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Armature Guides for Needle Felted Animals

If you are needle felting animals of the canine kind🐕🐶🐕🦊🐺 or felines 🦁🐈🐱🐆🐅🐯, I’m sure you’ll love these PDF armature guides just released by a good friend of mine from KawaiiYokaii Studios.

They are beautifully illustrated, easy to follow diagrams and instructions. You can not only use them as a reference for measuring your wires to make the armature but also as a size guide for when building up the wool to get the body shape of your animal just right and to proportion too!

They are a very useful aid when following my free armature tutorial here.

Don’t see a dog breed or type of cat you are planning to needle felt? – she gladly takes requests and offers these updates for free so once you’ve purchased the pack you can come back and download the most up to date version!

They are in my opinion a great bargain at the price she offers them at and very handy to have in your needle felting tool kit!

Guides in the canine pack:

*Pug *Fox/Coyote *Large Breed Dog/Wolf
*Dachshund *French Bulldog *Fennec Fox *Terrier *Shiba *African Wild Dog *Racoon Dog

(She added these 3 based on requests after the launch)
*Greyhound *Springer Spaniel *Border Collie

Plus more to come…!

Guides in the feline pack:

*Domestic Cat *Tiger *Lion *Panther *Iberian Lynx *Caracal *Cheetah *Clouded Leopard *Puma *Serval

Plus more to come….!


She’ll be adding more animal groups soon too. 😊

How to Needle Felt a Smooth Finish

Are you wondering how to get a smooth on your Needle Felted Animals?

In this tutorial I share my 13 Top Tips for how to get a smooth finish! No more holey, lumpy or fuzzy sculptures! Get stabbing and needle felt a smooth surface with confidence!

I include advice on the process, needles, wool, use of tools and much more! Look out for my extra FAQs (about long furred animals and reverse felting) at the end.

Do you prefer to learn by watching instead of reading? if so please do skip to the bottom of this page to watch the video on YouTube 🙂

What are you wanting to achieve?

Are you wanting to needle felt a short furred animal like a horse or short haired dog breed? or maybe you want to felt a part of the animal such as around the muzzle so that it’s smooth and soft?

Or maybe the style of your sculpture is that you want it to look firm and no fluff but smooth looking, for example with my sitting foxes I made in preparation for an upcoming needle felting course, I wanted them to be quick and easy to make for my students without all the long fur attachment which can take hours.

Tip 1: It’s about the Entire Process!

Think of this in terms of it being about the entire process. It’s not just about the end result. You can’t grab your wool and stab it any old how and then expect a sudden smooth finish by the end. It is possible but it could take a lot longer to achieve. So start off really well, have intension and a plan! Through the process of stabbing, layering carefully and keeping it firm and using some of the other tips below you’ll hopefully end up with that lovely smooth finish!

Tip 2: Wool

It’s important to understand about wool and consider the type of wool you will use for your needle felted animal.

If using merino wool, this is soft and fine so is going to look and feel soft and smooth. Be careful though if using merino tops (tops are where the wool is in long lengths which go in the same direction). The structure can mean that stabbing will show holes so you need to use finer and finer needles for it to look smooth and it can take a while to get the result you like.

Carded Wool usually comes in batts (sheet) or slivers (long lengths). Carded wool is where there are short fibres that go in different directions so fibres will felt fast and you can firm up your sculpture much quicker but the overall look can be more messy and less smooth so you’ll need some effort to prevent fuzziness and not show holes.

If you would like to know more about wool. Here is my Guide to Wool

Tip 3: Barbed Needles

Barbed needles for needle felting come in different gauge numbers (thicker or thinner), the end you stab with comes in a few different shapes e.g. star, triangle, spiral, crown, and they have varying numbers of barbs. So it’s vital to know which needle to use at the different stages of the sculpting, firming and finishing process.

When starting off you’ll need a lower gauge number (thicker needle) and when you finish off you’ll need a higher gauge number (thinner needle). For example when making the core shape of my fox I used a 36G triangle, then after a while I moved to a 38G triangle to firm it. I then smoothed the surface with a 40G triangle needle.

Tip 4: Keep Stabbing

If you find that your needle felted creation is not firm enough and is therefore too soft when you squeeze it, or there are areas that are lumpy, then you’ll need to keep on stabbing!

If you keep stabbing and then feel some resistance as you stab into the wool with the needle you are using, then you’ll need to move up to the next number gauge needle e.g. move from a 38 to a 40.

