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How to Needle Felt with CONFIDENCE (5 Ways) | For Needle Felting Beginners & more Advanced Learners

Whether you are a Needle Felting beginner or a more advanced learner, sometimes you can lack confidence. I want to encourage you and show you how to become a confident Needle Felter. I share practical tips as well as mindset strategy to boost confidence in yourself and your abilities. If I can do it then so can you. ūüôā

Now I sometimes hear some of you say that you’re actually embarrassed by what you’ve created, you compare yourself to others and you just don’t have the confidence in your felting abilities.¬†

Some of you have started projects, you’ve been doing all the basics, but then you just feel like you haven’t reached a level of where you want to be, and some of you may even be trying to sell your creations but you just don’t feel that anybody would buy your work.

I want to encourage you all with 5 ways to become a more confident felter. 

In no time I hope you’ll go from being self doubter to confident felter. ūüôā

If you prefer to listen or watch videos then I have covered all this in this video below, if not and you prefer to read then please scroll down past the video and continue to read on.  

So here are 5 ways to Needle Felt with confidence: 

  1. Recognize, and remember that you are on a journey. 

That might sound a little bit strange, but this just helps me to realize where I’ve come and where I’m going. 

It doesn’t matter if you’ve just bought some wool and you haven’t even started stabbing or whether you’ve actually done a few projects and you have learnt some basics or maybe you’re a professional at this and you sell your work. 

We all start somewhere, and there’s always room wherever you are to LEARN and GROW and IMPROVE. 

So I remember when I first started, I had no idea what needle nothing was. I’d been online and I found these amazing animals that people have made out of wool. And I was like, “what? how do people do that?” So I went online and I saw how they did it. -just some brief clips about it, and I made a decision right there and then to pick up my wool and my needles, I just got them online and I just sat, and I made a cute little cream bunny, which I still have today,¬†

I’ve never sold it. To be honest, it’s my first work so not up to my standard now, but that little bunny as cute as he is and as simple as he was he is a reminder now of my journey so far. I can look back, and I can think of where I started all those years ago with some real basic techniques and now look at me now and see how far I’ve come. If I hadn’t started and got stuck in, I wouldn’t have probably had the confidence that I have today.¬†

I can also encourage you today because I have been the starter where you might be today. I’ve been at the edge of whether I can sell my animals.¬†

  • If that’s what you want to do, you know you absolutely can with a bit more confidence, a bit more skill, and that’s something that you want to do go for it. I did, and I’ve sold some lovely pieces, and I’ve received so much lovely feedback from people as well. 

Yes, I’ve experimented on this journey, and I’ve very much learned through trial and error, and yes, I completely aspire to become better and improve my work all the time, and I absolutely am inspired by and admire those people who make the most beautiful creatures. But at the same time, I recognize I’m on my own journey. 

Wherever you are on your journey right now, it’s completely fine. It’s ok to be where you are but know that there is so much more to come. 

  1.  Get to know and love your wool and your needles. 

If you’re not confident in what the different wools can do and what the different needles can do, then you may not be confident in what you as a felter can do.

So what I always suggest is that you get to know and get really familiar with the different fibers that are out there, and also get to know what the different needles can do, 

So, the wool actually is very forgiving. It doesn’t judge you (I’m not saying that people judge you either).¬†

Often in fact, the wool has its own mind. Sometimes you’ll find when you start a project you’ve got this great plan of what you want to make, and as you make something, it molds into something else and becomes a different animal. I’m sure many of you have had that happen!

Think about it as you are a potter with your clay, but in needle felt terms – you are a needle felter with your wool, and you’re going to be sculpting with that wool to make something beautiful. 

 

This is your material that you’re using. So get to be familiar with the different types and look at the different sheep breeds if you’re using wool and maybe even other non sheep species like alpaca or camels. If you’re using non wool types such as vegan friendly fibers, that’s brilliant as well. There’s so many different fibers out there.

Maybe you’ll start off with certain wool like core wool that‚Äôs more abrasive and easier and quicker to felt then later on add a more softer finer wool for the detail.

If you’d like to delve deeper into what the different wool types do e.g know the difference between wool tops and wool batts, or would like a quick guide to the sheep breeds, then head over to my wool guide here.

You’ll get to know which fibers you like and you’ll be more confident in knowing what you’re doing for each project and you’ll become more confident in your abilities overall.  

