If you are needle felting animals of the canine kind🐕🐶🐕🦊🐺 or felines 🦁🐈🐱🐆🐅🐯, I’m sure you’ll love these PDF armature guides just released by a good friend of mine from KawaiiYokaii Studios.
They are beautifully illustrated, easy to follow diagrams and instructions. You can not only use them as a reference for measuring your wires to make the armature but also as a size guide for when building up the wool to get the body shape of your animal just right and to proportion too!
They are a very useful aid when following my free armature tutorial here.
Don’t see a dog breed or type of cat you are planning to needle felt? – she gladly takes requests and offers these updates for free so once you’ve purchased the pack you can come back and download the most up to date version!
They are in my opinion a great bargain at the price she offers them at and very handy to have in your needle felting tool kit!
Guides in the canine pack:
*Pug *Fox/Coyote *Large Breed Dog/Wolf *Dachshund *French Bulldog *Fennec Fox *Terrier *Shiba *African Wild Dog *Racoon Dog
(She added these 3 based on requests after the launch) *Greyhound *Springer Spaniel *Border Collie
Are you wondering how to get a smooth on your Needle Felted Animals?
In this tutorial I share my 13 Top Tips for how to get a smooth finish! No more holey, lumpy or fuzzy sculptures! Get stabbing and needle felt a smooth surface with confidence!
I include advice on the process, needles, wool, use of tools and much more! Look out for my extra FAQs (about long furred animals and reverse felting) at the end.
Do you prefer to learn by watching instead of reading? if so please do skip to the bottom of this page to watch the video on YouTube 🙂
What are you wanting to achieve?
Are you wanting to needle felt a short furred animal like a horse or short haired dog breed? or maybe you want to felt a part of the animal such as around the muzzle so that it’s smooth and soft?
Or maybe the style of your sculpture is that you want it to look firm and no fluff but smooth looking, for example with my sitting foxes I made in preparation for an upcoming needle felting course, I wanted them to be quick and easy to make for my students without all the long fur attachment which can take hours.
Tip 1: It’s about the Entire Process!
Think of this in terms of it being about the entire process. It’s not just about the end result. You can’t grab your wool and stab it any old how and then expect a sudden smooth finish by the end. It is possible but it could take a lot longer to achieve. So start off really well, have intension and a plan! Through the process of stabbing, layering carefully and keeping it firm and using some of the other tips below you’ll hopefully end up with that lovely smooth finish!
Tip 2: Wool
It’s important to understand about wool and consider the type of wool you will use for your needle felted animal.
If using merino wool, this is soft and fine so is going to look and feel soft and smooth. Be careful though if using merino tops (tops are where the wool is in long lengths which go in the same direction). The structure can mean that stabbing will show holes so you need to use finer and finer needles for it to look smooth and it can take a while to get the result you like.
Carded Wool usually comes in batts (sheet) or slivers (long lengths). Carded wool is where there are short fibres that go in different directions so fibres will felt fast and you can firm up your sculpture much quicker but the overall look can be more messy and less smooth so you’ll need some effort to prevent fuzziness and not show holes.
If you would like to know more about wool. Here is my Guide to Wool
Tip 3: Barbed Needles
Barbed needles for needle felting come in different gauge numbers (thicker or thinner), the end you stab with comes in a few different shapes e.g. star, triangle, spiral, crown, and they have varying numbers of barbs. So it’s vital to know which needle to use at the different stages of the sculpting, firming and finishing process.
When starting off you’ll need a lower gauge number (thicker needle) and when you finish off you’ll need a higher gauge number (thinner needle). For example when making the core shape of my fox I used a 36G triangle, then after a while I moved to a 38G triangle to firm it. I then smoothed the surface with a 40G triangle needle.
Tip 4: Keep Stabbing
If you find that your needle felted creation is not firm enough and is therefore too soft when you squeeze it, or there are areas that are lumpy, then you’ll need to keep on stabbing!
If you keep stabbing and then feel some resistance as you stab into the wool with the needle you are using, then you’ll need to move up to the next number gauge needle e.g. move from a 38 to a 40.
When I am sculpting with wool I like to keep my shapes medium firm while I perfect their form. Once I have manipulated the wool with fingers and happy with the overall look, then I go ahead and firm up further and keep stabbing.
