What Felting Needles Should I Use?

It’s the one thing that gets us all really confused. A gauge for this, a spiral star or triangle for that. What’ s the difference between a size 32 and size 38 and what on earth do I do with this reverse needle felting needle I bought???

Well, stop tearing your hair out because I am going to give you the short version and what I like to use, as my own personal preferences. I will also tell you about the felting needle tools I couldn’t live without!

In short, needle sizes work like this: The higher the number, the finer the needle and needle sizes range from as low as 19 up to 42. You will hear them referred to as triangular: 3 sides Star: 4 sides and, new kid on the block, the spiral needle.

I won’t bore you with a size guide and their numerous uses  as you can find them all over the internet and they are very useful if you are having trouble sleeping…

All comments welcome on what your own preferences are.

All the needles and accessories discussed are available on the Website and Etsy

WHAT DO I LIKE TO USE?

38 and 36 star for basic shapes: Good all rounders and less prone to breakage.

38 or a 36 star and both can be used to create and finish your basic 3D needle felted project. I use 38 star needles (I like the four sides for faster felting) all the time so naturally, they are the ones I also use in my kits. However, it is down to personal preference and a 36 is just as good although a little too heavy, for my liking, on the finer finishing and facial details.

Top tip: Reduce needle marks by inserting your needle diagonally when finishing/smoothing the top layer. Rolling the body part in your hands (before attaching) is the fastest and most efficient way of smoothing your piece; your hands are just as important a tool as your needle!

IMG_9337
38 star needle for basic shapes

40 triangle is ideal for much finer detail: Bends more easily so don’t be heavy handed with it.

I use this when I am finishing delicate eye and nose detail. Especially if the head is quite soft and I don’t want to distort the lovely shape I have made. It is also great for reducing needle marks on the top layer. You will notice that this needle is thinner, bends more easily than the 36/38 and is much more prone to breakage if bent too much. Top tip: Be careful when using it around a wire armature to avoid breakage

 

Reverse felting needle: Barbs go in the opposite direction and pull the felted wool back out

It took me a while to get used to this one as I was expecting something more dramatic. However, now I have used it for a while I just love subtle effect it gives to, an otherwise, smooth finish. It all depends what wool you are using but I used mine recently to rough up the top of my moon gazing hares head to add character and dimension. I think it worked really well… The wool is natural Grey Jacob and you will find it in a lot of my kits; one of my favourite wool’s to needle felt with. I also include it in my Flamingo needle felting kit to ‘fluff’ up the body and base of the neck. Also great for use on 3D cats and dogs.

IMG_2580.JPG
Reverse felting needle used for top of the head
IMG_2906.JPG
See how the wool at the base of the neck has been pulled back out…

New kid on the block is the ‘spiral needle’

Not much to say on this one. I have tried this needle a few times but, to be honest, end up going back to my 38 or 36 star. It is just personal preference but I really didn’t notice the difference? Probably best for top coat finishing as it is less likely to show needle marks due to it’s ‘twisted’ needle. However, I have only tried one size so all comments on your own experience of these are welcome.

My favourite tools

None of the following are necessary but I use them all the time for certain projects and they really help speed up the felting process. Especially useful if you are now a needle felting addict (you know who you are…) and unofficial member of the Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts NFA group, ‘Needle Felters Anonymous’. Hmm, I’m thinking T-shirts and badges…

Wooden needle holder (Tulip holder): Can be bought with 3 or 4 needle holes, uses standard needles (supplied) and needles are removable and interchangeable.

My preference is the 3 needle holder (using 38 or 40 triangular or star) because it can be used for starting off your 3D shapes quickly as well as being used for flat felting e.g. big bunny or hare ears. Top tip: If flat felting using a coarser needle such as a 36 or 34 will speed up the process.

 

Felting Pen

Does pretty much the same as the wooden needle holder (above) but also works really well on wool batts and the rice bag felting mats. Save money: You will see these in pink (Clover tool) and blue. The blue is half the price of the pink and the difference…one is from Hong Kong and one is from China?

 

Multi tool/punch tool

Bring on the big guns! 7 needles (replaceable and interchangeable) with retractable guard. I can’t tell you how much I use this for flat felting ears, brooches, legs (before they are rolled and shaped), pictures etc. I use this one on my felting rice mat, it doesn’t work as well on bouncy foam, and it powers through ears, wings, legs, gnome hats, poppy/flower petals, pictures at a rate of knots! Top tip: Ideal for teaching the kids because of the locking, retractable guard and much less prone to breakage. Save money: Same applies as for the felting pen above

 

 

Single needle holder

I rarely use mine but it is very useful if your fingers are sensitive to the thin top of the felting needle and you are felting for long periods.

 

Felting rice bag

I use it for all of the above as well as my foam. I make my own Hessian felting mats and they are available in the shop; just add 2/3lbs of Basmati organic, free range rice…just kidding, any rice will do.

Happy creating and please watch those fingers (not Netflix) as it hurts!

Follow button below and for all comments and questions just hit the button on the top left of the page.

Needle-felting-mat-Hessian-Burlap-felting-mat-06-300x300

 

 

9 thoughts on “What Felting Needles Should I Use?

  1. Jan

    Hi Sandy, have been browsing all your tips and comments. Found the Nordic Gnome tutorial and have made 3 very different ones. I’d love to send you pictures, but not sure how to do that on this page. So far, I’ve made 6 items altogether, 3 of them inspired by you. Just reading and looking is very educational…if one wants to use such a serious word for this joyous craft❤️🙏😇 All the best, Jan (Taffy in another era)

    Like

  2. Jan Morgan

    Sandy, I’m an 84 year young Welsh expat living in California…I just discovered needle felting and am totally hooked…or should that be stabbed? 😋 I found your blog etc and it feels so homey and familiar. Thank you for your tips etc. I’ll be following you with much interest

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

      Dear Jan.
      Well your message just made my weekend and I am absolutely thrilled you found my blog and are finding it helpful! It is a wonderful craft with no boundaries or age limits; of that you are proof.
      Starting a blog was almost by accident but I found I really enjoyed writing it. If it gives confidence to someone who needs a nudge to start creating, or is just offers some guidance, then I am happy. Please feel free to message me any time if there is something not on the blog. I am going to be adding some more basic shape videos in the next few weeks which I think you will find really useful.
      I hope the weather in California has started to cool down now as I know from a ‘Pen Friend’ the heat has been very fierce this year Just as a side note, I am half Welsh on my Mother’s side and was christened in the beautiful St Gile’s Church in Wrexham. The Horse Shoe Pass is one of my favourite view points and we used to visit Llandudno when I was younger.
      Have a lovely weekend and happy felting.
      Sandy
      Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s