When I am sculpting with wool I like to keep my shapes medium firm while I perfect their form. Once I have manipulated the wool with fingers and happy with the overall look, then I go ahead and firm up further and keep stabbing.

Tip 5: Even out any Dips

If you have continued to stab but the odd indent is still there in the surface of the sculpture (sometimes this can happen with core wool where areas are thicker or thinner) then you may need to fill with more wool to even out and smooth the surface.

Tip 6: Felt Shallow and at an Angle

Once you are using higher gauge needles to smooth the surface (e.g. 40G or 42G) these will leave very tiny holes compared to the lower gauge needles but make sure you also shallow felt by only felting with the thin end tip of your needle. Felting at a slight angle e.g 45 degrees and not stabbing at right angles (90 degrees straight down) into the wool also shows less holes!!

Tip 7: Spiral/Twisted Needle

Once at the stage to smooth your surface you can also use a spiral (also known as a twisted needle). This is a great needle for getting a smooth finish. When you look at the needle close up you’ll see that the end of the needle is twisted as a spiral, shaped like a mini drill.

Tip 8: Layering wool

When layering wool e.g. when adding a coloured layer of carded wool over core wool, avoid creating harsh edges and bumps in your wool by looking for and removing any unusual blobs or strands and vegetation matter before you add it. Also be careful to select the right amount of wool as a wad to lay so that it is not too thick nor too thin in thickness and the fibres are evenly spread. Lay it over your core base without folding edges then lay the next piece along side it but slightly overlapping.

Stab the wool with your higher gauge needle shallowly and at an angle as described above and you should end up with a nice smooth finish.

An extra Tip for Merino tops

A merino top can be more of a challenge to layer and look hole free – don’t worry if this is all you have in your supplies- it is possible but needs lots of stabbing with fine needles to finish off. Sometimes though I take the top and pull it apart with my fingers to shred it up into shorter strands and to ensure the fibres end up in different directions. Then I add evenly spread wads of this to my animal. It really helps with blending along any edges with another colour. Why not try it out and see what you think 🙂

Tip 9: Use Hands/Fingers

If you’ve used your fine and spiral needles and shallow felted at an angle but still seeing holes, others may not notice but maybe you do …. what do you do? Well it’s a simple thing but really works! Just use your hand/s or fingers to carefully rub over the wool surface! the warmth of your hands and movement will manipulate the surface and move fibres over any holes. Be careful not to do this too briskly as this can add to the ‘too much fuzz’ problem. You can roll a ball shape or long cylindrical shapes such as legs or tail of an animal between your hands with some pressure , you can rub large areas of the animal over a warm palm of your hand in a circular motion or back and forth, or rub a finger end in circular motion over patches of wool that need it.

Tip 10: Needle Brush

Another way to help cover holes is to use your sharp needle end (can also use a normal sewing needle) to carefully brush fibres. This is a tiny movement but can be really effective. You might quite like this look to add a little texture at times so more animal-like whilst still being soft and smooth to the touch.

Tip 11: A Tiny brush

If you have a soft tooth brush or baby brush or an eyebrow brush then you can also brush tenderly over the fibres to again move strands over holes. If choosing the eyebrow brush it will need to be one that has a bristly brush rather than a comb edge. I like to press against the wool surface with my brush and move in a circular motion a bit like I would with my fingers rather than actually ‘brush’ the fibres. Brushing or rubbing too vigorously will certainly create more texture and possibly fuzz the surface but this may be a look that you like too!

Tip 12: Scissors

If your issue is still that your needle felted animal looks too fuzzy, messy or there are stray strands then this is time to get out your small scissors and give it a really good trim. Sometimes though fuzz on an animal is a great look… this is the wonderful thing about needle felting and playing with textures. You can try both looks and see what you prefer!!

Tip 13: Super Smoothness Ideas

Using pressure and heat is a brilliant way to smooth down any fuzz and you can achieve this with your every day iron if you are careful or you could try a mini crafting iron over the surface of your small needle felted creations.

If you want sleek slim smooth animal ears or feathers (or other flat pieces you are making) then how about try some hair straighteners? you can lay your felted item between the plates for as little as 5 seconds on a fairly high heat and wow what a wonderful result! those stray fibres proper flatten down.

Bonus FAQs

1: What if I’m making a long furred animal, Does it really matter if the core wool is firm or smooth?

Well, you don’t need the surface perfectly smooth no as you won’t see it. However it is important to get the core of your animal firm and be free from any lumps or dips. If too soft then when attaching the long fur the animal core can shrink slightly, the surface may become uneven and the whole creation can become misshapen. If you start with a firm smooth surface the fur will layer nicely and flow well. If you’d like to learn how to add long fur to your animals there is a video series here.

