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Needle felted pipistrelle; Species Champion award

This week has been an exciting week. The needle felted pipistrelle bat I created was mounted and given as an award at the Palace of Westminster to MP Helen Hayes as she is the species champion for the common pipistrelle and won best parliamentary species champion at the Species Champions Annual awards ceremony. Well done to Helen for all her hard work!! It was presented by BBC Journalist Frank Gardner.

I am so happy that my artwork became something so special for an amazing project. The project is run by the Rethink Nature partnership, a group of seven wildlife organisations working together to make a difference to species conservation. (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and the RSPB).

The little bat took many hours of sculpting through the art of needle felting. His body is made of core corriedale wool. His wings, legs and tail are wool wrapped over wire.  His beautiful brown coat is made of a blend of corriedale and merino wool. His eyes, nose, ears and tiny feet are made of wool too.

The common pipistrelle as its name suggests is the most common bat that you might see flying in your garden on a summer night! Yet like all our bats in the UK they need our help and protection to ensure their numbers don’t decline again. They are so important to our environment! I love bats but some people don’t and this is usually as they don’t know much about them and bats are so misunderstood.

When you look at a bat close up they are actually very tiny and many times smaller than the size of my needle felted one. In fact a real pipistrelle bat weighs about 5g and their forearm length is less than 35mm in length. One of these tiny creatures can eat around 3 thousand insects in one night – how amazing is that!? Due to destruction of their natural habitat many bats now need to roost in houses and churches and rely on people to preserve these roosts.

Each bat usually has only one pup each year and too often that little pup will become lost or get caught by a local cat and so many each year don’t survive. The Bat Conservation Trust has a fantastic helpline if you find a bat in need of help. You can also find out how to support their work 🙂

Here are a few work in progress photos of my needle felted bat…

Having worked for 12 years at the Bat Conservation Trust I have quite a good knowledge of bats but it was still a challenge to get the anatomy right. Bats are so fascinating and detailed with their tail membranes and wing membranes! I wanted to give the illusion of fully formed wings that could spread out but tucked in as if it has landed. I hope I did it justice.

As with all my needle felted animals I used lots of photos of the real animal at every angle for reference. Thankfully no needles were broken but I did remake his face at one point and a good deal of patience and chocolate rewards were needed along the way!! This aside I really did enjoy making him and I was so overjoyed to see the smile on Helen Hayes’ face too when she received him as her award !

Needle felted dormouse

May I present to you ‘Hazel’ the sleeping hazel dormouse. She is snuggled up on her needle felted leaves in a wool nest I crocheted.

She is a mix of merino and corriedale wools with a wire in her tail and has horse hair for whiskers. Her tiny toes are all wool – I think they are the tiniest I have made yet and were very fiddly but certainly worth every minute of the process.

Hazel was such a joy to make while I have been recovering from a life changing operation. Curling up into a little ball just like she is doing in her cosy nest is something I have felt like doing a lot the past few weeks as I have needed so much sleep.

I hope you like her. I will be posting more about how I made the leaves soon too.

Needle felted bumble bee

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Here is my first attempt at a needle felted bumble bee. I gave it to my sister for her birthday last week. My sister’s name Melissa means ‘honey bee’ but she loves bumbley bees as they are so fluffy looking! I was brave enough to let it sit on my hand without any worries about being stung. Good job as it is much larger than life size!

 

I started off using black pipe cleaners as legs and antennae.  I twisted them together in the middle to form the base for the body. I trimmed the pipe cleaners with small angled nail scissors to accentuate the leg segments and added tan coloured wool..

I tightly wound yellow, black and white merino wool tops over the middle section to form the head, thorax and abdomen and added more and more of the merino on top to build up the height. I needle felted the body with a barbed needle to sculpt into a bee shape. To create a furry bumble bee look I then used a reverse felting needle to pull out the fibres and added a layer of rusty orange over the yellow to give the colour more depth. (Note I didn’t use a cream colour core wool for this piece to ensure that only the pure colours I wanted came through when I used the reverse needle not any underlay of core wool fibres).