What I would suggest is that when you start out you always start a little bit smaller and then build the layers on top. It is so much easier to add wool than to take away. Although I have to say on occasion I’ve had to cut things off, and I know that’s a big no no in the needle felting world. But sometimes it’s easier to cut something. I’ve cut a head or a nose off before. 

This is what needle felting is all about, you get to work with the fibers, you have your favorites for the different sculptures you’re making and you make it work for you.

In the same way with the needles, get to know different types of needle, try them out, experiment. Feel comfortable with what you’re using. These are your tools to use, so if you’re using the right needles, the quicker more efficient that you will become. You can easily add the detail to your¬† animals as well. Again, you’ll probably find that you have a favorite that you love to use.¬†

When you feel confident in your wool and your needles, you will find that your overall confidence will build up, and you can then just let your imagination flow. 

  1. Learn from others and be part of the community

So I don’t know if you’re on social media, but I certainly am, and i’ve really found some of the felting groups out there to be the most encouraging places to be. You can learn from other people, you can be inspired by those more experienced than you and you can also get tips and learn techniques from others as well. I found it to be really encouraging. It gives you that kind of confidence boost when people say that they like your work. Now it shouldn’t be all about that, but I really think it does help. You can get little tips on maybe how to improve as well if you want to. 

If you’re not on social media, that’s completely fine, too. You might find that there’s a local group where you can learn alongside other people in person, which is even better

Remember that COMPETENCE leads to CONFIDENCE, so the more that you do something and get good at it, the more confident you will become. So keep practicing and learning. 

So there’s loads of free and paid for resources:

  • Youtube to watch videos to understand how to needle felt and improve your techniques. Please do subscribe to my needle felting channel here. I have many more tutorials planned.¬†
  • There’s also online tutorials like on my website here so you can learn from picture tutorials.¬†
  • PDF tutorials that you can download, needle felting kits and books to buy out there too.¬†
  • As I mentioned earlier, you could find a local community group that is doing a workshop, learning alongside a friend can really encourage you and build your confidence when your learning to needle felt. 
  • There’s also online workshops, which you can find if you do a really good Google search. 

I suggest when you’re learning, not to try everything all at once, master those little projects first before you leap into something more complicated. Once you’ve become confident in the basic techniques, then you can move on something far more challenging.¬†

  1. Embrace the mistakes along the way, 

So learning and practicing is great , but don’t be afraid of making those mistakes along the way. Those mistakes will drive you forward so you can make even better creations. When you make the mistakes, you remember them and the next time you’re less likely to do it, yeah. You’re more likely to improve when you experience those mistakes. You can then hone your skills and become a better and more confident needle felter. 

Sometimes I find too that making mistakes enables me to find a completely new technique that I hadn’t even thought of before, and that is all part of experimentation and trial and error. 

If you break a needle, for example, you will soon learn. You don’t want to break more needles and buy more needles and have more expense, so you will soon learn how to achieve the pressure that you should be stabbing with and what angle to stab at. 

Reading a book or watching a video is good for learning but the true meaning happens when you physically try it and do it by yourself. Having those personal mistakes happen to you will mean you soon learn, even though it can seem like learning the hard way. 

I can look back at all the mistakes I made and realise that if I didn’t make that mistake I may not have honed my skills the way I have and be where I am today

Another mistake that people often make (and I am very guilty of this as well) is starting off making something that ends up being too big or certain parts of the animal are completely out of proportion. Yet you thankfully soon learn to plan a little bit better, take your time, and make a better proportioned animal. 

Sometimes you might feel when you make that mistake that it’s all gone wrong, and you don’t feel confident at all. Well, I just want to reassure you, MISTAKES ARE OK to make!!. I’m pretty sure that when you speak to anyone no matter how experienced they are that they still make mistakes.

If you make a mistake, – don’t let that affect your confidence, just see it as something that’s part of your journey, take a deep breath, you’re not going to make as many mistakes moving forward as maybe you will in the beginning. So just see that as an experiment, see it as a learning curve and then move on! ūüôā

  1. Discover and follow your individual style.

You have your own inbuilt style, and this is what DIFFERENTIATES you and makes you UNIQUE from any other artist! 

Of course it’s really important to learn, so if you want to go and follow kits or you want to follow youtube videos or read blogs posts like this, then that’s completely fine. You can really improve your skill and obviously being competent makes you more confident. Yet at the same time it‚Äôs really, really important to find your own unique style. 

