RSS Feed

Tag Archives: needlefelt

How to add head and limbs onto needle felted animals

“How do I felt body parts onto my needle felted animal? How can I make them stay secure and not easily pull off?”

Today I want to show you some more basics of needle felting animals. In my other tutorials you will see how to make various animal parts e.g a badger head, bunny ears as well as the various stages of felting a full guinea pig, bunny etc. However one of my followers commented that it would be good to do a tutorial showing how to felt the head and limbs onto your animal. It is not so easy to demonstrate with photos but I have done my best by using the shots I took along the way when sculpting Chestnut; the little red squirrel I made.

There are many ways of felting one piece to another so you may have already found the best way for you. The method I will show you is just one way and was the easiest for my squirrel at the time. 🙂

Please note that the following tutorial will assume you know a little bit about needle felting already. See basics here.

Adding the head

01-Needle felted squirrel (5)

At this point I have felted the head more or less to completion. The body has its shape but no fur yet…

I have sometimes only got as far as the shape of the head when joining it to the body but I quite often find that it’s the head of an animal that gives its unique soulful character (especially once it has eyes).02-Needle felted squirrel (8)

I often don’t decide on exactly how the body will look until I have the head sorted. Being delighted by the cute nature of the face (as is what happened with Chestnut) often inspires me to continue on with the rest of the body. 

1) To join two felted objects together leave enough loose fibre on at least one of the objects where the join will be so that it can be felted into the other.

14-Needle felted squirrel (27)

It is a lot harder and perhaps impossible to join them if the wool is felted too firmly and the fibres cannot mix and bind with the fibres on the other object when you stab with your needle. 

As you can see, the neck at the top of Chestnut’s torso has been left loose and soft. The base of the head is soft to medium felted rather than firm to allow plenty of further stabbing..

2) Fluff the fibres up a bit before putting the head into the position you would like it to be. 

15-Needle felted squirrel (28)

3) Stab at the wool from a 45 degree angle under the chin of the animal. In effect what you are doing is poking the loose wool from the neck into the head. Insert the needle as deep as it can go and on all sides of the neck. This helps to anchor the head to the body. Remember (particularly at this stage when the head will just fall off the body if you try any other way) to lay your animal on a felting pad/brush and stab away from your fingers!

17-Needle felted squirrel (30)19-Needle felted squirrel (32)

To join body parts I use a medium width barbed needle (I find these are stronger than the finer ones for this purpose but do try out various ones to see what you are comfortable with and what works best for the wool and size of animal you are felting). If possible use one with many barbs along the length to help bind the fibres and as the needle will be inserted quite deep.

4) Once it feels like the wool fibres have attached so much so that the head no longer topples away, you can try felting at other angles at various depths. Here I laid Chestnut’s head over the edge of the felting pad as it made it easier to get the angle I wanted and also prevented me from squishing her carefully felted nose 🙂

21-Needle felted squirrel (34)23-Needle felted squirrel (36)20-Needle felted squirrel (33)

22-Needle felted squirrel (35)

5) Carefully stab a few times from the top of the head to ensure it is firmly secure. NB this is easier if the head has no fur yet but if you have (like I have) you just have to take care not to leave stab marks in the face (as you are using a slightly thicker needle).

…and there we go, head on …looking more squirrel-like although much like a shawn sheep at the moment with lack of fur 🙂

25-Needle felted squirrel (38) 24-Needle felted squirrel (37)27-Needle felted squirrel (40)

Adding limbs

This is achieved in much the same way as joining the head in that you need to stab deeply in all directions to ensure all the fibres bind to each other.

For Chestnut I started with the hind legs so that it would be easier to see how her forelegs would be positioned once she was sat upright. Note the thigh part of the leg for my squirrel has already been sculpted as part of her body shape which ends up in a sitting pose. So when I refer to adding the hind leg, it is in fact the section below her thigh bone. 

1) Needle felt each leg onto the body by stabbing the wool at the fluffed up end of the leg into the body.

28-Needle felted squirrel (41)       30-Needle felted squirrel (44)

For Chestnut I had formed her feet using wool wrapped and felted over wire (see my tutorial on tiny feet and toes here) so I had to take extra care not to break my needle by hitting the wire when stabbing.

31-Needle felted squirrel (45)        29-Needle felted squirrel (42)

2) Continue at all angles for both legs until firmly and securely in position.

12-Needle felted squirrel (21) 07-Needle felted squirrel (16)

08-Needle felted squirrel (17)  09-Needle felted squirrel (18)

Once in place I added more wool round the joins as fur and then decided to felt some of Chestnut’s back-fur too. Aw she is looking very happy and mischievous already!

