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Needle felted Fox

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 ūüôā

Perfect autumnal (fall) setting for this little needle felted fox made by its new owner in California. Can you spot the fox? ūüôā

How to needle felt leaves

If you are looking for a simple and effective method to needle felt some lovely looking leaves then this will hopefully give you some inspiration.

I recently felted some leaves for ‘Hazel’ the sleepy Dormouse and took some photos of the process for you along the way.

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! ūüôā

Blossom the baby bunny

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’!

******************Blossom is available to buy here******************

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! ūüôā 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.

I hope you have a lovely relaxing Easter!!

Meet Freckle; the baby tiger quoll

Here is my latest needle felted animal known as “Freckle”!

03-Needle felted quoll (25)

She is an adorable baby Tiger Quoll (a wonderful and unusual looking marsupial from Australia). She is sound asleep all curled up, be careful not to wake her!!
Why Freckle? I posted her on facebook and asked for name suggestions. There were so many great ideas but I decided that the name ‘Freckle’ really suited her. I had freckles across my nose as a kid. My nanny (my mum’s mum) used to say to me that freckles were sun kisses. How sweet! This creature is sweet and certainly has quite a few freckles!

02-Needle felted quoll (26)

07-Needle felted quoll (27)

She has been lovingly hand-made and is ‘fit to be loved’. As you can see from the photos she just about fits onto your hand like a real baby quoll.

Her core is made of natural undyed corriedale sheep wool from New Zealand. Her beautiful spotted fur is a mix of brown corriedale and soft merino sheep wool (non-mulesed) from South Africa. She has a wire through her tail.


As with all my wool sculptures it took many hours of hard work and love to give her her character. I used the adding long fur technique as well as trying out my new reverse needles to ensure her fur looks as realistic as can be.

05-Needle felted quoll (20)

06-Needle felted quoll (34)

Her nose and eyes are made of wool too, so no glass or plastic. Her realistic looking whiskers are made from horse hair.

I hope you like her ūüôā

*************** Freckle is now for sale in my Etsy shop! -update on 7th Dec 2018 – Now sold. So very excited to announce that Freckle will be going to a lady in Australia! *********************

Poppy

Poppy

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……

Don’t you think she looks happy to be finished? ūüôā

Needle felting a Tawny Owl – photo tutorial

Needle felting a Tawny Owl – photo tutorial

Thinking of needle felting an owl and need some ideas on where to start? Not sure how to make a feather effect from wool? 

This was one of my most challenging project , but also extremely enjoyable and rewarding! Owls are beautiful birds with so much character and you can really express this in your sculpture, so I encourage you to get stabbing and have a go!

So why did I choose to make an owl?¬†Well to be honest an owl was on my to do list for ages as I am a big fan of owls but it just so happened that the Manager at ‘Found’ (my favourite charity shop in Harrow which supports the needs of the local community) asked me if I could make an owl to overlook their new library. Of course I flew¬†at the chance!!

But why a tawny owl? I noticed a number of gorgeous needle felted barn owls out there (which I will likely make at some point) but hardly any tawny owls and for me the tawny is an iconic woodland owl from the story books (remember the owls in Winnie the Pooh and The animals of Farthing wood?) This owl looks very wise but has the cutest expression, plump rounded body when its feathers are fluffed up and I just love the medley of browns and creams in its colouring! Such an owl would be perfect at the library!

Wow from photos of real tawny owls they look so detailed – where do I begin? Yes it can look daunting when you first look at the feathered detail. Even if you felted a single feather every day for the next year you would probably never finish it so the idea is to show detail with lots of layers but still keep it fairly simple. It will take some hours and this is probably not a project for you to start with if you have no felting experience at all but if you do want a challenge then go for it!

By making one section at a time Рstarting from the core wool base shape and then adding facial features, then tummy feathers, wings, then tail, then head feathers and talons to finish- you too can sculpt an owl of your very own.

As with most of my creations I took some photos along the way to show you the various stages and a few techniques to give you that inspiration you need. Please do contact me if you are unsure of how I did something! Also you may find my other tutorials useful.

What will I need? 

