I am obsessed with tiny objects. Tiny foods? Extra Delicious! Tiny animals? I want to adopt them all so fast I might as well be a Pokémon trainer. Tiny crafts? Sign me up! It’s this obsession with all things miniature that’s helped me fall in love with felting. One day I was walking through a shop and saw a section of crafting kits which made absolutely adorable and—most importantly—TINY animals. (I picked up one with enough wool to make a cat and strawberry tart.) Considering the instructions were in a foreign language and I had never tried felting before, I was surprised at how simple and fun it was. It is a great way to make stuffed animals without having to know how to sew.
Need an idea? Make a whole collection of felted ponies! (Image: FoxWoolDesigns)
(Sidenote: Cats might think these critters are cat toys. That’s how my first felted kitty lost an eye and became a piratecat, as you can see in the main image above.)
If you start felting you will be carrying on an ancient tradition: the process has been around since 6500 to 3000 B.C. and was used to make everything from shoes to hats—heck they even felted breastplates for Roman soldiers! Mongolian nomads still use the process today to make rug and yurts. I prefer to create geeky little critters like Totoro or woodland creatures.
To begin felting your own you will need:
A close up of a felting needle. (Image: Tutsplus)
- A felting needle: These needles have little barbs cut into them that catch on the wool and help to tangle it.
- Wool batting or other natural/ synthetic fiber’s in a variety of colors: Wool is the most common thing to felt, but you can definitely experiment with different things—even cat hair.
- (There is a wacky book called “ Crafting With Cat Hair” if you feel so inclined.)
- A needle felting mat or foam pad: So you don’t stab your desk or yourself.
- An idea of what to felt, or a pattern.
A lot of crafting stores are beginning to carry felting kits which come with a pattern and the wool you need to complete it, but you can easily come up with your own ideas—especially after you’ve done it a few times.
Once you have all your supplies, you begin by rolling some of the wool into the shape you want. For Tiny Totoro, I rolled some brown-grey wool into an oval shape, for example. After this, lay the wool onto the foam mat and start stabbing, using straight up and down jabs and turning the wool over occasionally to puncture all sides. Alternatively, this is a great way to get out some pent up aggression. “Take that, mean person on the subway!”
I’m sorry little bunny friend. I didn’t mean it! (Image: livingfelt)
If it sounds easy, that’s because it is! With each stab, the wool will become more and more tangled and start to firm up in shape. Once you’ve started, it is impossible to separate the fibers again, but adding to the shape or including different colors is super easy: just heap on more wool and stab like crazy! It does take a long time to get the wool to mat, but it can be very satisfying to work on.
Once I had Totoro’s oval base down, I added the features. I laid a thin oval of white to form the belly over the preexisting grey, two tiny circles of pink for his adorable cheeks, and rolled up two smaller ovals for his ears.
And here’s a total gamechanger for you: you can also use this process to add felted shapes to other things! Grandma give you an ugly sweater for the holidays? Felt a tiny TARDIS on to it! You are only limited by your imagination. I love making tiny projects, but you can felt things as large as you like! Art teacher Housetu Sato, from the Japan School of Wool Art, became internet famous when he created a gigantic cat head with the help of his class and proceeded to creep out/delight us all a few months back.
There are a ton of tutorials, videos, and sites that can help you learn all about felting. It’s easy, inexpensive, and like many fun things, slightly dangerous. Be careful and make some awesome stuff!
What sort of furry friends will you create? Let me know in the comments!
Featured Image Credit: Jessica Fisher