33-Needle felted squirrel (48)34-Needle felted squirrel (49)32-Needle felted squirrel (46)

3) Then do the same for the forelegs.

48-Needle felted squirrel (.1) 06-Needle felted squirrel (15)   05-Needle felted squirrel (14)

04-Needle felted squirrel (13)  03-Needle felted squirrel (12)

As the shoulder part needs to be attached along the side of the torso it is not sufficient to merely stab from the outer side at the shoulder blade to keep the limb in place.

To felt at an angle under the ‘armpit’ and also to ensure the leg cannot pull away at the join, stuff some extra(fluffed up) wool into the join and stab it securely into place (not too deep to push the lighter coloured wool through to the other side of the shoulder).

36-Needle felted squirrel (51) 35-Needle felted squirrel (50)

Tip: To get the correct positioning and symmetry when adding the second foreleg(as quite often you will want to play around with this until you get it right) you may find it easier to stab the second leg into place only a tiny bit at first; enough to hold the leg in place but not so much that you can’t alter the position if you need to. You can then step away to view your animal from a distance, then adjust until happy with it.

49-Needle felted squirrel (.2) 37-Needle felted squirrel (52)

38-Needle felted squirrel (53) 40-Needle felted squirrel (55)

….then secure into place.

42-Needle felted squirrel (57)  39-Needle felted squirrel (54) 41-Needle felted squirrel (56)

Once all limbs are joined onto your animal you can then felt over the joins with fur. You wouldn’t even know your animal started out as separate appendages.

45-Needle felted squirrel (61)44-Needle felted squirrel (59)43-Needle felted squirrel (58)

Here is Chestnut as she looks now! 🙂

46-Needle felted squirrel (62) 47-Needle felted squirrel (63)

Advertisements

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! 🙂

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.

As quiet as a mouse!

So I really have kept ‘as quiet as a mouse’ about this one!!

I made this little mouse as a surprise birthday present for my mum (who I love beyond words).

IMG_3584

Yesterday my mum, dad and sister came to visit Ade and I for the day all the way from Lincolnshire and we celebrated my mum’s 65th birthday! She wasn’t too pleased though at receiving cards with ’65’ on them. …Mum you are beautiful and do not look your age at all, you have a young heart and I love you!

Mum just loves seeing the odd picture texted to her of my needle felt creations as I usually can’t wait until the final finished product to show her how I am getting on. She often sees my latest creations not looking like very much and often without ears and legs or fur… but loves them all the same.:-)

When making her mouse it has been so hard not to tell her or show her a photo. She didn’t expect it and of course was so excited to be given a box on her birthday and find this cute (in her words) little mouse inside!

Her little mouse is saying ‘I love you’, with a flower in his right hand and left hand on his heart. He is lovingly hand-made from 100% wool.

IMG_3595

Mum really does love him and to see the teary but smiley look on her face has made the wait and the time to make him all worthwhile..

It was her and my dad who gave me my name Amanda which means ‘fit to be loved’. The journey of accepting and growing into the meaning of my name was the inspiration behind the name of my needle felting business ‘fit to be loved’ and my hope is that all my felted creations like this little mouse are as the name suggests ‘fit to be loved’. Read more about me and the name here.

IMG_3598

His core is made of natural undyed Corriedale wool from New Zealand. His fur and detail on his cute mousey paws, ears and face are of soft merino wool (non-mulesed) from South Africa (Cape) – chocolate brown, mink, raven and coral. I used coarser wools in purple and grass green for his flower to contrast with the soft contours of his body. You can see his size from the close up of me holding him in my hand. His eyes are made of wool too, so no glass or plastic but all 100% wool!

IMG_3604

IMG_3602
Do you have a birthday for a loved one coming up? need a gift idea to say ‘I love you’ ? You can buy one just like him or another bespoke animal of your choice from my etsy shop.

To follow my blog and receive email updates about latest fit to be loved creations and tutorials, simply enter your email address on the top right panel of my ‘find out more’ page.

Needle felting a bunny; Photo tutorial

Needle felting a bunny; Photo tutorial

Today I just want to share some photos with you to give you a taster of the various stages that went in to needle felting my latest bunny. I haven’t photographed everything but stopped at various times along the journey to take a shot. Please also see here for more detail of how I made his ears. It doesn’t matter too much about what order you add each limb or ears or facial features. It is fun to experiment with different ways of doing things. You will soon find out what works best for you.