2: What if I’m reverse felting? Does it matter about the wool being firm or smooth then?

Again it doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth but you need the wool firm with an even surface so that when you pull out the fibres with your reverse needle the wool maintains its stability and shape. You want to be pulling out even tufts of fibres that will look like fluffy fur not pulling out big chunks! If you’d like to know how to reverse felt, your ultimate guide to the reverse felting needle can be viewed here.

Here is the video version for how to get a smooth finish on your needle felted animals.

I hope you found this tutorial useful. What smooth surfaced animal are you making?? 🙂

Needle Felting Classes In Grantham

Hi Everyone!

I have exciting news to share that I will be running some Needle Felting Classes local to me in Grantham, Lincolnshire this November-December and in the New Year in January!

There’s a cute robin Christmas Tree decoration to make for absolute beginners and an adorable fox for those who have made something simple before but can’t wait to learn more!

Here’s the page to tell you all about the classes. I hope to see some of you there! 🙂

Needle Felted Spaniel Now Available

A while back I needle felted the head of one of my favourite breeds of dog, the Springer Spaniel. I was so pleased with how he ended up and he has since featured in quite a few of my Youtube tutorials including ‘How to make Realistic Needle Felted Dog Eyes’ and ‘How to Needle Felt Wavy/Curly fur’. I am sure you may have seen this loveable floppy eared pooch by now 🙂

Well, he is now available to a good forever home!!

  • He will come as a head and shoulders portrait in a frame so you can put him on your wall or on a shelf.
  • As his new owner you will be able to name him and decide on the colour of his soft material collar and whether you would prefer a light or dark frame for him.

Maybe you love spaniels or have a friend or family member who loves them as much as I do and would love to provide a new home for him. I will really miss seeing those big soppy eyes around the place but I just don’t have the space to keep all my felted animals long term.

Buy this Springer Spaniel Sculpture Now

You can pay by PayPal, Debit or Credit card

(Once payment has been processed through my Etsy Shop I will contact you by email to request his name, collar and frame colour and to arrange delivery. Please allow up to 10 days for me to complete his shoulders, collar and to frame him).

If you have any questions please email me at fittobeloved@mail.com.

As with all my needle felted animals he is not a toy but a wool sculpture to be admired and cherished. So please don’t pull at his ‘fur’, get him wet or try to brush him. Please keep him somewhere safe and away from pets and small children. Thank you

Protect long wool fibres while needle felting animals. 3 Top Tips!

So today I thought I’d answer a common question that I get asked a lot- “if I’m needle felting a long furred animal, how do I stop all of these lovely, luscious fibres from getting all matted, flattened, tangled and just looking a complete mess?”

As you’re working on an animal, like this guinea pig I am making here, at some point you may have to turn it over or on its side. 

Some of it will get fluffed up a little bit and that’s just the big challenge with felting very long fibres like this, but you can eliminate some of the issues with my three tips! 

Please feel free to comment and say what you do about this because that would be really helpful to share tips and ideas with each other as well. 

3 Tips to help prevent over felting, matting, frizzing, of long animal fur

(Scroll to the bottom if you’d like to watch my video version)

  1. PLAN AHEAD

For an animal that’s upright I try to always start adding wool on the underside i.e it’s tummy and legs first so that I’m not having to turn over the lovely top layer. If I start off with the underside, that’s the bit that you’re less likely to see so if it gets a bit flattened it doesn’t matter so much.

I then turn it over and work on the top side and that’s the bit you’re mostly going to see. So you’re not going to be laying it down on all the lovely fibres and squishing them. The moment you turn your animal over, it’s going to flatten and potentially fluff up or leave the fibres looking frizzy and it’s just not going to look so great like how you added it in the first place. 

  1. CONSIDER WOOL TYPE

Think about the kind of wool that you’re going to be using. 

So a lot of us will use merino wool tops for long fur. These are great because they’re really well priced. They come in the kits and you can get loads of different colours. I love the range of colours for needle felted animals here.

However you do need to think about the way that the fibres lay and the way they can potentially matt and frizz up easily. 

I have been trying some other kinds of fibres recently. One I want to mention is alpaca wool (you can get some lovely alpaca tops here) and suri alpaca. They seem a lot finer and softer, but you will notice a silky like consistency to them.

