Posted by: gourmetfelted | November 11, 2009

NEEDLE FELTING~ATTENTION NEW FELTERS~ASK YOUR FELTING QUESTIONS HERE~MAYBE I CAN HELP:)

Do you have questions about needle felting? Which wool? what kind of needles? How to felt? ANY question is a good question! Each question is a learning experience, and you may ask a question that others are wondering about but are afraid to ask….so it is a win win situation…please, ask away!!

carding-wool-006cotswold-001needles-006pumpkin-019


Responses

  1. Hi there, thanks for asking for questions, your blog is worth it’s weight in gold to us newbie felters. One thing i would like to ask, is that when I am felting on a piece of sponge, when I turn the felted piece over all the felt is stuck in the sponge and then you have to go back over it and its like a never ending saga trying to get all the bits back in. I am sure you have loads of ideas to help me with this.
    Thanks alot
    Rosie.

  2. This may sound silly, but when I am felting following instructions, I never know how firm the felted object should be. Can you advise me? Also, is it necessary to have several different sizes of needles? The kit I purchased only contained one.

  3. Hi Rosie,
    Welcome to my blog! I know exactly what you mean about the bits! There are two things that you can do. One, trim them off with scissors, or TWO, don’t push the needle in so much. That way it won’t got through and out the other side felting the wool into the sponge. Me, I usually just trim off the strays. Hope that was helpful! HAPPY FELTING!

  4. Hi Nannette,
    Welcome to my blog! You asked a really great question. I always try to felt my sculptures so that they are not too soft and not too hard. If you press your finger into your sculpture, it shouldn’t leave a dent. Softly felted items are quick to make, but don’t have durability and can fall apart when handled.

    I like to use a wire armature, so I have to felt firm enough, but not so hard that the legs can’t be bent. Also if you are making a long coated animal, the core has to be firm enough so when you attach fiber into it, it will stay firmly in. * please see my post on making the core.

    As to needles, I have lots of different styles and sizes, but usually use one! HA! I felted for months when I first started not even knowing that there were other sizes!
    I use a #36 coarse needle because I use a coarse wool for all of my cores. When I use a finer wool like merino or silk for the topcoat, it is helpful to use a fine needle like a size #42 so the holes will be smaller. *Please see my post on Felting Needles for more info.
    HAPPY FELTING!

  5. Thanks for you response. I can tell by looking at your cores that they are much firmer than what I was doing. I think that’s what I’ve been doing wrong; making them too squishy. Your work is absolutely beautiful and now I’m inspired to really try this. Love your blog!

    • No there is definitely NO squishy! HA! Thank you for your kind words on my work! I usually take 1 to 2 hours to felt the core. Of course, I’m felting around wire, so I have to be more careful that I don’t break the needle of the wire armature. Please feel free to ask me any questions, any time. Glad to help!

  6. Hi!
    My question is, do you reccomend any books for new felters? Who have NO experience? Thanks!

    • Hi Haley, Welcome to my blog! That’s a good question!
      I used the Fleece dog book when I first started felting, mostly for the wire armature. There is WAY more of a description here on my blog than that book… times ten. I’ve had a few people tell me that they put their books away after they found my blog!

      Here there are tutorials and “getting started” is good to start. See also” needle felting questions answered” and “tip of the week.” If you scroll down the page to the bottom, you can see all of my posts. The “wire armature” post is very popular to make the core around. There is a tutorial on adding eyes, making noses from polymer, adding long fur, which felting needles to use, which wool to use, washing your wool, etc etc.

      I doubt you would find a book with everything in it that’s right here. I would recommend my pumpkin kit to start to get the feel of felting. If you want to learn how to make a sheep with an armature I have a sheep kit. This would be a little more advanced than making a pumpkin. They both come with everything that you need to get started. HAPPY FELTING!

      If you have any more questions along the way, don’t hesitate to ask!

  7. I’m not sure which category I need to put this in, For needle felting, does one just need clean wool or alpaca…I’m just learning about the drum carder and the hand carders. Is the drum carder for large quantities? I have purchased raw fibers and have dyed them and washed them, now what do I need to do to prepare it for needle felting? Thank you! Laurie

  8. Hi Laurie,
    This a the right place to ask questions. Actually you can post anywhere and I will see it. I wash my wool and use it. Nothing fancy. This is called raw wool. When I sell my core wool, I lightly hand card it to get the curls out so it is smoother to felt. If you wanted to make a curly sheep or poodle, it would be better to use the uncombed(uncarded) wool.

    Drum carders can be small enough to fit on a tv table. I know someone who uses one to blend colors to make batts of wool for spinning that she sells by the oz.

    When I use alpaca, I do use a hand carder to comb out any debris BEFORE I felt it in. If you comb or brush needle felted fur, you could pull it out, so it’s better to do it first. I just hold the ends of a pinch of fiber tightly and comb it from the center to the end. Then I flip it and do the other side.

    Roving is the wool that has been carded(combed) into straight fibers lining them up and pushing them together some. You can easily pull on the end to see the original length of the fibers that went into making the roving. Roving is pieces of wool that looks like this.————–

    It’s best to experiment to see what YOU like better. For me, I love working with curls, so my wool is washed. You do need it smoothed down some for felting a flatter surface to there are less bumps in it to felt down.

    I hope that this answered your question. Feel free to ask anytime!
    HAPPY FELTING!

  9. Love the adorable felted bird pin cushion shown above! How does one go about felting something like that as a pin cushion…thinking of a pretty cup or small 50’s type planter specifically? You have a wonderful site with so much information, thank you very much.

  10. Hi Michelle,
    Welcome to my blog! You can make pretty much anything into a pincushion if it has a hole in it like a planter or cup. You just stuff it with wool and carefully felt it into the hole, adding more if needed. When it is firm, but not hard..it’s done! Stick in your felting needles for a pretty display that will protect your needles as well. Please feel free to ask any more questions that you may have! I love to help! Thanks so much for your comment!
    HAPPY FELTING!
    ~Gerry

  11. Hi, I just started felting and I have made a naked doll… now how do I put clothes on this doll?I made the entire doll out of flesh color and when I needle felt the flesh color pulls through the red color. Is there a special needle I use or do I just keep needle felting? What is the secret?Can’t wait for the answer my doll needs clothes.
    Paulette

  12. Hi Paulette,
    Welcome to my blog! That’s great that you are felting! A doll is a challenging project for a beginner. That’s wonderful that you made one. You have 2 options for clothes. One easy, one harder.

    hard way
    1) lay down some wool thinly and felt it into a thin sheet and then cut out the pieces, felt them together on the seams, and put them on. This way the clothes will be removable.

    easier way
    2) Just felt the wool on to the body in a thin layer. Use the tip of the needle so the color doesn’t pull through. If you look at your felting needle, you can see that the barbs are about 1/4 inch from the tip. Be sure that you push the needle in about that much.

    If you are making a tiny doll, you could wrap the wool around each part and felt them together where seams would be in real clothing!

    If you push the needle through the pink while applying another color, it is because you are felting too deeply. If your doll is too small to avoid that, you could take advantage of that so there is two colors in the clothing. Trim off all the wool ends sticking out.

    I hope that helps! Please feel free to ask any more questions that you may have.

    If you look below you can see all of the posts that I’ve done. I have lots for beginners.

    HAPPY FELTING!
    ~Gerry

  13. Thank you very much …your comments helped a lot and now I off to put clothes on the Santa doll the easy way.I live in Savannah, Georgia are you close to me.
    Thanks again,
    Paulette

  14. Thanks for all the information – very helpful. My question is simple. I have recently started wet felting and adding detail by needle felting. However, I’m not sure sometimes whether I should add a ‘dry’ detail and then wet felt it in – or just leave it dry? Also, if something has been needle felted – what is the best method to wash/clean it? Sorry of this seems a little dense – the whole concept is new to me – and totally fascinating. Thank you

    • Hi Natalie,
      Welcome to my blog! You can do either technique depending on the look that you desire. If you ‘dry’ detail, the detailing will be crisp and sharper. If you felt a detail and wet felt it, you will get a more muted edged, softer look. I have seen beautiful felted items with both the wet and dry detailing and they are both stunning! It really is up to you! Experiment to see which one you like.
      As to cleaning needle felted items…The best thing is to keep them in a cabinet to they don’t get dirty in the first place! If it is a non furry item, you can use a soft brush to lightly renew the surface. Or you can spot clean if necessary. You have to be careful wetting a felted sculpture too much if it has wire inside. The wire can rust and bleed out onto the surface especially if something like pipecleaners are used. This is why I use stainless steel or galvanized wire to prevent rusting. Also they are more durable. I hope that was a help!
      HAPPY FELTING!
      ~Gerry

  15. Hi! I saw your awesome yorkie pin. I’m working on Yorkie for my sister, but I’m having a hard time with the long straight fur. How did you get the fur around the face to be so straight and smooth?

