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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55 thoughts on “HOW TO NEEDLE FELT FOR BEGINNERS – DO’S AND DON’TS”
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…
Well this will certainly help and you will be able to spend all your money on felting wool; win, win! Good luck. I know it will be hard to start with but keep busy and your hands occupied 😊
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
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!
thx i hope this helps me
You’re welcome Lizzy 😆
You are right, I’m now proper addicted, mum & grandma taught me to knit and crochet, I’ve always loved wool, this feels so good, not so precise, loads of fun, I get immersed in it and hours fly…….thank you, can’t believe I’ve only just discovered it at 59, your tutorials are brilliant, love em xxxxxx
Thanks so much. It really is such a laid back craft. Don’t forget to hydrate and here’s to many more hours big creativity xx💕
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.
Thanks so much Cynthia. So glad you’re enjoying needle felting. 💞
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.
Thanks so much Lola. That’s lovely to hear 💞
I have never tried needle felting before and this has been an awesome help. Still researching but definately going to try thanks😁😁😁😁😁
Glad you found my tutorials Kobi. I know you are going to love this craft. Thanks for your lovely comments. Sandy 💗
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!
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 🙂
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
Haha! If you’re crafting you won’t notice anyway 🙂 I know you will love creating the hare and the Shetland wool is lovely. Happy felting and stay safe x
Eagerly waiting for my first felting kit to arrive next week! Absolutely no idea how to felt, but always admired the work. So glad I discovered your videos! They are going to invaluable!
Thanks so much Joan 💕
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
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. 💞
Thanks for your lovely comments and I am thrilled that you have found my resources so helpful. Would love a photo for the customer gallery 😊
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.
Hi Sharon and thanks for your fabulous comments. So happy to have another felt addict on board. I’m just recording some new top tips videos so keep an eye out for them in YouTube. Happy felting 🙂
Thanks so much Sharon. That’s so great to hear. New video on YouTube yesterday. More next week. Happy felting 🙂💞
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
Thanks so much Deborah. Happy felting 😀
Thanks so much for your lovely comments Deborah. So pleased you are enjoying the blog. Happy felting 🙂
Thank you can not wait for my robins to arrive
Hope you liked them. Nothing better than some new year creativity 😀
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.
Thanks so much for the great comments and support Suzanne. Have a fab Christmas 🎄💕
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!
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.
Hi Kath. Thanks for your lovely comments. Do you know what breed of sheep’s wool you are using? 🙂
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
Haha. Thanks so much for your lovely comments Jan. Have a lovely weekend 🙂
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
Hi Carol. Thanks so much for your lovely comments and I’m really pleased you found the blog helpful. Lots more to come. Have a lovely weekend 🙂
I have been needle felting for years and still learned from your blog thank you
That’s lovely to hear Lisa. Thank you 🙂
Oh so gorgeous. I want to start. I am in love…. what beautiful animals one can make by needlefelting.
Your tutorial really gave me the lift i needed and such good advise Thank you
So great to hear that 😀
My first time checking out needle felting. Absolutely must get a kit. You make it look so easy.
Really happy you found the blog 🙂
Thanks so much Colene 🙂
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!).
Although I haven’t tried it myself I have heard lots of needle felters say that it works well. Let me know how you get on? 🙂
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!
Thanks so much for such lovely comments Tracy. Lots of new blogs planned for this year 🙂
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.