Tip 5: Even out any Dips
If you have continued to stab but the odd indent is still there in the surface of the sculpture (sometimes this can happen with core wool where areas are thicker or thinner) then you may need to fill with more wool to even out and smooth the surface.
Tip 6: Felt Shallow and at an Angle
Once you are using higher gauge needles to smooth the surface (e.g. 40G or 42G) these will leave very tiny holes compared to the lower gauge needles but make sure you also shallow felt by only felting with the thin end tip of your needle. Felting at a slight angle e.g 45 degrees and not stabbing at right angles (90 degrees straight down) into the wool also shows less holes!!
Tip 7: Spiral/Twisted Needle
Once at the stage to smooth your surface you can also use a spiral (also known as a twisted needle). This is a great needle for getting a smooth finish. When you look at the needle close up you’ll see that the end of the needle is twisted as a spiral, shaped like a mini drill.
Tip 8: Layering wool
When layering wool e.g. when adding a coloured layer of carded wool over core wool, avoid creating harsh edges and bumps in your wool by looking for and removing any unusual blobs or strands and vegetation matter before you add it. Also be careful to select the right amount of wool as a wad to lay so that it is not too thick nor too thin in thickness and the fibres are evenly spread. Lay it over your core base without folding edges then lay the next piece along side it but slightly overlapping.
Stab the wool with your higher gauge needle shallowly and at an angle as described above and you should end up with a nice smooth finish.
An extra Tip for Merino tops
A merino top can be more of a challenge to layer and look hole free – don’t worry if this is all you have in your supplies- it is possible but needs lots of stabbing with fine needles to finish off. Sometimes though I take the top and pull it apart with my fingers to shred it up into shorter strands and to ensure the fibres end up in different directions. Then I add evenly spread wads of this to my animal. It really helps with blending along any edges with another colour. Why not try it out and see what you think 🙂
Tip 9: Use Hands/Fingers
If you’ve used your fine and spiral needles and shallow felted at an angle but still seeing holes, others may not notice but maybe you do …. what do you do? Well it’s a simple thing but really works! Just use your hand/s or fingers to carefully rub over the wool surface! the warmth of your hands and movement will manipulate the surface and move fibres over any holes. Be careful not to do this too briskly as this can add to the ‘too much fuzz’ problem. You can roll a ball shape or long cylindrical shapes such as legs or tail of an animal between your hands with some pressure , you can rub large areas of the animal over a warm palm of your hand in a circular motion or back and forth, or rub a finger end in circular motion over patches of wool that need it.
Tip 10: Needle Brush
Another way to help cover holes is to use your sharp needle end (can also use a normal sewing needle) to carefully brush fibres. This is a tiny movement but can be really effective. You might quite like this look to add a little texture at times so more animal-like whilst still being soft and smooth to the touch.
Tip 11: A Tiny brush
If you have a soft tooth brush or baby brush or an eyebrow brush then you can also brush tenderly over the fibres to again move strands over holes. If choosing the eyebrow brush it will need to be one that has a bristly brush rather than a comb edge. I like to press against the wool surface with my brush and move in a circular motion a bit like I would with my fingers rather than actually ‘brush’ the fibres. Brushing or rubbing too vigorously will certainly create more texture and possibly fuzz the surface but this may be a look that you like too!
Tip 12: Scissors
If your issue is still that your needle felted animal looks too fuzzy, messy or there are stray strands then this is time to get out your small scissors and give it a really good trim. Sometimes though fuzz on an animal is a great look… this is the wonderful thing about needle felting and playing with textures. You can try both looks and see what you prefer!!
Tip 13: Super Smoothness Ideas
Using pressure and heat is a brilliant way to smooth down any fuzz and you can achieve this with your every day iron if you are careful or you could try a mini crafting iron over the surface of your small needle felted creations.
If you want sleek slim smooth animal ears or feathers (or other flat pieces you are making) then how about try some hair straighteners? you can lay your felted item between the plates for as little as 5 seconds on a fairly high heat and wow what a wonderful result! those stray fibres proper flatten down.
1: What if I’m making a long furred animal, Does it really matter if the core wool is firm or smooth?