I had to get really creative for the wings. I searched my stash of crafty bits and ended up cutting out wing shapes from a silvery coloured organza bag and then hand sewed the pattern on each wing by hand with white embroidery thread.

Here are a few photos of the work in progress of how I started.

I am so pleased that my sister adored him!!

******You can now order a bumble bee for yourself here******************

Mini Schubie the Sheltie Feltie

I am very excited to present to you my greatest needle felting challenge yet. He is modelled on a beautiful young Shetland sheepdog (Sheltie) called Schubert (Schubie)! The real dog is very much loved by his human mum and dad and his dad wanted a surprise gift for his wife (Schubert’s mum) for Christmas!
I rarely do commissions as I try to avoid the stress of it but having spent quite a bit of time admiring the real Schubert I had been wondering how it would be to needle felt a mini one and quite fancied a stab at it!  🙂

Schubert has so many tones to his luxurious fur so I spent quite a bit of time blending wool colours. He also has very long fur so I really put into practice my ‘adding long animal fur’ techniques.

I started off wrapping corriedale core wool over a wire armature. Then I added paw pads and then some detail on his face before starting on his belly fur and working from his tail end towards his neck with merino wool. I did his wispy feet hair and tail last. Please see the work in progress videos for more info.

In an attempt to keep him as authentically ‘Shetland’ as possible I managed to include some brown Shetland sheep wool in his coat and his whiskers are made of black Shetland pony tail hair all the way from Scotland.

As with all my creations it took many hours of needle felting and love. I am very pleased with the way he turned out and I hope you like him too 🐶🐕😆

Here are some photos and a short video. I hope to get some photos of him and the real Schubie together soon too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needle felted butterfly – bringing back the extinct (and hope) with the art of needle felting

Needle felted butterfly – bringing back the extinct (and hope) with the art of needle felting

My latest needle felted project has been a challenge (nothing is ever simple with me!) but it has been so worthwhile to see the finished butterfly in its frame.

I have always loved butterflies and if you spend more than a minute with me you will notice that I have many items that are butterfly themed; stationery, cards, blouses, my wedding was adorned with feather butterflies and as you can see my Fit to be loved logo has a tiny orange butterfly.

I came across the Mazarine blue butterfly (scientific name Cyaniris semiargus which is pronounced sy-an-EYE-riss se-mee-AH-guss) over a year ago as it stood out to me not only for its beautiful markings and vibrant blue colours but also I was saddened to read that it was last recorded in the UK in 1904.

I envisioned what this beautiful creature may look like if I were to make it out of wool and to have it framed. It would be amazing to bring back an extinct butterfly with the art of needle felting!

I set myself this project and though I started a year ago with a few wing shapes and lots of imagination, life took a bit of a different turn.

Some of you who follow my Facebook posts may know that 2 years ago this week our worlds changed forever as our twin girls, Chloe and Grace, were born still at 24 weeks. Since then life has had its ups and downs as I have journeyed the hills and valleys of grief. Throwing myself into my long term full time job as a Manager of a charity helpline in South London as a way to distract from my thoughts has been a coping mechanism but this kind of life can only reach burn out. Also some of my passions including needle felting took back stage.

In April this year I realised I needed to make a change, to face my fears, start afresh, take a break. I also wanted to dare to follow my dreams of helping others on a new career path and so my husband and I decided to move out of London and I made a huge step of leaving my job. So here I am in Lincolnshire (back to my birth town of Grantham) after moving home 3 weeks ago. I have space to think, to breathe, to heal, to be, to create!

You will be pleased to know that my new career choice has enabled me to gain some free time to invest more in my needle felting.

I hope you like the Mazarine blue butterfly which I have finally been able to complete. It has been lovingly handmade with soft merino wool over wire and mounted in a deep box frame to keep it dust free.

Butterflies are often a symbol of hope and life. This one is certainly the start of something new in my life. A path of hope.

What passions could you bring back? What hobbies can you start or revive? Where is your life taking you? What are you hoping for?