I have found though that whenever you add the eyes your creation immediately gains personality and you also get a tiny break from all the time consuming needle action. I love doing the eyes and ears best.

imageBasic ball to start for bunny head. Core corriedale wool.

imageAdding cheeks and face shape

imageAdded torso.

imageAdditional layer in mink coloured merino wool to form base fur.

imageShoulders and thighs firmly felted

imageBlue and grey merino wool mixed then shallow felted to become bunny fur.

image

imageLeaving his tummy in mink.

image

Preparing feet

imageCute bunny paw detail

imageFeet firmly attached

imageMore Wool added to give shape and smooth contours

image

Nose and mouth coming to life

imageComparing with my original bunny to check size and proportions, angle of feet etc

image

Forming ears.  See more about making ears in a tutorial here.

image

image

image

imageEars fixed

image

imageEyes alert

image

Can’t resist a cuddle

imageFront paws and holding a carrot.

imageMy sister in law popped by, bunny made her smile 🙂

imageAdventure for bunny in the garden for nature’s backdrop!

To see more pictures of this cute bunny and to order one as a gift just like him for someone you love, please visit my Etsy shop.

To follow my blog and receive email updates about latest fit to be loved creations and tutorials, simply enter your email address on the top right panel of my ‘find out more’ page.

How to needle felt bunny ears!

How to needle felt bunny ears!
See here for more pictures or to order one just like him

See here for more pictures or to order one just like him

Now that I have revealed my latest needle felted bunny in my most recent post, I can share with you how I made his cute bunny ears. The real bunny, owned by Pete and his wife, had the most incredibly gorgeous long ears and I really wanted to take the time to detail their every curve and beauty. As I created them I took pictures at each phase to document how I made them for my own reference when making other ears in future and also to share with you now on my blog..

For those of you who have some experience of needle felting I am sure you have your own preferred technique but please do take a look – your ideas are very welcome as I am still fairly new to this and so far it has been trial and error but most enjoyable. For those who haven’t tried yet , I hope this inspires you to have a ‘stab’ at it!

This is specifically to show you how to create ears for the bunny I made above, but some of the methods are very similar for other animal ears so feel free to follow them for other projects..

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. In the pictures you will see I use the 3 needle holder pen by Clover.
  • Wool to felt with; I used natural corriedale wool to make the basic ear shapes as I find it felts well and ends up nice and firm (especially to keep in alert bunny position). 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.
  • Finally…   some time, some love, some patience, a drink and bar of chocolate for long sitting periods, perhaps some music (not tv as you may be distracted and stab your finger) and don’t forget a photo or drawing of what you would like to make…

So…. on to the tutorial!

By the way….. the point at which I am about to felt the ears I will already have my head sculpted, I can then at any time measure up the ears to the head to ensure I am getting the right proportion.

Step 1: take two equal lengths (and density) of your core wool (corriedale in this case). Bear in mind that you will need the two ears to end up the same size so keep comparing them. I find it works better if I do a bit on one then do a bit on the other as I go along rather than finish one and then start the other afterwards.

2013-08-10 19.00.33

Step 2: fold the piece in half in an oval shape (you can see already this is forming a long  ear shape before you even use the needle!)

2013-08-10 19.27.05

Step 3: using the thicker felting needle/s start stabbing the wool to go through to the other side as well as shallower stabs to the first few barbs of the needle in many directions (ensure you lift the needle in the same direction as you placed it so not to break any needles). Then turn over and do the other side

20130810_101806

Step 4: now you have a basic flat shape you need to make it more 3d and ear-like so roll the sides in to form thicker edges and stab at 90 degrees but also inwards at an angle keeping the edges rounded where the ear edges need to curve. Do this on both ears as you go..

2013-08-10 18.58.02

Step 5: Use fingers to knead the wool and stab with your needle/s and give shape on both sides. NB I have left a long unfelted end at the bottom of my work to make it easier to fix my ears on to the bunny head later on…

2013-08-10 18.55.43

Step 6: keep pulling edges in and hollowing the middle section with your needle/s

2013-08-10 19.28.59

………and turn over to felt the other side as you go…

2013-08-10 18.57.10

…. remember to turn your work and use various angles to insert your needle/s to mould the wool into the desired shape.

2013-08-10 19.28.102013-08-10 18.54.492013-08-10 18.59.10

Step 7: Keep felting and keep checking your photo or drawing to see how big the edges are and which areas should be flatter.

2013-08-10 18.54.02

On a real bunny one edge of the ear is thicker than the other so I had to make sure this was the opposite way round on the other ear (as it is in real life) for a mirror effect. You may want to use one needle or just two needles to make more defined lines..

20130810_104445

And there we have some bunny ears (err… minus some colour and texture!)

So then comes the exciting part …..have your finer needles and bunny fur colours at the ready for the final step….