When looking through Google images of needle felted animals or when browsing social media it‚Äôs really amazing how you can look at those pictures, and you can recognize straight away who the artist is because they have their own style, and so this is what will happen for you. 

Maybe you’ve already found your style – that‚Äôs brilliant, please follow it! 

But if you haven’t yet just again, get to know what you love, get to know what really makes you happy in your hobby and find your individual style.

Personally. I love the tiny detail and the realism and making animals to be as lifelike as I can. I have to say that I’ve been really frustrated in the past when I’ve seen other people make animals, and they can do them really quickly. They can maybe do a whole animal in like a day or even a couple of hours. I thought to myself, ‚Äúoh. If only I could make things quicker, I could also sell things quicker‚ÄĚ.¬†

But then when I think about what my unique style is and what it is that I appreciate in art, – I appreciate the detail, and if I’m going to create the detail and if I’m going for something realistic, – then of course, it‚Äôs going to take me time.¬†

So don’t get stuck in the mindset that you need to be like someone else or do the same thing as someone else. Don’t compare yourself in that way, find your own style, and then follow that style and be the needle felter that you were meant to be!

Yes, be inspired by other artists, but be confident in yourself, don’t come under any pressure to be like anyone! Express yourself and who you are through your needle felted creations!¬†

So, are you a self doubter or a confident felter? Please let me know in the comments.

My Top 15 NEEDLE FELTING TOOLS & MATERIALS [& How to use them Explained]

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 ūüôā 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.

Here is the Earth Mat full written review.

Here are the UK links to some of the tools and materials I mention:

*** NEEDLES – Best for quality are from Heidifeathers

Well worth getting a set of 30 Mixed Felting Needles – 10 Colour Coded Different types – Triangular, Star, Reverse and Twisted Needles here

Or you can get them by needle type:

– 38G Star Needle -10 needles here

– 38 & 40G Twisted Needles – 5 of Each Needle here

– 10 Reverse / Inverted Felting Needles here

*** NEEDLE HOLDERS

Keep your favourite felting needles in holders

– Heidifeathers 5 x Long Wooden Needle Felting Handle – decorate them? here

– Peacock patterned needle holder (they have a variety of gorgeous colours) here

– Clover Multi Needle Tool which holds 1 to 3 needles: here

– Heidifeathers Wooden Multi Needle Tool (holds 4 needles): here

*** EARTH MAT here

*** WOODEN LETTER OPENER here

*** KNITTING NEEDLES

This bamboo set is a budget way to have a range of sizes to choose from (18 Sizes from 2.0mm to 10.0mm) here

*** WIRE & PIPE CLEANERS

Hamilworth – Paper Covered Wires – White 22 Gauge – 25 Per Pack – here

1mm armature wire x 30m – here

2mm PVC Coated Garden Wire Coil, Green x 30m – here

100 Pipe Cleaners 29cm x 6mm Brown, White, Black, Flesh and Grey – here

Just black – x50 – here

Just white – x100 – here

*** Flat nosed PLIERS:

Draper Flat Nose Mini Pliers with Soft Grip, 115mm – here

*** STRAIGHTENERS

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

*** SCISSORS

Professional Thinning Shears Hair Cutting Teeth Scissors – here

Professional Hairdressing Scissors – here

Nail Scissors – here

*** AIR DRY CLAY

Set of 6 Skin Colours Silk Clay Pots – here

*** BEESWAX BALM 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 ‚Äď Thank you!!)

Luna the Needle Felted Hare

I am so excited to present to you my needle felted hare. She could be a moon gazing hare or maybe she is simply gazing up at you with those endearing eyes for some cuddles. I thought Luna was a sweet name which also means moon in Latin.

She is 100% wool except for her whiskers which are made of horse hair. Also I had some fun experimenting with wax that melts in the warmth of your hands to twist some of the wool between my fingers as a way to define the rugged and wavy texture of the hare’s fur around her neck and chest area. The wax was really effective to shape the tiny pieces of wool that I used for her claws as well.

I really love how hares have such long ears so I made these extra long for her body size, but I think that makes her even cuter, don’t you think?

The process?

I started off making the basic shape of a hare head and body with carded core wool batts and then for her top coat I added a variety of brown carded slivers and some merino wool tops using the long fur placement technique.

This sounds strange to be using this technique with carded wool but having tried it it works well to give a rough fur coat look rather than lengths of straight wool.

