (19) 25-Needle felted feet (20)

26-Needle felted feet (21)

6) Bend the pieces in half and then overlay, squeeze and slightly twist the bases of the two toe pairs together, the two longer pieces will become the two centre toes.

28-Needle felted feet (23) 29-Needle felted feet (24)

7) Wrap some thicker wool over the twisted section to form the rest of the foot. Spread out the toes into the position you wish them to be in.

30-Needle felted feet (25) 31-Needle felted feet (26)

8) Add more wool and felt onto the foot on both sides to shape the foot, and ensure you fill in between the toes and make the ‘knuckle area’ thicker. See how your tiny toes are becoming reality ? 🙂

32-Needle felted feet (27) 33-Needle felted feet (28)

9) Build up layers of wool. Your cute little feet are beginning to really take shape!

For the hind feet you will see I kept the toes and foot fairly flat and long and built up a heel. One of the toes ended up a little longer but I quite like this; gives a more natural look.

35-Needle felted feet (30) 34-Needle felted feet (29)

For the front paws (which will be holding a felted acorn) I kept them daintier and shorter and curled the ‘fingers’ into a gripping position, and added an ‘arm’.

41-Needle felted feet (37) 47-Needle felted feet (4)

10) Keep going and ensure you have left some loosely felted wool where the foot/leg will join onto the body. See here for a tutorial on how to add head and limbs to animals.

39-Needle felted feet (36) 38-Needle felted feet (35) 37-Needle felted feet (34)

46-Needle felted feet (3)    43-Needle felted feet (57)

and …. SQUEEE!

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?

For more tutorials like this please visit my Tutorials, tips and ideas page.

Don’t ever miss out on my latest tutorials! Insert your email address and click the ‘Follow’ button on the right hand panel to receive notifications of when the next post is up..:-)

Don’t have time to make one but would love a one of a kind needle felted animal by Fit to be loved for yourself or for that special someone? Visit my Etsy shop today to see my latest creations. Or like my facebook page to see what I am making next.

Needle felted guinea pig!

My good friend Emma recently turned 40 and she absolutely loves guinea pigs so it was very easy to decide what I should make her as a surprise present for her party..

So here he is … a cute bundle of guinea pig fluff!Needle felted guinea pig (38)

As usual I took a few pictures along the way to show you how I made him. With some time, some love, some wool and a barbed needle you too can make a felted guinea pig just like him!

If you haven’t tried needle felting before and would like to know what it is all about and see some basics first, feel free to jump to my ‘what is needle felting’ page first before trying the guinea pig..

Or if you don’t have the time but would love me to make one for you or as a present for a loved one, let me know what colour, fur length etc by sending me a bespoke order at my Etsy shop.

So, to get started you will need:

  • Foam pad or felting brush base (so not to stab your knees and to provide a firm base to work on)
  • Felting needles of various sizes; wider for initial shaping and finer for detail later on
  • A needle holder; this is optional but for making basic shapes it saves time to use 2 or 3 needles at the same time. I use the 3 needle holder pen by Clover.
  • Wool to felt with; I used natural corriedale wool to make the guinea pig’s core as I find it felts well and ends up nice and firm. I then used merino wool as the top coat as it’s soft and comes in some lovely animal fur colours. I buy my wools at a very good price from World of Wool.
  • Small scissors
  • Carding/dog brushes to blend wool (optional)

I hope the pictures will explain what I did at each phase so I haven’t gone into too much description for each picture. Feel free to ask me any questions if you are unsure of how to do anything.

Start with a basic egg shape by rolling tightly a nice length of the corriedale wool and then felting it into shape with medium firmness. This will become the torso.

Needle felted guinea pig (7).

