Needle felting is an easy craft activity that is enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
Using only a few basic tools - just a felting needle, wool and a cushion are necessary - you can transform wool into an amazing array of 3D shapes. By moving the needle through the wool, you bond the fibres together to create a solid fabric and/or form - which is similar to the effect you get if you have ever accidentally washed a wool jumper on a hot wash, where the fibres strongly bond together, resulting in a thick and inflexible fabric.
To felt wool, you will need a felting needle, which has tiny barbs along its length that are designed to tangle the wool fibres together. Felting is much less complicated than knitting, as you simply push the needle in and out of the wool fibres until they lock together, first forming a basic shape, then adding more fibres where needed to sculpt whatever shape you wish to make.
What You'll Need to Start Felting
Needle felting uses a type of wool called 'roving'. You can also use other types of wool, such as batting, but roving is the easiest type of wool to use when felting. If you have old wool jumpers and cardigans that you no longer wear, you can make felt out of them for your craft projects - simply follow the instructions on this guide.
Different from a sewing needle, knitting needle or tapestry needle - the felting needle has been specifically designed to matt the wool fibres together because it has special barbs along its length. One of the best needles for kids to use is this one made by Clover, as the needles are covered by a plastic safety guard which only exposes the needles once it has been pushed into the cushion - making it much harder for young kids to hurt themselves with the tool.
A felting cushion is anything that will stop the needle from poking your fingers or legs - or hitting a hard surface, like a tabletop. A thick sponge or foam pad works really well for needle felting, as does a cushion - just make sure that your felting pad is at least 5 or 6 cm thick.
The Basics of Needle Felting
Before starting an ambitious needle felting project, it is advisable to try to make a small felted ball. This easy needle felting project is a great way to learn the basics, as well as understanding how to get different effects.
Tear off a piece of roving, and roll it into a ball. Place the ball on top of your felting cushion, then use the needle to poke the ball - only going about 1cm deep each time. Keep poking the ball until the fibres begin to bond - stop when the fibres have felted and the ball has shrunk a little in size. To see this process in action, watch the tutorial by Hawthorn Handmade, which gives step by step instructions for making round balls and oblong shapes in felt.
Needle Felting Projects for Kids
There are so many different projects to make using needle felt - and some of the most popular felting projects are making cute animals. Felting is perfect for making animals, as the felt has a fuzzy look that is similar to fur. Older children will enjoy the challenge of creating a 3D animal - whereas younger kids will find it easier to felt different shapes or characters on a flat surface, like a scarf, jumper or piece of fabric.
This easy needle felt project is great for older children (aged 8 +) who want to master the art of felting. Simply felt a semi-circle shape out of wool, adding eyes and a mouth using a needle and thread. To finish, cut a hole in the flat surface of the felted semi-circle, and glue in some pipe cleaner to look like tentacles. For full instructions for making a felted jellyfish, watch the tutorial by Maqaroon.
Use a Cookie Cutter as a Template
Follow the instructions on the Handmade Felt Toys website to see how to use a cookie cutter to make a felted gingerbread man. This project shows how easy it is to make felt shapes, using a cookie cutter as a template. If you have other fun cookie cutter shapes, like stars, hearts or animals - these would also make great arts and crafts projects for kids aged 5 +.
Paint a Picture with Felt
Making a flat picture is a great introduction to needle felt for kids aged 5+. It is a quick and easy way of showing the basic principles of the craft, and kids can pause and return to the project whenever they want.
Get started with a blank sheet of felt, laid flat on the cushion - then use the roving to 'paint' a picture with. Pull off bits of roving in different colours, placing it onto the sheet of felt before securing it in place by poking it with the needle. These cute felt pictures are a great craft project for younger and older kids, and they can be made very quickly. Find a nice picture to copy or take inspiration from your favourite artwork - the kids will love how easy and creative this felted project is. Find tips and more detailed instructions on the Small Things website.
Make an Amazing Garden Scene
This is a great craft project that gets all the kids (aged 5+) and adults involved. Make an amazing garden scene, filled with different trees and plants, finished with a little house and a garden path. Take inspiration from this one on the Living Felt blog, and get creating. Younger kids can make the simpler shapes, crafting cute trees and bushy hedgerows - and older kids and adults can make the more complicated or delicate elements. Once all the parts have been made, felt them all onto the 'grass' - leaving you with piece of art that has been made by the whole family.
Add Felt Embellishments to Your Clothes
Why not up-cycle woollen clothes, scarves, bags and gloves by adding new embellishments? You can turn a boring jumper into an amazing, personalised design using some roving and a needle. Get creative with your designs - you could draw a whole scene in felt, or you could keep it simple by adding a pretty flower or heart shape. Follow the video by Knit Picks for a tutorial on how to embellish your woollen items - and see how she turns a plain grey bag into a fun and unique item.
Try a Needle Felt Kit
There are lots of different craft kits to try, including those from The Felt Box, who have basic starter kits starting at £7.99. The cute craft kits are suitable for kids aged 10+ and come with all of the materials needed to make a finished toy. The kits also include detailed step by step instruction and a template sheet to help with the basic shapes and sizes.
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