This tutorial uses the super easy, soft sculpture technique style of needle felting. Once you have tried it you will fall in love with its simplicity and versatility. If you want to go straight to the mushroom tutorial click below, if you want to learn a little more before you start then read on.
There are so many wool options for needle felting that it can make the room spin but really, needle felting mostly falls into just three categories. Yes, there are more but these are the most commonly used, and all you need to be familiar with when you are just starting out.
1 Flat felting: Pictures, brooches and, in my case, really big bunny ears
2 Firm sculpture: I like to use the coarse British wool tops/roving for this style.
3 Soft sculpture (it’s really squidgy): Uses wool batting sheets (wool that has been carded into short fibres) and core wool, which is essentially stuffing and is what you wrap your batting sheet around.
Creating needle felted soft sculpture is so easy and there is no end to what you can create; pumpkins are my favourite and there’s a video for that too. All you need is some wool batting, core wool, a felting base (foam pad or hessian mat) or a needle felting kit.
What Is Core Wool?
I just want to quickly talk about core wool as it often causes confusion. Core wool, for soft sculpture, is like toy stuffing and you wrap the batting sheet around it. It is made up of uneven, short fibres and is a little bit lumpy; perfect for our project. It is usually the ‘scraps’ of wool that can’t be used for firm felting or spinning, is cheaper than wool tops/roving and is mostly white or grey.
Five minute tutorial Here’s a quick guide to making a mushroom cap with core wool at the centre. This only takes around five minutes or you can watch the video tutorial
1 Scrunch the core wool firmly into the shape of a bread roll and hold the centre to keep in place. Use your felting needle in a straight in and out motion (around the sides) to secure the shape. TIP: It doesn’t matter if the shape is uneven or untidy because the whole piece will soon be covered. Continue turning and felting the whole piece for a few minutes until you have your rough shape and size; it will be really squidgy, quite loose and won’t be a perfect shape.
2 Lay your wool batting sheet on your felting pad and put your core wool in the centre. Pull the batting sheet firmly around your core wool and felt into the centre.
3 Gather the batting firmly towards the centre, so it doesn’t have any sags, and felt in place. Pull away any excess. Top Tip: Only felt in the centre as this will keep the top and sides of your mushroom free of needle marks.
4 Your finished ‘shroom cap ready for it’s spots and maybe a chimney or two.
The possibilities are endless Once you have learned this quick and easy technique you will soon be making, well anything and every thing you want; enchanted gardens, pumpkins, ‘shrooms, snowmen. The list goes on and on and I am still trying to give away the mountain of pumpkins I made last year.
Supplies If you don’t have any wool or needles then they can all be found on the website, alongside the ‘Shroom With A View and Honey Pot Cottage needle felting kits. TAKE ME TO WEBSITE
It’s that time of year again, and Christmas at Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts wouldn’t be complete without a needle felted snowman. This is my simple, but stylish take on frosty, complete with hat, scarf and carrot nose. Subscribe at the bottom of the page to receive notification of new tutorials.
Happy Christmas felting!
Time to complete: Approx 1 hour
You will need: Core wool or toy stuffing but wool is much easier to felt with. WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY CORE WOOL? No problem as this can also be done with white wool top/roving by following my basic ball shape tutorial (4th picture down) and increasing the size accordingly. TAKE ME TO TUTORIAL
Felting needles – Sizes 36 or 38 are good all rounders.
White batting sheet – if using core wool – for wrapping around the body shapes.
Orange wool for carrot nose.
Black wool for eyes and mouth.
Your choiceof wool colours for hat and scarf.
Felting Mat to work on
TERMINOLOGY – You will come across the following terms throughout the tutorial.
Felting/to felt: Means to stab/poke your wool with a barbed felting needles to produce a fibre that will not pull apart.
Carded batts: Come in springy, flat sheets instead of long lengths like wool tops/roving.
Core Wool: Used for the centre of your piece as stuffing that can be shaped; it saves using your best wool.
NEEDLE FELTING NEWBIE? Have a quick read of my beginners guide to needle felting do’s and don’ts before you start. CLICK HERE
TOP TIP: Always read the top tips!
Lets get started and remember, the needle are very sharp so keep your fingers out of the way. Always keep your needle straight; bend it and it will break.
1- Start with three pieces of core wool and make sure they are different weights/sizes. I started with 5g (handful), 3g and 2g.
2 – Roll each one into a chunky doughnut shape with your fingers. Hold with one hand and poke (felt) with your needle to secure. Don’t over felt or worry about lumps and bumps as the whole thing will be covered. TOP TIP: It only needs to hold it’s shape and should only take a couple of minutes to felt and shape each one.
