Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The needle felting process

Howdy all! So I often get questions from enthusiastic and confused friends and family about how needle felting works, along the lines of ‘HOW are those bits ATTACHED? There are no SEAMS!’ ‘Did you SEW that?’ and ‘HOW LONG did that TAKE YOU?!’
However, the explanation of the process of needle felting can be rather boring and tricky to get your head around if you haven’t actually seen it in action, and usually prompts people to change the subject.
Thus I thought I’d do a ‘process’ post, with PICUTRES to make it more interesting. Because everybody loves pictures, right?
So, without further ado, the process of making a ‘Kevin’ bird.

1. Materials: to begin with, one needs wool and felting needles. For felting, you usually use wool roving, which is basically wool that has been combed and often dyed (but not spun), so it starts off pretty much as fluff. Felting needles are barbed and usually 3 sided. You also need a foam block on which to work to avoid stabbing yourself with the needle, which can be a highly regrettable occurrence.
2. Step 2 is to pull loose fibres from the clump of wool roving, and layer them (preferably in opposing directions) very roughly into the shape you want. The pile you start with needs to be bigger than the size of your final shape, as the wool will compact as it felts together.
3. Begin stabbing! Basically, wool fibres have ‘scales’. The barbs of the needle catch on these ‘scales’ as it is stabbed or poked into the wool, causing the fibres to tangle together, or ‘felt’.
4. As the wool becomes more solidly felted, you can use the needle to shape it. This is the body of the bird, starting to take shape. 

 5. (+6) Other colours and pieces can be added to already felted pieces, using the same process of stabbing with the needle.
7. (+8) – The head and beak beginning to take shape.

 9.  Flat shapes can also be made, such as this wing, and then added to the main shape.
10. When adding one shape to another, such as the neck to the body, it is best to leave loose fibres at the end of one shape (as felt will not felt to other felt!) and the needle can then be used to poke these loose fibres into the already felted shape, thus attaching the 2 pieces in a way that usually looks fairly ‘seamless’.
11. (+12) And voila, finished product! 

Due to the nature of the process it can be fairly versatile and organic so the possibilities are pretty much endless. Oh, and it is also rather time consuming and a piece like this can take upwards of 4 hours, but I think it’s always worth it in the end :)
Happy felting! 


  1. Over from meet me @ mikes! I so wish I knew how to do this!

  2. Yay, thanks for visiting! Give it try, I promise it's not as hard as you'd think!

  3. That is awesome!!! Popped over via meet me @ mikes FB page..