Part of the basic animal shapes video tutorial series for beginners from Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts.
Super fast and super easy way to create ears for your needle felted animals. Whether your ears are epic or diminutive, the method is still the same.
Felt along with me as I show you all the needle felting tips and tricks I have learned over the years.
For the complete video series please visit my YouTube Channel and give me a big thumbs up!
Choose from 27 inspiring needle felting kits, the wool shop and handmade collection over at the Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts website
If you are a complete beginner then visit the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ page and learn to avoid all the common needle felting mistakes before you even start.
Unlock your creativity and be inspired!
I don’t normally post non needle felting related blogs but couldn’t resist as I am so thrilled to be April’s featured business in the fabulous online Handmade Seller Magazine. A huge thank you to Dani, founder and digital artist, at Handmade Seller Magazine for inviting me to be this months featured seller. Wow, writing a feature is hard and takes so much more time than you realise but, I really enjoyed going back over the last 6 years and reviewing my business journey. And, even if I do say so myself, it’s a really good read 📰
I have been a ma-hoosive fan (and subscriber) of this great online publication for about four years now and it’s a fantastic resource for handmade sellers. It covers everything from E commerce and Etsy to Pinterest, blogging, SEO (search engine optimisation), photography tips, resources…the list really does go on and on.
Even better, featured stories are told by the people who know best, business owners, sharing their own stories of successes, and failures.
It was a real honour to be asked to contribute. I hope you enjoy it and it helps you on your own handmade business journey or just gives you the courage to start.
‘Crafternoons’ just got better…
I am so excited about the launch of my latest needle feting kit: Forest Floor Garden. The first in my new range of ‘garden’ needle felting kits.
It has so much going on and will keep one or two people occupied for a fabulously creative afternoon.
Incorporating three separate elements; mushrooms, snails and leaves, which mount on a lovely piece of split Hazel (from coppiced Welsh woodland*). Each element comes together to create a beautiful forest floor garden theme.
It is my most detailed kit to date with no fewer than 74 full colour photographs! Suitable for confident beginners and beyond. Just add enthusiasm!
You will learn all the basics of needle felting but with the added bonus of new types of wool and techniques to create fabulous shapes.
*I have carefully sourced the wood slices, which are split Hazel, from coppiced ancient woodland in Wales. It is an area that the owner has carefully nurtured back to life and is now full of all manner of flora and fauna. Wood slices are really popular for crafts but most come from unsustainable forests. If there comes a time when I can’t find a sustainable source then I will simply stop putting them in the kits.
Also available as one of my popular workshops: Book Workshop
Brand new to needle felting? Then pop over to the easy tutorials and dos and don’ts page.
All photographs and finished pictures are Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts originals so please make sure to credit my pictures as inspiration should you decide to use them as reference for your own picture. This also applies to all social media and blog pages. Copies of my picture must not be sold! However I am happy for them to be gifted as long as full credit is given. All copyright laws apply.
I have had lots of requests to put together a quick guide to get you started on needle felting a 2D picture so, using my own pictures as inspiration, here it is. It is suitable for all abilities (including complete beginners) and you can work at your own level and at your own pace. If this is your first time needle felting then please watch my beginner video tutorials to familiarise yourself with basic techniques:
If you are new to needle felting, or don’t have many colours, I have put together a picture pack containing a carefully chosen wool selection, natural pre-felt and natural effect fibres that can be used for needle felting and wet felting. I will be focusing on needle felting but you can adapt to suit whatever project you are working on.
Preparation and planning is really important. I find using a photograph of a landscape, animal, woodland scene etc for reference/inspiration really helpful. It can be the roughest of guides or very specific to the photograph or image you have in mind. You may have a particular animal you want to incorporate into the picture which is also a great starting point; anything goes.
For this guide I am creating fields as the backdrop with a 2 D wooden gate, Herdwick Sheep and pebble wall in the foreground. It is called, ‘Watching Me, Watching Ewe.’ I know, cheese on toast right… but it was too good an opportunity not to. You should hear my pirate jokes. I save those for special occasions, usually workshops. #sorrynotsorry to anyone who has been at the receiving end of them…
Enough pre-amble, lets get started.
1 – Using a piece of *pre-felt for the back of your picture take a marker or chalk to, very roughly, draw out your idea on to the pre-felt: ZERO DRAWING SKILLS REQUIRED. This way you can ensure that you can fit in all the elements you want to use.
* I always use pure Shetland but any 100% wool felt is OK. Size of the pre-felt I used for this picture is approx 20cm square. A 30cm square is included in the picture pack.
2 – I am making a *Herdwick picture with a landscape backdrop and stone wall to get lots of 2D elements in there. It’s quite a small picture; 20cm square to fit into some lovely shadow boxes I have. Also, starting with a smaller picture means there is less white space to fill which can be a little daunting and it takes less time.
*All photographs and finished pictures are Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts originals so please make sure to credit my pictures as inspiration should you decide to use them as reference for your own picture. All copyright laws apply.
3 – Mark your colours and objects so you know where your wool and 2D elements are going to sit. Keep it as simple as possible and remember these are just your guide lines.
4 – Time to get out your wool and needles. I am using a star 36/38 needles (good all rounders) and a punch tool (7 needles) to speed up the process.
5 – I felted the landscape first but you can start wherever you want depending on your picture style. I will be felting on my 2D elements later and adding embellishment. Lay your colour on, or between the lines, you have drawn, and use your needle to gently felt into place. It doesn’t have to be firmly felted but should stay in position.
I have used a mix of coarse wool tops and some semi carded wool tops that I had a lot of.
6 – Continue to gently needle felt your selected colours until the back ground is full.
7 – If you are happy with the layout then go ahead and felt the whole background more firmly (but not too flat), peeling it off your mat at intervals so it doesn’t stick. If you are doing a lot of flat felting then I recommend a rice filled hessian or strong cotton felting pad and a punch tool. Trust me, you will thank me later for cutting your felting time by three quarters.
Don’t worry if you have covered up some of your lines; remember they were just a guide.
You can also blend colours either by hand or using blending brushes (glorified dog brushes). For this picture I used a blend of Shetland blue top, light blue silk fibre and light grey Swaledale top for the sky.
8 – I wanted a distinct line separating the fields and used very thin strips of dark brown Jacob wool top to achieve this. Felt the lines quite firmly into the pre-felt which will push it down and give a little more depth.
Time to create some 2D elements.
9 – Wall
I have used lots of muted colours to create the pebbled wall appearance. Avoid all ‘flat’ colours by blending different colour wool by hand; if using the landscape box some colours will not need blending as they will already have texture and different shades. A soft palette works really well for this style of picture e.g purple blended with white, dark grey blended with white or light grey
Make your stones by rolling your wool into a very rough ball shape (this is not the shape you will end up with but will create dimension) and felting all over with your needle. Keep the wool moving as it firms up and don’t try to make it even; have you ever seen even shapes on a dry stone wall… Make quite a few different shapes and sizes; mine are approx 1.5cm to 2.5cm then place them on your picture in the walled area to see how many more you will actually need.
Once done stitch or glue them into position; I’m not a purist and whichever you choose is fine. Clearly, using glue is so much faster and a strong fabric glue will do just fine as long as you give it a little time to dry. Using glue also allows you to move your pebbles about before the glue dries; you will be ready for a cuppa at this stage anyway.
10 – Time to make the Herdwick sheep head (or whichever animal you have chosen).
Please follow the link to the video tutorial: How to needle felt a head shape You will want to flatten the back of the head so it sits nicely on your picture. You can then needle felt your eyes or use beads (included in the picture pack).
11- Start with a small length of white wool (approx 2g) and roll into a rough oval shape felting (stabbing gently with your needle) and tucking in the ends as you go. Gently felt until it holds its shape and turning as you felt. Continue to felt until you have achieved a rough egg/oval shape. Now flatten the back of the head by needle felting until it sits flat on the picture but don’t attach it yet; it’s ears are missing.
12 – Ears: For the ears take a pinch of white wool. Lay it on your pad and draw a rough circle with your felting needle and fold the wool around the line you have drawn, felting it into the centre. Turn over (to prevent from sticking) and repeat a few times, leaving one end loose (to attach to the head) and felt until flat, smooth and slightly firm. Repeat for other ear. Attach the loose end of each ear to the side of the head and felt or sew into position so it is peeping over the wall.
13 – Gently felt on very thin wisps (even thinner than that) onto the face to create the nose and mouth. N.B. Easiest way is to roll very thin wisps of wool between your fingers before felting to the face. Alternatively, you can sew on using black or dark grey thread.
14 – Add your gate by rolling and felting your brown wool into short lengths and overlapping for effect before gently felting into position. You may reposition a few times before you are happy with it.
15 – Add your wool for the body of your animal but don’t felt it flat and keep it quite loose as this will create dimension. I have used loose curly grey locks.
16- Now add your foreground details. I have used greens and some locks for a grassy feel but be as creative as you wish. You could add flowers, butterflies, bees etc.
17 – Finishing touches make all the difference and as you can see I have used french knots (easy and absolutely no need to be perfect). YouTube French Knot Tutorial. Curly locks also add more interest and dimension.