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Felted owl (100)

  • Somewhere to work-¬†most of the time this is indoors for me but on the odd occasion I manage to work outside in my garden ūüôā just make sure your back is supported!
  • Foam pad or felting brush¬†(so not to stab yourself and to provide a firm base to work on)
  • Barbed needles of various sizes; thicker for initial shaping and finer for detail
  • A needle holder; this is optional but for making basic shapes it saves time to use 2 or 3 needles at the same time. In the pictures you will see¬†I used the 3 needle¬†holder pen by Clover.
  • Wool to felt with;¬†I used natural corriedale wool to make the core of my owl as I find it felts quickly and ends up nice and firm. I then used merino wools over the top for feathers as they are soft and come in some lovely colours.¬†I buy my wools at a very good price from¬†World of Wool.
  • Small pair of scissors to cut lengths of wool for feather making, plus also to trim any loose strands to finish off.
  • Pipe cleaners¬†(I used two 30cm length cotton coated) on which to wrap wool over for the talons
  • A small pair of pliers¬†to twist wire ‘claws’ into shape
  • Photos or art work of tawny owls, some time, some love and lots of imagination!!

1) Building the core; head and abdomen

As with most projects where I don’t use a wire armature, the owl will start off as basic shapes made from core wool;

  • Start off by needle felting two basic shapes to a medium firm consistency using your thicker needles(use the clover pen tool if you find it easier); you will need one round ball (with a flat side for the face) and an oval shape (as in above photo) for the abdomen. Join these two shapes together. If needle felting is new to you, you may wish to look at my other tutorials for some felting basics and attaching body parts.
  • Sculpt a¬†typical owl heart shape face by adding small pieces of wool and concentrate your stabbing to hollow out two disc shaped cheeks within which the eyes will go. Emphasise the brow line and the centre where its beak will go and form a ridge around the¬†cheeks.
  • Add more wool to the abdomen to enhance its cute¬†rounded owl chest.

Felted owl (1)

2) Facial features

Refer to the photos and annotated¬†picture¬†below…

Felted owl (4)  Felted owl (5)

2-face anatomy

  • For the beak; roll a small piece of merino wool in your palms and felt firmly on your foam pad/brush leaving one end softer (soft end is to attach the beak to the face) and the other end felted to a point (owls have a curved beak). Attach the beak to the face.(NB read this whole¬†tutorial¬†before¬†starting – you will see what I mean later on)
  • Next add two blobs of dark wool as a guide to where the eyes will be located (the eyes will be finished off once the rest of the face is finished.
  • Add some dark brown wool to follow the ridge around the cheeks.
  • Layer some beautiful warm and light browns to form the owl’s cheeks; each piece radiates out from the eyes. the same colours are also used for the forehead but with some darker wool overlaying it.
  • For the bristles on the inside of the eye, around the beak and up to the brow; use tiny cut pieces of cream/white wool fixed well at the base.
  • Felt the eyes (see tutorial about eyes here); in the photos above you can see the right eye is complete and the left is under construction ūüôā I¬†made a dark brown iris with black pupil and white dot to mimic where light would reflect. The eyes are lined with a cream wool and I stabbed an area above the eye to shape the eye lids.¬†

3) Building up the tummy feathers

For the basics of how to add longer lengths of wool to your sculpture I suggest you first take a look at my tutorial on how to felt long fur here, as although there will be some variation in making feathers, I will be using the same techniques throughout to ensure the wool is firmly secure.

  • With your scissors cut strips of wool in preparation – I used a variety ¬†of creams and browns.

Felted owl (8)

  • Start from the bottom and work your way up in layers, fixing each piece securely.

Felted owl (9)  Felted owl (10)  Felted owl (13)

  • The difference between an animal fur look (like with my badger, fox or squirrel) and a feathery look for your owl is that for the feathery look each piece should be defined and not overly blended into the neighbouring pieces. To achieve this the base of each section fixed to the core should be narrower, ¬†don’t line the pieces up in a straight line but stagger them randomly and for some sections cut the ends at an angle or in a ‘V’ shape!
  • The main overall look is cream for the bottom half and rich warm browns (matching the cheeks) for the top half. Then add some more cream at the top near the neck.

Felted owl (12)  Felted owl (14)

Felted owl (17)

  • Add some thin strips of dark brown for extra flecks to finish this section off.

Felted owl (18)      Felted owl (19)

” OH the beak has changed!!” Yes¬†I decided that a lighter and slightly longer beak would look better! One of the¬†wonders of needle felting is that you can change things part way through- careful though as chopping off parts is not the best thing!

I also added some white to define the forehead.

4) Wing feathers

I chose to felt the wings for my owl in a fixed closed position with feathers laying close to the body rather than the wings being spread open. So I looked at lots of pictures of wing anatomy to see which feathers would show and how they should be positioned. I have included an annotated picture of my owl from the side to illustrate the various wing parts we will tackle next. To make layering easier we will start with the primary, then do the secondary, and finish off with an overlay of feathery wing coverts.