    Also, I wondered if it’s possible to make needle felted bowls or vessels?

    Thanks!
    Holli

  16. Hi Holli!
    Welcome to my blog! Thank you for your kind words on my yorkie! I use mohair for the fur and lay it on the face and felt it in the middle. Then you smooth out each side that hangs down, with a needle. Gently “comb” it flat with the needle. Trim to shape.

    You can needle felt bowls but it would take a long time. Many items like that are “wet” felted instead. You lay the loose wool and/or roving over a bowl in the design that you want and wet it with hot water with a little soap. Then you rub the wool all over to “felt” it together. It’s best to use gloves for this as you have to rub for quite a while. You can alternate the hot water with cold as that “shocks” the fiber to felt faster. The bowl will act a a mold to shape the wool over. Rinse the soap out when done. Do the inside of the bowl also.
    “Wet” felting is very beautiful and blends the colors softly together like a water color painting. When it is dry, you can needle felt detailing on the bowl or vessel if desired.

    I hope that answered your questions. I’d love to see your finished items!
    Happy felting!
    ~Gerry

  17. Hey, I just needle felted my first dog–an old english sheepdog, very hairy! I used alpaca wool and have a very firm core which I then felted pieces onto in a way that left layers of longer fur sticking out loose to look like the real dog fur. Now it looks pretty much how I want it to, but I find that when I touch it too much or hold it by one leg for too long, the loose fiber there starts felting up as well. Is there anything I can do to prevent that from happening? Thanks so much! Your blog is amazing, and your art is so lovely it gave me the determination to try this myself🙂

    • Hi Megan,
      I know just what you mean about felting the fiber from handling it too much. You have to felt a sculpture like you are painting a room. Once you felt an area…don’t touch! If you like to hold the legs as you felt everything else, be sure to do those last! I try to do everything first and leave the body for last in long coats. Hope that helps!
      HAPPY FELTING!

  18. What type of foam do I need to start Needle Felting? Can I use a dense Styrofoam ?

    • Hi Rosie,
      I don’t recommend dense styrofoam for felting as it is too brittle and tiny pieces break off and get into the wool. Very messy, especially with dark dogs! I do use a packing foam that is firm but has a little give to it. It is made of 5 layers that are glued together. I take a bread knife and cut off a piece that is 5 by 6 inches. This is a nice size to work on. When one side is fatiqued and softened from too much poking, I just flip it over and start new. Also I do this when I am making a white dog and I have been felting other colors. Bits of wool get into the foam and would get felted onto a white dog. Best to start new for those. I like to use the packing foam as it gets recycled that way.

      HAPPY FELTING!

  19. I bought some roving wool that came with 4 needles from online.When my wool and needles came, the needles were identified with tape on each one .Marked ,Coarse,Fine,Medium,and Star. How do I know what the numbers are, like 32,38,40,42? What is the Star?

  20. Hi Rosie,
    Most of those multi needle combinations are:

    36 coarse triangle
    38 medium triangle
    40 fine triangle
    38 medium star

    The coarse needle is good to start with for making a core or for felting into something thick like a sweater. Then you can use a medium or star to make detailing. The fine needles are good for working on small items and working on fine materials like silk. Also they leave smaller holes in finer fiber, like merino. The higher the number, the thinner the needle.
    The star*
    This is a great needle and is good for everything! You can use it for coarse of finer work. This is a good needle for beginners as it has 4 sides instead of 3 like most felting needles. This makes it stronger and less apt to break! There are 3 notches/barbs on each side, so with the star you have 3 more notches to felt with on the extra side. This makes for faster felting also.
    Be sure that you are AWARE of the end of the felting needle at all times. You will be concentrating on a certain area and if you finger is too close…OUCH!! Please don’t give up though, as it does get easier. There are also finger guards or thimbles that people use to protect fingers.
    Please see my posts felting needles. Thanks for your question! That was a good one!

  21. Hello GF – I came across your site over the weekend and love your work. I am a beginner felter (late November) and am really enjoying working with wool this way. It’s all very new to me. I have one question – where do you get the eyes you use on your sculptures? I’ve been googling like mad, and am either googling the wrong name for them, or you can only buy them in the UK. I’m in Canada, and am hoping to find them on this side of the world. Can you help me?

