Would you like to learn how to attach long fur to your needle felted animal? not sure how to firmly add the wool or where to begin?
You have likely seen my photo tutorial with basic techniques for adding long fibres onto a badger. Well here is a video series for those of you who learn best by watching how it’s done. These are far more in depth with more techniques and tips along the way! You too can create a detailed and realistic fur effect!
This was available as a paid tutorial for some years but I have decided to offer it for free. I have embedded all 4 parts on this page for you to watch and have included chapter start time stamps, so feel free to start at the beginning or skip to the parts you feel would be most useful 🙂
Difficulty ranking: Intermediate level or beginners looking for a challenge.
The result: Amazing detail; the look of a real animal with layers of fur.
In this series of videos I demonstrate how I create a realistic fur look by attaching lengths of wool to my miniature donkey. These techniques can be adapted for any long furred animal. Join me on my journey from preparation to finish; starting with carefully ‘needle brushed’ leg fibres, then fluffy tummy and long textured back fur. You will also see how I create a middle parting on the donkey’s muzzle, add a long fluffy fringe and a beautiful flowing mane.
Skills you will master across the 4 parts:
Simple hand blending of wool roving for natural, textured colour tones
Preparing wool lengths and a test/sample piece
Knowing how firm to felt your core base
Two easy methods to firmly attach various lengths of wool fibre
The art of layering and trimming fibres
Specific skills for adding fur to various body parts including legs, tummy, back, ears, tail, face and mane
How to prevent over felting or flattening of long fibres
Finishing techniques for defining strands or fluffing them up
Music is by two artists; Jahzzar and Slainte (full use rights).
Details of where you can get my tools are at the end of this page.
Please note: this tutorial series assumes you will have already felted the basic animal shape. My demonstration donkey already has a wire armature with core wool wrapped over it plus facial features and hoofs. I show the advanced techniques beyond this.
PART 1: Hand blending wool, attaching fur to legs (time stamps included below for chapter begin times)
What you will learn in part 1 (01:05)
Where to start? (02:00)
Preparing and blending wools (03:30)
What tools do I need? (11:56) (links to the tools can be found at the end of this page)
Shorter fur – layering on the legs (I show the basics of the 2 techniques) (13:30)
PART 2: Attaching fur to tummy, torso & rump (time stamps included below for chapter begin times)
What you will learn in part 2 (0:52)
Soft tummy fur (technique 1) (01:28)
Continuing the tummy (and a few ways of blending colour) (07:03)
How firm should the core wool be? (11:10)
Lots of thick fur layers (across the torso) (technique 1) (13:13)
Tips for preventing fluffing up and positioning animal whilst felting (18:02)
Adding fur on rump (techniques 1 and 2) (19:20)
PART 3: Adding fur to back, muzzle and fringe (time stamps included below for chapter begin times)
What I’ll cover in part 3 (00:52)
Long fluffy back fur (technique 2) (01:24)
Ears and tail (brief overview for ideas) (09:18)
Fluffy textured muzzle and fringe (very long fur pieces) (technique 2 plus other tips) (10:56)
PART 4: Donkey mane, defining and finishing (time stamps included below for chapter begin times)
What I’ll cover in part 4 (00:52)
Making a mane (an extra attachment method) (01:21)
Attaching the mane (08:05)
Finishing off your animal; defining etc (14:28)
Final donkey photos (what a cutie!) (18:58)
************* LINKS TO THE TOOLS: ***********************
Best NEEDLES I use for quality are from Heidifeathers (all come colour coded for easy identification too)
Well worth getting a set of 30 Mixed Felting Needles:
– 10 Colour Coded Different types – Triangular, Star, Reverse and Twisted Needles – get here.
There are many ways to make needle felted leaves e.g. using leaf-shaped cookie cutters or felting sheets of wool and then cutting out the leaf shapes.
I decided to experiment with sheets of wet wipes (just cheap every day baby/hand wipes are fine). I found that not only are they a nice thin base to felt the wool onto for natural looking leaves but you still end up with sturdy pieces that keep intact and don’t easily fall apart. Having leaf shape cut-outs ready to work on made the process nice and easy too!
You can draw leaf shapes straight onto the wet wipes or you can (as I did) draw on to paper or card first to try out a few sizes and variations and choose the shapes you like best.
I looked up oak and maple leaves in a tree identification book and copied them freestyle onto my paper. You could also sketch leaves whilst you see them on a walk or collect them to draw when you get home. If you aren’t confident to draw them freestyle then why not trace over a book or computer/tablet screen image.
Here are my four sheets of wet wipes and I have cut out my leaf shapes (oak on the left and maple on the right) from paper ready to use as templates to draw round.
It is best to use a pen to trace round the leaf shapes rather than a pencil to make sure the lines show up clearly. Don’t worry about the wet wipes still being slightly damp as they will soon dry.
When it came to cutting I used small scissors as it was easier to cut the tiny jagged edges.
You can make as many leaves of however many species you like. I stuck to just the oak and maple and made two of each; a ‘spring/summer green’ version and a ‘changing to autumn’ version.
Here I am making a start on my first oak leaf.
For the ‘spring/summer green’ versions I chose a mixture of some beautiful vibrant green merino wools.
If you want to felt flat pieces quicker, a four needle tool is perfect. Triangle or star needles are great for this.
Continue to add more wool and firmly needle felt it into place. A single thinner needle (star or triangle) will help to define the edges and keep the wool to the shape of the cut-out.
If you are gluing or sewing the leaves onto a picture/collage you won’t need to felt the other side as well. For my dormouse nest however I wanted to be able to take the leaves out the nest as separate pieces of art so I decided to felt the other sides of the leaves too.
I used brown wool for the protruding stem of the oak leaf.
To ensure the surface of the leaves don’t look holey or to carefully brush the fibres in one direction for hairy leaves (make sure you have firmly felted the wool first before attempting this), use a spiral/twisted needle.
For the upper side of the leaf, carefully felt the stem and leaf veins with a thin (preferably a spiral/twisted) needle. Alternatively you could stitch on this detail using embroidery threads.
Here are a few process pictures of the maple leaf.
For my ‘changing to autumn’ versions I added thin layers of varying shades of green, yellow, orange and red merino wool to give a lovely blended finish before adding the stem and vein details.
You can really use your imagination when it comes to colour. When you look at real leaves no one leaf is the same as the next. I just love going for walks in the countryside and admiring the leaves on the trees or those in the autumn around my feet that have fallen. They are so amazing!
For really flat leaves, steam iron them for just 10 seconds each below a cotton sheet/tea towel.
I hope you found this step by step photo guide helpful for making your own needle felted leaves. Let me see how your leaves turned out!
Here are some final pictures of the leaves once they were finished. They look great on their own or with a woodland creature! 🙂
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