I also pulled some of the core wool through with my ever faithful reverse felting needles to lighten areas (especially on the limbs) and to blend some of the colours.

I left some parts free from the top coat where I would attach the ears, limbs and tail.

Next I made the ears and attached them, followed by the hind legs and then the front legs. Using 2 needles at once with my Clover pen style needle holder really helped to flat felt the ears and to quickly attach body parts..

Then I completed the top coat and added a tail and finally some whiskers.

I really enjoyed making Luna. I particularly loved making her as realistic as I could by taking my time to twist the wool and mimic the wavy and tousled look of the hare’s back fur.

I am pondering if to make another one and create a detailed tutorial as I go along.. I’d really value your thoughts..:-)

I have included links for where to source needle felting tools and materials. Please see Links disclaimer in the right side panel for more details.

Earth Mat – a wonderful wool base

Have you ever tried using a wool mat as your base for needle felting your wool animal sculptures? ….Hmm felting wool on wool? Surely that can‚Äôt work? 

Well I can tell you that surprisingly it does work and really quite well. For the past month I have been using the Earth Mat by the Makerss and I can honestly say that I don‚Äôt think I will go back to using a foam pad! As much as my foam pad has been my old faithful ‚Äėgo to‚Äô felting base for so long, I am really loving the new wonderful experience of this new wool mat!  

There are many kinds of felting bases out there such as rice bags, foams, brushes, wool pads and more, but what you end up using really is down to personal preference and what you get used to and comfortable with.

Over the years I have tried a few different bases including making my own rice bag but I just kept going back to my foam. I found the brushes too small for the sculptures I make, the rice pads work well but I needed something more lightweight for when I am on the move and a piece of foam just did the job! But what about those annoying bits of foam you get in your wool? Yes they often frustrate me! And what about the impact to the environment when I need to get rid of an old foam pad? ..hmm not so great!! 

So let me tell you more about this new kid on the block, the Earth Mat (full name ‚ÄėEarth Friendly Felting Mat‚Äô) which solves these issues straight away and is a joy to use. 

As I have been so accustomed to my foam pad and it is the usual base that people buy, I will be reviewing the Earth Mat and comparing it to my old blue foam pad. Please note that these are my opinions and you may have a different experience but I would definitely encourage you to try the Earth Mat for yourself.¬†I am not affiliated in any way with the Earth Mat or receiving any gains from it I just thought I would blog about it ūüôā

My Felting Experience

I have a firm Earth Mat as the base and a softer one on top (as suggested by the Makerss). The idea is to replace the softer one or add another soft one on top as it wears down. Both are large (A4 size) and each one is 10mm thick. 

They came with easy to follow instructions with pictures and tips for how to get the best use out of them. 

First impressions?

Felting on a wool mat felt a bit strange at first, because I was so used to a foam pad. A foam pad is one thick base but with the Earth Mats there are two mats together (the firm and the soft). It is recommended to use two like this but you can just use one mat or two or even more if you prefer.

The two mats can slip apart whilst working or when moving them so you do need to felt the two together at the corners as per the instructions to keep them in place when you first start using them. Over time they naturally keep together anyway.

The Earth Mats are a tiny bit heavier than my foam pad but still really light and easy to transport. They are a thinner base to work on than my foam pad (mats together are 20mm vs foam pad at around 50mm) and they bend more easily.

This is completely fine when working on a table but you may want to put something firm underneath them if working on your lap – I use a lap tray.  

When feeling the Earth Mat and comparing it with a foam pad it’s a little bit like comparing bed mattresses. Not that I’m going to lay on these and sleep on them (haha). My foam pad feels quite springy to the touch so if I press my finger into it, the surface will spring back. When pressing a finger into the soft top mat of the Earth Mat combo it feels like there is some resistance and it feels firmer. Though it doesn’t spring back there’s a slight indent. 

Being made of wool, the Earth Mat has a nice natural wool smell. I love this! It doesn’t feel like you’re using something artificial. It looks, smells and feels very natural to use. 

I actually quite like that it’s a light colour. This is great for when I’m photographing my work in progress for social media or making a step by step tutorial. The most common colours for foam pads I have found seem to be black or blue. My blue foam is not always great for photos. There are different coloured foam pads out there but they are not always easy to source. 

Crunch factor?