1-anatomy

It is up to you how many of the feathers you make; I made 4 primary and 5 secondary feathers for each wing.

a) Primary feathers 

  • Flat felt each piece into shape. I used the clover pen tool for faster felting. To keep straight edges I traced an outline onto the wool with two needles in my clover pen and then folded the wool over to the middle and felted well on both sides. Make sure you felt at an angle along the edges to keep them smooth and well shaped. My tutorial on making bunny ears¬†(second part of step 6) may help get this technique right.

Felted owl (21) Felted owl (22)

Felted owl (23)

  • Make each piece roughly the same width but gradually getting longer in length. You can see the longest and shortest together in this picture below.¬†The ends should taper to a curve. The fibres at the other end should remain fluffy and loose to be fixed to your owl’s body later on.

Felted owl (24)

  • Ensure the pieces match the sizes of the pieces on the opposite wing. To help do this lay your piece on top of the wool and score around the edge with two needles in the clover pen.

Felted owl (25) Felted owl (26)

Felted owl (27) Felted owl (28)

  • Remove the piece and you will see an outline. Again fold the edges over and felt until you get a rough replica..

Felted owl (29) Felted owl (30)

  • When attaching these feathers later on they will end up positioned a bit like a concertina fan; you can test how they will look together at this point (see right photo)

Felted owl (53)  Felted owl (37)

  • On each feather felt alternate layers of the light and dark browns starting from the tip

Felted owl (55)  Felted owl (54)

  • Define a central line along the length of each feather by turning the feather over and felting deeply along the centre so that the core wool goes through to the other side. Then needle it down flat.

Felted owl (60)  Felted owl (61)

Felted owl (62)  Felted owl (56)

b) Secondary feathers 

  • ¬†Make 5 pieces for each wing, each getting slightly wider and longer each time. These pieces should be shorter than the primary feathers (roughly half the length). This time make the ends more rounded rather than tapering to a point.

Felted owl (31) Felted owl (32)  Felted owl (52)

One edge will be felted to the next feather with smallest at the top (see left photo).

You can see that they look quite big compared to your owl at this stage. Once on the owl though they will felt into position (fluffy ends will felt into the body) and you will want the owl to be 3D not a flattened piece so the wings will protrude outwards.

Felted owl (51)

  • Felt some colour on to the edge that will be seen (I am demonstrating how this is done for the left wing). I used a base of the lighter brown and added band of darker brown. If you have time you can felt layers like you did with the primary feathers ((in hind sight I would have preferred to have done this as the finished effect looks more feather-like but decided to try out an alternative method).

Felted owl (50)

Felted owl (49)

  • Felt the pieces together by stabbing all the way along the edge.
  • Continue to add¬†as much detail into the feathers as you like; I added a tiny strip of cream underneath the dark brown bands and a line down the centre of the top feather.

Felted owl (46)   Felted owl (47)

Here you can see the feathers all layed out for what will be the right wing.

Felted owl (57)

  • Trim¬†the fluffy ends so they are of equal length, then turn over and pull down some of the strands so they stand out at¬†the back of the feathers ready to felt to your owl.

Felted owl (45) Felted owl (44)

It doesn’t matter about how messy the back of the feathers ends up as you won’t see this side once fixed to the owl. ūüôā

c) Attaching the primary and secondary feathers

  • Starting with the primary feathers, fix each feather at the base (longest at the outer edge nearest to tummy, sshortest toward what would be the back bone). Attach each feather over the previous as per the photo earlier that showed the feathers as a concertina fan.
  • Then attach the secondary feather section over the primary feathers where the shoulder blade would be.
  • For help with attaching body parts see my tutorial here.

Felted owl (38) Felted owl (40)

Felted owl (59) Felted owl (63)

  • Attach the right wing in the same way using the left as a guide to ensure you fix the feathers symmetrically (mirroring the opposite side)

d) Wing Coverts 

You could now felt even more individual feathers but to give the illusion of small feathers I simply added more tufts of wool much like with the tummy feathers.

  • Cut and fix small pieces starting from the bottom (just at the top of the secondary feathers) and working in layers towards the neck. The bottom row should overhang the secondary feathers. Try to keep the overall shape as a ‘V’. I also added a few random white tufts which you will see if you look at pictures of real tawny owls.
  • Add a fine strip of dark brown wool along the¬†centre of each of brown wool pieces.

Felted owl (42)    Felted owl (64)

Felted owl (65)  Felted owl (67)

Felted owl (69)  Felted owl (71)

5) Tail

  • Felt a larger feather for the tail in much the same way as you layered the colours for the primary feathers. The tail¬†should¬†be roughly twice the width of¬†the primary feathers but with a rounded end.
  • Optional – ¬†add more light brown over the top of the banded pattern to make a slightly mottled effect.

