Needle Felting: Everything You Need To Get Started

Needle felting is a very simple art form that's allows you to create extremely complex and lifelike designs. Unlike other crafting activities, anyone can do it! However, in order to get started, you'll need to pick up a few art supplies first.

Choosing Your Needles

Felting needles are sharp blades lined with L-shaped barbs that will latch on to wool fibres and tangle them deeper into the felt. Over time, this repetitive motion moulds loose wool into shapes. While the process can take quite a bit of time -- and may seem as though nothing is happening -- the wool can end up extremely dense and strong.

Felting needles come in varying blade and barb configurations. Most beginners find it easiest to use a single 38 gauge needle instead of having an entire set. This type of needle will pierce loose wool with ease, yet deliver a fine finish. If you plan on using multiple colours and attaching them to each other, a 36 gauge needle will provide a coarse, durable blade that will latch on to large amounts of wool. To finish surfaces and leave your designs with a smooth, hole-less "skin," use a 40 gauge needle or above. Anything above this gauge will be extremely sharp -- perfect for piercing dense material.

Choosing Your Wool

The wool quality will determine how fast you can felt and how much fine detail you can add to the design. Combed top wool is known for being top quality needle felting material, as all of the fibres run in the same direction. It's works well for complex patterns and details due to the fine consistency. Batting or roving wool is more suitable for larger shapes. While both have been brushed to remove debris, they haven't been combed; therefore, the resulting consistency is quite rough and ideal for moulding.

Using a Foam Needle Felting Pad

Due to the constant jabbing, having a resilient workpad that won't dull the blade is crucial. Needle felting pads are designed to absorb the impact of the blade without letting it pierce through the surface. If you haven't got a felting pad, you could use old cushions, pillows or folded towels as an alternative; however, unless you're using a proper foam pad, expect the barbs to catch every now and then.

Once you've picked your needle, wool and have a resilient surface to work off, best get started. Needle felting may be easy to master, but it certainly requires patience.