Needle felting is a beautiful craft that you can learn to make fun home decorations for the holidays, create pretty details for embellishing clothing, make unique accessories, cute decals for a baby’s room and anything that you can imagine. It’s very easy to do and you can personalize your creations in any way you wish.
What is needle felting?
Well, is the process of tangling wool fibres by punching it with a special barbed needle. These are very sharp and they are designed to drag through the fibers and keeping them in place by poking and squeezing while the piece is shaped. With this technique, it’s possible to create flat appliques and 3D sculptures out of wool fibres.
To create these wonderful felt figures you’ll need some materials that you can find in any crafting store: roving wool, felting needles (they comes in sizes and there are two shapes: star tip and triangle tip) or a felting pen, and a felting cushion. Other materials like cookie cutters might be useful, but it all depends on the project and the technique used to work. Be sure to research techniques before spending any extra cash on materials.
Sculptural or Flat Felting?
The chosen technique will determine what kind of materials will be needed. This will ensure that you get exactly what the project requires. So, the needle felting appliqué technique is about creating two-dimensional embellishments out of wool attached to a flat piece of fabric. It’s possible to create colourful designs with a fuzzy look and is highly recommendable to use simple drawings so that the job look as neat as possible, remember that you’re working with fibres and definition is not an option.
Sculptural needle felting refers to creating three-dimensional figures made entirely from wool roving. A good start is making basic shapes, like geometric figures. Use moulds to help in the shaping process, or bits of roving in different colours to create effects for the piece. It’s possible to create almost realistic figures with enough practice, so don’t be afraid to go for intricate designs, in time you can make them.
The Felting Process
Let’s felt! For starters, choose an easy project to begin. Check how to do a simple shape, a heart. It’s important that you have all the supplies and tools you’ll need before you start. Use a cookie cutter as a mould, place it on the felting mat and fill it with little bits of wool. Don’t cut the roving with scissors, just gently pull out the fibres and tear them up, so the tangling will be easier.
Push the wool with the fingers into the mould, remember to push on both sides until you feel that is filled with enough material to begin to poke. With the needle, start poking at the centre of the mould, this is a delicate process. Don’t poke to get through the wool, if you’re hearing the stabbing on the felting cushing, you’ve gone too far, do it nice and slow many times. The piece will start looking more like a compact shape.
Once in a while, flip the mould and poke the other side too, it prevents the wool sticking to the mat. Take the felt off the mould and squeeze it with the fingers, mould it and go back to poking, do this as many times as needed until the piece becomes firm and hard. Now just a finish touch: lightly poke on the surface to tuck in any loose fibres and sharp edges. You know you’ve done a good job when the shape is firm and neat. Once you’re done, feel free to add any details or add your piece to a bigger project.