Adding a long coat to your needle felted sheep adds serious impact as well as adding another element of realism. I have had a lot of requests asking how it’s done and the technique is so easy that even the most nervous beginner will be able to tackle this with ease. Once learned, this technique can be used for so many other animals and projects.
YOU WILL NEED:
Any medium to coarse wool top.
Standard felting needle – 36 or 38 gauge are good all rounders.
Foam pad or felting mat to support your project.
TIME TO MAKE
Adding wool top and trimming: 20 minutes
Faff time: how long is a piece of string?
For full, flowing effect use a wool top for long coats, also known as roving although this isn’t strictly accurate. Carded wool can be used but you just don’t get the same results as the fibres are much shorter and run in different directions. As I am making my favourite, the Herdwick sheep, I have used Herdwick wool top but any medium to coarse wool top will work just as well. Herdwick wool top is very coarse, and sheds a lot so is not entirely suitable for all aspects of needle felting. However, for this application it is perfect and the earthy texture is just what I am looking for.
Herdwick Sheep needle felting kits are available on the website HERE
Lets get creating! Visit the homepage HERE for full list of tutorials
1) Your ‘naked’ sheep is prepped and ready for it’s top coat. To make this sheep follow the basic shapes video tutorials HERE.
2) If your wool top is quite thick then split it down the middle before starting
3) Cut (or pull) a strip of wool approximately 10cm long, but longer if your sheep is larger than mine which is 9cm from feet to top of its back. Please note: this is one of the few times it is OK to cut wool as the cut eds will not be attached to anything. TOP TIP: Cutting wool for needle felting is generally a no no as it damages the fibres, and prevents them from felting. If you do need to cut a piece away from your needle felting project (head maybe too big or legs not firm enough) make sure you wrap it in fresh, uncut wool before re-attaching.
4) Lay your strip of wool on the bottom half of the body of your sheep.
5 & 6 ) Felt across the centre of the strip of wool to keep it in place. Make sure it is firmly attached as you don’t want it to pull away when handled.
7 & 8) Fold the top over to double the thickness
9) Felt along the top to keep it in place.
Fun Herdwick fact: Herdy’s will climb up to 3000ft to graze on the Lakeland high fells, and are fondly known as the ‘gardners’ of the Lake District.
10) Repeat this process around the sheep until you have created a ‘skirt’. Trim around the bottom of the skirt so that the legs are visible and the wool is an even length all the way round.
11 & 12) Repeat steps 1 to 10 and create a second skirt approximately 1 to 2 cm above the first.
13) Once the second skirt is complete lay a strip of wool across the sheeps back.
14) Felt down the centre of the wool strip to secure it. Repeat once or twice more until the back is covered.
15 & 16) Skip this part if your sheep doesn’t have a neck. Add much thinner strips of wool around the neck but leave the top part of the neck visible.
17 & 18) Your sheep is looking a bit wild so smooth it down with your hands.
19) Now you have flattened the wool it is looking a bit chunky so time for a trim. You can also snip into it, hairdresser style, to thin it out and give it some layers. TOP TIP: Take your time as you can’t stick it back on once you have cut it and you don’t want to end up with bald spots.
20) Give it a gentle shake to get rid of any loose wool. TOP TIP: You may want to do this outside or in a bag to avoid lots of fibres flying everywhere.
21) I quite like the wild look but, if you want to go for the more traditional then just smooth the coat down and fluff gently with the tips of your fingers. Now, depending on the sheep you have created you may just want to leave it at that. However, the Herdwick sheep sport a pretty nifty ‘buzz’ cut so continue to the next section to see how it’s done.
22) Lay a thin strip of wool across the top of the head
23) Secure by felting across the centre of the wool strip, making sure the eyes are still visible.
24) You now have something of a troll situation going on.
25) Trim quite close to the head, being careful not to snip into the ears.
26) There you have it. Your sheep in all its long coated glory, ready for even the harshest of Cumbrian winters.
For more tutorials clik HERE
For needle felting kits, accessories, wool and handmade sheep click HERE