Needle Felted Sheep Tutorial – Adding long fur to needle felted animals

Adding a long coat to your needle felted sheep adds serious impact as well as adding another element of realism. I have had a lot of requests asking how it’s done and the technique is so easy that even the most nervous beginner will be able to tackle this with ease. Once learned, this technique can be used for so many other animals and projects.

YOU WILL NEED:

Any medium to coarse wool top.

Standard felting needle – 36 or 38 gauge are good all rounders.

Foam pad or felting mat to support your project.

Sharp scissors.

TIME TO MAKE

Adding wool top and trimming: 20 minutes

Faff time: how long is a piece of string?

For full, flowing effect use a wool top for long coats, also known as roving although this isn’t strictly accurate. Carded wool can be used but you just don’t get the same results as the fibres are much shorter and run in different directions. As I am making my favourite, the Herdwick sheep, I have used Herdwick wool top but any medium to coarse wool top will work just as well. Herdwick wool top is very coarse, and sheds a lot so is not entirely suitable for all aspects of needle felting. However, for this application it is perfect and the earthy texture is just what I am looking for.

Herdwick Sheep needle felting kits are available on the website HERE

Lets get creating! Visit the homepage HERE for full list of tutorials

1) Your ‘naked’ sheep is prepped and ready for it’s top coat. To make this sheep follow the basic shapes video tutorials HERE.

2) If your wool top is quite thick then split it down the middle before starting

1 & 2

3) Cut (or pull) a strip of wool approximately 10cm long, but longer if your sheep is larger than mine which is 9cm from feet to top of its back. Please note: this is one of the few times it is OK to cut wool as the cut eds will not be attached to anything. TOP TIP: Cutting wool for needle felting is generally a no no as it damages the fibres, and prevents them from felting. If you do need to cut a piece away from your needle felting project (head maybe too big or legs not firm enough) make sure you wrap it in fresh, uncut wool before re-attaching.

4) Lay your strip of wool on the bottom half of the body of your sheep.

3 & 4

5 & 6 ) Felt across the centre of the strip of wool to keep it in place. Make sure it is firmly attached as you don’t want it to pull away when handled.

5 & 6

7 & 8) Fold the top over to double the thickness

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9) Felt along the top to keep it in place.

Fun Herdwick fact: Herdy’s will climb up to 3000ft to graze on the Lakeland high fells, and are fondly known as the ‘gardners’ of the Lake District.

10) Repeat this process around the sheep until you have created a ‘skirt’. Trim around the bottom of the skirt so that the legs are visible and the wool is an even length all the way round.

9 & 10

11 & 12) Repeat steps 1 to 10 and create a second skirt approximately 1 to 2 cm above the first.

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13) Once the second skirt is complete lay a strip of wool across the sheeps back.

14) Felt down the centre of the wool strip to secure it. Repeat once or twice more until the back is covered.

13 & 14

15 & 16) Skip this part if your sheep doesn’t have a neck. Add much thinner strips of wool around the neck but leave the top part of the neck visible.

15 & 16

17 & 18) Your sheep is looking a bit wild so smooth it down with your hands.

19) Now you have flattened the wool it is looking a bit chunky so time for a trim. You can also snip into it, hairdresser style, to thin it out and give it some layers. TOP TIP: Take your time as you can’t stick it back on once you have cut it and you don’t want to end up with bald spots.

20) Give it a gentle shake to get rid of any loose wool. TOP TIP: You may want to do this outside or in a bag to avoid lots of fibres flying everywhere.

19 & 20

21) I quite like the wild look but, if you want to go for the more traditional then just smooth the coat down and fluff gently with the tips of your fingers. Now, depending on the sheep you have created you may just want to leave it at that. However, the Herdwick sheep sport a pretty nifty ‘buzz’ cut so continue to the next section to see how it’s done.

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22) Lay a thin strip of wool across the top of the head

23) Secure by felting across the centre of the wool strip, making sure the eyes are still visible.

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24) You now have something of a troll situation going on.

25) Trim quite close to the head, being careful not to snip into the ears.

24 & 25

26) There you have it. Your sheep in all its long coated glory, ready for even the harshest of Cumbrian winters.

For more tutorials clik HERE

For needle felting kits, accessories, wool and handmade sheep click HERE

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How to make your own curls for needle felted sheep

So you have spent hours making your fabulous needle felted sheep, only to realise you don’t have any curls to finish it. Grrrr! Not to worry, just grab a ball of wool, yarn or similar and make your own. It’s really easy and creates a whole new look for your needle felted animals; Scroll down for video tutorial.

It is also very calming and saves you sitting by the post box like this, impatiently waiting for your curly wool to arrive.

VIDEO TUTORIAL

Here is a quick video (part 2) showing you how easy it is. I have used a coarse rug yarn but any yarn with an element of wool in it will do.

Use any yarn you have in your craft box; It is easier to apply if it has some wool content. I have used a coarse rug yarn and a really soft Merino for these two gorgeous sheep.

Create beautiful texture with standard yarn

You will also find out how to add this lush, art yarn (video part 1) to your projects. I used a 40 triangle needle as it is a little easier but a standard (usually a 36 or 38 gauge) will do just fine.

Video part 1 – Art yarn application

Sheep needle felting kits using this fabulous art yarn are available on the Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts website

Happy creating. Sandy x

Sewing Eyes Onto Your Needle Felted Animal

In just five minutes and four easy steps!

Needle felted eyes look great but I also love the sparkle and shine you get from a glass bead. I always find it funny that, when some of my students have spent hours creating their needle felted animal, they say they find sewing on the eyes the hardest part. I think it is because they seem a little bit fiddly but here is a quick way of doing it, in five minutes and four easy steps.

1 Use black thread and needle and sew through the side of the face – where your eyes will sit – and repeat a few times until your thread is secure.

2 Pop your bead onto the tip of your needle and pull it through.

3 Push your needle back through to the other side and pop on your second bead.

4 Repeat the process a few times until you can pull quite firmly on your thread, and both beads are secure. Finish by sewing through the back of the head a and cut the thread.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE BEGINNERS TUTORIALS

CLICK FOR NEEDLE FELTING KITS

Shows how to sew eyes onto needle felted animals

Beads can be used for all your needle felted animals.

CLICK FOR VIDEO TUTORIALS

HAPPY FELTING!

Adding Face Details To Your Needle Felted Animals

One of the trickiest things to do when creating face details is getting the really fine lines for the mouth and nose. It’s something I always spend time on with my workshop students so they don’t feel disappointed with the finishing touches. Practice, practice practice is the answer, a firm base on which to work, and less is more when it comes to the wool. When I say less is more, think even less than that. You only need the tiniest strand of wool to create really impactful details, add in a few simple techniques and you will soon be adding those details with confidence.

Top Tip: If it doesn’t look right don’t try and rectify it. Pull the wool off and start again. I often do this and it takes much less time than trying to fix the problem. Also, preparation is key so make sure the head is firm before starting. If the head is soft and squidgy you aren’t going to get the nice straight lines you want to achieve and your sheep or animal will look like they’ve been on the sauce.

Whatever your design, this technique can be applied to your project in many different ways.

Let’s get started and, if you haven’t made your head yet just click the link for the video tutorial: HOW TO CREATE A BASIC HEAD SHAPE

1 Create an impression of the mouth – Do this by ‘drawing’ the mouth onto the face with your felting needle. ‘Draw’ a V for the nose, a line down the centre and two shallow curves each side. Go over the lines you have drawn until they are clearly visible and defined. This is where your wool is going to sit and makes it so much easier to maintain a nice, even shape.

2 Roll a very, very thin wisp of wool between your fingers to gently mat it together (not vital but it helps). If you don’t think it is thick enough you can go over it again later. However, start with too much and it ends up looking like you have drawn it on with a felt tip. Place it on the top left of the V shape you have created and gently tack it down towards the bottom of the V shape. Top Tip: Make sure the wool is at least twice the length you need as it will be pulled into the face as you felt; you can trim it later.

3 Continue back up the V shape and leave the ends loose.

4 Use another thin strand of wool (longer than you will need) to create the line down the centre. Top Tip: Keep the wool taught with your free hand. This will help create a straight, even line and avoid a drunken grin.

5 Leave all the strands loose until you have completed the mouth.

6 As before, use a very thin strand of wool and felt along the mouth. Repeat for the other side.

Top Tip: Don’t be precious over the shape of the curve as this can be teased into shape before you finish.

7 Make sure the wool is secure before trimming and shape the mouth by gently rubbing the tip of you finger on the wool – in the centre – to pull it down slightly.

8 Your head is now ready for the eyes and that’s another easy tutorial. You can watch it Here or keep scrolling for the written tutorial.

Top Tip: Sometimes the mouth can look a little off centre or lopsided. This is easily fixed by squeezing, and moving the head in your fingers – wool is still quite pliable, even when felted – until the features straighten out.

Create fabulous features for all your needle felted creations.

How to sew eyes onto your needle felted animal

Needle felted eyes look great but I also love the sparkle and shine you get from a glass bead. I always find it funny that, when some of my students have spent hours creating their needle felted animal, they say they find sewing on the eyes the hardest part. I think it is because they seem a little bit fiddly but here is a quick way of doing it, in five minutes and four easy steps.

1 Use black thread and needle and sew through the side of the face – where your eyes will sit – and repeat a few times until your thread is secure.

2 Pop your bead onto the tip of your needle and pull it through.

3 Push your needle back through to the other side and pop on your second bead.

4 Repeat the process a few times until you can pull quite firmly on your thread, and both beads are secure. Finish by sewing through the back of the head a and cut the thread.

needle felted herdwick sheep

Herdwick Sheep And Winnie The Pooh

Herdwick three ways. My favourite sheep. Natural, sustainable and completely biodegradable; what more do you want from a craft…

Have a fabulous week everyone and always remember that crafts are the perfect, instant respite when the stresses and strains of daily life start to get on top of you. So, today is officially my ‘Crafts As Therapy’ Monday. Failing that, just read a few Winnie The Pooh quotes; if that doesn’t work then we are all doomed and should stay in bed for the rest of our lives…

“I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” —Winnie-the-Pooh

Use the basic shapes video or tutorial to make the head and body then be as creative as you like. Sheep are the easiest way to start needle felting and you don’t even need to add the legs: BASIC SHAPE VIDEO 

If you fancy something more seasonal then the NEEDLE FELTED PUMPKIN VIDEO is perfect!

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