Step 8: carefully shallow felt the ears with your coloured merino wools (just to a depth of first 1 or 2 barbs on your finer needles) to fix the wool in place but not allow the wool to go through to the other side. You don’t want the darker colours to be seen through the lighter colours on the other side! and vice versa  (it would be a medley of pink and grey in this case).

2013-08-10 15.35.55

2013-08-10 15.34.51

……..where needle holes can be seen – you can use fingers or a normal sewing needle to gently fluff up fibres

20130810_110028

…. add different shades of colour to give a more realistic look. I mixed my greys and blues to get the bluey-grey colours. Then I  used a mink colour for the middle of the ear with lighter pinks around the edges. Finally a strand of grey down the very centre for light and shadow and 3d effect…

2013-08-10 15.32.44

2013-08-10 15.28.09

Then your ears are ready to fix on to your bunny head for full bunny character!!

2013-08-13 13.44.37

I hope you found this useful. Let me know what you would like me to write about and what you would like me to make!

My next post will be a photo gallery of how I made my bunny creation from start to finish….so you will get to see me fixing the ears in place…!

Please enter your email address here for notifications of new posts to my blog and follow me on facebook, twitter, pinterest to see what I am up to next! 🙂

What is needle felting?

Are you new to this amazing form of art?

So was I back in 2013, but we all need to start somewhere. Once I started I just couldn’t stop and no doubt you will feel the same way too as it is very addictive.

You have probably seen some of my needle felted animals in my Gallery but what is it that I do to get from a piece of wool to a detailed sculpted animal?

Here I will show you the basics..

Have you ever had a woollen jumper? … loved it, worn it ..and then oh dear..washed it in too hot a wash and failed to read the washing instructions properly? or maybe you have heard of others doing that…Well that happened to me when I went to uni and didn’t have my mum to show me how it should be done!. My new favourite jumper shrunk to about a 5th of the size it started out as!!. Lets just say my teddy bear (I know I took a teddy to uni!) had his very own jumper which fit him perfectly… sadly though it would never reshape back to my size..

Needle felting felting is not putting wools in the machine or adding soapy water (although there is a technique known as ‘wet felting’ which does just this!) but the concept of how wool fibres latch on to each other and don’t want to let go is what I am trying to demonstrate here.

With needle felting you use a single barbed needle or several at the same time to cause the wool to felt..

First of all you choose your wools. These are some of the delicious coloured merino wools I used to make a fox.

Image

You pull off a piece (pull sections with hands far apart rather than too close).

Image

Roll or fold your wool tightly to form the shape you need. Here I am forming a spherical shape to demonstrate. You can take the wool off of the foam pad (used here to ensure I don’t stab myself) and roll in a ball in your hands too if you like – just like a piece of play dough as the ‘squishing’ action helps bind it into the shape you need as well.

Image

Then using your barbed needle you stab away at the wool hundreds of times in various directions, turning as you go (avoiding your fingers as the needle is extremely sharp) and as you do the wool fibres hug each other tight and don’t let go 🙂

Make sure the needle exit at the same angle as it entered so not to bend to bend or break it. start off slow at first until you get used to it and you will speed up in no time.

2013-07-29 14.21.06

The more you stab (which is quite therapeutic by the way after a hard day at work) the firmer and more compact the wool becomes so you can sculpt shapes. 2013-07-29 14.22.13

It is like modelling clay but with wool and a needle. Instead of moulding an area with your fingers you work it with a needle.

What I love is that there is no sewing involved (all the facial features such as eyes and noses can be needle felted too!) you just stab wool into shapes and add shapes to other shapes… and hey presto!! you have an animal.

There is of course a lot more to it than this. If you take a look at my Tutorials, tips and ideas page you will find further techniques.

Some animals can be made by simply needle felting basic body parts and felting them together.

For some you could felt the wool onto a wire armature to give the animal more structure and poseability (is that a word?). For example for the fox, cat, dog and donkey I  wrapped the wool tightly around wire which I had first prepared (after looking at photos of skeletal structures) and used my needle to fix the wool in place, firm up and blend in loose edges. Then I added more wool shapes to build up anatomy parts onto the base structure.

Here I have just started to give the fox his shape before adding his head and fuller tail and torso.

20130718_1431366

I tend to start off with core wool (usually corriedale batts) using my thicker needles to get started. Then for adding layers of realistic looking fur and to get the colours I love I use a blend of soft merino wool roving. Thinner sized needles are used for needle felting the details especially for the face and ears. I use no beads or buttons for eyes and noses…. just beautiful 100% wool!!

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 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.

%d bloggers like this: