New fun for wool junkies: how to needle felt (+ sale)

Posted by on November 11, 2013, in quilting & sewing,

Winter Table MatAnyone who knows me, even just a little, knows that I love wool. I love to make hooked rugs with strips of wool fabric, I love to knit with wool yarn, and I love to appliqué with wool. So when I first heard about needle felting (which is done using wool roving), of course I needed to learn more.

Just what is needle felting? It’s an embellishment technique where you attach wool roving (wool fiber shorn from a sheep that is cleaned and combed and ready to spin into yarn) to a background fabric by poking through the layers with a very sharp specialty needle. The result is colorful, tactile, and full of texture.

How to needle felt
Example of needle felting from
Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool (save 40% this week only)

The most surprising thing I learned was just how easy needle felting is to do. You can achieve excellent results right away. (Who doesn’t love a craft like that?!) So, even if you’re not a wool junkie like me, I bet you will have fun exploring needle felting and using this super easy technique to embellish some of your upcoming projects. Even creative kids can do it, although they’ll need supervision because the needles are barbed and quite sharp.

What You’ll Need
It’s really easy to learn how to needle felt. But before you can get started you’ll need three basic supplies: a felting needle (which is barbed and very spiky), a piece of high-density foam to protect your work surface, and some wool roving, all of which are available at craft stores and some quilt shops. You’ll also need your background fabric, which generally is wool.

Wool and wool fleece for needle felting
A colorful assortment of wool and wool fleece for needle felting.

Getting Started
You simply tear off a bit of roving (never cut it as that creates short bits of fiber that aren’t easy to work with), place it where you’d like to embellish your project, and poke the felting needle through the roving and the project, and into the foam. Pull the needle back out, and you can see the roving is attached at the point of entry. Do that a bunch more times, and the roving fibers will become commingled with the project background. The more you poke and pull, the denser the felting. See, I told you it was easy!

How to do needle felting
Small barbs at the tip of the hand-felting needle entangle the roving fibers into the wool background fabric on a foam working surface.

Learn from the Experts!
Of course, this information is quite simplified. You’ll want to learn some of the finer points, including tips from our expert authors. You’ll find out how to mix and blend roving colors for cool effects, how to create specific motifs, and how to use needle felting to attach cotton appliqués to a background. Plus, in each of the books shown here, you’ll find lots of needle-felting projects so you can put your newfound skills to work right away! See projects from these books in the slideshow at the bottom of this post.

Books about how to needle felt
Needle Felting, Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool, and Simply Primitive (save 40% on all three books this week only)

Needle felting is a fun activity and once you learn the basics, you can be as creative as you like. You can even make dimensional items by shaping the roving, and poking into it to firm it up. Here’s one example from Simply Primitive by Pat Cross.

Make pumpkins with needle felting
“Pumpkins” from Simply Primitive

And here’s one of my current hooked rugs in progress. Surprise—you can even needle felt polka dots onto hooked chickens! Did you notice that my dots are puffy in the middle? That’s because I felted quite a bit around the edges to shape the polka dots, but felted their centers only lightly so they’d still have some loft.

Karen's latest hooked rug
“Hen and House” pattern by M Shaw, color planning assistance by Maria Barton.

Detail of needle felted polka dots
Detail of needle-felted polka dots

For more tips and fun projects, check out these needle-felting books—they’re all 40% this week. Any wool junkie—from beginners on up—can jump right in!


What do you like to do with your wool? Share your warm and fuzzy story in the comments!

Seasons Table Mat from Needle Felting

Seasons Table Mat from Needle Felting

Spring Friends Candle Rest from Needle Felting

Spring Friends Candle Rest from Needle Felting

Memento Pillow from Needle Felting

Memento Pillow from Needle Felting

My Journal Book Cover from Needle Felting

My Journal Book Cover from Needle Felting

Save My Place Bookmark from Needle Felting

Save My Place Bookmark from Needle Felting

Posy Pincushion from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Posy Pincushion from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Leafy Photo Frame from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Leafy Photo Frame from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Bright and Happy Pillow from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Bright and Happy Pillow from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Confetti and Streamers Notepad Cover from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Confetti and Streamers Notepad Cover from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Autumn Leaves Wall Hanging from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Autumn Leaves Wall Hanging from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Winter Table Mat from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Winter Table Mat from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Winter scarf from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Winter scarf from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Midge's Hollyhocks Quilt from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Midge's Hollyhocks Quilt from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Garden Folk Art Wall Quilt from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Garden Folk Art Wall Quilt from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Sweet Blossoms Mini Quilt from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Sweet Blossoms Mini Quilt from Needle Felting with Cotton and Wool

Bird Pillow from Simply Primitive

Bird Pillow from Simply Primitive

Skew Balls from Simply Primitive

Skew Balls from Simply Primitive

My Old Kentucky Home from Simply Primitive

My Old Kentucky Home from Simply Primitive

Askew from Simply Primitive

Askew from Simply Primitive

Witch Way from Simply Primitive

Witch Way from Simply Primitive

Cat Birds from Simply Primitive

Cat Birds from Simply Primitive

Sun Moon and a Few Stars from Simply Primitive

Sun, Moon, and a Few Stars from Simply Primitive

Spud from Simply Primitive

Spud from Simply Primitive

Bird Among the Flowers from Simply Primitive

Bird Among the Flowers from Simply Primitive

Quilted Cats from Simply Primitive

Quilted Cats from Simply Primitive

Miniature Cat Birds from Simply Primitive

Miniature Cat Birds from Simply Primitive

Brunhilda from Simply Primitive

Brunhilda from Simply Primitive


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