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Miniature donkey

Miniature donkey

I can now reveal my latest creation, a miniature donkey!

I was sent some photos of an absolutely gorgeous real miniature donkey and asked to needle felt her as a surprise Christmas present for her loving owner. It was an absolute pleasure to create her as I looked at those cute eyes and wonderful fluffy coat.

As she is a hoofed animal I quickly realised that to stand up she would need some stability so I wrapped core Corriedale wool over a wire armature. She soon started to take shape!!

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I made her as a young fluffy donkey with long fur rather than when she was a bit older after a summer moult but this meant I really had to think about how to get the right colour and texture for her fur. I ended up buying 4 wool colours and mixing them carefully by hand with other brown and cream colours I had to get the right shade.

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Once I started adding the long fur I had to be so careful not to let the strands fuzz up when laying the animal down to reach all sides. I therefore had to start on the legs and tummy and do the back and face last so the fur was looking its best in these areas and I didn’t end up squashing her ears.

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Thankfully donkey fur is slightly matted so I didn’t have to worry too much about it having to look silky smooth! I just love doing faces so this was hard for me to have to wait til the end but it was definitely worth it ūüôā

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Felted birdie

Thinking of making a simple needle felted bird? not sure where to start or need some ideas of how to finish your creation with some extra detail?

Last week I had the pleasure of¬†making a little needle felted bird for my sister as a birthday present. She¬†asked me for¬†a simple teal bird to go with her newly decorated room once it is finished but as soon as I started I couldn’t help but let my imagination take over.

I absolutely love my sister so I expressed this by forming¬†heart shaped wings that have¬†beautiful button and thread embellishments. I also¬†tried to make his facial features¬†come to life¬†by giving him adorable eyes and a little tuft of wool on his head(much like a woodpecker or crested tit) ūüôā

Last night I got to¬†see¬†my sister’s face as she opened up her parcel through the wonder of¬† ‘facetime’¬†on¬†our ipads. So pleased she likes him!! I hope you like him too..

So where did I start? As you can see¬†I twisted some cotton felt covered pipe cleaners to make a birdie shape…

Felted bird (11)

Felted bird (12)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then wrapped lengths of core wool over the structure and needle felted until I got the right shape. (Be careful not to stab the wire in the centre of the pipe cleaners by felting along the edge of the pipe cleaner only).

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I then used softer merino wools for the teal and blue birdie colours – light and dark shades of teal and denim blue (the beige you see under the label is for another project coming soon).

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I carefully wrapped and felted the denim blue colour wool over his legs and feet. I did the same with his beak later on. (See here for other ideas on how to felt tiny animal feet and toes).

Felted bird (17) Felted bird (18)

I chose the lighter teal wool for the underneath, face, wings and flecks of colour on the tail. I used the darker teal for the back, top of head with tuft, eye stripe and tail. I felted simple eyes in black with a white dot placed to mimic where the light would reflect and added a thin strip of white around the eyes. (see how to felt animal eyes here).

Felted bird (19) Felted bird (20)

I made the tail and wings separately before felting them on to the body (see here for how to add body parts). I chose some pearly flower shaped button which I sewed onto the wings and stitched a pattern along the length of each wing¬†with¬†a teal and a glittery white embroidery thread. I didn’t fully felt the wings to a perfect shape at this stage as I completed this once attached to the body..

Felted bird (21) Felted bird (22)

Once on the body I then used the denim blue wool to emphasise the shape of the heart wings by felting around the edge..

Here is the finished little teal birdie ready to send to my sister..:-)

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……and of course no creation can go to is new owner without a bit of ‘fit to be loved’ wrapping..

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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!’

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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’ ūüôā 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!

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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.

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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.

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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! ūüôā

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 ? ūüôā

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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. ūüôā

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

Adding the head

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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.

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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. 

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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!

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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 ūüôā

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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 ūüôā

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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3) Then do the same for the forelegs.

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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).

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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.

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….then secure into place.

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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.

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Here is Chestnut as she looks now! ūüôā

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How to needle felt long animal fur

How to needle felt long animal fur

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.

For the needle felted badger I used corriedale wool for the core and then merino wool with a few strands of some of the corriedale mixed in for the top coat. Merino wool is easy to felt and is very soft to the touch. If you would like to you could use other luxurious fibres such as alapaca, angora or even rabbit fur.. (I wouldn’t chose the latter though if allergic to rabbits like I am)

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 tools will you need? ; – very simple you just need barbed needles, foam pad/needle felting brush base and small scissors (you can also use a small sewing needle to fluff up fur at the end).

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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 the width of needle depending on detail and thickness of wool being needled. I tended to use the thinnest as this was far easier.

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.

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I love the fur on a badger’s back, it is greyish in colour but with flecks of black, brown and cream. For this badger I used grey and black merino wool and natural undyed corriedale wool

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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.

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Then take narrow strands of the mixed wool the width of one or two fingers

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… 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…

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They don’t need to be perfect as no badger will have its own hairdresser with a perfect hair cut. ūüôā

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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

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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.

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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.

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You can also felted slightly below the centre line onto the bottom half of the piece to ensure it is in place.