For me, I quite like the crunching sound whilst felting as long as it‚Äôs not too loud for conversation and doesn’t drown out the sound of my music or tv. Thankfully the Earth Mat still makes a nice crunchy sound, though the tone is a little deeper than my foam pad. 

Wool sticking to the base? 

I mainly needle felt 3D animal sculptures rather than 2D pictures but I still make flat components such as animal ears. So a real test for the Earth Mat was to see if there were any issues with wool getting stuck to it. I was surprised that even when felting a dark colour wool on the light coloured mat (which would more obviously show up), not much of the wool was left adhering to the base as with my foam pad. The surface of my wool ears actually looked a lot neater and without loose pieces of wool hanging from them. So often I would have to re-felt the surface to neaten it when using a foam pad. 

As I felt all over a flat piece (even when stabbing with multiple needles at the same time) it doesn’t feel like my work is sticking to the mat, and when I pull it away after felting this feels easier. When stabbing the wool with the usual foam pad, it easily sticks to the foam and it’s much harder to pull off.

It is also easy to remove any fibres that remain on the Earth Mat and the instructions suggest some practical and easy ways to do this routinely to keep it clean.

Durability?

I‚Äôve not used the Earth Mats for long so I can‚Äôt really say how long they will last but the fact that I can replace the top soft one or add another one to it as the original one flattens down and they say that you may never need to replace the firm one, sounds like they will last quite some time. 

After stabbing for a while, you will see on the Earth Mat that there are indent marks from the constant stabbing of the barbed needles. You don’t tend to get this so much with the foam pad material which enables the needles to penetrate through it far more easily. This is more an observation and doesn‚Äôt seem so far seem to affect its use as a base. However I can see that after some time this will flatten the mat. After all, being made of wool, the mat will eventually become more and more compact – hence the need to replace or add another one.

Needle safety?

What I do like is if you leave your barbed needles in the Earth Mat they are more firmly inserted since the material is so compact, whereas when you stick your needles into the foam pad, the needle holder wobbles from side to side easily and it feels like you could snap a needle. 

I would however dissuade you from inserting a reverse barbed needle directly into your Earth Mat. A reverse needle is designed to pull out fibres from inside a wool sculpture so as expected, when you pull it out, it will pull out some wool from your mat. As the wool in the mat is so densely felted down it is not so easy to retrieve the needle as it would in a foam pad. 

Fragments of the base coming off?

The bit that I love the most about the Earth Mat is that tiny fragments of my blue foam don‚Äôt end up on my needle felted animal as I am working, which so often happens with the foam pad especially when it is getting old and starts to disintegrate. Apart from it being annoying, it is very important to be able to say for certain to my customers that my products are made of pure wool. So even if a tiny bit of wool from the Earth Mat attaches itself to my felted animal then it is still fully wool and this is not a major issue. 

Environment 

A foam pad is usually made of some sort of polyethylene which can in theory be recycled but lots still end up going to landfill. So although they are fairly long lasting, eventually (especially if you needle felt often) they will need to be disposed of.  

The soft top Earth Mat which will need to be disposed of at some point is 100% wool and so is totally compostable, and therefore very environmentally friendly.

Here you can see that the soft top is simply just layers and layers of natural wool.

The firm base is partially compostable, but is not fully compostable. I would need to eventually throw it away but I am mostly using the soft one and probably won’t need to dispose of it for a very very long time, which is great. 

Additionally when I received my Earth Mats they came in a biodegradable bag -another win for the environment!

Cost

Foam pads are really cheap to get hold of. They often come in a starter kit if you are new to needle felting or you can purchase one on its own for as little as ¬£3 and as much as ¬£8 off Ebay/Amazon. Price usually depends on size and quality.  

A pack of two (soft top and firm base) Earth Mats are ¬£14 for the small A6 size and ¬£23 for the large A4 size. A replacement soft top A4 is also ¬£14.

Though these prices are more than a foam pad I think for what you get it is a pretty reasonable price and worth the investment for a good quality, long lasting felting material. It is a lovely natural felting base to work on and is far less costly to the environment. 

The Earth Mat is well worth considering if you are starting out on your needle felting venture and looking for the right tools or if like me you have been felting for a while and your old base has come to the end of its life and you need to replace it. ūüôā

Needle Felted Bumble Bee Tutorial

Would you like to create your very own Mr Bumbley Bee?

Now you can with this beautifully illustrated and detailed, step by step tutorial with over 250 instructional photos across 108 pages to show you 7 stages to create your own giant bumble bee.