     

   

Blessings always xx

Amanda

Poppy

Poppy

Just finished needle felting a beautiful black and white dog called Poppy.  I wanted to capture the smiley faced playful character of the real dog Poppy who loves to fetch a ball, go for a swim and have lots of fun on her walks, sometimes with legs splashed with mud!

I am not sure what breed she is but she looks like a spaniel/collie cross.

She was a delight to make. She is made from core wool over wire and then merino wool layered over the top. Her eyes, nose and even her tiny collar with a paw print disc is made from wool. Her layers of long fur were added with my usual technique (click here for tutorial).

Once needle felted I was able to pose her with head slightly tilted, front leg bent and tail ready to wag……

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

How to needle felt long animal fur; the video!

Would you like to watch techniques for creating a detailed and realistic long fur look on your needle felted animal?

You have likely seen my photo tutorial with basic techniques for adding long wool fibres onto a badger. Well here is a video for those who learn best by watching how it’s done. This is far more in depth with more techniques and tips along the way!

‘In this full length (1.5 hour) diary-style tutorial, I demonstrate how to add layers of wool to a miniature donkey. These techniques can be adapted for any long furred animal. Join me on my journey from preparation to finish; starting with carefully ‘needle brushed’ leg fibres, then fluffy tummy and long textured back fur. You will also see how I create a middle parting on the donkey’s muzzle, add a long fluffy fringe and a beautiful flowing mane.’

Watch the preview below 

 

The full length video tutorial is available toBuy now

buy for just £3.75!

(Watch live multiple times or download it- it’s up to you!)

 

Difficulty ranking: Intermediate level or beginners looking for a challenge.

The result: Amazing detail; the look of a real animal with layers of fur.

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Skills you will master:

  • Simple hand blending of wool roving for natural, textured colour tones
  • Preparing wool lengths and a test/sample piece
  • Knowing how firm to felt your core base
  • Two easy methods to firmly attach various lengths of wool fibre
  • The art of layering and trimming fibres
  • Specific skills for adding fur to various body parts including legs, tummy, back, ears, tail, face and mane
  • How to prevent over felting or flattening of long fibres
  • Finishing techniques for defining strands or fluffing them up

 

Chapter start times for easier video navigation.

0:00        Introduction

1:00        Overview; what techniques will I learn?

2:07        Where to start?

3:35        Preparing and blending wools

12:03     What tools do I need?

13:25      Shorter fur – layering on the legs (the basics of the two techniques)

28:28     Soft tummy fur (technique 1)

34:05      Continuing the tummy (and a few ways of blending colour)

38:10     How firm should the core wool be?

40:05     Lots of thick fur layers (across the torso) (technique 1)

45:00      Tips for preventing fluffing up and positioning animal whilst felting

46:14      Adding fur on rump (techniques 1 and 2)

49:45     Long fluffy back fur (technique 2)

57:40     Ears and tail (brief overview for ideas)

59:12     Fluffy textured muzzle and fringe (very long fur pieces) (technique 2 plus other tips)

1:12:50  Making a mane (another method)

1:19:25  Attaching the mane

1:25:50  Finishing off your animal; defining etc

1:30:20  Final donkey photos (what a cutie!)

Why not get your own copy today? 

More needle felting tutorials can be found over on my tutorials 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.

 

Bon Voyage little guinea pig!

I would like to introduce you to a gorgeous needle felted guinea pig called ‘Teddy’.

As you can see he has a cheeky little face and I really tried to make sure his autumnal orange fur tones ended up looking as fluffy and soft as possible just like a real guinea pig.

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He is now on his way to France to live with a lovely lady who will take good care of him.

Bon Voyage little guinea pig! You were a pleasure to create and I hope you have a wonderful life at your new furever home x

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His core is made of natural undyed Corriedale wool from New Zealand. His beautiful soft fur and detail on his cute piggy paws, ears and face are of soft merino wool (non-mulesed) from South Africa (Cape). His toes have been sculpted by wool wrapped delicately onto wire.

His eyes are made of wool too, so no glass or plastic.