Felted owl (72)

Felted owl (73)

  • Attach the tail firmly to the owl, then add some light brown wool around the base so you can’t see any of the core wool showing.
  • You may find you need to squeeze the two wings into the centre to mould to the shape you need them to be in. .

Felted owl (74) Felted owl (75)

Felted owl (77) Felted owl (78) Felted owl (79)

6) Head Feathers

  • Alternating various shades of light browns, layer tiny pieces of wool from the back of the head up towards the face.
  • ¬†Use the annotated picture as a guide- the feathers should follow the red¬†lines which radiate from the back of the head to the cheek ridges. I found that it helped to felt the centre line first. ¬† ¬†

1-head guide 1 2-Head feather guide 2

Felted owl (81)   Felted owl (82)

  • To give a feather look – twizzle the ends with your fingers as you go.

Felted owl (83) Felted owl (84) Felted owl (85)

Felted owl (86)   Felted owl (98)

  • Add thin flecks of dark brown wool randomly to finish as seen above (bottom right) and below.

Felted owl (88)  Felted owl (90)

Felted owl (92)     Felted owl (97)

Take a moment to say ‘squee!!’ Well done you are almost there!

Felted owl (96)

Felted owl (95)

7) Talons

Owls have four toes on each foot and when standing on a flat surface three will usually be at the front and one at the back but when clinging onto a branch they have the amazing ability for one toe to move to the back. So you will need to decide on how your owl will sit. My owl is to be sat perched on some wood with its tail and primary feathers hanging down so I will position the toes with two at the front and two at the back for each foot.

There are many ways to make talons but I will show how to make simple talons from just two cotton coated pipe-cleaners (one for each foot) and wool. Bare wire (kept blunt – don’t worry) will form the claws.

Fold a pipe-cleaner in half then in half again in quarters. The bends will serve as a guide to where the next fold will take place.

owl (1)   owl (3)

Straighten out the piece slightly (you will still see the bends from where you folded) Starting at one end, fold the end up to your first quarter bend. Once folded twist the segment along its length.

owl (4) owl (5)

Then pull the remaining pipe-cleaner at the next bend towards your previous quarter. Think of it a bit like how you may make a flower with four petals.. twisting as you go…

owl (6) owl (7)

owl (8)

Continue with your other quarters, bending towards the middle…and twisting the middle too to make a crisscross shape (looks like a kiss?or perhaps an x chromosome? ūüôā )

owl (9)  owl (10)

Then do the other foot in the same way.

owl (12)  owl (11)

If you wanted 3 toes at the front you can easily make this shape at this stage too.

owl (54)

You can keep the toes as they are or define the claws. To do this cut the bend on each toe so that the ends become two pieces. Then pluck away the pipe cleaner material to reveal bare wire. Mind your fingers as these can be sharp!

owl (13) owl (22)

Then using pliers, twist the two wires together and bend the end(so not sharp to touch)

owl (21) owl (19)

This will take a little while, but do this on all toes. Trim the cotton on the pipe-cleaners to make a nice shape. You can see they are now looking more like owl talons..

owl (18)  owl (16)

owl (23)  owl (24)

For skinny toes you could leave these as they are but for this owl I wanted to pad them out a bit. 

Take a thin length of merino wool and wrap from the middle of each the foot out to each toe and back to the center again. You may need several of these lengths. Watch that your wool doesn’t get stuck over the claw. Each toe should taper to a thinner end near to the claw and be bulkier in the middle of the toe and towards the main foot. Achieve this by wrapping only once near to the claw and twice round for the rest of the toe. The tighter you wrap the less felting will be needed.

owl (26) owl (51) owl (49)

Secure the wool into place all over and sculpt into shape with a fine needle taking care not to break the needle by hitting the wire. Once felted, bend the foot into shape.

owl (28)   owl (50)   owl (29)

owl (48) owl (30)

Add a slightly darker shade of wool (I used a mink colour) to the underneath of the foot.

owl (31)

Scrunch a small handful of wool and felt onto the top of each foot (this will be used to anchor the foot onto the owl’s body. Then thicken up the foot around this with some more wool to make the foot look fluffy.

owl (32)

owl (46)

owl (33) owl (35)

Use a thicker stronger needle to fix your feet to your owl. Felt deep into the owl at all angles until well secure.

owl (45) owl (44)

owl (43) owl (42)

To finish off I added a few layers of wool feathers in the cream and mink round the feet ūüôā

owl (41) owl (36)

After a bit of tidying up and a trip to the park…….:-)

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It was so lovely to see this little owl meet his new owner in his forever home at the charity shop library!!

Owl (3) Owl (6)

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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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’ 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!

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

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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! 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.

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).

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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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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 ? ūüôā

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’.

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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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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.

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