What is Needle Felting? Its the technique of taking fluffy wool roving and stabbing it with a special barbed needle to create felted objects. It is similar to traditional wet felting were you felt wool using hot water and soap. Both methods tangle the loose wool fibres to make a solid felt fabric. Needle felting allows you create 3d shapes a lot easier and because there is no water involved, doesn’t need time to dry.
Materials and Tools
This is just a piece of craft or upholstery foam cut down. It should be no less than 5cm thick and anything from 10-30cm square.
Roving is wool that has been carded or brushed, but not been spun into yarn. You can get different varieties of roving, but dyed merino is great for most needle felting.
Felting needles come in different profiles; triangular, star and crown, as well as a variety of gauges. They all have a sharp tip and a triangular cuts in the sides that as the needle goes in and out of the roving, matts and felts the fibres together. I recommend starting with a 36 gauge triangular needle for basic felting. I also like to use a 38 gauge star to create a smoother finish. You can use the needle as it is, or there are handles available that hold a single or multiple needles.***Warning: Felting needles are VERY SHARP!***
How To Needle Felt
1.To begin felting gently pull out some roving.
2.Start rolling up the roving, folding each side in as you go so it forms a tight ball. The aim is to get the roving rolled up as tightly as you can now, to make the process of needle felting easier.
3.Holding on to the balled up roving, begin to slowly stab up and down with the needle. A few stabs should begin the felting process and the roving will start to hold its shape. Once this happens start to rotate the ball around as you stab, as needling repeatedly in one spot will create a flat area.
Always try to keep the needle at the same angle, to help prevent the needle breaking. It is a good idea to stop occasionally and roll the ball in the palms of your hands, as this will help identify any spots that are still loose and require more needling.
4.To make a 3D Object: Most needle felted 3D objects are made up of of two or more loosely felted sections, which are then felted together. You don’t want to make each section so densely felted that they become hard to join to each other. Only keep needling until you do have a defined shape with a lightly felted surface, but that will still squash down easily.
5. To Make a Felt Bead: Just keep going until it feels fairly solid, but will spring back slightly when pressed. You can use a 38 star needle at this point to smooth the surface and get rid of any fluffy ‘fly-away’ fibres.