Posted by: gourmetfelted | September 14, 2008


I know that needle felting is stick wool a million times and an animal comes out. There is a technique to it though. If you look closely at your felting needles you will see that there are barbs on about 1/2 inch of the tip. USE IT! I have seen felting demos where  the person felts 100 mph and barely pushes the needle in. DO NOT FELT LIKE THAT!!! This produces a hard outer shell with a soft interior..much like an egg. If your item gets squeezed the outer surface will fold into the soft inside and it will look awful.

One person was making a round ball that was quite small and said that it would take 10 to 15 minutes to make it!!! That would be true if you felted the wrong way like she demonstrated. In reality, if you felt properly, something like that should take 2 minutes TOPS! What you want to do is push the needle in ,so that ALL of the barbs go to work! Yes, you will have to stab slower this way, but you will be felting so much more at a time!! Use a #36 coarse needle and push it in about 1/2 inch. Keep if up and you will soon have a ball. REMEMBER, after you’ve felted something, it will get to be about 1/4 of the size that you started with. So it takes a 2 inch fluffy pile to make a 1/2 inch ball!

Remember to push ALL of the barbs into your item. It will felt together quicker this way!

There is several advantages to firmly felting your items.

1) it will last longer and be more durable

2) if you want to add long fur, the base has to be very firmly felted to hold it it

3) it will have the strength to stand up on it’s on

4) you will be able to pick it up without changing the shape of it

Believe it or not my sculptures I usually take about TWO HOURS just to felt the core. This way, they have the strength and durability to be posed and they will be long lasting. They may become a family heirloom. I know that it’s BORING to make the core, but the fun stuff will come soon enough when you can add the fur and all of the details that will make your sculpture truly unique. Remember, watch the fingers!!



***After you read this post, if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page…..I know, it is a long page, but there are some lovely pictures on the way..At the bottom of this page there are several more “YOUR NEEDLE FELTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED” and also more “NEEDLE FELTING TIP OF THE WEEK” to help you. Just click on the title, and it goes right to the post. Go back after you’ve read it to click on another. Fun right?



  1. What a great tip! I am trying to make a Collie dog (is that a Collie in the pic you are working on?) and I think the legs I made just aren’t going to cut it. I need to make them firm like your instructions say. I have no idea how to put the long hair on at the end, but I’ll work on the cores of the legs for a bit and make sure my body and head are firm. Did you make an armature for it? Thanks,

  2. This makes sense. I kind of found out while working that for some parts it helped to slow down and use more of the needle, but I can really value why that’s true from this information.

  3. JAN: I am working on a pomeranian and I used alpaca for the fur. It’s perfect for long coated dogs. I have packages of assorted colors in one package in my etsy store. You have to very firmly felt the core so that the spaces between the wool fibers are very tight so it can hold in the fur. To attach long hair, lay some long fibers across the back, and felt down the middle. Trim to shape.Viola!

  4. CKA: It is very true that to attach pieces together, you have to felt the needle in deeply to tangle the fibers tightly enough to hold it together.

  5. JAN: Yes I always use an armature. I find it much easier to felt onto it and pieces won’t fall off as they are all one unit when you are done.

  6. I didn’t use an armature on the penguin. ( SEE FLICKR PHOTOS)He was basically a teardrop so it wasn’t really necessary. If I made something like a pumpkin. I wouldn’t need it for that either!

  7. Oh, thank you for the great info! I guess it’s good to take your time and felt it well. I’ll check out your store for that Alpaca, too. Have a nice week!

  8. Thank you so much for the tips! ^__^

  9. I’m so glad that I can help people to enjoy felting better!

  10. Many thanks for a great explanation of the basic core of felting. I have read a number of your tips and found each one more than helpful. I have just started felting. What great fun apart from the needles in the fingers. All the needles fault of course . Just finished my first puppy. Looks okay to me. Cheers for now Jude

    • Hi Jude,
      Welcome to my blog. So glad that it was helpful! It is so exciting to start needle felting. I think that I stuck my fingers more than the wool in the beginning!LOL! It does get easier the more that you do it. What kind of puppy did you make?

  11. Well said! I have taught classes and it is hard to explain why not to punch the surface like a machine. Those who do it are far more likely to break needles and stick themselves. Now I will explain about letting the whole needle do the work.

    • Hi Barb,
      Thank you for pointing that out! It is great to take a MAGNIFYING GLASS and look at the barbs on the needles. People don’t realize how far up the needle that the barbs are. A #36 coarse needle has barbs that start at 1/4 inch (6.35mm) and end at 5/8 inch (15.8mm)!! So if you use only the tip of the needle you are only felting with TWO barbs when you could be felting with 12 to 16 barbs!! There are more barbs on a star needle as they have 4 sides instead of 3. They cost a little more but are worth it in time saved. I use a #38 medium star for detailing after using the #36 coarse for making the core. My kits come with both. Remember sometimes slow and steady can win the race!
      Happy Felting!

  12. When do you know it is time to go to the next size needle?

    • Hi Ann,
      Welcome to my blog! That is a really good question! If you have felted something to the point that the needle doesn’t do anything anymore, then a finer needle is needed. The finer needles are the higher numbers. A #38 star needle is good as it has an extra row of barbs which grab the wool better.
      Happy felting!

  13. Thank you Gerry. I paid more attention when I was felted last night and I was able to feel how the 36 wasn’t working and changed needles and really could feel the difference.

    • Great! You will get the feel of it after felting for a while. There is such a thing as over felting though. If you want to make something poseable, it won’t move if it is felted rock solid!!LOL!
      Happy felting!

  14. I am so wanting to attempt this craft, can you direct me on the right kit to purchase for a beginner. When I see all your beautiful work I get so intimidated not believing I can create such lovely pieces, but I do have to try and I want to get the right tools, so I thought a beginners kit would be the way to go. Only I am not sure where to get such kit.
    thank you

  15. So very useful. I am just beginning with the needle felting and appreciate your experience and clear instructions. Thank you.

    • Hi Carol,
      Hope that you find lots of tips. Please feel free to ask any questions.
      Happy Felting!

  16. Where do you get the felt? At a craft store?

  17. Love to know how to add the fluffy fur like a dog etc
    I’ve tried and it just felts in
    Much love and thanks
    Ruth xxx

    • Hi Ruth,
      To felt in the fur you felt it only in the middle of the strands like sewing a seam. OR you can felt it into your firm base on the ends of the strand. Your base has to firm enough to hold the fur in. You shouldn’t be able to squeeze it and make a dent. After you felt all of the fur in then you have to groom and shape it. I hope that answers your question! Thanks for contacting me!
      Happy Felting!

  18. What do you think about using a styrofoam core? I became interested because I wanted to make some bird ornaments for my Christmas tree The first pin I found, suggested using a styrofoam egg to make birds. Have ordered some basic supplies from Amazon, She said that it dulls the needles, but makes up for that cost in the roving wool. You seem to use a whole different way. Please advise. I am so impressed with your site.

    • I have tried using styrofoam and it shatters when the needle goes in. The little pieces of styrofoam get into the wool and make a mess. It is a good idea to use a cheaper wool for the core and the better quality for the top layer. I’m not sure about dulling the needles as I didn’t try it long enough for that.
      Thanks for your question!
      Happy felting!

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