Needle Felting For Beginners: The Dos And Don’ts!

felting mat herdwick

For needle felting kits please visit: Website or Etsy

Let me show you how to avoid common needle felting mistakes before you even start. Let’s start with 14 easy first steps and some needle felting mini tutorials:

1 -Firm is key to successful 3D needle felting. Firm (not hard) but still springs back when squashed – especially legs and head.

2 –Roll body parts quite tightly before beginning to felt – trust me, this will greatly reduce your felting time.

how to body shape

3 -Needle felting is a short stabbing motion into your wool. Your needle should not disappear into the foam block and should hardly pierce the foam at all when 3D felting.

4 –Turn as you felt any 3D body part. This will give your structure its shape and prevent ‘dimples’ in your finished product.

5 – Start with less than you think you will need; you can add wool to make your shape bigger but you can’t take it away! The exception to this is limbs; if you have attached the limb/head and it’s in the wrong place, upside down (put your glasses on!) etc. then gently unpick with a pin and reposition or rework. Never try to unpick with your felting needle as I guarantee it will break. Good needles are not cheap and you will spend the next thirty minutes trying to find the end before the dog eats it, or worse, sits on it! The business end of your pet is not the end you want to be messing with…

6- When fully felted your 3D body part will be approximately 30% smaller than the shape you started with; unless you have felted so much you have made a rock which will make it around 75% smaller and turn it into a dangerous weapon…

Easy Ear Shapes

Needle Feltin Ears
How to needle felt ears; works for almost all shapes and sizes

7 – Only move your needle straight up and down, not at an angle.  If you bend your needle the tip will break off.

8 – Be patient. This is a walk, not a sprint. You are not suddenly going to become Sarafina (Google ‘Gods of the needle felting world’) overnight and you are learning a new craft, not performing surgery, so enjoy it. When Usain Bolt first turned up for his first training session do you think he had all those gold medals around his neck…

The projects in my kits take around 3-6 hours from start to finish so ignore all those YouTube tutorials that only take half an hour. They are excellent as a guide but view the time it takes them to complete with a rather large dose of salt…

9 – Your project will, generally, not resemble anything close to what you are trying to make until at least 3/4 of the way through when you will hit the “how on earth is this ever going to look like that” wall, which you must punch your way through with steely determination. It all comes together near the end and every one, experienced or a complete beginner, feels exactly the same way. The devil really is in the detail and you can pull, reshape and add to whatever you are making. Alternatively, step away from it for a while and then view it with fresh eyes or new information/ideas. The internet is full of them and Pinterest is the worlds largest free crafting magazine…

Occasionally you will get to the end and it still won’t look like the vision in your head. Deal with it and don’t let it spoil your day because whatever you make will be yours and it will be wonderful! Those wonky ears and the gammy looking leg add character and, who doesn’t love the ‘underdog’…

N.B Every needle felter has a pile of fuzzy Frankenstein body parts just waiting to be added to another project. I call them “limbs in limbo”…

10 – DISCLAIMER:  Needle felting is highly addictive! It can, and does, lead to compulsive creativity. Therefore, I cannot be held responsible for hungry pets, children and other family members.

11 – Housework will become a dirty word…literally (see number 10).

12 – Pets love, love, love wool. The only thing they love more is destroying your beautiful creation that you have invested blood, sweat and tears into. If you don’t want the sad demise of a poor customers grey hare below to become your story then store well away from the little darlings. Warning! Photographs below contain graphic content which may upset those of a nervous disposition…

Before the dog…                                              After!

13 – Practice makes perfect and I love pieces made with simple shapes; you can do so much with them once you have got the shape you want. Don’t expect to get it right first time so practise getting your basic shapes right before trying a more challenging piece.

The head and body of these Herdwick’s are the same shape, just different sizes. Add basic features, cover the body with some beautiful curly locks and those simple shapes have turned into something really special!

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14 – Take the bull by the proverbial horns and get creative; whether it be colouring books, needle felting, gardening. It really doesn’t matter and, if fear of failure is eating you up then remember this: You will always fail 100% of what you don’t try. Go easy on yourself; what have you got to loose…

Happy creating!

For needle felting kits please visit: Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts website or Etsy

These techniques are all applied to the Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts range of needle felting kits but each kit (currently 19) has it’s own set of bespoke, detailed instructions.

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Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts
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