3 – Make sure they are all different sizes, from large to small.
4 – Start with your large piece and lay it on top of a piece of wool batting.
5 – Pull the wool batting around your shape and felt only to the centre. This will keep the rest of the shape nice and smooth with no needle marks.
6 – Gently pull away any excess wool TOP TIP: Any bald patches can be covered up with a little more wool batting.
7 – Repeat for the next two pieces
8 – Your snowman should increase in size from the top down.
9 – Place the bottom two pieces on top of each other (smooth side down) and attach together by pushing your felting needle through the centre of the top piece and into the bottom piece; this will tangle the fibres of the two sections together. Keep moving your felting needle around the centre and continue until both pieces are securely attached to each other. TOP TIP: Pick it up and give it a gently shake and, if they stay together, this is firm enough.
Repeat step 9 and attach the head.
This is a little fiddly but worth spending time on. If it doesn’t look right the first time, remove and start again.
TOP TIP: Only push the needle, gently into the very top layer. This will avoid distorting the shape of the head.
10 – Take a very, very thin piece of black wool (longer than you will need) and use your felting needle to gently tack into place, where you want his mouth to start TOP TIP: Leave a little bit of overhang which you can trim when you have finished. Create a curve and tack gently as you go. Once you are happy with the shape, trim any excess.
11 – Take a tiny piece of orange wool and roll into a seed shape; press and roll firmly in the palm of your hand with your forefinger.
12 – Poke one end gently into the face until secure; the nose will straighten as you do this.
13 – Give the end of the nose a little twist with your thumb and fore finger to shape and trim any stray fibres.
14 – Roll a teeny, tiny amount of black wool into a loose ball and felt onto the face, using your needle to bring in the edges and create a circle.
15 – Lay a long narrow length of your preferred colour along your mat or foam pad. TOP TIP: Check the length around the neck of your snowman before starting to felt.
16 – Fold over the ends for neatness and felt until just secure.
17 – Continue to felt the whole scarf on both sides. Keep turning and felting until nice and firm. TOP TIP: Felt with two needles at the same time to speed up the process
18 – Punch tools have 7 needles and save so much time if you are making lots of scarfs or flat felted items. However, it is not suited to foam pads as it has a tendency to bounce.
There are lots of techniques to making a hat but, at a recent workshop, we tried three and voted unanimously for this one.
19 – Lay a thin (the thickness will double as you felt) piece of wool on your mat and ‘draw’ a rough circle with your felting needle: Approx double the size of the snowman’s head.
20 – Use your fingers and needle to bring the rough edges to the outline of your circle.
21 – Continue until your circle is formed TOP TIP: Pull off any excess to avoid it becoming too thick. Keep felting, turning and neatening the edges until you have a firm circular shape.
22 – Felt on a little bobble of your colour choice. TOP TIP: Only felt around the edges of the bobble so as not to flatten it.
23 – Place the circle on top of the snowman’s head and felt around the edges to secure; you can neaten and shape later.
24 – Create a brim with a thin strand of wool. It needs to be longer than the diameter of the hat so you can overlap it at the back of the hat.
25 – Roll the length of wool firmly between the palm of your hands to quickly matt the fibres together; no need to use your needle.
26 – Place at the front of your hat and felt to secure
27 – Continue to felt until both end meet at the back. If it is too long then overlap and felt until secure.
28 – If your hat needs shaping or tidying then push downwards towards the base of the hat; this will create a nice shape TOP TIP: To keep a nice shape keep the hat loose and don’t flatten onto the head.
29 – Create some tassels (optional); lay a few thin strands of wool on your mat.
30 – Lay the end of your scarf on the tassels TOP TIP: Lay your scarf front facing up so the contrasting colour remains underneath.
31 – Wrap your scarf aroud your snowman’s neck and secure with your felting needle, where the scarf crosses over.
You can leave your snowman as he is or embellish to your hearts content.
I have added some little stick arms and some smart black buttons.
Seasons greetings, one and all! ☃️
The variations are endless and I have created a Christmas scene with this one. Hat and scarf are made from an ethical Merino and silk blend.
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
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!
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
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…
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 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!