You can see he is life-sized from the close up of me holding him in my hand.

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Hope you like him 🙂

Would you like to know how to make a guinea pig? (click on the photo to get started).

Needle felted guinea pig

Making a needle felted animal and need some help adding layers of wool to achieve a realistic long fur look? (click the photo to learn more…)

Felting long animal fur

See here for a variety of tutorials, tips and ideas to suit your project

Here are some other needle felted guinea pigs for more ideas.

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Guineapig Guinea pig (37) Needle felted guinea pig (1) Needle felted guinea pig (38)

Needle felted bat (Brown long eared bat)

Seeing as I manage the National bat helpline (UK) as my day job it was about time I made a bat! Thankfully I was asked to make this little brown long eared bat (BLE) (Plecotus auritus) – although when I say little she is very big compared to real BLEs which have a body length of around 5cm.

She was a challenge as not only did I have to work out how to make folded wings and a tail membrane but BLEs have such massive ears as you can see. She is made of corriedale and merino wool and has wire inside her forearms, legs and ears.

BLEs can live up to 30 years, eat thousands of insects each night, have only one baby a year and these fantastic huge ears help them to listen for prey as they glean them from leaves.

This one is definitely alert and looking for a cuddle but usually at rest their ears curl back a bit like ram’s horns to show only the tragus (the pointy inner ear lobe). Hope you like her and agree that bats are amazing! 🙂
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Needle felted solenodon

Needle felted solenodon

Ever heard of a solenodon?

I had never heard of one until I came across this strange but interesting creature a few months ago when researching what to make my colleague for his birthday. I discovered that he had spent several years working on a conservation project for this intriguing animal in the Dominican Republic.

As soon as I saw the solenodon’s shrew-like snout, shaggy dense coat, long clumsy legs and thick scaly tail, I couldn’t wait to get started. As this was a secret birthday buddy present though I had to keep quiet..

I started with a wire armature covered with pipe cleaners, then wrapped core wool (corriedale batts) over the wire to give him some shape.

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Then came the layers of luxurious merino wool for his cream fur with dark brown flecks over the top. I also made tiny toes from thinner wire with merino wool wrapped over it. He has a lovely pinkish nose, ears, feet and tail and little black eyes to finish.

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Not sure if many people have heard of this animal let alone needle felted one!!

Creating an animal you know is so much easier – with this one I had to keep looking at the photos frequently to ensure I captured its build and character correctly. It was a lot of fun !!

My colleague loved his surprise! yay!!  🙂

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The real solenodon has a venomous bite – thankfully this one doesn’t!

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Italian Greyhound becomes Bee-dog!

I made this cutie pie as a leaving gift for a work colleague. He is modelled on a real Italian Greyhound called Philip.

He is needle felted over a wire armature complete with a little fluffy heart shaped chest, pink paw pads and those sad puppy eyes that make you just want to take him home:-)

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I soon learnt that my colleague also loved bee-dogs! Never heard of one of those before. There are whole websites about them!

So letting my imagine run wild I just couldn’t resist giving little Philip dog his very own bee antennae and stripey cape so he too can transform into a bee-dog!

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Most bizarre creation yet but very fun! 🙂

Needle felted guinea pig (number 3)

May I introduce you all to my third needle felted guinea pig. I made her in loving memory of a beautiful piggie of a lady in Warrington. I completely enjoyed felting her especially as she has the cutest face and wonderful markings!  She has now gone to live at her furever home and will receive lots of cuddles. She is also my first creation to have one of my new ‘Fit to be loved’ heart tags sewn on. 🙂

Here are few photos of her when she was a work in progress. If you would like more ideas on how to make a guinea pig of your own please see my photo tutorials; felting a guineapig and felting long fur.

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And here she is all fluffed up and posing for the camera 🙂

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Miniature donkey

Miniature donkey

I can now reveal my latest creation, a miniature donkey!

I was sent some photos of an absolutely gorgeous real miniature donkey and asked to needle felt her as a surprise Christmas present for her loving owner. It was an absolute pleasure to create her as I looked at those cute eyes and wonderful fluffy coat.

