I always love finding new craft projects to try out! Everything from creating a one of a kind light switch to using up some old fabric to make a kitchen rug is fair game! I ran across the art of needle felting while browsing Pinterest Which is an excellent resource for finding inspiration when you’re looking for a new hobby to try out. I have to say that I was immediately attracted to the variety of things I saw people making with needle felting. It seems that with a bit of patience you can make anything you can think of. Not only that, but the supplies are fairly simple to find and cheap to buy! This makes it a perfect Try Something New project!
Learn Something New With Kristin
Feature 16 – Needle Felting
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What Is Needle Felting?
Needle felting is a method of turning wool roving into a firm felt like material using a sharp barbed needle. In a typical felting process, wool is agitated or moved back and forth uni the fibers lock together using hot water. In needle felting, the wool is agitated using the needle arb and a lot of quick up and down stabbing movements.
By rolling the wool into a basic shape and then agitating it until firm and layering it until your happy you can create almost any shape that comes to mind which makes this a really fun way to create sculptures. To save time and materials you can also create your felt over an armature of wire, pipe cleaners or foam shapes (which I used).
Materials Needed To Try Needle Felting
If you want to save time trying to find specific colors or a variety of needles you can also invest in a needle felting starter kit. This is what I opted to do and the one I bought came with everything I needed plus extras (like finger protectors and little beads to use as noses and eyes) that will make exploring this hobby with future projects very easy! It also came with enough wool colors that I didn’t feel restricted when trying to find a project.
How To Start Needle Felting
Probably the hardest part of needle felting is figuring out what you want to try and make. A quick google or Pinterest search will give you more options then you probably have time to look over! I highly suggest looking for a beginner-friendly project to start with. Projects like the ones on this page are a pretty good choice or you can simply spn some time experimenting with the basics and just use them for inspiration.
My daughter is currently obsessed with anything to do with Foxes so I already had a vague idea of what I wanted to make. Since my kit did not come with a lot of wool, I also knew my project would have to be fairly small or have some sort of underlying structure to help fill it out. Your wool will compact quite a bit once you start matting it down so a large needle felting project will end up using far more wool then you initially think. For my fox, I chose to use a couple of styrofoam balls as an underlying structure. These work really great because they are forgiving to your needles, cheap to buy and come in a large variety of sizes. You could even carve them into a specific shape if you really wanted too!
I wasn’t going to try for a completely realistic fox on my first try, so I glued a couple of foam balls together with a hot glue gun and called it good (though there are some pretty fantastic ones out there so it is possible with lots of practice!). Once I had a basic form I wrapped my wool around it and started stabbing!
Needle felting turns out to be a great project to do while watching T.V since you don’t need a whole lot of supplies and the use of a foam pad keeps you safe from errant needles and protects your needle from hitting a hard surface and snapping off.
Felting needles are pretty delicate so you want to make sure that you move the needle in and out in a smooth up and down motion. You don’t want to bend your needle side to side or stab to forcefully and snap it off in the middle of your project. Matting your wool can take a bit of time, so you might be stabbing for a while. Some projects however you might want to keep a bit fuzzier (like a sheep) so continue until your happy with the way it looks!
To add details like marking, eyes, a nose or a tail you simply lay down another layer of wool and continue using your felting needle to attach it in the desired shape. It’s easier if you roll your wool into the basic shape before trying to attach it, a cylinder for a tails, thin lines for stripes, circles for spots and eyes, etc.
When trying to make a specific design it’s better to start with a small amount of wool and add more if needed, you can always add more wool but you can’t remove it once you’ve fully felted it together.
If you’re unsure how to make a specific part then a quick google search will normally give you some ideas. I was unsure how to create ears but it turns out that simply felting a triangle shape separately on your foam pad and leaving enough loose material left to attach it to your original sculpture works very well!
In the end, needle felting seems to be more about finding creative ways to get what you want then it is about technical abilities. Although thee are different sizes of felting needles and different wools tend to act in different ways I think this is an easy craft for someone to pick up and mess around with. After I finished my fox my 6-year old wanted to give it a try and after a slight lecture about being careful with the needle and a small demonstration, she managed to make herself a pretty cute little butterfly that she plans on giving to one of her teachers at school. So if your kids are artistic and fairly trustworthy with items like scissors I think this is even suitable for kids.