A popular question among new felters or those looking to take up needle felting is how long does needle felting take? This seems to be a straightforward question but the answer isn’t so straightforward.
A small needle felted project without any armature can take an experienced felter as little as one to two hours to felt. A beginner to felting should be able to finish a small felted project in a few hours. Larger more complex felted projects can take anything up to 50-80 hours or more.
There are many things that can influence the time it takes to finish a felted piece. Some you may have thought of others you may not know about yet. Here I’ve shared my views on how long it takes to felt something and the things that can influence how long it takes.
How Long It Really Takes To Needle Felt and Why
Lets face it needle felting is not a fast hobby.
If two people were to felt the same item it would not take them the same time to finish it. This is a fairly obvious statement. But how long does it take someone to felt an item and what makes the difference?
This was a question I asked when one day I was on social media and someone shared their teddy bears. They said they’d made several that evening.
I was floored!
These bears were similar to the size and style of the bears I make. (I learned from the Lisa Adams From Bears To Basics Book so others can easily do the same type of bear).
The bears took me about 3 3/4 hours to make. When I asked the lady how long it took her to make each bear she said 3/4 of an hour! How long? 3/4 hour! Less than 1/4 of the time it took me, lol.
My sister took half the time it took me to make the same armature mouse.
My niece made things at speed but she didn’t finish her work properly and broke so many needles that my sister banned her from felting with her needles, lol.
I was a very slow felter but had never broken a needle, this I realize is why. Since writing about it and creating YouTube Videos I’ve had to speed up a lot.
There are several things that increase the length of time it takes you to felt something.
Your Experience of Felting
If you are a newbie to felting you will be slower. That’s only natural you are in a learning phase. It can easily take you two to three hours to do a one-hour project for someone else who has experience. In my view, you should not be aiming for speed at this stage. The technique is way more important.
A perfect example is my niece as I mentioned above, she felted very quickly. But to do this she gave up accuracy and technique. Resulting in many needle breakages and disappointments in what she had created. She was very young at the time about 12 I think, so it was understandable.
Rather than worrying about speed, work on your technique first. When you have a good technique the speed will come.
Are You Naturally Slower?
Some people are naturally faster than others. Its natural to be slow when you start a new skill. But for some of us we are naturally slower at some things.
I am slow when it comes to felting. I injured my shoulder a few years back and it is stiff so I struggle to felt quickly. Truthfully even if I hadnt had that injury I would still be a slow felter. And don’t really try to felt quicly unless I am creating a video.
I also try not to break the needles or hit my fingers with them. Even if you wear protectors the needles can hit them and break. All this slows you down.
If you are concerned about your speed I’ve written an article that shows you some things you can do to speed up.
The Size Of Your Felted Project
As you’d expect. The size of your project makes a huge difference. If you do a small piece at about 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) it can take an hour or two. I’ve seen projects that must have taken 50-80 or more hours to complete. And that’s a professional felter.
If you want to felt Wobbles the penguin the free easy tutorial is here. He is only small and easy to do.
Complex Felted Projects Take Much Longer
How Many Parts Your Felted Project Has
The more parts you have the longer your item will take to make. It takes time to put all the pieces together. This is why I start helping people to felt with smaller easier to make items that teach them the basics.
When you are learning start off with smaller projects but don’t go too small as then it gets fiddley and can also take longer.
Armature Slows Down The Felting Process
Armature, especially if you are new felting makes it harder. If you can, make something without it until you are more experienced. Your learning curve will be much faster, not to mention more needle friendly!
Adding armature it great because it keeps the felted piece firm and gives large works stability. Having wire through your work gives good structure.
This takes longer because you have to cut the wire and shape the form of what you are creating. While it takes longer if you are working from a kit it doesn’t really take that much longer to shape the body’s framework.
While you are felting it takes longer because you have to felt around the wireframe and avoid the wire.
Its a good idea to avoid armature projects until you are more confident. Then start small and use pipe cleaners (chenille sticks). Mice are popular, they are a great way to start to learn armature.
How Accurate You want To Make Your Felted Project?
Lots of felters do cute mice, foxes, mushrooms, penguins you name it it comes in a cute felted piece. I’ve even seen eggs and bacon and chips (french fries). Lots of people are happy to explore the fun area while some people prefer to do more accurate lifelike studies.
These are typically larger works (although not always) and much more detailed to get the accuracy. They usually include armature, and they are more complex. Three things that individually take longer to do combined in one felted item.
These are the projects that catapult your felted pieces from a couple of hours to 10, 20 plus hours depending on the project.
What Felting Needle You Use
If you start with a bigger needle your work will felt down much faster than if you use a smaller one. Equally, if you use a multi-needle you will make much faster progress. It can easily double or triple the speed.
You can’t use a multi-needle for the whole project but it’s a great way to get to the more interesting sculping much faster.
The Time it Takes to Felt a Project Is Affected By The Tools You Use
Most people start out with using only one needle. This of course makes it slower to felt than if you use a multi needle.
The size and type of needles that you use can also influence the length of time a felted project takes to complete.
I find using a handle makes it much easier and therefore speeds things up.
Multi tools can easily reduce the project time by 1/2.
The Truth Is How Long it Takes To Needle Felt Shouldn’t Matter
While wondering how long felting takes is an understandable question I’m not sure it is the best qukestion beucasits much more important to enjoy what you are doing and to learn proper techniques than to concern yourslf with spped.
It’s very easy to get bogged down in the details and take away any enjoyment. While it’s a good idea to learn all you can about needle felting it’s no good worrying about how long it takes. If you are worried about speed you can learn to speed up your felting.
Unless you are felting as a pro when your time counts, how long it takes to finish your project shouldn’t matter. What should matter is that you are enjoying creating it and end up with something you can be proud of (or if not proud of you can see progress).
With needle felting, I can understand only too well why you would ask this. It’s like, I’ve been felting an hour, and all I have to show for it is this tiny ball! What? I will never get to do the stuff I see others do.
Don’t worry about others this is your felting journey. Take your time, learn the techniques and the speed will come. Even if you are a slow felter like me, it doesn’t matter if you love what you do.