A question I am often asked by new or beginner felters is how to complete the more fiddly finishing touches of a needle felting project. The small size and need for symmetry is something many struggle with when felting sheep ears, but it really doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The below video tutorial will show you all the techniques, tips, and tricks you need to create perfect sheep ears in just 15 minutes; or just 10 if you cut out the waffle.
This video tutorial builds upon the written tutorial to show the entire process of creating and attaching sheep ears to your creation. If, like me, you are a visual learner and prefer to follow along with someone else, this real-time video tutorial is the one for you!
I will let you into a little secret; unless you are working on big projects you really don’t need a full wire frame.
Working with a wire armature can be a little daunting, especially if you are new to needle felting and, to be honest, I find working with a full wire armature a little fiddly. I usually prefer working with a firmer shape so I tend to work more with just part armature; usually just the legs, neck or tail. It’s easy and really useful for when something needs stability or to add detail or dimension that can’t otherwise be achieved e.g the neck and legs on the flamingo, the tail and legs of the mouse and the life size ears of the Snow hare below.
Wrapping wire is really easy and can be done quite quickly and simply, but don’t be too ambitious and decide that tiny fingers and toes are going to be your first attempt. You will almost certainly set yourself up for a fail at the first hurdle and probably run for the needle felted hills. I still avoid tiny fingers and toes – if there is another option – so don’t sweat it.
Instead, get used to wrapping wire and creating simple shapes. Most important is the wool and wire you use. Get those right and the task is so much easier, a lot more fun and negates the need for any messy wax or glue.
What wire should you use?
My favourites are floristry wire (the paper wrapped kind) or pipe cleaners. Using either of these means the wool holds really well as you wrap it around the wire and requires little felting, thus reducing the risk of broken or bent needles and no need for messy wax.
Top Tip: I like to use the old-style cotton covered pipe cleaners because the wool holds better than on the chenille kind.
Wire size/gauge – I usually opt for 0.5mm or 1mm if I’m working on something larger.
It’s all personal preference but for me it is usually wool top/roving because you can use long, continuous lengths that can be pulled really tightly around the wire, giving it a lovely smooth, neat finish. I like to use white Jacob or Shetland tops but any wool top will do.
I don’t use it unless I am wrapping tiny fingers and toes. I seem to get more on myself than the project so I avoid it if possible and find that I rarely need it anyway. That said, I know some felters who get on really well with it so it really is personal preference.
Try the mini tutorial below
Have a practice by following the tutorial below. This one is for creating Flamingo legs but the same method can be used for any felting project. If you are creating sheep or hares just continue to wrap your wool around the wire to build up the limbs.
Top Tip: This is where the majority of needles get bent or broken so take care and use the ‘softly softly’ approach.
1 Create the shape you want with your wire. I am using 0.5mm tape covered floristry wire, 24cm long which I have doubled over for strength and stability. There is no need for pliers with this gauge wire as it bends and twists easily.
1 Pull a thin piece of wool top/roving down the long length of your wool; it needs to be thin so it covers the wire without bulking it out.
2 Start to wrap tightly down from the top of the leg (this is to cover the wire). Tip: wrap a few times in one place at the top of the leg and rub around with your fingers to mesh the fibres together so they hold (no need for wax).
3 and 4 Wrap around the first half of the foot then pull the length of wool through the hoop.
5 Pull the loose length over the front of the foot and pull towards the back of the foot and felt gently a few times to hold it in place. Tip: I do it this way because I find it easier to cover the foot without showing any wire.
6 Continue to wrap around the foot until it is covered and felt each side.
Tip: Finish felting through the top of the foot and pull, or trim, any excess from underneath.
Your legs are now ready to attach to your creation.
Building up the legs
If you need chunkier legs, say something like mice – just continue to wrap with your wool until you are happy with the size and shape. Top Tip: always leave loose wool at the top of the wire so you can felt it to the body.
I love creating new needle felting video tutorials for you all, and anything that gives you the confidence to try this amazing craft is a win win for me. You can felt along with or without a a Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts Needle Felting Kit and all you need is a cuppa, felting needle, mat and your wool stash. My videos are perfect for even the most nervous of beginners and this one shows how to create really simple, but super cute, details for your animal faces, in just ten minutes! I’m not kidding, it really is only ten minutes.
‘KEEP IT SIMPLE’ is my mantra and the video tutorials on this blog and YouTube are designed to do just that. They are the building blocks of needle felting; a perfect beginners introduction on how to get it right from the very start.
As well as standalone video tutorials they also perfectly compliment my range of needle felting kits; if you have purchased a kit then you can happily needle felt along with each tutorial as you work through the different stages of your project.
I hope these short videos will help you build confidence as you needle felt along with me, workshop style. It’s such a wonderfully addictive craft. No sewing, wires or tricky patterns and all you need is enthusiasm.
Following on the success of my needle felted Nordic Gnomes tutorial, I decided to add a video tutorial to go with it. I mean, Nothing shouts Christmas louder than Nordic gnomes! Well, maybe Noddy Holder, he’s really loud!
Tomte, Nisse, Tonntu or however you refer to them are now firmly established as part of our Christmas decor, and I was introduced to them a few years ago by my Finnish pal, Anna. Let’s face it, there’s nothing like a bit of Nordic flavour to get us in the festive, hygge mood.