So I’ve been mixing these (hand blending) with my other fibres and finding that the mix is less likely to frizz and tangle with a silkier result. 

Your animal fur can still end up flattening if you’re not planning your animal properly, but generally I’m finding that I can achieve a more natural looking fur as well as it matting less. It’s a beautiful, beautiful fibre to work with!

If you’re using a coarser natural wool top, such as a corriedale top. This is brilliant for replicating a coarse rough looking kind of animal hair rather than one that is smooth and soft looking. 

You can incorporate that into your animal fur look as well. I used this in some of the brown shades on my sheltie for example.

The only thing with it is that it is rougher in texture and so tends to felt a lot quicker. I find it’s tougher and not so soft and fine. But at the same time if you rub it against anything that is also rough, the friction will make it end up looking frizzy which may not be the look you were hoping for.. 

So think about the kind of wools that you might want to use. Try out a variety of fibres…

  1. A ‘GLIDEY’ SURFACE 

Think about what surface you’re working on. A lot of us will be using something like a felting mat or pad.  My Eco felting mat from Heidifeathers has a really nice consistency and firmness to felt on. I can do all my core work sculpting on there really well and also add shorter fur fibres.

But when I come to attach my long fur, the last thing I want to do is allow my fibres to rub against the felting mat material and felt my fibres a lot further. I want them to end up looking really lovely on the animal. I don’t want them to rough up and get tangled. 

So when you’re thinking about what you’re working on, think about something that is not going to be fraying your felted animal fur.

Once I’ve made the core animal shape base, I often move it off of my felting pad and I will use a slippery surface for the majority of my time…you’ll often see me use the inside of one of my beautiful storage box lids

This allows my piece of work and the fibres to glide against it and not rough up and felt.  It might move around a little bit but because my animal is contained in the lid area, it’s not going to slip too far. You don’t need to use a felting pad because the needle is not going to go through and stab into my knee or anything. Much of what I am felting onto is the thick body of the animal and as long as I don’t felt too deeply the hard surface is fine.

If I want to get at an angle though e.g. side of tummy, under a neck or felting fur on a leg I can still use the felting pad but lay a material over it.

A shiny smooth material like satin or silk is really good though test it out and see what you think.  You don’t want to get too much static adding to your issues so trial it. You could get a bit of this material to lay over the pad. Tightly wrap it if you can so it doesn’t slip as you felt or buy a purpose made satin or silk surfaced pillow. 

Or use a plastic bag or sheeting over the pad (I simply use the flat slippery bags that my wool come in). It can slide a little but that’s fine. 

A shiny paper like tissue papers or wrapping paper or card can also work but less likely to last as long potentially. 

The felting needle can enter the material a little but that’s ok. 

If adding long fur to a thin piece of the animal anatomy e.g an ear or tail I would rather go back to just using my felting pad and just be very careful about not messing up the fibres.  

Try a few options to see what works for you and find out what is most effective and comfortable for the process.

Whatever surface you choose, lay the animal down carefully against the surface before stabbing and ideally lay fibres in the way they should flow so they are less likely to fray at the ends or flatten or frizz from laying the wrong way. 

A few extra tips

Remember to make sure that you’re not constantly touching or pulling at the fibres. Make sure you aren’t using greasy fingers of any sort, and that you’ve washed your hands really well and you’ve got no extra oils in your skin when you need to touch them.

For particularly long pieces of fur you can twist the ends carefully and tuck them down before laying your animal down when you’re working on it to prevent the ends from being vulnerable to fluffing or fraying.  

To finish off your animal so it has beautiful fibres

Once you have added all the fur to your needle felted animal you can then revive the fibres if they have become a bit flat or disheveled and plump them up. 

Depending on the wool you have used and how you want the fur to look you could carefully brush them with an eyebrow brush or similar brush. For many of my animals however a brush can be too much for the delicate fibres and I don’t want to break or pull out the fibres I have taken my time to add and so I simply use a clean finger and thumb to tease fibres in the direction I want them to go and to unflatten them. 

A normal sewing needle or sometimes my barbed needle is also a perfect tool to manipulate the fibres and to separate them out so they still look like realistic animal fur. Then a final trim with scissors if needing to tidy or remove any excess fluff! 

I hope these tips have been helpful. Let me know your thoughts on them. 😊

Here is a video version if you prefer to watch or listen: How to protect long wool fibres while needle felting animals.