He’s a giant fluffy gorgeousness that you can be brave to have him sit on your hand as he’s made of wool and much too much of a gentleman to sting you. His body is made of soft wool tops and his legs and antennae are shaped with pipe cleaners. His wings are made of organza with hand sewn stitching with white embroidery silks.

You’ll learn techniques including: basic armature making, reverse needle felting, long fur technique, wrapping wool and embroidery of wing patterns.

Includes Bee Anatomy diagram, Size Guides with wing template, Felting safety advice and Care instructions for your finished bee.

Mr Bumbley Bee – Needle Felting Tutorial – PDF download

Step by step tutorial to create your own giant bumble bee.

Pay by PayPal, Debit Card or Visa.

1 Digital PDF Download Р£9.60

You will learn how to:

–         Twist pipe cleaners together to form a basic armature structure.

–         Emphasise the leg segments and antennae by adding small pieces of wool to them.

–         Wrap wool over the armature and build up layers of wool to sculpt a bee shape.

–         Use a reverse needle to create fluffy bumble bee hair.

–         Create the bee‚Äôs white tail using a long fur technique.

–         Add depth of colour to the yellow bands.

–         Make wing shapes from organza material and hand sew a pattern and attach wings.

Here’s a preview of some of the pages you’ll find in the PDF tutorial;

Please contact me with any questions. I hope you have fun making your very own Mr Bumbley Bee!

I would so love to see your bee creation, so please post a photo of him on Instagram with #mrbumbleybee.

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’!

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? 

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 /felting brush/wool pad¬†(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 (I buy from Heidifeathers who sell a wide range of good quality needles)
  • 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 -one of my favourite tools!
  • Wool to felt with;¬†I love using natural undyed wool, either a corriedale, Norwegian or Jacob carded wool or tops to make the core of my owl as I find this type of wool 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. This pack of 6 ‘beautiful browns‘ is perfect for this project.
  • Small pair of scissors to cut lengths of wool for feather making, plus also to trim any loose strands to finish off. I use my old faithful curved nail scissors but you could also buy some cute stork shaped embroidery ones.
  • Pipe cleaners (I used two 30cm length pipe cleaners – it’s worth buying a large pack to use in other future projects) on which to wrap wool over for the talons
  • A small pair of pliers¬†to twist wire ‘claws’ into shape. These are great quality long lasting ones at a low price.
  • Photos or art work of tawny owls, some time, some love and lots of imagination!!

I have included links for where to source needle felting tools and materials. Please see Links disclaimer in the right side panel for more details.

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…….:-)

01-IMG_4226 04-IMG_4229

05-IMG_4230 07-IMG_4232

22-IMG_4248 26-IMG_4261

27-IMG_4262  10-IMG_4235

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?

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.

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!

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05-Needle felted feet (40) 01-Needle felted feet (39)

12-Needle felted feet (44) 10-Needle felted feet (42) 02-Needle felted feet (46)

13-Needle felted feet (45) 11-Needle felted feet (43)  54-Needle felted feet (4.1)

Tiny toes that bend

For some animals you may want to take it a step further and make some tiny toes. If you have enough patience you can carefully sculpt the toes from making long sausage shapes that you felt firmly together. You can see I did this with my Christmas owl.

owl2

I have found¬†however that using¬†wire makes this much easier, the toes don’t flatten or fray as much, they are stronger, take the weight of the animal’s body better and it also means you can bend the toes to the position you want them to stay in.

Those of you who already make your animals from wrapping wool over a wire armature will likely already know how this is achieved but please do read on in case there is anything you find useful. Those who prefer not to use a wire armature for the main body can still use wire for the feet , why not mix it up a bit?

There are several ways to wrap wool over wire to make tiny toes; one way is to wrap the wool over bare wire (See my video tutorial afterwards to demonstrate this). This works really well especially for animals where you really want the toes as thin as possible and make them taper at the ends or for projects which are on a very tiny scale. (Some people use hot wax to fix the first layer of wool)

Another simple way (and far less messy if using wax!) which I will demonstrate in this tutorial is to felt wool over a pipe cleaner to ensure it says well (which is basically a very thin piece of wire already wrapped in a layer of material such as cotton or chenille). These can be used for feet where toes can be a bit thicker and for medium or larger projects.  I used this method for my guinea pig and Chestnut, my red squirrel. You can see that I  also added a bit of paw detail on to the guinea pig afterwards.

