HOW TO NEEDLE FELT FOR BEGINNERS – DO’S AND DON’TS

TOP TIPS FOR STARTING NEEDLE FELTING

Avoid common needle felting mistakes before you even start with these easy hints, tips, and mini-tutorials.

FOLLOW THESE STEPS AND ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE A BEGINNER

Before you start always remember that we are mostly tuned into the idea that being wrong is a bad thing and that really isn’t so. Getting things wrong means we are learning and, trust me, I am clearly learning a lot…

Before we get into my super easy, thirteen step guide to starting needle felting, here are a couple of easy mini tutorials.

FELTING NEEDLE SAFETY

Needles are very sharp so keep your fingers away from them, and use finger guards if necessary.

HOW TO NEEDLE FELT A BASIC SHAPE

This is the starting point for most needle felting projects, be it animal, mineral or vegetable.

HOW TO NEEDLE FELT ANIMAL EARS

A great mini tutorial for needle felted animal ears of all shapes and sizes.

HOW TO GET STARTED NEEDLE FELTING

If you are just getting started or want to improve your skills then follow my 14 step guide to getting it right first time

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 needle felting time giving you more time to……needle felt.

SIMPLE NEEDLE FELTED BALL – Mini tutorial

TOP TIP! Tie a knot or two in the centre to create a firm core will save a lot of felting time and makes it easier to create a ball shape; click on picture for instructions.

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 re-position 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…

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

TAKE YOUR TIME

8 – A hard ask, I know but be patient. Allow yourself the time to learn. 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. Once you havefinished one project you will be flying through the next one!

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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 felter, 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…

WHAT TO DO WHEN IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE YOU IMAGINED?

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. Embrace it and remember all the things you have just learned so you can take them to the next project.

B.T.W. 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”…

NEEDLE FELTING KITS FOR COMPLETE BEGINNERS

TAKE ME TO NEEDLE FELTING KITS

The projects in my kits take around 3-6 hours from start to finish but there are also some shorter projects. Each lovely kit has everything you need to complete each project from start to finish. There is a huge range to choose from plus lots of detailed instructions, and supporting video tutorials.

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  many a poor ‘feltie’ to become your story then store well away from the little darlings.

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. Please don’t run before you can walk and definitely don’t compare your first couple of makes to someone who has been felting for years.

SAME TECHNIQUE, DIFFERENT SIZES

The head and body of the Herdwick sheep (below) 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…

NEEDLE FELTING VIDEO TUTORIALS TO GET YOU STARTED

There are lots of fabulous needle felting tutorials on my YouTube channel, The Felt Hub. From nervous beginners to confident needle felters, from woodland animals to flowers, gnomes, and fairies, there is a tutorial for everyone!

If your needle felting journey is just beginning then these tutorials are the perfect place to start!

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Happy Felting!

Est. 2013
© 2013 Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

All content appearing on this website is the property of Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

57 thoughts on “HOW TO NEEDLE FELT FOR BEGINNERS – DO’S AND DON’TS

  1. Marly

    I’m quitting smoking and looking for a new way to keep my hands & mind occupied to get past the hard part. This might be just what I need, and might give me more ultimate satisfaction. I certainly have nothing to show for all the money I’ve wasted on cigarettes, except a cough…

  2. Jean

    I’m so excited to start felting! I am 77 yrs and this is the first time I was even aware there was such a thing! Of course being me, I went on utube and saw a stunning horse’s head (life size), and thought I’ll make that!🤣. Then I came across your Blog and sanity returned with a rush! I will make myself start SMALL, even if it kills me. LOL

    • Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

      Hi Jean
      So funny. We all start of wanting to create the Mona Lisa but alas, it takes a little time. However, with your enthusiasm you will be ready to tackle the Sistene Chapel in no time 🎨👩‍🎨 Its an amazing craft and you are a spring chicken compared to some of my students. Happy felting!
      Best wishes
      Sandy

  3. Cynthia

    I love needle felting when my hands allow. You are so right about being able to fix most anything by adding to. I remember last Christmas, I was going to make my niece an adorable little 12″ tall felted doll. It ended up 26″ tall! LOL! But it was a sweet doll.
    Thank you for the easy to follow directions. You make things practical for us rather than some magical thing that we have to be perfect at to enjoy.

  4. Lola

    I have just started needle felting today, and this is the first article I’ve read, your writing style is fantastic and it really spoke to me! Thank you.

