TOP TIPS FOR STARTING NEEDLE FELTING
Needle felting is the most amazingly addictive craft. It is super easy to get started, easy to learn the basics, completely sustainable, and there is no end to what you can create. From DIY decorations to suit the seasons, handmade gifts, or just some quiet respite from the daily grind.
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.
START WITH SOME SIMPLE SHAPES
BASIC BODY SHAPE – This is the starting point for most needle felting projects, be it animal, mineral or vegetable.
EASY ANIMAL EARS – A great mini tutorial for needle felted animal ears of all shapes and sizes.
14 TIPS AND TECHNIQUES TO NEEDLE FELTING SUCCESS
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……well, needle felt of course.
TRY A SUPER EASY 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!
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 FROM COMPLETE BEGINNERS TO ADVANCED FELTERS
Needle felting kits are a great way to start and I have been creating and designing them since 2014, as well as teaching workshops, in person and online. They have everything you need, including carefully chosen wool, tools, accessories, really detailed instructions, and video tutorials. Projects can take from 1 hour to 6 hours and there are more than 60 inspiring kits to choose from, so something to suit every ability and taste.
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!
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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