As she is a hoofed animal I quickly realised that to stand up she would need some stability so I wrapped core Corriedale wool over a wire armature. She soon started to take shape!!

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I made her as a young fluffy donkey with long fur rather than when she was a bit older after a summer moult but this meant I really had to think about how to get the right colour and texture for her fur. I ended up buying 4 wool colours and mixing them carefully by hand with other brown and cream colours I had to get the right shade.

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Once I started adding the long fur I had to be so careful not to let the strands fuzz up when laying the animal down to reach all sides. I therefore had to start on the legs and tummy and do the back and face last so the fur was looking its best in these areas and I didn’t end up squashing her ears.

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Thankfully donkey fur is slightly matted so I didn’t have to worry too much about it having to look silky smooth! I just love doing faces so this was hard for me to have to wait til the end but it was definitely worth it 🙂

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Beside quiet waters (landscape felting ideas)

Felting is relaxing and fun especially when shared!!

Last week I travelled back to where I grew up; Grantham in South Lincolnshire, to spend a week with my family and catch up with old friends.

I had a relaxing time away from my office job, walked the quaint streets of Stamford and visited the home of the Bakewell pudding in the Peak District. And… you may have guessed  –  (as I am quite addicted to my felting)-  that I also took some of my wools with me to get on with my latest creation.

I also had the opportunity to spend one of my days showing my mum some basic needle felting techniques. Felting is not just for times alone just you, the wool and needles and your imagination but is so much fun to do with others – especially for friendship craft days, and in my case family time! for me and my mum, together sharing quality time. 🙂

Haha, my dad peered in from time to time and watched and enjoyed the artistic flair (claiming I got it all from him). They are both artistic!    I think we all can be in so many different ways!

My week was sooooo relaxing and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the city and work. Home cooked food and love and hugs and then some felting (of course)- all I could wish for in a holiday.

So I wanted to show you some pictures of my mum’s very first landscape piece. My mum is a painter and loves going to her art class each week and produces some beautiful water colour paintings. She loves using colour and really appreciates nature just like me which is illustrated in her work!

So here we go, she needed no help from me after I showed her a few basic hints. I think it is really great. My mum used soft luxurious merino wool from World of wool.

I have named it ‘Beside quiet waters’ as it reminds me of David’s Psalm 23 in the bible and really sums up my week with them. Thanks mum for our time together!

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Mum then painted the sky onto her canvas and stuck the felted piece onto it…. beautiful!!

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Of course on leaving to come back to London I left some wools and some needles with mum.. can’t wait to see what she makes next…

How to needle felt long animal fur

How to needle felt long animal fur

Ever wondered how to get those luscious layers of long fluffy fur on your needle felted animal? more importantly how can you get them to look natural and stay put!?

Whilst making a badger I took some photos of him along the way to show you. It is fairly simple to do but does take quite a long time although once done it does give you a real sense of satisfaction and the fur really does feel soft and fur-like. Of course the end result texture does depend on the type of animal you are felting and the type of wool you wish to use.

For the needle felted badger I used corriedale wool for the core and then merino wool with a few strands of some of the corriedale mixed in for the top coat. Merino wool is easy to felt and is very soft to the touch. If you would like to you could use other luxurious fibres such as alapaca, angora or even rabbit fur.. (I wouldn’t chose the latter though if allergic to rabbits like I am)

If you are new to this amazing art form then before you get started – check out my tutorial ‘what is needle felting’ for basic needle felting techniques.

What tools will you need? ; – very simple you just need barbed needles, foam pad/needle felting brush base and small scissors (you can also use a small sewing needle to fluff up fur at the end).

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NB I didn’t want to completely flatten my fur down but allow it to stand out with some volume so only used one needle at a time rather than a multi-needle tool and changed the width of needle depending on detail and thickness of wool being needled. I tended to use the thinnest as this was far easier.

As you can see I have completed my badger except for his back fur and tail at this point. For how to make a badger head please see my tutorial here.

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I love the fur on a badger’s back, it is greyish in colour but with flecks of black, brown and cream. For this badger I used grey and black merino wool and natural undyed corriedale wool

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Now you could use carding brushes or dog brushes to blend the colours of wool but I wanted to keep the fibres all going in one direction as much as possible at this point and with block strands of full colour in black / cream/grey so not fully blended.

To achieve this lay lengths of each colour on top of each other and then using your thumb and first finger of each hand at each end of the wool lengths, pull your hands apart pulling the wool away from each other. Lay each layer again on top of each other (fibres all in same direction) and keep going until all the wool is blended as much as you want it to be.

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Then take narrow strands of the mixed wool the width of one or two fingers

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… and cut these into small pieces, roughly the same length. The length will vary as we felt as some areas will have longer fur than others…

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They don’t need to be perfect as no badger will have its own hairdresser with a perfect hair cut. 🙂

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I will now demonstrate what you will do with each piece..

Take a piece and slightly pull in the centre in a bow-like shape

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To layer the fur we need to felt from the back end of the animal layer over layer until reaching the head… so place the first piece at the very bottom of the badger’s rump.

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Felt using your barbed needle along the centre parting of the wool piece in various directions, the depth should go down to the first few barbs but the aim is to felt shallow but in many directions for the wool to stay put.

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You can also felted slightly below the centre line onto the bottom half of the piece to ensure it is in place.

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Now carefully pull down the top section

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… and ensure there are no stray edges by encouraging the wool in from both sides..

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Now felt along the top folded edge until it is firmly in place.

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Felting along the centre and then on the top edge in this way helps the wool to stay in place. Give a tiny tug to check it doesn’t easily pull out. NB a really good tug will likely pull fur out hence why these cute little animals are not meant to be toys to be pulled around…they should take cuddles and some handling though so ensure you felt well.

Again ensure you felt in many directions and then continue on to the next piece…layering the wool to create a fur look..

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When moving up to the next layer, position the wool just above the last layer – you don’t want gaps in between of core wool showing so don’t leave too big a gap…

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Don’t worry about the fur being too long or tufts sticking out, as you can give the end of the fur a trim as you go (time to use your hairdressing skills :-))

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By the way this doesn’t need too much skill and I am definitely no hairdresser, just trim in various directions for a more natural fluffy look.

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Any bits you trim off can be used for other felting projects or even for any areas you wish to fill in later at the edges so don’t waste them just put aside in a neat pile for later..

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Optional; For the back end of the badger I wanted this to be extra fluffy with the fur standing up slightly on end so to achieve this, run fingers through the strands of wool to fluff up and stab the wool all over between the strands, not to felt down but to fluff up…(

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As you can see we have a way to go but we are on our way !!

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Aw look at him waiting so patiently to be finished 🙂

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You may find it easier to turn his body as you go – work with whatever position you find comfortable and whatever means less squishing of his cute little nose into the felting mat..

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As you reach the main length of his body you may now decide to cut the lengths of wool a bit longer

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For a more realistic look vary the colours so that you sometimes get more black or cream in the strand you felt…mix it up a bit..

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Keep going…

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Almost there… take a breather – have a hot chocolate !!

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Specifically for the badger- when reaching the neck line, overlay some strands of black wool at the base of the ears …

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Then finish off with some more of the cream at the base of his head..

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You can use a normal sewing needle now if you wish to carefully fluff up the fur where it may have flattened slightly..

And there you have a gorgeous badger! fully furred waiting to be cuddled and fit to be loved!!

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I added his tail after this which also had several layers of wool as fur…

Here he is all completed !! so playful !!

Needle felted badger latest

 

 Long Animal Fur video!

Find it easier to learn by watching how it is done?  

Long animal fur videoMy full length ‘Long animal fur’ video tutorial can be downloaded or watched live- stream as many times as you like for only £3.75.

<<<Click the donkey picture to watch the 1 minute preview clip. 

 You’ll learn even more techniques for adding long fur (as demonstrated on this adorable miniature donkey).

 

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

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