Well, you don’t need the surface perfectly smooth no as you won’t see it. However it is important to get the core of your animal firm and be free from any lumps or dips. If too soft then when attaching the long fur the animal core can shrink slightly, the surface may become uneven and the whole creation can become misshapen. If you start with a firm smooth surface the fur will layer nicely and flow well. If you’d like to learn how to add long fur to your animals there is a video series here.
2: What if I’m reverse felting? Does it matter about the wool being firm or smooth then?
Again it doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth but you need the wool firm with an even surface so that when you pull out the fibres with your reverse needle the wool maintains its stability and shape. You want to be pulling out even tufts of fibres that will look like fluffy fur not pulling out big chunks! If you’d like to know how to reverse felt, your ultimate guide to the reverse felting needle can be viewed here.
Here is the video version for how to get a smooth finish on your needle felted animals.
I hope you found this tutorial useful. What smooth surfaced animal are you making?? 🙂
Well, he is now available to a good forever home!!
He will come as a head and shoulders portrait in a frame so you can put him on your wall or on a shelf.
As his new owner you will be able to name him and decide on the colour of his soft material collar and whether you would prefer a light or dark frame for him.
Maybe you love spaniels or have a friend or family member who loves them as much as I do and would love to provide a new home for him. I will really miss seeing those big soppy eyes around the place but I just don’t have the space to keep all my felted animals long term.
(Once payment has been processed through my Etsy Shop I will contact you by email to request his name, collar and frame colour and to arrange delivery. Please allow up to 10 days for me to complete his shoulders, collar and to frame him).
If you have any questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As with all my needle felted animals he is not a toy but a wool sculpture to be admired and cherished. So please don’t pull at his ‘fur’, get him wet or try to brush him. Please keep him somewhere safe and away from pets and small children. Thank you
So today I thought I’d answer a common question that I get asked a lot- “if I’m needle felting a long furred animal, how do I stop all of these lovely, luscious fibres from getting all matted, flattened, tangled and just looking a complete mess?”
As you’re working on an animal, like this guinea pig I am making here, at some point you may have to turn it over or on its side.
Some of it will get fluffed up a little bit and that’s just the big challenge with felting very long fibres like this, but you can eliminate some of the issues with my three tips!
Please feel free to comment and say what you do about this because that would be really helpful to share tips and ideas with each other as well.
3 Tips to help prevent over felting, matting, frizzing, of long animal fur
(Scroll to the bottom if you’d like to watch my video version)
For an animal that’s upright I try to always start adding wool on the underside i.e it’s tummy and legs first so that I’m not having to turn over the lovely top layer. If I start off with the underside, that’s the bit that you’re less likely to see so if it gets a bit flattened it doesn’t matter so much.
I then turn it over and work on the top side and that’s the bit you’re mostly going to see. So you’re not going to be laying it down on all the lovely fibres and squishing them. The moment you turn your animal over, it’s going to flatten and potentially fluff up or leave the fibres looking frizzy and it’s just not going to look so great like how you added it in the first place.
CONSIDER WOOL TYPE
Think about the kind of wool that you’re going to be using.
So a lot of us will use merino wool tops for long fur. These are great because they’re really well priced. They come in the kits and you can get loads of different colours. I love the range of colours for needle felted animals here.
However you do need to think about the way that the fibres lay and the way they can potentially matt and frizz up easily.
I have been trying some other kinds of fibres recently. One I want to mention is alpaca wool (you can get some lovely alpaca tops here) and suri alpaca. They seem a lot finer and softer, but you will notice a silky like consistency to them.
So I’ve been mixing these (hand blending) with my other fibres and finding that the mix is less likely to frizz and tangle with a silkier result.
Your animal fur can still end up flattening if you’re not planning your animal properly, but generally I’m finding that I can achieve a more natural looking fur as well as it matting less. It’s a beautiful, beautiful fibre to work with!
If you’re using a coarser natural wool top, such as a corriedale top. This is brilliant for replicating a coarse rough looking kind of animal hair rather than one that is smooth and soft looking.
You can incorporate that into your animal fur look as well. I used this in some of the brown shades on my sheltie for example.