  22. Hi LJ, Welcome to my site! I get my eyes from glasseyesonline.
    I usually use a 4 mm glass eye for a 3 or 4 inch dog. Of course you would use smaller for smaller and larger for larger. It is best to have 2 or 3 sizes so you can see which size looks best. Be sure to LINE up the eyes. I see lots of sculptures with crooked eyes that are otherwise great. Eyes are important! I like the ones on wire so you can leave 1/3 inch on it and stick it to see how it looks. Please tell glasseyesonline that Gerry sent you! Thanks!
    HAPPY FELTING!
    Gerry

  23. Hi Gerry,

    I’ve been reading through some of the questions above and so some of mine might be redundant, but here goes.

    I want to know how much wool it takes to make a felted dog the size that fits in your hand. I want to make them fairly dense but not rock hard.

    Also, where can I buy the realistic eyeballs and noses? Do you sell them?

    What kind of discounts do you offer? How many kinds of animal fiber do you have? Do you use Mohair for the wire-haired breeds like the one in your avatar (on Etsy)?

    I’m just starting to make these so I’m not sure which fibers work best. Alot of them I’ve never held in my hand before so am not sure about the textures. I hear that Merino and Angora Rabbit are very soft, I know Cashmere is soft, but have never felt Alpaca (I’ve been reading that there are several types that feel different from each other), and numerous goat breeds and other sheep, and I have some idea that Mohair is wirey.

    I want to make a variety of dogs with different textures. The dog I have in my avatar, Carmella I’m actually saving fur from and have not decided whether to try to do it solid from her fur or use core wool and then a thin coat of her real fur. Then there is another dog that has a coat like the one in your avatar but is more the cream color background with white spots, one has the markings and texture of a german shepherd, then I want to do these particular 3 Dachshunds some are that solid chesnut brown and some have a black overlay on the back, a blue Merle Aussie mix, a Boston Terrier, a black and white Chihuahua (these are the ones I can think of off the top of my head but there may be a few others). I’m involved with a project regarding a new cure for distemper and I want to make miniatures of the dogs who have been successfully treated.

    Since you’ve been doing this awhile do you know what fibers would work best for these kinds of dogs?

    Also, for the scale we are talking about that fits in the hand what size eyes fit best? I looked at the link you gave me and he has alot of different sizes and even different ways of attaching them. I think I know basically the type of eye ball I want to use (not the bead ones but ones that have as much depth as possible in the iris and show some of the white), but there are several types of attachments and I’m not sure which works best in needle-felted animals. How do you go about attaching them to the fiber? If glued what type of glue is best?

    Is gncshop on Etsy the same seller as the one you mentioned here; glasseyesonline?

    Are some fibers easier to get the eyes and nose attached into than others?

    With the core wool is it best to get the contours just right before adding the fur and do you just add a thin coat of fur?

    How much of the fur do you imbed to be sure it stays stuck but gets a natural drape?

    When you say that the German Shepherd fur should be carded (to create that mixed hairs look) can that be done with a simple set-up like two of those wire dog brushes or does it have to be done on something bigger?

    As an alternative to Mohair will something like Navajo Churro give you as authentic a wirey appearance when doing wire-haired breeds?

    My Clover needles (fine) are about 3″ long from tip to where it bends at the end of the handle and the part that is sharp is about an inch long. I don’t know why these were not numbered like yours are.

    So rubbery foam works better? Will any foam rubber work? Is there and chance of tiny pieces getting stuck in your work or does this only happen with styrafoam?

    I’m really looking forward to trying this.

    Thanks,

    Pippit

  24. It takes less than an ounce of fiber to make a 3 to 4 inch dog.

    I use 4 mm eyes from glasseyesonline.com or jncshop on Etsy

    I sculpt my own noses out of polyclay and there is a post on this blog on how to make them. (see below)

    I have most animal fibers and I use coarse wool such as lincoln for wire coated breeds.

    Mohair is goat hair and is just like human hair. Try felting that…very tricky!!

    The fine soft fibers are very hard to felt. I use those for fur on top instead. Coarse wool like romney is the best for the base core of the sculpture.

    I use Krazy glue to glue eyes on and it will stick to anything…including fingers!!LOL!

    No sense to put too much detailing into the core as you will cover it all up with the top fur.

    I felt in about 1/4 inch of the fiber. It has to be in a core that is firm enough to hold it tightly. It shouldn’t be easy to pull out.

    Dog slicker brushes with the fine wire teeth will work fine. You will need two.

    My needles are about 3 inches long also. The #36 coarse is a little over 3 1/2 inches so you can always tell that one. That is the one to use most of the time. None are numbered…you just learn from using them and looking at them. The #38 medium star has one extra side, so it has a few more barbs for felting that the others have. That’s a great one to use also.