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Now carefully pull down the top section

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… and ensure there are no stray edges by encouraging the wool in from both sides..

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Now felt along the top folded edge until it is firmly in place.

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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..

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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…

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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 :-))

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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.

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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..

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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…(

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As you can see we have a way to go but we are on our way !!

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Aw look at him waiting so patiently to be finished ūüôā

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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..

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As you reach the main length of his body you may now decide to cut the lengths of wool a bit longer

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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..

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Keep going…

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Almost there… take a breather – have a hot chocolate !!

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Specifically for the badger- when reaching the neck line, overlay some strands of black wool at the base of the ears …

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Then finish off with some more of the cream at the base of his head..

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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!!

How to needle felt long animal fur (1)

I added his tail after this which also had several layers of wool as fur…

Here he is all completed !! so playful !!

Needle felted badger latest

 

 Long Animal Fur video!

Find it easier to learn by watching how it is done?  

Long animal fur videoMy¬†full length ‘Long animal fur’ video tutorial can be downloaded or watched live- stream as many times as you like for only ¬£3.75.

<<<Click the donkey picture to watch the 1 minute preview clip. 

¬†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?

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.

As quiet as a mouse!

So I really have kept ‘as quiet as a mouse’ about this one!!

I made this little mouse as a surprise birthday present for my mum (who I love beyond words).

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Yesterday my mum, dad and sister came to visit Ade and I for the day all the way from Lincolnshire and we celebrated my mum’s 65th birthday! She wasn’t too pleased though at receiving cards with ’65’ on them. …Mum you are beautiful and do not look your age at all, you have a young heart and I love you!

Mum just loves seeing the odd picture texted to her of my needle felt creations as I usually can’t wait until the final finished product to show her how I am getting on. She often sees my latest creations not looking like very much and often without ears and legs or fur… but loves them all the same.:-)

When making her mouse it has been so hard not to tell her or show her a photo. She didn’t expect it and of course was so excited to be given a box on her birthday and find this cute (in her words) little mouse inside!

Her little mouse is saying ‚ÄėI love you‚Äô, with a flower in his right hand and left hand on his heart. He is lovingly hand-made from 100% wool.

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Mum really does love him and to see the teary but smiley look on her face has made the wait and the time to make him all worthwhile..

It was her and my dad who gave me my name Amanda which means ‘fit to be loved’. The journey of accepting and growing into the meaning of my name was the inspiration behind the name of my needle felting business ‘fit to be loved’ and my hope is that all my felted creations like this little mouse are as the name suggests ‘fit to be loved’. Read more about me and the name here.

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His core is made of natural undyed Corriedale wool from New Zealand. His fur and detail on his cute mousey paws, ears and face are of soft merino wool (non-mulesed) from South Africa (Cape) ‚Äď chocolate brown, mink, raven and coral. I used coarser wools in purple and grass green for his flower to contrast with the soft contours of his body. You can see his size from the close up of me holding him in my hand. His eyes are made of wool too, so no glass or plastic but all 100% wool!

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Do you have a birthday for a loved one coming up? need a gift idea to say ‘I love you’ ? You can buy one just like him or another bespoke animal of your choice from my etsy shop.

To follow my blog and receive email updates about latest fit to be loved creations and tutorials, simply enter your email address on the top right panel of my ‚Äėfind out more‚Äô page.

Needle felting a bunny; Photo tutorial

Needle felting a bunny; Photo tutorial

Today I just want to share some photos with you to give you a taster of the various stages that went in to¬†needle felting my latest bunny. I haven’t photographed everything but stopped at various times¬†along the journey to take a shot. Please also see here for more detail of how I made his ears. It doesn’t matter too much about what order you add each limb or ears or facial features. It is fun to experiment with different ways of doing things. You will soon find out what works best for you.

I have found though that whenever you add the eyes your creation immediately gains personality and you also get a tiny break from all the time consuming needle action. I love doing the eyes and ears best.

imageBasic ball to start for bunny head. Core corriedale wool.

imageAdding cheeks and face shape

imageAdded torso.

imageAdditional layer in mink coloured merino wool to form base fur.

imageShoulders and thighs firmly felted

imageBlue and grey merino wool mixed then shallow felted to become bunny fur.

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imageLeaving his tummy in mink.

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Preparing feet

imageCute bunny paw detail

imageFeet firmly attached

imageMore Wool added to give shape and smooth contours

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Nose and mouth coming to life

imageComparing with my original bunny to check size and proportions, angle of feet etc

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Forming ears.  See more about making ears in a tutorial here.

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imageEars fixed

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imageEyes alert

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Can’t resist a cuddle

imageFront paws and holding a carrot.

imageMy sister in law popped by, bunny made her smile ūüôā

imageAdventure for bunny in the garden for¬†nature’s backdrop!

To see more pictures of this cute bunny and to order one as a gift just like him for someone you love, please visit my Etsy shop.

To follow my blog and receive¬†email updates about latest fit to be loved¬†creations and tutorials, simply¬†enter your email address on the top right panel of my ‚Äėfind out more‚Äô¬†page.

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