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I’m a little bit excited because, Take A Break Makes magazine is out this month (UK only) and you will find me inside with my pumpkin masterclass tutorial, exclusive to TABM, and I’m really impressed with the content #notbiased Seriously though, aside from the fact that my pumpkin masterclass class is in there, it really is full of great crafty content. Arrived within 48 hours of ordering too! Thanks to daughter for lovely photo 🥰 and Lauren, editor at Take A Break, for inviting me to write the feature. If you don’t fancy a trip to the news agents, it is available from Great Magazines for just £2.99 including postage. My mum has ordered three, bless her 🥰
Don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on one because you will find the full video tutorial on the Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts YouTube Channel. In fact, I was feeling so generous that I recorded two tutorials; one using wool batting and the other using wool tops/roving. That way, you can use whatever your preference or what you have handy in your wool stash. You’re welcome 🙂
I kid you not, pumpkins are one of the easiest things to needle felt so, even if you are the most nervous of beginners, I have every confidence of pumpkin success! For those of you lucky enough to have beautiful weather this Autumn, you can really make an outside impact, whether that be on tables or porches, with a ‘pile’ of pumpkins. Trust me when I say that you will soon be plonking pumpkins on every surface! They really are that addictive!
Gnomes and pumpkins are a match made in heaven and, if you have been following my Nordic Gnome tutorial you will already know that gnomes are as easy as pumpkins to make. I CAN’T WAIT, TAKE ME TO GNOME TUTORIAL
I also stepped a little out of my rustic comfort zone this year and went for all out, pumpkin glamour. More stylish than Audrey Hepburn, a big slap of glamour for your Autumn/Fall table and perfect for even the most princessy of princesses 👑 Nearly all of my beads are charity shop finds made from unwanted necklaces and bracelets and they usually cost between 50 pence and £1.50. Perfect up-cycling for embellishing your perfect pumpkins.
Ain’t no party like a pumpkin party! YOU WILL NEED:
30g core wool for a medium sized pumpkin, D15cm
10/15g wool batting sheet (any colour)
Contrasting wool top colour: For pumpkin lines
Embellishments: Tussah silk fibres, old jewelry, lace, ribbon etc
Serious rustic chic, giant pumpkin with hessian ribbon embellishments.
Hopefully I have given you enough ideas to inspire your Autumn/Fall creativity, and Pinterestis awash with needle felting ideas! Most important, it doesn’t matter what you make as long as you are creating something that makes you happy whilst doing it.
Happy Fall Felting; I know I’m in the UK but I needed some alliteration to end with.
Needle felting eyes are really simple, once you know how…
Feeling ready to tackle needle felting your own animal eyes? Well, I have created a super easy tutorial for you. It consists of 8 simple steps to get you started and is the method I still use myself. Try a few practice runs first if you are a little nervous but, as with all my instructions and tutorials, everything is broken down into simple steps to make it really easy to follow. Adding eyelashes is the easiest feature to add to your animal and you will find the four step, mini tutorial at the bottom of the page.
If you want to learn how to crate a basic head shape, then pop over to my YouTube channel and follow the ‘needle felting for beginners’ series of short videos, showing you how to make each body part: head, legs, body and ears. Exactly as I teach my workshops. They work as standalone tutorials but have also been designed to work perfectly with the Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts range of needle felting kits.
TOP, TOP TIP: Enjoy and don’t aim for perfection. There are no rights and wrongs to your finished creation and feel free to add as much or as little detail as you wish. Enthusiasm is the key to most things and with a little of that you won’t go far wrong. *Read each section before starting so you have an idea of where it is headed and what the finished piece will look like. Each section has written, numbered instructions and each corresponds with the numbered photographs.
*There are lots of steps to make it as easy as possible for you, but many are just a few seconds in the making and some are finished photographs.
TERMINOLOGY – You will come across the following terms throughout your instructions
Felting/to felt: Means to stab/poke your wool with the barbed felting needles provided to produce a fibre that will not pull apart.
Wool top (sometime referred to as roving): Long lengths of wool with all the fibers going in the same direction, making the wool smooth.
Carded slivers: Long lengths of wool with fibers laid in different directions. This creates shorter, more springy fibers than wool tops. Perfect for creating shapes around sticks and wire armatures.
Carded batts: Prepared the same way as carded slivers but it comes in springy sheets instead of long lengths
You will need:
Carded wool slivers (or wool tops) and batting in your choice of colours
38 felting needle, standard
40 felting needle (optional, for fine detail)
BBQ stick or similar
So, let’s get started…
MUSHROOM CAPS – Using carded slivers or wool tops, and a BBQ stick or similar.
Take your long length of white carded sliver, hold approx. 6” down the length and separate with your free hand. Your second and third mushrooms will use approx. 8″ and 10″ lengths of wool. Tip: Don’t try and get the shape perfect or worry about any lumps and bumps as your coloured carded wool batting (flat springy sheets) will cover it completely.
1 Lay the smallest length on your felting mat and lay the wooden wrap stick (pointed end) across the end of the wool.
2 Hold the wool firmly in place with one hand and start to wrap the wool (quite tightly) around the stick with the other. Wind it approx. 1 to 1 ½ inches down the stick from the point, keeping your thumb and forefinger at the base to stop it from slipping and lengthening; the shape will end up looking a little like fairground candyfloss.
