Felt is a non-woven textile that is produced by condensing and pressing fibers together using different techniques. Needle-felted creatures are actually made from the same material, a 3D-formed felt. In this tutorial, I used the technique of barbed needles intermingling with individual fibers to make a solid product.
- Beige wool roving
- Orange, green and pink wool roving
- Felting needles
- Needle handle
- Two beads
- Sewing needle
1. Needle Felting Basics
The first thing you need to know about needle-felting is that you have to use a special needle. You can find needle felting needles in craft stores in different sizes. If you're a beginner, buy a set with several needles and sizes or start with a medium-sized one, in a triangular shape. The needle is usually about eight to nine centimetres (about 3.5in) long, fragile but very sharp.
As you can see in the picture below, the end of the needle is barbed. If you rub it with your finger downwards, you will find that there are some funny points but the surface is still smooth. If you try it upwards, you will find resistance and the barbs will poke your finger. The needles are made that way so that they push the fibers in the mass and pull some new fibers up on the surface, and intermingle them to create a solid material.
There are some needles that are made with a little handle. The most common ones you'll find are plain and a handle can be really useful and give you extra grip.
The one I'm using has 10 holes for inserting one to 10 needles and it's used for large surfaces where you need to work with many needles at the same time. In this tutorial, you'll need just one since you are making a miniature.
You can find natural or synthetic fibres. Natural fibres such as wool are best for projects like this one. I'm using merino wool. It's very important that you never cut the roving. Hold it in one hand and place your other palm on the end. Grab it tightly and pull, like in the picture below. In this way, you won't break the fibers and all the floating edges will help the felt become solid faster.
To start felting, place a group of fibers on a sponge and start punching. The barbs are placed only on the lower part of the needle. This means that you don't need to push it all the way down to the sponge's bottom. Move the needle in and out of the wool in short, repeated moves.
Make sure your other fingers are away from the needle, since it's really sharp and can be painful if you're not careful. Of course, this isn't a craft that's suitable for children!
Try at first with a small amount of fibers. After a while, remove your piece from the sponge and turn it the other way around. You will notice that the fibers are inserted through the sponge. So turn your piece around every few punches to avoid felting the sponge, too.
You can use a plain household sponge. I prefer plastic foam boards that are used in packaging. They absorb less fibers than a normal sponge.
2. Form the Basic Parts
Pull a handful of wool and place it on the sponge. Use your fingers to wrap it tightly.
After a few wraps, fold the edges in and keep wrapping.
Keep it tight and try to put all the edges inside the ball.
Start punching it. The more punches, the more your shape becomes solid and starts to take a form.
This piece will be your bunny's body. In the beginning it will look fluffy and irregular, but it will take shape gradually. You need a shape similar to a bean.
Repeat the same steps to make a little ball. This will be the head.
3. Felt the Snout
Pull a small bunch of fibers from the rove. Divide it in two.
Roll the fibers to make two little balls in the exact same size.
Place them on the head ball. Use the needle to attach them to the head.
Shape a little triangle by punching it on the sponge. Pull a tiny amount of pink fibers and wrap the triangle.
Place it above the two balls. This will be the nose.
4. Make the Face
Keep felting little pieces and adding them to the face. Place one piece on each side of the snout to make the cheeks.
At this point you shouldn't take much time on shaping. Just attach the pieces to get some volume and get the general shaping.
Thread the sewing needle. Use the same color thread as the bead. Make one stitch and then place the first bead on eye height. Sew the bead. Push the needle through the other side to keep the eyes aligned.
Place the second bead. Secure it in place and push the needle all the way through the bottom of the head.
Connect the head with the body and secure. Don't worry about the mismatching thread color. It will be completely covered at the end.
Twist a few fibers to make a small strip.
Place it on the eye area to create upper and lower eyelids.
Then use a piece to connect the nose and the forehead. The more punches, the more uniform the result.
Place another tiny piece to create the mouth.
5. Make the Body Parts
Felt two pieces and form the front legs (hands) of the bunny. Use two larger pieces to make the two back legs and feet.
Your pieces should look like these.
Pull a few fibers from the pink wool. Twist them and place them on the edge of the front legs to create the toes. Use a little pink circle on the inner side to finish the paws.
Repeat the same for the feet as well.
6. Complete the Body Assembly
Place the arms in the right position and use the needle to secure them in place.
I assembled my hands like this (one lower than the other) because i'm going to add a little gift for my bunny to hold, later on.
Do the same for the legs, too.
Form a triangular shape for the ears.
Once you have the desired shape, add some pink fibers for the inside of the ear.
Fold the bottom of the ear in half and make a few punches.
Attach the ears on your bunny's head.
7. Final Details
Admire your new friend! Now it's time to make the last detail punches. Correct the eyelid shape, secure every part in place, and improve the shape of the nose.
You can also add a few pink fibers here and there to add color and depth to your bunny. Notice that if you persist in punching on a specific area, you can create a hole or a deep line, which can be very useful for creating the personality of your bunny, especially around the nose and eyes.
You can add volume on a desired area or add little pieces on top to erase any intense lines from attached parts. Keep punching if you need to remove volume.
Finish up by adding the tail.
8. Make your Bunny Happy
Use the orange wool to form a carrot.
Keep wrapping new pieces around it and punch to create the final shape.
Use the green wool to make the carrot leaves.
Attach them to the carrot.
Give your bunny his carrot and make sure to punch a big hug!
Gift Your Bunny for Easter
Isn't your Easter bunny the cutest?
In this tutorial, you learnt how to create a solid miniature animal using needle-felting techniques.
Have you tried needle-felting before? Would you like try this technique on other miniature creatures? We would love to see your versions! Post your links, comments or questions in the section below.