The only thing with it is that it is rougher in texture and so tends to felt a lot quicker. I find it’s tougher and not so soft and fine. But at the same time if you rub it against anything that is also rough, the friction will make it end up looking frizzy which may not be the look you were hoping for..
So think about the kind of wools that you might want to use. Try out a variety of fibres…
A ‘GLIDEY’ SURFACE
Think about what surface you’re working on. A lot of us will be using something like a felting mat or pad. My Eco felting mat from Heidifeathers has a really nice consistency and firmness to felt on. I can do all my core work sculpting on there really well and also add shorter fur fibres.
But when I come to attach my long fur, the last thing I want to do is allow my fibres to rub against the felting mat material and felt my fibres a lot further. I want them to end up looking really lovely on the animal. I don’t want them to rough up and get tangled.
So when you’re thinking about what you’re working on, think about something that is not going to be fraying your felted animal fur.
Once I’ve made the core animal shape base, I often move it off of my felting pad and I will use a slippery surface for the majority of my time…you’ll often see me use the inside of one of my beautiful storage box lids.
This allows my piece of work and the fibres to glide against it and not rough up and felt. It might move around a little bit but because my animal is contained in the lid area, it’s not going to slip too far. You don’t need to use a felting pad because the needle is not going to go through and stab into my knee or anything. Much of what I am felting onto is the thick body of the animal and as long as I don’t felt too deeply the hard surface is fine.
If I want to get at an angle though e.g. side of tummy, under a neck or felting fur on a leg I can still use the felting pad but lay a material over it.
A shiny smooth material like satin or silk is really good though test it out and see what you think. You don’t want to get too much static adding to your issues so trial it. You could get a bit of this material to lay over the pad. Tightly wrap it if you can so it doesn’t slip as you felt or buy a purpose made satin or silk surfaced pillow.
Or use a plastic bag or sheeting over the pad (I simply use the flat slippery bags that my wool come in). It can slide a little but that’s fine.
A shiny paper like tissue papers or wrapping paper or card can also work but less likely to last as long potentially.
The felting needle can enter the material a little but that’s ok.
If adding long fur to a thin piece of the animal anatomy e.g an ear or tail I would rather go back to just using my felting pad and just be very careful about not messing up the fibres.
Try a few options to see what works for you and find out what is most effective and comfortable for the process.
Whatever surface you choose, lay the animal down carefully against the surface before stabbing and ideally lay fibres in the way they should flow so they are less likely to fray at the ends or flatten or frizz from laying the wrong way.
A few extra tips
Remember to make sure that you’re not constantly touching or pulling at the fibres. Make sure you aren’t using greasy fingers of any sort, and that you’ve washed your hands really well and you’ve got no extra oils in your skin when you need to touch them.
For particularly long pieces of fur you can twist the ends carefully and tuck them down before laying your animal down when you’re working on it to prevent the ends from being vulnerable to fluffing or fraying.
To finish off your animal so it has beautiful fibres
Once you have added all the fur to your needle felted animal you can then revive the fibres if they have become a bit flat or disheveled and plump them up.
Depending on the wool you have used and how you want the fur to look you could carefully brush them with an eyebrow brush or similar brush. For many of my animals however a brush can be too much for the delicate fibres and I don’t want to break or pull out the fibres I have taken my time to add and so I simply use a clean finger and thumb to tease fibres in the direction I want them to go and to unflatten them.
A normal sewing needle or sometimes my barbed needle is also a perfect tool to manipulate the fibres and to separate them out so they still look like realistic animal fur. Then a final trim with scissors if needing to tidy or remove any excess fluff!
I hope these tips have been helpful. Let me know your thoughts on them. 😊
Here is a video version if you prefer to watch or listen: How to protect long wool fibres while needle felting animals.
Please let me know what you do to help protect your long fibres, I’d love to hear your hints and tips too 🙂
I recently had the privilege of needle felting a guinea pig in memory of a beautiful real one called Ralph.
I made his basic shape from core wool, made some cute little feet by wrapping wool over wire and then added long fur which was a mix of merino tops and baby alpaca tops. Wow you should feel those baby alpaca fibres, they are so soft and slightly silky to the touch. I really enjoyed working with them.
His colours were not the easiest to replicate as in some lights he looked more of a peachy colour and in others he looked more like a light mustard colour but I’m quite pleased with the outcome. He has some beautiful tones don’t you think?
