|What is needle-felting?|
|Needle-felting is the process of felting fibers (usually wool) by using a felting needle. Felting needles have little barbs cut at an angle that push the fibers into a surface, locking them together - they are also very sharp! Wool fibers can be needle-felted into another fabric, such as wool or Woolfelt, or they may be simply needle-felted into each other to form their own felt.|
Here are a few basic needle-felting tools:
- Single felting needle: Allows maximum control for needle-felting details and also dimensional items. Great for adding shading/highlights to a project.
- Multi-needle felting tool: Holds 2 or more felting needles for faster needle-felting and greater coverage. Also enables a broader selection of textile and fiber options, such as needle-felting into denim, linen, fleece, as well as needle-felting silk fibers and hankies. Usually gives a smoother finished look. Clover offers a tool with a safety feature, making it hard to poke yourself when felting!
- 2" sturdy foam pad or brushy mat
- Textile to felt into. Wool or Woolfelt work beautifully! You may also use other textiles such as fleece or linen, but you will need to use a multi-needle felting tool or needle-felt machine.
- Needle-felt machine: this can range from a home machine dedicated solely to needle-felting to a professional wide needle-felt machine with 60 needles, or even an attachment to allow your home machine to needle-felt. Offers greatest speed, durability, and flexibility of textiles and fibers that can be needle-felted.
Supplies can include:
Wool fibers, wool blend fibers, silk, bamboo, sparkly Angelina fibers, curly mohair fibers, yarns, and more! You can also blend wool fibers with other fibers to needle-felt. You can use blends of fibers already carded together to add interest to your piece, or you can blend your own by simply pulling them together or using a carding machine, hand-carders, or even a slicker pet brush. You will probably also need a textile to felt into, such as wool or Woolfelt.
How do I get started?
Gather your tools and supplies. For basic needle-felting into wool, lay your wool fabric on top of a piece of sturdy 2" foam or a brushy mat. Arrange your fibers on top of the fabric. Begin punching fibers into the fabric straight up and down repeatedly; punching at an angle will bend your felting needle and cause it to break. Also, placing the fibers too thick initially can cause needle breakage; you can always go back and add more fibers over what you've already felted.
Continue adding fibers until you're happy with your design! The single felting needle can be used to gently go around and "clean up" any stray fibers sticking away from the edges of your design. In general, the single needle offers the most precision and control, while the multi-needle felting tool gives you speed and smoothness.
When your design is finished, you can press it right side down on a folded towel to preserve dimension if you'd like. You can also needle-felt fibers together without the base fabric: simply layer fibers directly onto the 2" foam mat and needle-felt them together (the multi-needle tool works best for this.) It's fun to use various colors to add depth to your special felt! then you can cut out whatever shapes you would like: flowers, leaves, circles, etc. You can even needle-felt into your ready-made garments and wool scarves. Have fun playing!