    The foam is not soft or rubbery. It is called polyethylene foam and it is pressed together in layers. There is only a slight give to it. You don’t want to felt on anything that is “bouncy” or it will be very hard and cause fatigue faster in your hand, wrist, arm.

    Do you have pictures of the dogs that you want to make? Then I can make a special package up for you that will have the perfect fibers to use with each dog. You can email me pics to:
    gfelted [!at] verizon.net

    HAPPY FELTING!
    ~Gerry

  25. Hi Gerry!
    I would like to ask you about special felting needles I’ve found recently at web-stores in Russia. These needles have outward barbs and specially used for making fur (they push the fibers not inside but outside the sculpture). Could you help me to find out the proper name for such needles to search them in English? Sure you will want to use them for your cute projects!

  26. I’ve never heard of those! Could you send me a close up picture?
    gfelted@verizon.net
    Thanks!

  27. what carding tool do you use? it looks like 2 steel brushes

  28. They are hardened steel brushes from the hardware store! Much cheaper than wool carders. They are called card files and they are used for cleaning files or carding wool!!LOL!
    Happy Felting!
    ~Gerry

    • Hi Gerry,
      Thank you for your nice reply,and I just love your work hope mine will look half as good as yours.
      one more question,what wool would you use to make a Schnauzer and a West Highland Terrier.
      My daughter has them and I would like to try to make them for her.
      Thank you very much
      Bafoon

      • Hi again,
        don’t know if you have replied to my question,I am new to your forum,do you have the wool to make the 2 dogs I’ve ask about?
        thank you
        Bafoon

  29. Hi Bafoon,
    Thank you so much for your kind words on my wool sculptures! I have a great gray crimpy wool that is like Schnauzer fur. I also has a nice white that is like westie fur.I make custom blends for people as needed. Here is the link.
    http://www.etsy.com/listing/54723615/needle-felting-wool-gourmet-fiber-mix
    Do you have core wool for the base?
    ~Gerry

    • HI Gerry,
      Thank you for your reply,yes I do have core wool and I like to order the wool what you have in that Basket, would that be enough for the dogs and how big will they be.
      Would you be so kind and get me the wool for the Schnauzer,the Westy and some wool for a Yorkie,I would appreciated hat very much,also do you take pay pal?
      Regards
      Bafoon

  30. Hi Bafoon,
    Please email me for further details! gfelted@verizon.net
    Thanks!
    ~Gerry

  31. Hi ,
    Can you mayby make an Tutorial,on how to wrap the body for a dog the right way?It always Sesms to me,that it does not look natural enough.The hardest
    part is,wrapping the Fiber around the legs.

    Thank you,Simone!

    • Hi Simone.
      I would be happy to make a tutorial showing how I wrap the body when I have time to take pics. I’m not sure if it’s the “right” way but it works for me. Until I have time to take pics this is what I do.
      I ALWAYS start with the body. I used to start with the head but too many times it ended up too large or too small and I had to cut it off and start all over again after the body was done. I don’t wrap the wool thickly. I find that it is faster to felt thinner layers. After I do the body I wrap the neck and head. Then the legs are wrapped in a thin layer. Then I lay a long piece over the shoulders and wrap each end around the top of the leg to make that part wider. I do the same for the rump and wrap the top of the leg. This adds areas that are like muscle. Even if I cover the whole body with fluff I shape the body so it is like the real dog. I find that the fur looks more natural if the body underneath is shaped right.

      If it is a very fluffy dog then I will make everything a little on the thin side so it doesn’t come our too large when the fur is added. I do the face and head last AFTER adding the fur so it can be in the right proportion to the body. And I always put the ears on LAST so I can felt the dog underneath with out messing the ears up. I find that it is much easier to felt onto a wire frame (armature) so everything is the right size. Be sure to make the frame the right size using pictures to get the parts in the right proportion. I know that pics would help but this may help for now! Thank you for your question! Feel free to ask anymore questions anytime!
      Happy Felting!
      ~Gerry

  32. Are these felting needles hollow?

    • Hi Sara,
      The needles aren’t hollow. They are solid with tiny barbs on the first 1/4 inch of the tip. When felting that much is pushed into the wool and it presses the fibers together to felt them in a similar way to shrinking a wool sweater. The wool gets denser and holds together. Felting needles are made of hardened steel and snap easily with any sideways pressure. They are extremely sharp and cause bleeding if poked. Probably more info that you needed!LOL!
      Thanks for your question!
      ~Gerry


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