14-Needle felted feet (51) 15-Needle felted feet (49)

51-Needle felted feet (1.1) 16-Needle felted feet (50)

2014-02-10 22.25.29 46-Needle felted squirrel (62) 50-Needle felted feet (5)

Step by step guide for felting feet with tiny wired toes

I will demonstrate¬†here how I made Chestnut’s feet. I decided that each foot¬†would have four toes. My guinea pig however had three toes at the back and four at the front like a real guinea pig. You can decide what you think looks best!

What you will need:

  • Pipe cleaners (I¬†bought 30cm length cotton ones)
  • Scissors to cut the pipe cleaners to size
  • Wool (I used merino wool which felts well and is soft to touch)
  • Barbed needles (thinner ones are best for tiniest toes)
  • Felting pad/brush (to prevent you from stabbing your knees)
  • Lots of love and patience and time – this is worth the effort believe me! 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.

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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.

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.

39-Needle felted feet (36) 38-Needle felted feet (35) 37-Needle felted feet (34)

46-Needle felted feet (3)    43-Needle felted feet (57)

and …. SQUEEE!

Did you find this tutorial helpful? What would you like to learn about next? Please leave comments. Why not post a photo of your own creations?

For more tutorials like this please visit my Tutorials, tips and ideas page.

Don’t ever miss out on my latest tutorials! Insert your email address and click the ‘Follow’ button on the right hand panel to receive notifications of when the next post is up..:-)

Don’t have time to make one but would love a one of a kind needle felted animal¬†by Fit to be loved for yourself or for that special someone? Visit my Etsy shop today to see my latest creations. Or like my facebook page to see what I am making next.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Happy Christmas everyone!

I  just wanted to say a very Merry Christmas to all my followers!

May this coming year be full of wonderful surprises for you and hopes truly becoming reality!

I have had a little go at making a Christmas poster from a photo of my original badger for you all.

Enjoy the festivities, have fun and watch out for a new year of more lovable creations from Fit to be loved! ūüôā

God bless you all

Amanda xx

 

Ps If you haven’t already added your email address to receive updates of new exciting posts please just click on the ‘follow’ button on the right hand side of my ‘find out more’ page.

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.

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 wools to choose? 

For my needle felted badger I had already made his body shape by sculpting with natural carded wool. I recommend wool batts which come in long thick sheets, making it easy to pull sections off and the wool is really fast to felt with.

Then for the top coat (which I will be demonstrating in this tutorial) I mixed grey and black merino wool tops with a few strands of some natural undyed wool tops for a rich cream colour. I particularly love the merino sheep wool as it comes in a variety of animal colour options and is lovely and soft to touch. Natural wool tops in breeds such as Jacob or corriedale are quick to felt and are a little more fibrous to the look and feel. When using wool tops the fibres all lay in one direction so they are perfect for cutting lengths and adding these to resemble long fur on your needle felted animal.  If you would like to you could use other luxurious fibres such as baby alpaca.

What tools will you need to attach the fur?

Very simple you just need:

How to needle felt long animal fur (30)

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 my needle depending on detail and thickness of wool being needled. .

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.

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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

How to needle felt long animal fur (1)

… 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..

How to needle felt long animal fur (25)How to needle felt long animal fur (26)

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!!

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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?  

3 My ‘Long animal fur’ video tutorial is NOW AVAILABLE on my YouTube channel in 4 parts.

<<<Click the donkey picture to start watching part 1

¬†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?

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..:-)

Needle felted guinea pig!

My good friend Emma recently turned 40 and she absolutely loves guinea pigs so it was very easy to decide what I should make her as a surprise present for her party..

So here he is … a cute bundle of guinea pig fluff!Needle felted guinea pig (38)

As usual I took a few pictures along the way to show you how I made him. With some time, some love, some wool and a barbed needle you too can make a felted guinea pig just like him!

If you haven’t tried needle felting before and would like to know what it is all about and see some basics first, feel free to jump to my ‘what is needle felting’ page first before trying the guinea pig..

Or if you don’t have the time but would love me to make one for you or as a present for a loved one, let me know what colour, fur length etc by sending me a bespoke order at my Etsy shop.

