Needle felting in 3D - creatures & faeries & flowers:
Instructions for making animals:
These basic needle felting instructions are to accompany each needle felting kit, and if you wish, I can email to you as well, just pop me a message!
In the kit you will have: a felting needle and a wooden handle; a felting pad; 9 balls of roving wool... enjoy your creations!
The best book for beginners is listed below - I feel it gives some very detailed tips and instructions... With the eyes, I prefer personally to use wool to form eyes as well, but you must use whichever method you feel most comfortable with... if you would like some intermediate or improvers' techniques, please message me and I can point you in the direction of other resources and my workshops:
"Little Felted Animals: Create 16 Irresistible Creatures with Simple Needle-Felting Techniques Paperback – July 8, 2008, by Marie-Noelle Horvath"
Barbed needles push in and out of loose woollen fibres to create a fused, or matted, piece of fabric.
Place your wool on your pad, and push your needle in and out, keeping it straight, with no ‘wiggling’, until the wool begins to condense.
It is best to begin with deeper strokes to ensure you are felting the inner fibres as well as outside.
Turn the wool over frequently to prevent it sticking to the felting pad.
For 2D, such as landscapes, you can felt loose wool onto pre-felt or a wet felted piece to give your scene some stability. These can be framed or hung as a tapestry when complete.
For 3D, such as animals or other shapes, you can achieve the desired shape and size by rolling your wool into a ball or sausage shape to begin with, then adding more wool if required as you shape the animal, and jabbing the needle in at different angles, either shallow or deep, to fuse, then sculpt or define parts of the 3D piece.
It can be a good idea to work from a pattern or pictures to begin with, and practice your techniques as you experiment.
we will start with making a mouse, but as you will see below, this can be adapted for other animals.
take a strip of your wool and roll up into a sausage shape, place it onto your felting mat. remember, wool will condense when felted, so don't start with too small a piece, but it is easier to add more rather than be able to take wool away once felted together. Using your felting needle, and keeping it straight (no wiggles or dragging across surfaces), jab in and out of the wool, turning it regularly to avoid squashing it down into a 2d shape. leave a little loose wool at one end for attaching the head. keep jabbing and turning until it has become much firmer.
for the head use the same wool and technique but make a ball about a 1/3 of the size of the body. join the two shapes together by needling the head onto the loose end of the body, turning the shape and jabbing into the neck area at a diagonal.
the legs are small sausage shapes, jabbed to be quite compact and with a little loose wool on each to attach to the underside of the body. if you wish to wrap wool around pipe cleaners or cotton-covered wire to make the legs pose-able, then begin by wrapping the thin strips of wool diagonally around the wire... then very carefully, aim for either side of the wire, into the felting pad, with the needle. you can felt the wool into place and turn around the leg to achieve a smoother surface. attach the leg to the body by jabbing along the edge of the leg, then roll up a small piece of wool to create a shoulder or hip.
use a little wool to form each ear shape, with loose wool at the bottom of each ear. once formed, gently needle a little of the pink wool into the inside of the ear, being careful not to poke the pink wool through to the back of the ear.
for the eyes you can either roll two small balls of black wool between your fingers and carefully needle in, or sew on two black beads. repeat with pink wool/bead for the nose. for whiskers, thread a sewing needle and carefully thread behind the nose 3 times, snipping the thread at your preferred length. for the tail, either needle in a length of white yarn, or roll a strip of roving wool in soapy water between your fingers to form a tail and then needle into the body.
for hares, rabbits, cats, dogs etc, repeat this process - but for longer legs, needle the wool around pipe cleaners then attach, so you have support and move-able limbs. also change ear shape from round for mice, to pointy little triangles for cats and foxes, or long for hares. hare and rabbit tails are teardrop shaped with white on the outside. you can buy glass eyes for creatures online, or sew on beads, or practice making felted ones!
for birds, make the body 'sausage' then make two rounded triangles for the wings. the tail is usually a basic rectangle shape. the feet can be made from just wool, or you can also felt around short pieces of pipe cleaner if you wish.
When content with shape, add thin strips of your chosen bird colours onto your core body shapes. for the eyes you can either roll two small balls of black wool between your fingers and carefully needle in, or sew on two black beads. the beak is a small black cone/triangle... use a long sewing needle to hold down the eyes and beak whilst you needle felt them into the head. for the tail, make a small rectangle felted as 2D shape onto your pad, then attach to the lower end of the body. the wings are the same technique but are two triangles... measure up against your robin for correct size before attaching! feet can be made from just wool, or you can also felt around short pieces of pipe cleaner or painted wire, if you wish.
for all creatures, you can add more wool to bulk out different parts of the bodies until you have your desired shape. to smooth the finished animal or bird, needle lightly across the surface of the body.
See the photographs in the workshop images tab too!
Tie a knot in the top of your wool roving for the faerie head, then prod in the loose fibres. make a length for wings, short piece for bodice, a thin length for the dress. look at photos for examples.
spread out the dress so it is very thin and gently felt into sides and back of faerie. put the bodice piece across horizontally and felt that around too. pinch the middle of the thicker wing piece and felt it in.. gently separate the two wings into four, felt carefully so they flatten out slightly. turn faerie over and felt into the back. choose your hair colour and felt into top and sides of the face and back of head. you can then thread soem cotton through top of head to hang up your faeire!
Needle felt a poppy!
1. Pull off five evenly sized tufts from your red wool. Roll each tuft over 3 times to form a decent thickness, lay them out onto your needle felting pad in a fan shape, overlapping at the centre.
2. Stab the petals all over with your needle felting tool. Every so often peel them gently from the pad to check it is not trying to attach itself to the pad. As soon as the petal shape starts holding together, and feels firmer, turn it over, continue to stab on the underside.
3. Continue to stab both sides of the petal and then turn needle horizontally, and prob sideways to create rounder shapes at the edges; if you spot any thin spots, you can simply add more wool.
4. For centre… Pull off a piece of green wool roving, roll it up from one end and stab it all over, turning it frequently… for a bigger centre, you can add more wool and stabbing until you have the size you wish for.
5. Overlap the petals and lightly needlefelt together.
6. Thread the green bead through the centre of the poppy and secure the thread with a knot.
7. Needlefelt the black wool around the centre green bead.
8. Using same technique that created the petals, now use green wool to make leaves
9. Turn the poppy over and gently needlefelt the leaf/leaves onto underside, but firmly enough so they do not loosen.
Enjoy your creations!
For further information on different types of felt-making, different gauge needles, or any help with your design, you can contact me via the website, email, Facebook or Twitter –
have fun and email me if you need any other help... also, check out the needle felting blog which has photos, and recommended books!