RSS Feed

Tag Archives: felted squirrel

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.

How to add head and limbs onto needle felted animals

“How do I felt body parts onto my needle felted animal? How can I make them stay secure and not easily pull off?”

Today I want to show you some more basics of needle felting animals. In my other tutorials you will see how to make various animal parts e.g a badger head, bunny ears as well as the various stages of felting a full guinea pig, bunny etc. However one of my followers commented that it would be good to do a tutorial showing how to felt the head and limbs onto your animal. It is not so easy to demonstrate with photos but I have done my best by using the shots I took along the way when sculpting Chestnut; the little red squirrel I made.

There are many ways of felting one piece to another so you may have already found the best way for you. The method I will show you is just one way and was the easiest for my squirrel at the time. 🙂

Please note that the following tutorial will assume you know a little bit about needle felting already. See basics here.

Adding the head

01-Needle felted squirrel (5)

At this point I have felted the head more or less to completion. The body has its shape but no fur yet…

I have sometimes only got as far as the shape of the head when joining it to the body but I quite often find that it’s the head of an animal that gives its unique soulful character (especially once it has eyes).02-Needle felted squirrel (8)

I often don’t decide on exactly how the body will look until I have the head sorted. Being delighted by the cute nature of the face (as is what happened with Chestnut) often inspires me to continue on with the rest of the body. 

1) To join two felted objects together leave enough loose fibre on at least one of the objects where the join will be so that it can be felted into the other.

14-Needle felted squirrel (27)

It is a lot harder and perhaps impossible to join them if the wool is felted too firmly and the fibres cannot mix and bind with the fibres on the other object when you stab with your needle. 

As you can see, the neck at the top of Chestnut’s torso has been left loose and soft. The base of the head is soft to medium felted rather than firm to allow plenty of further stabbing..

2) Fluff the fibres up a bit before putting the head into the position you would like it to be. 

15-Needle felted squirrel (28)

3) Stab at the wool from a 45 degree angle under the chin of the animal. In effect what you are doing is poking the loose wool from the neck into the head. Insert the needle as deep as it can go and on all sides of the neck. This helps to anchor the head to the body. Remember (particularly at this stage when the head will just fall off the body if you try any other way) to lay your animal on a felting pad/brush and stab away from your fingers!

17-Needle felted squirrel (30)19-Needle felted squirrel (32)

To join body parts I use a medium width barbed needle (I find these are stronger than the finer ones for this purpose but do try out various ones to see what you are comfortable with and what works best for the wool and size of animal you are felting). If possible use one with many barbs along the length to help bind the fibres and as the needle will be inserted quite deep.

4) Once it feels like the wool fibres have attached so much so that the head no longer topples away, you can try felting at other angles at various depths. Here I laid Chestnut’s head over the edge of the felting pad as it made it easier to get the angle I wanted and also prevented me from squishing her carefully felted nose 🙂

21-Needle felted squirrel (34)23-Needle felted squirrel (36)20-Needle felted squirrel (33)

22-Needle felted squirrel (35)

5) Carefully stab a few times from the top of the head to ensure it is firmly secure. NB this is easier if the head has no fur yet but if you have (like I have) you just have to take care not to leave stab marks in the face (as you are using a slightly thicker needle).

…and there we go, head on …looking more squirrel-like although much like a shawn sheep at the moment with lack of fur 🙂

25-Needle felted squirrel (38) 24-Needle felted squirrel (37)27-Needle felted squirrel (40)

Adding limbs

This is achieved in much the same way as joining the head in that you need to stab deeply in all directions to ensure all the fibres bind to each other.

For Chestnut I started with the hind legs so that it would be easier to see how her forelegs would be positioned once she was sat upright. Note the thigh part of the leg for my squirrel has already been sculpted as part of her body shape which ends up in a sitting pose. So when I refer to adding the hind leg, it is in fact the section below her thigh bone. 

1) Needle felt each leg onto the body by stabbing the wool at the fluffed up end of the leg into the body.

28-Needle felted squirrel (41)       30-Needle felted squirrel (44)

For Chestnut I had formed her feet using wool wrapped and felted over wire (see my tutorial on tiny feet and toes here) so I had to take extra care not to break my needle by hitting the wire when stabbing.

31-Needle felted squirrel (45)        29-Needle felted squirrel (42)

2) Continue at all angles for both legs until firmly and securely in position.

12-Needle felted squirrel (21) 07-Needle felted squirrel (16)

08-Needle felted squirrel (17)  09-Needle felted squirrel (18)

Once in place I added more wool round the joins as fur and then decided to felt some of Chestnut’s back-fur too. Aw she is looking very happy and mischievous already!

33-Needle felted squirrel (48)34-Needle felted squirrel (49)32-Needle felted squirrel (46)

3) Then do the same for the forelegs.

48-Needle felted squirrel (.1) 06-Needle felted squirrel (15)   05-Needle felted squirrel (14)

04-Needle felted squirrel (13)  03-Needle felted squirrel (12)

As the shoulder part needs to be attached along the side of the torso it is not sufficient to merely stab from the outer side at the shoulder blade to keep the limb in place.

To felt at an angle under the ‘armpit’ and also to ensure the leg cannot pull away at the join, stuff some extra(fluffed up) wool into the join and stab it securely into place (not too deep to push the lighter coloured wool through to the other side of the shoulder).

36-Needle felted squirrel (51) 35-Needle felted squirrel (50)

Tip: To get the correct positioning and symmetry when adding the second foreleg(as quite often you will want to play around with this until you get it right) you may find it easier to stab the second leg into place only a tiny bit at first; enough to hold the leg in place but not so much that you can’t alter the position if you need to. You can then step away to view your animal from a distance, then adjust until happy with it.

49-Needle felted squirrel (.2) 37-Needle felted squirrel (52)

38-Needle felted squirrel (53) 40-Needle felted squirrel (55)

….then secure into place.

42-Needle felted squirrel (57)  39-Needle felted squirrel (54) 41-Needle felted squirrel (56)

Once all limbs are joined onto your animal you can then felt over the joins with fur. You wouldn’t even know your animal started out as separate appendages.

45-Needle felted squirrel (61)44-Needle felted squirrel (59)43-Needle felted squirrel (58)

Here is Chestnut as she looks now! 🙂

46-Needle felted squirrel (62) 47-Needle felted squirrel (63)

%d bloggers like this: