Are you planning a needle felting workshop this year?
I thought you’d find it useful if I shared what you might need.
This will hopefully help you get organised and prepare well knowing the items I used in my recent workshops for the robin and the fox.
Even if you’ve run workshops before there may be a few items on the list that you haven’t considered.
Or maybe you are a little intrigued as to what needle felting tutors do when they plan a workshop.
I include a felting base in the cost of the workshop. I bought a multipack of small black foam pads. They’re perfectly sized for a beginner project at one and a half inches thick, four inches wide and six inches long.
They’re really dense and very high quality but low in cost. We use these during the workshop but I also like to take along other options to show what’s available.
So I’ve got my Eco Wool Mat (extra large) from Heidifeathers and my Earth Mat from the Makerss. You can see my review on the the Earth Mat here).
I also show my students a hard surface for doing wire armature and keeping the wool from going frizzy on the felted mat.
This can be a table/ tray or even the inside lid of a decent box (this is what I use).
At the very beginning of my workshop I like to demonstrate how the needles work in the wool. So I’ll take a variety of different sizes of barbed needles (thicker ones right down to my finer ones). The ultimate mix from Heidifeathers has pretty much all you would need for felting and to show the differences between for example the star and triangle and also the more unusual ones like the reverse needle.
I chose Heidifeathers as my supplier as they offer good quality needles and have a great range. I find it cheaper to buy containers of each size for my workshops. They are colour coded and there is a guide I show my students.
It’s good to include the needles that they need in the cost of their workshop (I supply 2 of each size but take extras in case of any breakages). But it’s also good to show what’s available for future projects. They could perhaps buy some needles from you too on the day.
It is a good idea to take along some felting needle holders. I have the Clover multi needle holder that can hold up to three needles at one time.
Then I’ve got the single needle holders made of wood. These are lovely as they are or you can paint them (my mum gave me one she’d painted in gold with cute flowers on it). The needle can be stored inside the holder when not in use (please see my guide to needle holders here).
Some of the ladies at my workshops had arthritic fingers and it was more comfortable to use a holder for the needles so I let them borrow these. However you could offer the holders as added extras to purchase in addition to your basic cost of the workshop.
Notebooks – are ideal for taking further details from the students for example you may want to follow up on questions they have asked. Make sure you follow GDPR data protection guidelines if recording anyone’s personal contact details.
Rulers and/or tape measures – for your students to be able to take measurements of what they’re making and keep to proportions.
Pens/pencils and paper are also really useful for sketching ideas or showing shapes or sizes in a different way to the actual 3d creation they are trying to replicate.
Cellotape can always come in handy – I’ll mention why a bit later on.
Then at least one pair or maybe some sets of scissors of different sizes for cutting wool. I mainly use my rose gold stork scissors.
Sticky labels are brilliant for name tags, so you don’t forget names and also to label anything else on the day (eg bags – see futher down).
For my workshops as well as taking along the actual needle felted animal they will be making, I also provided some pre-prepared sketches, size guides and summarized step by step notes as visual tools to accompany the lesson.
I also scanned these and kept them as pdfs on file. They can be given in person and /or emailed.
One student was unfortunately ill on the second week of a three week needle felting course so they were able to catch up with my guides. Some students may also be a little slower than others so the guides enabled them to finish their creations at home if needed.
The guides also ensure I am following the steps myself too 🙂
Health and Safety Items and Insurance
Now when it comes to health and safety, you know how sharp those needles are so you can never be over prepared!
I took along a basic first aid kit of tissues, waterproof plasters, alcohol wipes and also some alcohol gel (the gel was particularly for those concerned about spread of germs/covid and for after touching food).
I bought some packs of finger and thumb protectors from here. Being made of leather they really do protect your finger and your thumb from being stabbed with a needle. You wear them on your less dominant hand and use dominant hand to hold the needle.
You can include these in the cost of the workshop or wash and reuse them. I found that washing them leaves them looking a bit used/worn so I did include them on my 3 weeks course and my students took them home and brought them back each week. So it is worth shopping around to get them as cheap as possible, though don’t go too cheap- some were not great quality and far too big for some of my students’ small hands.
It’s wise to keep a note of any accidents that do happen so you have them on record but with any workshop I do recommend that you take out public liability insurance cover! You can shop around to get the best deals. For me I joined the International Feltmakers Association as their annual cost is a really good price and includes the magazine, discounts on courses, a place to advertise your workshops and you can attend their meetings etc.
There’s no doubt that needles will be broken with any beginner class so I have a separate little container to collect any broken needles and they go straight in my sharps box later (you could take a sharps box along on the day of course).
I don’t allow sharing or reusing of needles so that there’s no risk of contamination etc so I provide a corrugated cardboard piece with sticker on it to put the needles in for them to take them home. It’s a sweet way of containing the needles. The sticker on the front shows them what needles they have. This is simple to make, cost effective and reduces the need for plastic.
All I did to make then was I got some old Amazon boxes that were corrugated cardboard, cut out the size that I wanted. Used my little Poooli printer to print off some labels (I’d designed these in Canva). Then used a felt tip pen or coloured pencil to make a coloured dot where the needle will go. You quite simply pop the needle into the side. You could always add some cellotape over the tops of the needles to stop them falling out, but it’s just to get them home.
Alternatively you could use your business card, lay the needle across one side and cellotape them down.
A few little extras that you might also want to take to the workshop:
An awl – for making holes
An eyebrow brush – for brushing fur or smoothing out wool.
Colour headed pins – to mark where you’re going to put body parts eg eyes and noses.
Cleaning brush for the felting base – removes wool very well from the top of my wool pads or foam mats
Of course your students can’t felt anything without the actual wool. So I take along my bag of previously weighed wool in amounts for each student plus a little extra.
I also like to teach about the different wool types that you can get so I take some core wool, carded wool (slivers and tops), merino tops. You could include other animal fibres eg camel or some vegan fibres. I showed some Suri alpaca wool which is absolutely lovely as it’s silky and soft for using as long fur. If you’d like to learn more about wool types I have a guide on these here.
Marketing/ business promotion
I take business cards for my students and also for the passers by who come into the wool shop where I hold my workshops.
I’ve also give each student a leaflet (designed in Canva) which includes;
- info about the needle felting classes,
- a bit about myself and my social links,
- care instructions for their needle felted animal they’ve made,
- recommendations of where they can get some more wool and tools,
- a list of how and where they can learn more – eg my other courses, PDFs etc, and
- a section about discounts they are entitled to as an attendee of my workshop.
The workshop is the perfect opportunity to also take along some other creations that you’ve made.
This is to promote the other courses that you might be able to offer. So if they’re starting on a beginners course, they might then want to look at what they could achieve at an improver course.
So on my one day robin workshop I took along my fox. I had several students book onto my 3 week fox course.
I took along my hare to promote a hare PDF I am making and also the dog and cat head which feature on my YouTube channel. Shop customers can also see my needle felted animals and potentially book on the next workshop or take a business card.
It’s one of the very few times I get to take my creations out in public.
It’s nice to offer some refreshments during the break. I offer tea, coffee and biscuits for a morning break at a 3 hour workshop. You might need to consider lunch if a day workshop and factor that into your costings.
You’ll need to consider dietary requirements too.
Boxes or bags are useful to keep all your items stored tidily and organised and also safe for transporting them to the workshop. It is worth making sure you have something waterproof to cover items in case of rainy weather. I used a few boxes and bags for mine.
Paper bags – for students to take home their newly acquired wool and tools as well as their creation they’ve made at the workshop. I got these really cheaply from Asda (usually advertised as large party bags or lunch bags).
Organisation and the day itself!
I kept a checklist of everything that I needed to buy and then once bought I had a list of what I needed to take to the workshop and an ongoing to do list to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.
It’s wise to get to the workshop at least 20 min early to lay everything out on the table.
THEN meet the students, have lots of fun! This is a wonderful time to share your skills!
I set my alarm for various times to make sure that I kept to my timing!
Be sure to take along your enthusiasm and love for this amazing art form. I love the look on my students faces as they learn to needle felt for the first time. Its amazing to be their first step in their needle felting journey!
I hope this has given you some ideas on how you might prepare for your workshop. Please let me know in the comments what you thought of these ideas. And also, let me know how your workshop goes. I’d love to hear from you. xxx
Here is the video version of this guide if you’d like to watch it 🙂