His eyes, ears, nose and mouth are all wool too!
As with all my creations I really tried to add as much detail as possible and to get him looking as realistic as I could.
The main aim with pet sculptures is to capture the character of the real one. The real Ralph had the most gorgeous smiley mouth and a sparkle in his eye
I’m so pleased his new mummy loves him and though of course the real Ralph can’t be replaced I hope this wool version will bring some comfort 🙂
I hope you like him.
If you would like to know how I needle felted his sweet feet you may like to watch this video of how l needle felt rodent feet, there’s a demo of a guinea pig foot, a rat foot and a mouse foot too! Enjoy 🙂
Would you like to know how I needle felted the long fur on my Tabby Birman cat?
Here is a video tutorial with techniques of how to blend wool colours, plant (attach) long fur to your cat head, layer the wool pieces, reverse felt wool in some areas (for blending, gradients and fluffy fur), create tabby marking patterns and trim wool.
It’s great if you would like to make realistic cat fur!
This is part 3 of 5 in my series of Needle Felted Cat Head tutorials.
I hope you enjoy it
Here is the next tutorial for making the cat ears.
Or if you would like to know how to do the whiskers then that part is here.
If you missed the previous 2 videos or would like to rewatch them:
Tutorial one for Needle Felting a Cat Head Shape is here.
Have you ever wondered when to use a wire armature? or been confused as to what size wire to use? Maybe you are wanting to know what wool and needles are best for armature making?
In this video, the Complete Beginner’s Guide to using Wire Armature for Realistic Needle Felted Animals, I show you the tools and materials I use when making a wire armature and answer these common questions and more.
This tutorial is packed full of useful tips and includes 5 demos – Bunny & Fox armatures plus tiny rodent feet (guinea pig, rat and mouse)!
Heidifeathers have kindly sponsored the video. Get a 10% discount at their International online shop at https://www.heidifeathers.com using code Felting10 (first 50 customers only – so be sure to go there as soon as you can and don’t miss out!)
They have a wonderful range of wool, wire and tools, pretty much everything you’ll need for needle felting realistic animals. I use their wire, pipe cleaners, needles, wool, pliers, felting mat and horse hair in my video and I thoroughly recommend them if you’d like to get started!
Complete Beginner’s Guide to WIRE ARMATURE for Realistic Needle Felted Animals
I hope you enjoy the video! Let me know in the comments what animal you might like to make first with a wire armature 🙂
You can use it to make fluffy fur, BUT there’s so MUCH MORE you can do with it too!
This video is your Ultimate Guide to the reverse felting needle.
In this needle felting tutorial I’ll show you what it is, what it can do. I’ll share top tips for how to get the most out of it and there may be some techniques you have never thought about!
I hope you enjoy it!
Please let me know what you might try to create with the reverse needle in the comments 🙂
The Reverse Felting Needle is a wonderful versatile tool and one of my all time favourite needles.
I get my needles from HeidiFeathers, they are brilliant in quality and all colour coded so you don’t lose track of which needle you are using! They deliver internationally and sell a variety of tools and fibres.
If you are starting out and don’t have any needles yet then it’s well worth getting a set of 30 Mixed Felting Needles – 10 Different types – Triangular, Star, Reverse & Twisted Needles https://amzn.to/3oSks9j
Or if you are looking to get individual needles then you can choose by needle type:
How do I create spots on my needle felted animals?
Here is a video tutorial demonstrating how to needle felt animal spots in 4 ways.
If you are a beginner you might just want to know how to add quick easy simple spots to start with to get a feel for your needles and wool.
Or you might be looking at how you can add more realistic felted fur on your spotted animal.
I also show you how a reverse felting needle can be useful to pull the wool fibres from your core base through your top layer of wool to form a spot.
Whether you are an absolute beginner or a more advanced learner, I hope you find these tips helpful on your needle felting journey. My aim is to teach you how to needle felt animals that are detailed and realistic.
Here are the time stamps to help you find the sections you may be looking for:
0:00 Intro to animal spots
1:47 Adding simple spots – this is great for beginners, a quick easy spot
5:35 Reverse felted spots – using a reverse felting needle to create spots
7:44 Long Layered spots – how to felt realistic fur on your spotted animal
15:31 Parallel planted spots – for fur that stands up (medium/short fur animals
So here is the video. I hope you enjoy it 🙂
What is your favourite spotted animal? There are so many to amazing animals out there to choose from but please let me know in the comments – I’d love to know.
NEEDLE FELTING TOOLS AND WOOLS:
****** Best NEEDLES I use for quality are from Heidifeathers. They all come colour coded so you’ll never forget which needle you are working with.
It’s well worth getting a set of 30 Mixed Felting Needles – Triangular, Star, Reverse and Twisted Needles – here
So you’ve got your felting base, some needles and some wool, BUT what about a wooden letter opener? or some hair straighteners? ..(huh? I might hear you say..)
The video below walks you through my top 15 favourite Needle Felting Tools and Materials and I explain how I use each of them to create detailed and realistic animals. These take you beyond the beginner basics so if you are looking for the best felting equipment to advance your skills then I hope this list will help.
I include felting tools (like needles and their holders, scissors and my favourite felting mat) as well as materials like wire, clay and wax. There are some supplies you may not have thought of so I hope to inspire you.
My demonstrations feature a range of felted animals such as my sparrow, cat, dog, bumble bee, hare, bunny and more.
I hope you enjoy it 🙂 Let me know which was your favourite?
I’ve included the links on where to find the supplies below the video too.
Here is more info about the Mr Bumbley Bee PDF Tutorial.
Draper Flat Nose Mini Pliers with Soft Grip, 115mm – here
I would go for this more budget version of the ones I have if buying some just for needle felting, very similar to mine in what they can do but less pricey – Remington Ceramic Straight 230 Hair Straighteners, 15 Seconds Heat Up Time with Variable Temperature Setting – here
Professional Thinning Shears Hair Cutting Teeth Scissors – here
(For the Amazon affiliate links I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This supports my art and enables me to continue to provide valuable content and for that I am so very grateful to you – Thank you!!)
I so love foxes. For many they are a real pest and I can understand how heart breaking it can be for a fox to take a beloved chicken (we live with 3 beautiful chickens and are often on fox watch!). However I will never stop being amazed at how in the UK we actually have wild dogs (almost mini wolves) roaming around. Not only that, they are a vibrant orange colour that matches the autumn leaves! I don’t know about you but I think they are stunning animals!!
Back in September I was so delighted to receive a commission from a lovely lady in California to needle felt a curled up fox. My second ever felted animal was a fox but I have learned so much since then and couldn’t wait to get started.
This photo of a beautiful real fox was my inspiration.
Fox fur is far from being one colour but a mix of brown, cream, yellow and orange tones which are accentuated by black and white. I love to make my wool sculptures as realistic as possible so I chose and hand blended a lovely colour palette in merino and corriedale wools.
I started off with a wire armature and wrapped corriedale wool over it using fox anatomy and skeletal pictures on line for reference. I then shaped the head, added the ears, eyes and nose and then added the paw pads to the feet. Then, using the long fur technique, I attached the foxy coat. I used black horse hair for the whiskers!
I hope you like this sweet little fox. Here are some photos of the finished sculpture. Such a bushy tail 🙂
Perfect autumnal (fall) setting for this little needle felted fox made by its new owner in California. Can you spot the fox? 🙂
My first ever needle felted animal back in 2013 was a sweet little white bunny holding a carrot.
He seemed to just emerge out of my wool the moment I started stabbing away and sculpting with my barbed needles! From that day I just knew this was the hobby for me!
It has been a journey of joy in creating, therapy and relaxation through the tough trials that life brings and through my own experimentation it has hopefully helped others as I journal and share my techniques as tutorials.
Needle felting is such a wonderful art form as it enables you to just go for it with whatever you want to make, with no need for a pattern or sewing, just your passion and imagination. If you make a mistake it doesn’t matter – it is forgiving and each time you create something new the result brings a smile!
As some of you have come to know, I love to improve and challenge myself. This last few weeks I set myself a challenge to make an animal with fur that has been reverse needle felted. At the moment we are staying in a lovely house in the countryside next to open fields of corn and wild flowers and we often see the cutest bunnies popping up from their burrows and skipping and playing in the sunlight. They are a delight to watch, especially when they hop away with only a flash of a white fluffy tail to be seen.