My video tutorials, like my written ones, are kept simple, informal and relaxed and I want you to feel like you have just popped into one of my workshops. So, wrap up warm, grab a cuppa (or mulled wine), your wool and needles or Gnome felting kit and join me for 25 minutes of easy, peasy, unadulterated craft respite. Now where’s those woolly socks?
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 newsagents, 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.
Nordic and Scandinavian style decor is so popular and I just love it. What I especially love are the charming Nordic gnomes. You may also see them referred to as Nisse, Tomte and Tonttu. Our house is full of them and they are super easy so here’s a tutorial for you.
If you have never needle felted before or are an experienced felter this is a wonderful way to start and get you in the festive mood. It’s simple and relaxing and so much fun to make.
This is just one style to get you started but there are so many variations that soon, like me, you will be tripping over them. So grab a cuppa, mince pie and some festive cheer and get creating.
1 – Hat: Make this first so the body fits the hat; much easier than trying to fit the hat to the body! You can go as small or tall as you like but this hat, when completed, is approx 20cm. The triangle template measurements are approx; base 10cm (slightly curved) and sides 12cm .
Layer your hat wool on your felting mat and pop your hat template on top of your wool, leaving a few extra centimetres of wool around each side. Top tip: Your wool shouldn’t be too thick but make sure you can’t see the felting mat through it
2 – ‘Draw’ a line around the triangle with your needle to create a very rough outline
3 – Remove template and draw around the line a couple more times. This will be your fold line.
4 – Fold in the sides one at a time and start to felt to create a triangle; it will be a very rough shape to start with but you will tidy this up as the wool becomes more felted so stop fiddling with it!
5 – Gently fold and felt each side until you have this rough shape; keep the excess at the top of your triangle because this is going to create your lovely pointy hat shape.
6 – Gently pull away from the base you are using, turn and repeat. Tip; any felting base will do (foam, rice bag etc), whatever your preference.
7 – Keep repeating the process until it starts to firm up.
8 – Time to tidy up the shape; use your finger to fold in the sides that need straightening (doesn’t have to be perfect). Be slow and careful so as not to stab your finger; you can use a finger guard but I find they just annoy me. However, I have lots of customers who get on with them just fine.
9 – Your approx finished triangle which should be soft but firm and holds its shape.
10 – Fold in half and felt along the side to mesh the fibres together. Keep turning and repeating until the hat is now firmly felted along the side so it doesn’t pull apart when you gently pull it.
11 – Open up the base of the hat and tidy up the line by folding in any rough edges and felting. Keep turning and felting until you are happy with the shape at the base of your Tomte hat.
12 – Roll just the top 2/3 cm of your hat between the palm of your hands to firm up the top and point. This improves the look as well as allowing you to tip the point over to the side at a jaunty angle.
Basic Body Shape
Body shapes don’t get much easier than this. Don’t be too precious about needle marks and dimples because most of this will be covered by its big beard.
1 – Roll your wool (I have used natural white Shetland) into a basic barrel shape. It will do this automatically as you start to roll. Start with less than you need and build it up.
Most important! Do not start to felt with your needle until you have rolled at least half of it really tightly; trust me, this will save you a lot of felting time and applies to all body shapes made this way!
2 – Start stabbing all over with your needle (mind your fingers) as you continue to roll and remember to keep it tight. Tip: Check to see if your hat sits on top and if the body is too small add some more wool and felt again. If it’s too big then continue to felt where the hat will sit to reduce the size.
3 – Continue to turn and felt until you have a more even and neater shape. You may end up with a narrower end which is fine because you will pop the hat onto this. Pay particular attention to the base which needs to be flat for stability. Tip; you can also press on the base once felted as the wool is pretty malleable.
4 – Flatten the base until it sits without wobbling.
5 – Pop on your hat and felt, gently, all around the edge until it is felted securely onto the body making sure the hat seam is at the back.
6 – Make the nose by rolling a pinch of white or flesh coloured wool in your hands just to rough it up. Place on your mat and continue to felt with your needle, turning all the time. Now place back into the palm of your hands and roll vigorously until really firm and smooth. Tip; you may have to do this a couple of times to get it right as it is very easy to add too much wool and have a huge nose if you have never needle felted before. Less is always more when it comes to needle felting.
7 – Place the nose on its side, just under the front of the hat and felt the end into the body.
9 – As you do this the nose will naturally rise into its correct position. Continue to felt around the base until it is firmly attached. The base of the hat should be sat just above the nose.
10 – Decide what type of beard you are going to have. I have used grey Jacob but use whatever colour you wish. Curly locks also look really great.
11 – If using a straight wool pull off a small section and fold in half and start by felting it onto the body just under the nose. Don’t worry about it being longer than the body because you will trim it to size (or not) once it is attached.
12 – Continue to felt along the fold and attach it up the side of the nose and along the hat line. Tip; you can push the wool under the hat line with your needle (don’t bend it or you may break the needle) for a neater finish.
13 – Now trim your beard to your desired shape and style. I like mine quite ‘raggy’ so once I have got the length I then snip into the sides.
There you have it. One fabulous Tomte Christmas gnome! You can crease the hat or keep it straight. I like both. Told you it was easy!
Try different wool and add some fabulous locks for a different look. For the gnomes below I have used a lush teal batting with green silk fibres for the hat, and plant dyed, hand spun locks for the beard. The gnome on the right has a beard of grey Masham shot through with white silk.
But why would you stop there when the variations and colours are endless!