Felt more at one end and use hands to carefully sculpt one end slightly narrower (to become the head end)Needle felted guinea pig (8)

Roll two equal sized pieces of woolNeedle felted guinea pig (16)Needle felted guinea pig (9)

Fold and felt them into doughnut shapesNeedle felted guinea pig (10)

Then felt them well onto the sides of the torso at the bottom end to become hind legs

Needle felted guinea pig (11)

Make sure they look even both sidesNeedle felted guinea pig (12)

Add and felt over some small tufts of wool to make the edges softer where the limbs join where neededNeedle felted guinea pig (13)

… especially around the rumpNeedle felted guinea pig (14)

Then turn over and do the same underneath for an even well blended finish.

Needle felted guinea pig (15)

Take two more pieces of wool but this timeNeedle felted guinea pig (16)

…fold to form two triangles

Needle felted guinea pig (17)

Felt onto the sides of the chest end and mould to form fore legsNeedle felted guinea pig (18)

Again check the legs are equal or you can position one slightly in front of the other to provide a more natural pose.Needle felted guinea pig (19)

Put the body to one side and roll another piece of wool and form a smaller egg shape. Felt medium firm again and then sculpt to make into a head shape. Score a nose and mouth using two needles at one time

Needle felted guinea pig (20)

The shape is fairly similar to a rabbit head shape…add any wool where needed to accentuate the jaw line and cheeksNeedle felted guinea pig (21)

Now attach the head firmly to the body. I felted a good piece of loosely felted wool to the bottom of the head first so when attaching there were lots of fibres to help attach it and this helped to form a neck.

Needle felted guinea pig (24)

Needle felted guinea pig (25)

Needle felted guinea pig (26)

You now have a guinea pig base!!

Now comes the fun (but tedious at times) of adding some wool colour in layers to give him his character.. I mixed some wool together to get the colours I liked, one part corriedale wool and two parts light chocolate brown merino wool. I used two dog brushes to blend the wool (so much cheaper than carding brushes and they work just the same!).

Needle felted guinea pig (27)

Start from the tail end (although guinea pigs don’t have tails)and work towards the head. Felt some wool in the same direction but some in other directions and with different lengths too to get a more natural look!

Needle felted guinea pig (28)

Needle felted guinea pig (29)

When you reach his head add two small doughnut shapes of coral coloured wool for his ears and felt them in well to fix to his head. I decided to give him a cream coloured face with cream tuft on top of his head but you choose whatever colour you fancy. For the head start at the very top with the fur layers and work down towards the chin.

Add more detail to the nose with the brown and a tiny bit of black for his mouth opening. To make him look like he has rummaged around in the hay felt a tiny fleck of brown under the cream fur on his muzzle . For any layers that are too long or for shaping the fur on the face, used nail scissors to carefully trim the wool.

Needle felted guinea pig (30)

(I went back and added a strip of the cream across his middle taking care to pull back the layers of brown already felted..)

Needle felted guinea pig (7)

Here you can see his eyes; brown overlaid with black and a few tiny white dots to give the illusion of light reflection.

Needle felted guinea pig (31)

You could leave him with no feet but I decided to give him some. Remember guinea pigs have 4 toes on each foot at the front and 3 at the back!

To achieve this use short lengths of pipe cleaners for his toes and wrap the coral coloured wool over each toe binding the pieces together at one end. Then wrap several layers of the wool over the end to form the ball of the foot. Wind more wool over the length of each foot and felt tightly to ensure all fibres are secure.. then felt them to the legs!!

Needle felted guinea pig (5)

Needle felted guinea pig (1)

Go over the entire surface of your guinea pig with a normal sewing needle if needed to liven up any flattened areas of fur!

Squeeeeeeeeeee!!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial!! it was fun to make him and my friend Emma almost cried when she saw him at her party! 🙂

Watch out for more tutorials and creations and follow my blog to receive emails of when new posts are up so you don’t miss out.

Check out my other tutorials; how to make a bunny and how to make a badger head and view other Fit to be loved felted creations at my Etsy shop.

and please do get in touch if you have any ideas of what you would like me to make next!

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