There you have it. Super easy 2D picture tutorial.
I have done a few pictures which are so worth the time they take. Here are a few more ideas for inspiration.
‘Asleep Under The Cherry Tree’ A gift for my daughter.
Again, I have used French Knots as well as beads for interest and detail.
‘Midnight At The Northern Lights’
Midnight is the name of my hare in the picture and inspiration came from my dream of visiting the Northern Lights.
You can also use wet felted pictures as a base and then add two dimensional effects using needle felting. Free motion embroidery works really well on wet felted backgrounds. Below is a very unfinished picture waiting for me to decide what to do next. I have needle felted onto Shetland pre-felt then wet felted the whole scene incorporating locks and silk fibres.
There are lots of YouTube videos showing wet felting techniques: Wet Felting Tutorial
So there you have it. The possibilities are endless and I hope this guide has inspired you to try something new. Happy creating!
If you would like a picture pack then please click on the link below for the website. You can also find my favourite selection of needle felting accessories and tools.
So excited to introduce Colin Hedgehog, the newest member of the Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts tribe. The full needle felting kit to accompany this video is also available.
This is my version of our beloved hedgehog. More fun than you can shake a stick at? Not sure what that means but it is definitely a lot of fun.
Skill level: Complete beginners to intermediate
What you need: Enthusiasm!
So, make a cuppa, cut yourselves a slice of cake and join me for a full tutorial teaching you new tips, tricks and techniques as well as trying new wool and needles.
Bonus! if you are using the kit you get to make at least 3 Colin hedgehogs! What better way to spend a crafternoon…
For all enquiries please message me at: Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts
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If you would like to see more of these types of tutorial don’t forget to leave a comment.
A short video (only 12 minutes) to help you improve your needle felting techniques.
When needle felting a head (animals or people) it is important to make sure you have a really firm shape. If you have a soft head then when you start to add the features you will distort or flatten the wool.
It is one of the most common mistakes (apart from floppy legs) but very easy to get right. As with all things, practice makes perfect, but needle felting does allow for mistakes because you can just add another layer. Just remember the golden rule: Start smaller and build your shape up and you can add but not take away. If you start too big and have to keep adding you will end up with a head the size of a football and then have to make a body to match! We are now talking life size sheep or giant hares that will just scare everyone, especially the dog or cat…
My best advice: Be patient. Don’t try to run before you can walk. Get the basics right and the rest will follow. Yes, I know your bestie, family member or work colleague wants a sculpture of their dog making after seeing a flower brooch you made? However, anything worth doing takes time. If it didn’t we would all be taking David Bailey quality photographs after an hours tutorial, or be able to put in a whole plumbing system after fixing a leaky tap… Most definitely, very soon we would all be very bored of hearing about each others achievements and stop making the effort.
One of the questions I get asked the most is, “how do I get my legs really firm?” In the needle felting world floppy and saggy legs on your animals are a no, no! They are the finishing touches that add stability and dimension to your animal so don’t spoil it by being impatient and not taking the time it needs to get it right (approx 10 to 15 minutes for each leg). My short, real time video tutorial quickly teaches you how to avoid common needle felting mistakes by showing you the tips and needle felting hacks I have learned along the way. Hope it helps you improve your needle felting skills and remember: You can add wool but not take it away!
Thought I would put a second pumpkin video together for you. This time I am using wool batting sheets which require very little needle felting and are ideal for pumpkins and soft sculpture; particularly when using wire armatures. I use them for my own pumpkins because they are simple and relaxing to make whilst producing show stopping seasonal decor.
Wool batting differs only in the way it is processed. Wool is carded into big lofty, springy sheets with fibres going in all directions. Wool tops (often referred to as roving) are long lengths of wool where the fibres are brushed into long smooth lengths, usually the thickness of your wrist. I use wool top (or roving) for my own animal sculptures and needle felting kits.
Happy Felting and feel free to ask questions in the comments below.
Video for using batting to wrap wire armature coming soon!
I have used Perendale and ethically sourced Merino batts from non mulesed sheep.
Hope your Saturday afternoon was a good one! This was mine. The hat on the large gnome was problematic but a wire through the head (brutal I know) soon fettled it. It seems odd to be making gnomes in the hot August sunshine but I like to plan ahead. To be honest I can’t think of a nicer way to spend the afternoon; well, maybe a cocktail bar in the Bahamas but you can’t have everything…
How to make a needle felted pumpkin:
Quick and easy needle felting tutorial for beginners. This tutorial uses all the lush colours in the Autumn bundle pumpkin pack. Wool is Shetland and ethically sourced Corriedale. Click to shop Autumn Wool Bundle
Now you have got the hang of it there is no stopping you and no end of pumpkin styles you can try!