3 Using your felting needle (38 standard) at a diagonal angle (to avoid hitting the stick with it) poke your needle into the wool This will tangle the so it just holds. Keep turning the stick and continue to poke into the wool.
Top Tip: Avoid breaking the needle by felting quite gently until it is removed from the stick
4 Felt in an upward motion into the base of the mushroom (where your thumb and forefingers were) to secure and firm.
5 Wrap a little more wool around the base of the mushroom to create the widest part felting gently with your needle as you go and taper the wool (so it becomes narrower) to the top of the mushroom where the point ends. When you reach the top gently pull the excess wool away from the tip of the mushroom and felt the loose wool to secure it.
6 Pull the mushroom away from the stick. Continue to turn and felt to create a better shape and firm it a little more. It should still be very springy to the touch.
7 You are now going to create a small, circular indent in the base of your mushroom which is where your mushroom stalk will be attached a little later. Do this by poking your felting needle (watch your fingers) up into the centre of the base, turning and felting at the same time. You will start to feel this area firming up but it still needs to remain a little springy.
8 Repeat the whole process again for your next two mushrooms (using 8” and 10” lengths) slightly increasing the size of each one.
9 Your three mushrooms are now ready to be covered in their coloured wool batting but first we are going to make the stalks.
MAKING THE STALKS – Three pieces of carded slivers or wool top approximately 6/8” in length)
Top Tip: If you want your mushrooms to stand on their own then make the base slightly wider. Make sure you flatten the base using your felting needle.
The process is exactly the same as for the mushroom caps except, you are creating a short cylindrical shape (1 ½” to 2” long) with one end (the base) wider.
10 Follow the same procedure as you did for the mushroom caps but wrap more tightly and evenly with a slight increase the base of the stalk.
11 Once wrapped and felted remove from the stick and continue to felt the narrow end but still keep the wool quite loose; this will help when attaching it to the base of the mushroom cap.
12 The stalk needs to be firmer than the cap because it is going to support the mushroom when stuck to your wooden base. Top Tip: Using the needle at a diagonal angle makes this much easier, avoids needle marks and spoiling the shape.
13 Pop it under your chosen mushroom cap to make sure it is going to sit nicely on top of the stalk.
ADDING COLOUR – Use your choice of coloured batting and (only if you have one) a finer needle; I like a size 40 gauge for this.
You are going to wrap the coloured batting around the mushroom cap gathering the excess underneath the base of the mushroom; where you created that indent for the stalk a little earlier.
14 Take a piece of coloured batting and lay it on your felting mat.
15 Sit your chosen mushroom cap (narrow end down) in the centre of the batting and wrap the batting around it, pulling it close to the mushroom and gathering the loose ends around the base. Top Tip: Don’t be too precious as this area won’t be visible when assembled.
16 Use your size 40 needle (do not bend as it will break) to felt the batting gently onto the mushroom and gently pull away any excess.
Top Tip: Felt very gently at a diagonal angle so as not to create lots of needle marks. It only needs to be very lightly attached.Always felt in a straight line!
17 If there is any white showing through you can cover this with a very thin layer excess batting and felt only until it holds, to avoid needle marks.
ATTACHING THE STALK (use 38 standard needle)
18 Tidy up the base of your mushroom by felting any loose coloured batting into the stalk indent you created earlier.
19 Pop the stalk into the indented area and hold the cap and stalk in one hand to steady. With your free hand felt the thin (loose end) of the stalk into the cap until it starts to hold. Do this by pushing your felting needle straight up through the stalk and into the cap base. This will tangle the wool fibres from the cap and stalk together. Once the stalk is holding without your support you can now continue to felt it to the base of the mushroom cap.
Tip: Make sure it is felted very firmly to the mushroom so it doesn’t flop around in an upright position
20 Your finished mushroom. Repeat the process for your remaining mushrooms.
ADDING DETAIL WITH YOUR 40 FINE NEEDLE
If you want to add some detail you can take tiny pieces of the white carded slivers (or wool top) you used to make your mushrooms and add some lovely mushroom spots. Sit the piece of white wool on top of your mushroom and felt on by pulling the strands towards the centre of the spot (gently with your needle) and only just penetrating the surface, whilst keeping the needle straight. This technique will just hold the spots and avoids distorting the shape you have created. Tip: If you are not happy with your first few attempts, remove and re-apply.
Et Voila! Marvellous mushrooms!
They look fabulous added to woodland scenes like this forest floor garden.
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.
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.
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/3D 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.
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.
All the wool I use in the video is available to purchase as one bundle: Website Etsy
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…