So what better animal to choose to have fluffy fur than a cute baby bunny rabbit! To me they are a real sign that spring has arrived and summer is on its way!
I would like to introduce you to ‘Blossom’!
You can see from the photos that she is the perfect size to sit on your hand just like a real baby rabbit. She is 15cm tall from the top of her head down to her cute bunny paws.
As with all my needle felted animals, it took many hours of hard work and love to give her that playful character. Her core is made of undyed mixed rare breed sheep’s wool from Scotland. Her beautiful soft fluffy fur is a blend of merino sheep’s wool (non-mulesed) from South Africa. Her nose and eyes are made of wool too, so no glass or plastic. Her whiskers are made from Shetland pony horse tail hair.
She even has pink paw pad detail when you look underneath her!…and look at that fluffy tail! 🙂 aw!!
Here you can see that I made the front and back feet individually and left a tuft of core wool on each for easy attachment.
You might be wondering what reverse needle felting is?
Firstly I used normal barbed felting needles to sculpt her shape with the core wool and add the colour with the merino wool. Once I had added a layer of white merino wool over her body I then added a layer of ‘pewter’ (dark grey) merino wool. I then took a reverse needle (which has barbs going the opposite way to a normal barbed needle) and as I stabbed at the wool it pulled the white wool fibres (and some of the core wool) through the grey. This resulted in a fluffy light grey colour. I carefully used an eye brow brush to brush the fibres in one direction to mimic the look of baby bunny fur.
She is ready to hop into your life this spring time!
Feel free to comment and let me know what you think and if you have any questions about reverse needle felting.
Just finished needle felting a beautiful black and white dog called Poppy. I wanted to capture the smiley faced playful character of the real dog Poppy who loves to fetch a ball, go for a swim and have lots of fun on her walks, sometimes with legs splashed with mud!
I am not sure what breed she is but she looks like a spaniel/collie cross.
She was a delight to make. She is made from core wool over wire and then merino wool layered over the top. Her eyes, nose and even her tiny collar with a paw print disc is made from wool. Her layers of long fur were added with my usual technique (click here for tutorial).
Once needle felted I was able to pose her with head slightly tilted, front leg bent and tail ready to wag……
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.:-)
“So, I just about know how to needle felt a cute fluffy animal but how do I even start to needle felt its eyes? How can I make the eyes look 3D, shiny and realistic and not too cartoon-like?’, I could use glass or plastic eyes but would love to use wool so that my sculpture is totally needle felted- so what do I do?”
This photo tutorial will hopefully show you the basics of needle felting animal eyes and give you some ideas along the way too.
Adding the eyes to any needle felted piece is actually one of my favourite parts. It brings the animal to life and gives it its soulful character. Getting the eyes just right shouldn’t be a stress! it can take some practice but it can be so rewarding adding that final detail to your newly created animal…
Here are some of the eyes I have needle felted so far to give you some ideas.
Can you work out what animals they are?
So here is how you can get started…
Step 1: Look at photos of eyes and get to know basic eye anatomy
Of course eyes are different for every species so the first thing to do is to take a look at photos of real animals to see how big the eyes are in proportion to the animal’s head, decide on colour, the shape, note where the light reflects etc. You don’t want to make the wrong sort of eyes for your animal (eg a cat’s eye on a mouse for example). I usually just do a web search and bookmark the pictures or pin them on pinterest to refer to whilst I needle felt.
Remember doing biology? well you don’t need to know full anatomy of the eye but knowing your basic parts does help. Here is an eye of a needle felted hare I made;
You will find that most animals will have a pupil which can change in size depending on mood/ light exposure. For some it will be round or it can be different in shape e.g. a slit for cats and reptiles, square for a goat, even w-shaped in a cuttlefish!! Some have a distinctly coloured iris, some have eye lids some don’t- birds’ eyes face forward rather than sit on the side of the head… aren’t animals remarkable!