Please let me know what you do to help protect your long fibres, I’d love to hear your hints and tips too 🙂

How to Attach Long fur to Your Cat Head

Would you like to know how I needle felted the long fur on my Tabby Birman cat? 🐈

Here is a video tutorial with techniques of how to blend wool colours, plant (attach) long fur to your cat head, layer the wool pieces, reverse felt wool in some areas (for blending, gradients and fluffy fur), create tabby marking patterns and trim wool.

It’s great if you would like to make realistic cat fur!

This is part 3 of 5 in my series of Needle Felted Cat Head tutorials.

I hope you enjoy it 😊

Here is the next tutorial for making the cat ears. There will soon be a tutorial on whiskers too to complete the series.

If you missed the previous 2 videos or would like to rewatch them:

  • Tutorial one for Needle Felting a Cat Head Shape is here.
  • Tutorial two for short fur is here.

There is also a time lapse video of the whole head showing footage of the amazing process from start to finish here.

Or if you’d like to see exactly how the cat’s eyes were made purely from wool, then you can watch the tutorial here.

Your Ultimate Guide to The REVERSE FELTING NEEDLE

Have you ever tried a reverse felting needle?

You can use it to make fluffy fur, BUT there’s so MUCH MORE you can do with it too!

This video is your Ultimate Guide to the reverse felting needle.

In this needle felting tutorial I’ll show you what it is, what it can do. I’ll share top tips for how to get the most out of it and there may be some techniques you have never thought about!

I hope you enjoy it!

Please let me know what you might try to create with the reverse needle in the comments 🙂

The Reverse Felting Needle is a wonderful versatile tool and one of my all time favourite needles.

I get my needles from HeidiFeathers, they are brilliant in quality and all colour coded so you don’t lose track of which needle you are using! They deliver internationally and sell a variety of tools and fibres.

If you are starting out and don’t have any needles yet then it’s well worth getting a set of 30 Mixed Felting Needles – 10 Different types – Triangular, Star, Reverse & Twisted Needles https://amzn.to/3oSks9j

Or if you are looking to get individual needles then you can choose by needle type:

Reverse Felting Needles https://amzn.to/3apVPs6

Star 38G – https://amzn.to/2YC5xFe

Triangle 38G https://amzn.to/3oKvTPK

Triangle 40G https://amzn.to/2YEct4E

Twisted 38G https://amzn.to/3BuSund

Twisted 40G https://amzn.to/3aoJjsM

Other tools I use in this tutorial:

Clover Multi Needle Tool (holds 1 – 3 needles) – helps to speed up your felting: https://amzn.to/3amZ3w8

Beautifully designed rose gold coloured embroidery scissors https://amzn.to/3AtdJVp

Eyebrow brush (with bristle side and straight comb side) https://amzn.to/3hlde8F

Needle Felted Quoll

I’m so excited to show you my latest needle felted quoll. He’s curled up fast asleep and looking rather cuddly don’t you think?

It’s been a few years since I made my first one and I absolutely loved making one again.

Quolls are incredibly unique animals. They are spotted marsupials from Australia and my do they have interesting feet too!! I think they look almost like an imaginary creature rather than a real one.

I made his core out of Norwegian wool batts, his top coat is a mix of merino tops and corriedale slivers. I added the long fur with the long fur technique (see here for how you can do this) and also did some reverse needle felting to create a blend of lighter colours on his face. He also has wire in his tail and toes and horse hair for whiskers.

If you are wondering how to felt eyes that are closed or sleeping – here is a tutorial on how I made the quoll’s eyes. This is great for all sorts of sleeping animals 🙂 It also shows my quoll when he didn’t have any fur (just his core base).

If you are stuck on how you might needle felt spots on your spotted creations – here is a tutorial showing 4 ways you can achieve this from simple spots to more detailed long furred spots.

What are you currently making or planning to needle felt next? any interesting looking animals like the quoll maybe?

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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’s 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! 🙂

  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’s really, really important to find your own unique style. 

When looking through Google images of needle felted animals or when browsing social media it’s 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’s 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, “oh. If only I could make things quicker, I could also sell things quicker”. 

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’s 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 🙂 Let me know which was your favourite?

I’ve included the links on where to find the supplies below the video too.

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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 – 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’t 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’t think I will go back to using a foam pad! As much as my foam pad has been my old faithful ‘go to’ 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 ‘Earth Friendly Felting Mat’) 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 🙂

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’s 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’ve not used the Earth Mats for long so I can’t 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’t 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’t 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. 🙂

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.

You will be taken directly to the download page when checkout is completed.

1 Digital PDF Download – £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’s 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 🙂

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

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! 🙂

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