So, to get started you will need:

  • Foam pad or felting brush base (so not to stab your knees and to provide a firm base to work on)
  • Felting needles of various sizes; wider for initial shaping and finer for detail later on
  • A needle holder; this is optional but for making basic shapes it saves time to use 2 or 3 needles at the same time. I use the 3 needle holder pen by Clover.
  • Wool to felt with; I used natural corriedale wool to make the guinea pig’s core as I find it felts well and ends up nice and firm. I then used merino wool as the top coat as it’s soft and comes in some lovely animal fur colours. I buy my wools at a very good price from World of Wool.
  • Small scissors
  • Carding/dog brushes to blend wool (optional)

I hope the pictures will explain what I did at each phase so I haven’t gone into too much description for each picture. Feel free to ask me any questions if you are unsure of how to do anything.

Start with a basic egg shape by rolling tightly a nice length of the corriedale wool and then felting it into shape with medium firmness. This will become the torso.

Needle felted guinea pig (7).

Felt more at one end and use hands to carefully sculpt one end slightly narrower (to become the head end)Needle felted guinea pig (8)

Roll two equal sized pieces of woolNeedle felted guinea pig (16)Needle felted guinea pig (9)

Fold and felt them into doughnut shapesNeedle felted guinea pig (10)

Then felt them well onto the sides of the torso at the bottom end to become hind legs

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Make sure they look even both sidesNeedle felted guinea pig (12)

Add and felt over some small tufts of wool to make the edges softer where the limbs join where neededNeedle felted guinea pig (13)

… especially around the rumpNeedle felted guinea pig (14)

Then turn over and do the same underneath for an even well blended finish.

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Take two more pieces of wool but this timeNeedle felted guinea pig (16)

…fold to form two triangles

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Felt onto the sides of the chest end and mould to form fore legsNeedle felted guinea pig (18)

Again check the legs are equal or you can position one slightly in front of the other to provide a more natural pose.Needle felted guinea pig (19)

Put the body to one side and roll another piece of wool and form a smaller egg shape. Felt medium firm again and then sculpt to make into a head shape. Score a nose and mouth using two needles at one time

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The shape is fairly similar to a rabbit head shape…add any wool where needed to accentuate the jaw line and cheeksNeedle felted guinea pig (21)

Now attach the head firmly to the body. I felted a good piece of loosely felted wool to the bottom of the head first so when attaching there were lots of fibres to help attach it and this helped to form a neck.

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You now have a guinea pig base!!

Now comes the fun (but tedious at times) of adding some wool colour in layers to give him his character.. I mixed some wool together to get the colours I liked, one part corriedale wool and two parts light chocolate brown merino wool. I used two dog brushes to blend the wool (so much cheaper than carding brushes and they work just the same!).

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Start from the tail end (although guinea pigs don’t have tails)and work towards the head. Felt some wool in the same direction but some in other directions and with different lengths too to get a more natural look!

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When you reach his head add two small doughnut shapes of coral coloured wool for his ears and felt them in well to fix to his head. I decided to give him a cream coloured face with cream tuft on top of his head but you choose whatever colour you fancy. For the head start at the very top with the fur layers and work down towards the chin.

Add more detail to the nose with the brown and a tiny bit of black for his mouth opening. To make him look like he has rummaged around in the hay felt a tiny fleck of brown under the cream fur on his muzzle . For any layers that are too long or for shaping the fur on the face, used nail scissors to carefully trim the wool.

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(I went back and added a strip of the cream across his middle taking care to pull back the layers of brown already felted..)

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Here you can see his eyes; brown overlaid with black and a few tiny white dots to give the illusion of light reflection.

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You could leave him with no feet but I decided to give him some. Remember guinea pigs have 4 toes on each foot at the front and 3 at the back!

To achieve this use short lengths of pipe cleaners for his toes and wrap the coral coloured wool over each toe binding the pieces together at one end. Then wrap several layers of the wool over the end to form the ball of the foot. Wind more wool over the length of each foot and felt tightly to ensure all fibres are secure.. then felt them to the legs!!

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Needle felted guinea pig (1)

Go over the entire surface of your guinea pig with a normal sewing needle if needed to liven up any flattened areas of fur!

Squeeeeeeeeeee!!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial!! it was fun to make him and my friend Emma almost cried when she saw him at her party! ūüôā

Watch out for more tutorials and creations and follow my blog to receive emails of when new posts are up so you don’t miss out.

Check out my other tutorials; how to make a bunny and how to make a badger head and view other Fit to be loved felted creations at my Etsy shop.

and please do get in touch if you have any ideas of what you would like me to make next!

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