Step 2: Go for it
For demonstration purposes I will show you the stages that took place when making eyes for a mouse and then a badger. Eyes can be added early on or at the end, it’s completely up to you. I sometimes like to do mine near the end and when finished I can’t help but smile! 🙂
Some ‘Fit to be loved’ eye felting tips
use fine high gauge barbed needles for detail such as 40G or 42G
use warm hands to roll the tiny eye ball to keep rounded/oval rather than stabbing too much as this will just flatten it
it is easier to layer eyes parts on top of each other rather than try to make the exact shape (see what I mean below)
do each stage for each eye at the same time to get the eyes the same
measure using string/thread/fingers to check eyes are of equal size and symmetrically positioned
to attach eye to the head stab mainly around the edge of the eye in various directions rather than across the middle to keep the eye plump and prevent it from going too flat.
See below for instructions on the mouse and badger eyes. Note that I have also now created detailed videos on dog eyes and cat eyes if you would like to see those 🙂
Mouse eyes (-basic level)
roll in warm hands 2 equal sized rugby ball shaped balls of black wool to form the basic eye shape. Lightly needle felt in different directions then place on the mouse head viewing from the top to check the positioning is symmetrical. The eyes on this mouse are simple to view as they contrast well in colour with the rest of its face fur.
firmly felt the wool into place by stabbing around the edge of the shape to keep the eye plump and not completely flat
use a smaller amount of wool for each of the eye irises (using a grey/green colour) and again stab them into place, being careful not to flatten the eye too much…
add a tiny ball of the black to the top of the iris to form the pupil. The position of the pupil will determine the way the mouse looks at you; for this little mouse the pupil at the top gives the impression that he is looking up. Ensure the pupils match in size and position on each eye (you don’t want him to look cross-eyed unless that is the expression you are after..)
adding the pupil in this way i.e. layering one circular shape over another is far easier and less tedious than attempting to shape the iris in a half moon shape and also gives the eye a fuller shape..
take a thin strip of cream-coloured wool to form the edge of the mouse’s eyelids (top and bottom) which nicely frame the eyes. View the eyes from the top to ensure they are in the correct position and of correct thickness
this is also a good time to manipulate the wool on the eyes as well as around the eyes with your fingers to make the shape of the eyes fit the face as best it can. For example you could pull in the bottom corners of the eyes and narrow the bridge of the nose slightly if you choose to do so or if one eye sticks out more than the other you can carefully push it in slightly.
as a finishing touch and to bring the eyes to life and make them look 3D and shiny, add a tiny dot of white to give the illusion that light is reflecting across the eye surface. The exact position of this is not so crucial as getting them in the same mirrored position for each eye…
Here is the finished mouse saying ‘I love you’ with it’s cute yellow felted flower…
Badger eyes (- intermediate level)
The badger’s eyes are slightly harder to create. The reason being is that the badger’s dark eyes are hard to see on a fairly dark face so needing more careful measuring to ensure both eyes look the same. The eyes are mainly dark so need more help in making the surface look like it is shiny and reflecting the light. I also add colour to the bottom corner of each eye to form what is known as the ‘lacrimal caruncle’ that you sometimes see in mammals such as a badger (to make it look even more life like)
roll 2 small balls of black wool in warm hands and needle felt lightly in all directions
add the balls to the badger head, felting slightly to keep in place but don’t felt firmly until you have checked they are positioned correctly
whilst they are roughly in place view the eyes from above to check the position. As the background fur is very dark too, you may find this hard to do so you may wish to feel the eyes too to check this..as you can see the left eye was slightly higher at this stage so I moved the eye down slightly to match..
once happy with the positioning, felt around the edge of each shape, not across its middle, to ensure the eye does not become too flat.
take a thin length of grey wool for the top and bottom eyelid edges for each eye, these will nicely frame the eyes.
needle felt these into place and then view both eyes from the top to ensure they are in the correct position and of correct thickness
add a tiny amount of brown wool into the inner eye corners (the ‘lacrimal caruncle’) – this was the same colour as the brown detail on the badger nose
the eyes of the badger are very dark so as well as having a tiny white spot to give the illusion of a shiny eye as with the mouse, I wanted to add some grey to the sides of each black eye for extra 3D light reflecting effect.
it is very important to ensure that what you do with one eye is mirrored with the other so checking from all angles is crucial.
and add the white dot…
Yes these eyes can take a while to get just right but oh how cute do these badgers look when finished!!
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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