Needle Felting For Beginners: The Dos And Don’ts!



For needle felting kits please visit: Website or Etsy

Let me show you how to avoid common needle felting mistakes before you even start. Let’s start with 14 easy first steps and some needle felting mini tutorials:

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 felting time. Also see video tutorial: Basic Body Shape Video

how to body shape


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 reposition 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…

Easy Ear Shapes: See also Easy Tutorials

Needle Feltin Ears
How to needle felt ears; works for almost all shapes and sizes

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

8 – Be patient. 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. When Usain Bolt first turned up for his first training session do you think he had all those gold medals around his neck…

The projects in my kits take around 3-6 hours from start to finish so ignore all those YouTube tutorials that only take half an hour. They are excellent as a guide but view the time it takes them to complete with a rather large dose of salt…

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 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…

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 and, who doesn’t love the ‘underdog’…

N.B 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”…

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 a poor customers grey hare below to become your story then store well away from the little darlings. Warning! Photographs below contain graphic content which may upset those of a nervous disposition…

Before the dog…                                              After!



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.

The head and body of these Herdwick’s 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!



twitter kits

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…

Happy creating!

For needle felting kits please visit: Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts website or Etsy

These techniques are all applied to the Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts range of needle felting kits but each kit (currently 19) has it’s own set of bespoke, detailed instructions.

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Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts
Copyright © 2013 Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts. All rights reserved.

82 thoughts on “Needle Felting For Beginners: The Dos And Don’ts!

  1. Laurie faris

    i am new at felting, love your explanation. what i have done so far has ended up with a lot of stray hairs. i have tried using the needle to get them in but just not working. I have also used small scissorsmto trim but still end up with fuzziness. is there a better way to get rid of that or is it normal. all the pictures i look at don’e seem to have it, they always look so “clean”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

      Hi Laurie
      It all depends on the wool you are using. Personally, I really like the natural earthy finish but if you are looking for a really smooth finish I think it is achieved with a Japanese wool although not sure what it is? If you search for Japanese needle felting wool you should get some results. I usually just tidy with scissors if I’m wanting a smoother finish. What wool are you using? 🙂


  2. "Needling" in Canada

    Hi there! Thanks for your tips and suggestions. I have a question though. How do people get that smooth finish on finished projects? I have been needle felting for 6-7 months with good results but getting a smooth surface is eluding me. What needle and gauge do you recommend for finishing? Would wetting the finished product help to tighten the wool for a nice finish? Help!


      • "Needling" in Canada

        Thanks for you prompt response! I am using just wool roving though no sure what type it is (bought it on Amazon -36 various colours….it is rather smooth to the touch if that helps?). I have been using my 36 triangle to start and than moved on to my 38-40 star for shaping and tried to finish with fine spiral needle, but I not getting that smooth finish I see others achieve. What am I doing wrong?


      • Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

        It sounds like you are using Merino which I never needle felt with because it is too fine and takes too long. It also shows more needle marks and an uneven finish. However, it is still fine to felt with but it does take a lot more work. I really don’t know why Merino is recommended for needle felting as the more robust wools like Shetland, Jacob and Romney are so much easier to work with. I use Shetland and Jacob much of the time. So, changing your wool will make a big difference. Wool batting (springy sheets of wool tangled together) gives a lovely smooth finish without having to work at it. Always make sure your piece is firm and my other tip is; when finishing your piece felt at a 45 degree angle as this will reduce any needle marks. You could also roll the body parts in your hands, to smooth, before assembling. Hope this helps 🙂


  3. Tracie

    Thanks for all the fun notes from everybody! Felting has got to be the funnest, most exasperating craft ever devised! I love how you can take a lump of wool, jab the heck out of it to get rid of your frustrations, and suddenly, you have that “Awe! How cute!” moment! I was a phlebotomist for years (drew blood in a hospital)… great is it that I can play with needles in my retirement and give fun crafts to cheer people up? My specialty is little blue birds of happiness that I share all over… feeling ever!


  4. Shirley Jordan

    I love your comments and I have just started felting and really enjoy it.the only problem is that I live in Texas and it’s hard to find a store around me where I can purchase products. I have ordered your beginner kits and have finished>I now want to work on making a horse. The problem is that I want to feel my products and it’s hard for me to wait for me to receive what I’ve ordered( not a patient person) f you can refer me to a store I would appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Janice Johnson

    I also am new to felting and have so many questions but the most perplexing is making long fur. How in the world do you do that?? I have Corrydale wool – is it good for making fur? I’m dazzled by some of the cats I’ve seen on Etsy. I also see some blogs where two colors are blended together with what looks like two of my dog’s wire brushes. I need info!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hanna Kylmanen

    Thank you for your much needed, well put and funny advice! I am stepping into deeper waters of felting now. I started by knitting slippers and felting them in washing machine. The minus 30% in final item works wonders with this method as well! Now I am waiting for a new set of needles and my fingers are aching (and will be aching indeed) of anticipation already! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sheryl

    Thanks for the article – it was good. But I clicked on it specifically to find out how you made those very fine black lines on the white ball of felt pictured towards the end, and you never mentioned anything about that. My lines always get blurry and fuzzy, and yours are wonderfully sharp. How did you do that??

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

      Hi Sheryl. My top tips ( and I shall do a short tutorial for this) are: very thin short strand on each side; make them longer than you think you will need as you can trim the end. Roll the strand of one length between your fingers to smooth and make very thin. Attach the top end where you want your nose to start and gently felt onto the nose creating a kind of backward C shape (if you have started on the left) lengthening the bottom of the C for the mouth. Repeat on the opposite side so that the C shapes touch in the centre.


    • Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

      Hi Sheryl. My top tips ( and I shall do a short picture tutorial for this) are: very thin short strand on each side; make them longer than you think you will need as you can trim the end. Roll the strand of one length between your fingers to smooth and make very thin. Attach the top end where you want your nose to start and gently felt onto the nose creating a kind of backward C shape (if you have started on the left) lengthening the bottom of the C for the mouth. Repeat on the opposite side so that the C shapes touch in the centre. Trim or felt in any excess wool. Practice is the key to getting these fiddly parts right. My first attempts make me cringe but you soon get the hang of it. A picture tutorial coming soon will be easier to follow but essentially they are two C shapes (one backwards) that join in the centre with longer strands at the base for the mouth. Leave as is for the sheep or fill in the ‘V’ shape at the top of the nose (see grey hare) by gently needlefelting with black wool (or whatever colour you are using). Hope this helps… Happy Creative New Year 🎉


  8. Caz

    Thank you Sandy. Very helpful. You also have to get over the moral feeling of stabbing an animal! I was given a robin kit from a well known tv presenter for my birthday and decided to make it for Christmas. It feels very very wrong to be stabbing a Robin with a sharp needle repeatedly! It did work out quite well but I would prefer not to have the starter shape so I am going to buy one of your kits and try properly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

      I agree with you Caz. I also think creating shapes from scratch really builds your confidence and allows you to progress to your own ideas and designs. You can also adapt and change the shape as you work. Poor Robin…
      Happy New Year 🎉 and a creative 2018. 🙂


  9. Natalie

    Found out about needle felting about a week ago. Took a “stab” at it for the first time tonight. No kit or pattern; just looking at pictures and following advice from blogs like yours. It came out pretty good if i do say so myself 🙂 at least for a first try! I am now addicted 🙂 lol

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Patty

    Well Sandy……..I am hooked! I have just completer the red Fox and love my new hobby.
    It is a good while since I did any crafting and now I am felting! So glad I found you!
    PS I am not a Face book person too………

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Patty

    Hi Sandy and all,
    I started on my first kit this evening ….never needle felted before. Hopefully the sausage I have just about completed a sausage that (fingers crossed) will resemble Mr Fox’s body! Going to try for the next step tomorrow!



    Liked by 1 person

  12. Annie

    Thanks for the info. I’m trying to make a female figure at the moment, despite the fact that 3D is (as yet) way beyond my ability range. I was about to consign her to the ‘needlefelt bin of no-return’ when I read your advice and she is now on reprieve awaiting more work and determination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

      Reprieve is quite a popular concept when needle felting and I have a ‘reprieve’ pile as well. Some of the poor things I have look frightful! Never a failure though, just a learning curve. Glad you found the blog 🙂


    • Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

      Hi Kathie. I am chuckling because it was said in humour; felting straight onto your knees could be a very bloody business indeed 🙂 A lap tray or something similar on your knees to sit your foam block on will work just fine and it will also keep your work steady.
      Best regards


    • Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

      Thanks Kathie for buying my kits. I have tried to keep them as simple as possible and so armatures are not required.
      I do use armature occasionally; especially on larger pieces or if I want to pose a piece (as with the fox you can see on the blog) but I don’t use them often for my smaller pieces; I find I like the solidity of just working with and manipulating the wool; it is also easier to felt without the hindrance of wires. Working with an armature is also a much looser felting process so it really is a case of experimenting and finding what you enjoy the most.
      I think the most important thing is to learn your basic needle felting techniques first and then you can start to experiment; definitely a case of ‘learning to walk before you run’.
      My instructions are very detailed and there are lots of step by step colour photos. Both the hare and the mouse are great for beginners and I would start with the hare first before you start on the smaller details on the mouse. I would love some photos for the gallery when they are done. Happy felting
      Best regards


  13. Cathy Chinery

    Have just ordered my first ever felting kit… My mum, bless her, was brilliant at everything… sewing, knitting, crochet, cooking. She tried hard to teach me but in the end, jokingly called me cack handed and I would do well sewing mail sacks… I have dabbled with knitting and crocheting a blanket and have tried to self teach myself on my sewing machine, with some much needed guidance from my dad. Looking forward to my felting kit arriving. Hope it is as easy as some say, for the sanity of my husband!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

      Thank you Cathy. I love this craft because it is very laid back and no patterns to follow; I am the worlds worst knitter and suffer from severe knitting envy so I feel your pain…I designed most of the kits for beginners. Everything you need is in the box, including detailed instructions and lots of step by step colour photographs. No sewing. No wires. All you need is a little time and enthusiasm. Lots of info on the blog for you to mull over until it arrives. I am only a message away and most importantly, enjoy yourself. Happy felting!


  14. Di Woodcock.

    Cats are rather partial to a bag of lovely felting wool too! Yup, they like the finished project, that makes a good mouse substitute, but it’s also a good idea to keep them away from your stash of wool. They think it’s been put there just for them, (like everything else in the house!) and it makes a scrummy bed. A quote from one of my kitty kats; “We can paddle and purr in it, as we blissfully slobber and drool all over it. No idea why mummy gets fed up with me when I do that. After all, I look sooo cute when I’m all tucked up and snoozing in my new nest!!!”

    Liked by 1 person

      • Glenys Thomsom

        Heĺlo, I am 85 and new to felting. I am a very experienced crafter and at one time taught needlework and had a craft business. For years I made it my New Year’s resolution to learn a new craft. Felting was this year’s. Thank you for all your tips and help. Crafters are the most generous people in the world, we always seem to want to help others. I have sculpted miniature in polymer clay but wool is a whole new field. I got very well set up by my family for Christmas. I have made 3 lambs, a dog and a bear, none are perfect but I am giving myself time. I am a perfectionist so I will need time. For all you young crafters, have faith in yourself and just enjoy the journey.

        Liked by 1 person

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