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.
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!
Felting Needles And Accessories
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.
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 40 triangle for fine surface detail. 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 but, I find I get the same result going in diagonally with a 40 triangular. However, I have only tried one size so I guess it is just down to personal preference.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
Quick guide to needle felting eyes onto your hare. This is just one version I like to use and it’s simple, pinky promise! I would recommend a 40 gauge finer needle for this but a 38 is also fine.
First create your basic head shape (needs to be very firm) which will be a rough egg/oval shape (see video and blog post on basic shapes).
1 – Choose a light brown/orange (you can blend colours to get the right shade) for the first layer and felt on a circle (remember eyes are circles not ovals), to each side of the head. I like to use a photograph of the animal as a rough reference.
2 – Roll two really small pieces of black wool between your fingers or use your fore finger and roll in the palm of your hand. Add to the centre of the eye and create a rough circle.
3 – Gently felt onto both eyes until even-ish and smooth-ish.
4 – Add some light into the eye by rolling the tiniest amount of white (no, smaller than that) between your fingers. Place it off centre and felt gently onto the black circle. If it disappears then pop a little more on the same spot. If it looks cross eyed when both eyes are done then remove (with a pin, not your needle) and re-position one of the pieces.
5 – Add some detail around the eye; take a very thin wisp of black/dark brown and felt very lightly around both eyes. Always use a length longer than you need as it will shorten as you poke around the eye. If there is a lose end then trim with scissors.
6 – More detail. This is entirely up to you but I have added some white/light grey to give it a loose finish and character.
7 – If you want to add some dimension you can create a brow by rolling a seed of wool between your fingers. Gently and loosely felt on, just above the eye.
8 – Keep the top layers nice and loose and very gently felted. You should hardly be penetrating the surface of the head for a more characterful finish. That way, if you are not happy with it, you can just tease the wool off (with a pin and not your needle) and start again. Practice makes perfect but there really are no right and wrong results. If you are happy with it then step away so as not to over felt it.
No stress advice: Don’t expect the next one to look the same. It never will!
Please visit the website or Etsy for needle felting kits, wool supplies, accessories and handmade ready to purchase.
See photographs below:
1 & 2: Start with a long length of wool and roll into a TIGHT rough oval/cylinder shape, stopping and tucking in the ends as you go; to get it really tight, push down into the foam pad or whatever surface you are using. Do not start to poke with the needle until you have rolled half way. If it is loose, unroll and start again. This will save you so much felting time and give more control over the shape.
Top tip: Start with less than you need and add to it as you go; you can add but not take away! Stab the wool as you turn – this is the felting process which tangles and locks the fibres together – keeping the needle straight until the wool fibres start to lock together and it starts to holds its shape. Keep turning as you felt so as not to make dents in one part of the body.
3: Continue to felt until you have achieved the desired shape and size for your project
4 When you have achieved a rough oval shape (the narrower end will usually become the neck of the body) gently roll it between your hands; this helps to smooth and shape the body and covers any deep needle marks.
Tip: If you are using Merino, which is a much finer wool, you will need more wool and usually have more needle marks. It will also take longer to felt. I prefer to needle felt with a more robust wool which is much more forgiving. Some of my favourites are Grey Jacob, Shetland, 56’s English, Swaledale, and Lincoln; all natural and un-dyed. If it is colour you want then Corriedale is a good compromise as it is a blend of Merino and Lincoln and comes in a large range of colours. N.B Make sure your Corriedale uses ethically sourced Merino from non- mulesed sheep. It is easy to get hold of and should cost only a few pennies more, if that?
Now you have your basic shape, continue to felt whilst turning the wider end and felt it flatter underneath to help your finished animal to sit; the legs and tail (if required) will also assist with this. Your finished body shape should be soft but springs back to shape when you squeeze it.
I have used a dark brown dyed Shetland wool in the tutorial photographs below and 38 gauge start needle (good all rounder and the ones I put in all my needle felting kits). However, this is personal preference and a 36 triangular would also do the job just as well. Tip: The higher the number the finer the needle
Featured photo (top) is light grey natural Swaledale and it is sat on a home made hessian rice bag.
Top tip: Don’t worry if you have created a lumpy look due to over felting in one area. You can fix this by laying a very thin top layer of wool (see below) and gently felting all over that area until it is just secured and lightly felted on. Expect this to happen; you are just learning and you will continue to do this even as an experienced needle needle felter. The beauty of needle felting is that the majority of issues can usually be fixed; the biggest problem is caused by starting with too much wool…less is always more!