  5. Kobi

    I have never tried needle felting before and this has been an awesome help. Still researching but definately going to try thanks😁😁😁😁😁

  6. Lisa K

    Thank you so much for your encouraging comments! Especially the part of “extra body parts”. I was really getting discouraged and looking over all me extra parts when I stumbled across you comments. I’m usually pretty crafty and was expecting to be able to just do this but I really appreciate the reminder that everything takes time!

    • Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

      So glad it’s helped Lisa. I find learning something new frustrating as well (I’m just learning to knit), but you’ve got to get to base camp before you tackle the mountain proper. Once you’ve done a couple of projects they’ll be no stopping you. Happy felting 🙂

    • Pookie

      Just bought the brown hare. I’ve crafted for over 60 years but never tried needle felting, time to remedy that! While I’m waiting for delivery I will study your tips and btw housework has always been a dirty word here 😉 Take care x

  7. eddilowe

    I received a red squirrel kit from another well known designer at Christmas and the instructions really weren’t great at all, but I really enjoyed making it, even if I had to kind of muddle along with much of it (and I think I did an OK job for a first timer at the end). I really wanted to start felting some more though so I’ve been watching videos on youtube and came across your videos and consequently your blog and website – and just wanted to say a huge thank you for such a huge amount of useful information you put out there totally freely and easily available. I’ve ordered a couple of your pattern downloads and some wool (and still have a couple of starter kit type things from different places) so I cant wait to get stuck in again. The instructions on your patterns are fabulous and along with the videos I feel much more confident now 🙂 x

    • Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

      Thanks so.much for your lovely message. It is disappointing that some instructions can be difficult to navigate and, even worse, put people off this fabulous craft. I pride my self on my instructions and tutorials so that is really great to hear. I have just popped a new video tutorial on YouTube showing you how to needle felt sheep ears, in real time. Hope youx like it and happy felting. 💞

  8. SHARON EAMES

    I have looked at a variety of needle felting resources and keep coming back to you, I was lucky enough to have your Grey Hare for a Christmas Present, and have now (as you say) become addicted to the process, I have bought a fox, made five more hares in all colours, calling them after rock stars of the 70’s thanks to you. Your realistic way of telling us all how to do it is really encouraging and I will continue to come back time and again to watch and listen to what you say in your tutorials. Thanks so much – Sharon in Kedington, Suffolk.

  9. Deborah

    Thank you so much for your wonderful do’s and dont’s and your friendly words filled with humour and real constructive support.
    I would like to add my Thanks that you are sharing your experience in such a warm and practical way and not many people do that these days.
    I can’t wait to make a start
    Deborah

  10. suzanne Linch

    A wonderful humerous blog with great hints and tips, thank you so much.
    I ordered the White snow hair kit and the Grey hair, cant wait for them to arrive and now trying a small grey hair as practise.

  11. Kate

    I love your tips and warm hearted humour. I’m starting a wombat ( We’re in Australia) and you have been very generous with your guidance. Thank you!

  12. Kath Grabham

    Thank you for your generosity with felting details. I was wondering if you could give me some tips on eliminating the little needle holes on the outside of finished items. I know to put the needle in and out at the same angle, are their other tips.
    Thanking you. Kath.

  13. Jan Lambert

    I found your blog highly enjoyable. I’ve been felting for two years now and all you say is true (except the statement “ wool take little storage “) felting is a fabulous hobby. Love you sense of humor. I will say it was wise of you to include the disclaimer. It will save you a lot of legal headaches. Thanks for the laugh of the day. Happy felting

  14. Carol Barnes

    I made my first needle felted creature yesterday and was relatively happy with the outcome. I wish I had read your blog first as it would have saved me a lot of time and would have encouraged me to follow my own creative instincts. I am sure I am going to love this craft especially if I have your lovely blogs to encourage and guide me. Thank you , Carol

  15. Sheila

    Thanks for your fantastic tips! I was wondering if you ever used a mini quilting iron to smooth your projects? I read somewhere that it is good for smoothing out the stray fibres (I have been trimming them shirt but still not smooth enough for me!).

  16. tracy

    I’m so glad I stumbled across your wonderful blog. I wanted to tell you that you have a sweet and charming way of explaining things and it is soooo nice to read your kind, happy and super informative words. thank you!

      • KRIS WITTENBERGER

        I so enjoyed reading How To Needle Felt: The Dos And Don’ts. I am new to needle felting and this was just what I needed to read especially about the Frankenstein body parts. My first project, a koala bear, looks like a cross between an elephant and a koala bear but I love him. Thank you for all the great encouragement.

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