Here are 29 needle felting beginner tips to help you when you begin to learn how to needle felt. These cover everything from how to use your needles to wool safety and tutorials.
These are the main beginner tips for when you are first starting out on your needle felting journey just to give you an idea of some of the things that you need to think about when you are doing your project. Below have covered several areas for this including needles, wool, safety etc.
There are so many small elements to learn when your needle felting I’ve covered these in brief tips each one you can go to a lot more detail but this just gives you an idea of what you need to be looking out for when you’re starting out. It covers some of the techniques the tools and the wall and safety that is needed when your needle felting. All this is designed to help make things easier for you as some of it I learned the hard way. You may also find other people say other things because we all felt slightly differently and have slightly different experiences.
29 Needle Felting Beginner Tips to Help You Learn Fast
Top Felting Beginner Tip NO 1
The first thing to remember about needle felting anything, about any tutorials, or any books or advice is that when it comes to needle felting there are no hard and fast rules.
There are NO Hard and Fast Rules
You hear me say this on various occasions and various articles because I didn’t know this when I started out and I will go to a tutor and they will say you do it this way then I would look at another tutor and they would say it will actually you do it this way and I’m like, which way is best, what do I do? The truth is the best way is the one that works for you and for your project different methods might work for different projects as they do for different people. However, having said this it is well worth learning basic techniques so that you base your decision on a solid foundation of knowledge.
Everyone learns basic techniques everyone does it slightly differently and some people have advanced on those techniques and come up with new ones.
This applies to not only techniques but the wool you use, the needles you use and everything about needle felting. While you can have basic guidelines and techniques it often comes down to personal preference and choice. It’s a good idea when you’re starting out to find a tutor that suits you and to learn from them.
But as you progress you’ll find yourself thinking well actually I prefer to do it this way or I don’t like using this wool. Well OK so this wool takes longer to felt but I prefer it, it gives me a better finish over that one or I prefer to use my needles in that way.
This all comes down to experience but it’s something you’re going to come across right at the beginning because you’re going to one tutor and they’ll say Z while you’re going to another one and they will say B.
Use the Right Needles For Better, Faster Felting
(2) Know Your Needles
It’s important to know your needles and how they work because different shapes of needles have different jobs and different sizes of needles work for different wool and for different parts of your project or so they have different quantities of barbs and this makes a difference to how quickly or slowly things felt. You may, for example, use a reversing needle without realizing that is designed to pull the wool out or not put it in. The most popular needles to start with are the triangular needles. You want a range of small medium and large. They do come in numbers so 42, 36, etc For more on needles see my post on needles.
(3) Get Coloured Needles – Saves so Much Time and Stress
If you can get needles with colored ends this makes choosing them much easier when you’re working. It can be quite difficult to identify the shapes and sizes of the needle if you drop two down together. Depending on the manufacturer the colors may change. So just be careful to get them from the same place or keep them separate. Also, if you’re using manufacturer colored needles some the color blobs prevent the needle from going into needle holders. So just check that they said that the needle will fit into a needle holder when you buy them.
(4) Felt Slowly at First. Get Your Needle Technique Right
Bad technique and fast felting result in many broken needles. If you’re finding you are having lots of broken needles then check up on your technique. And for a while go slowly so that you can see that you’re pulling your needle out and putting your needle in straight. If you go too quickly you may find it bends and this is when you lose your needles. You may also find you go too deep and hit the base.
(5) Keep The Needle Straight Both In And Out
What are the biggest issues for beginners is the needles break a lot. I think because they’re so enthusiastic to get the item done they pull the needle out at an angle or push the needle in at an angle and this causes the needle to snap. Although they’re very sharp it also quite delicate. The other thing that you can do which I am still guilty of is if you stab too hard the needle goes out the other side and although you’ve got your sponge underneath you can hit the table if you do it too hard and snap it.
(6) Learn To Hold Your Needle
If you learn to hold your needle correctly it will help with your felting technique and prevent broken needles as much.
(7) Use a Needle Holder
It’s much easier and a lot less pressure on your hands if you use a needle holder. You can get these in the form of wooden or plastic. They can be pens or handles. Whichever one you choose make sure that it’s stable and not wobbly. I have one that the needle wobbles so I don’t use it because I’m afraid it’ll break. A good one to start with is the pink needle felting pen. And it’s all down to personal choice. I have written more about holders in my needle felting tool kit post.
Which Wool? Which Project?
(8) Don’t start with Merino Wool If You Can Help It
Merino wool is very popular for felting. It has a smooth soft finish and is perfect for small projects. However, it’s quite difficult to use.
And some areas that’s what you’ll get most of. It certainly comes in the kits. But some people are lucky and they have access to more specialist wool mixes. Make felting easier. It’s not only to do with the texture but also the length and Merino comes in a longer length.
As I say I started with Merino as did my sister and we got on fine with it. But if you are struggling perhaps start with a different will like or Adele, which while doesn’t give us a soft finish is a little easier to use.
(9) Use Core Wool
If you’re just starting out and you’re doing tiny projects you might not need to use core wool. have a want your project get slightly larger you might find that you are taking a long time this is where it’s worth using core wool. this helps to speed up your project and is more economical than using the final wools like Merino.
(10) Not So Easy To Take Wool Away
Learning to judge the amount of wool you need in a particular area of the piece you are working on is a skill and that comes with experience. If you add too much wool, which is tempting because you might want to get things finished quickly, you’ll find that you might overdo it. It’s actually quite difficult to remove the wool from your piece so it’s better not to add too much and keeps to adding smaller amounts more frequently.
Which KITS if Any?
(11) Start With a Beginners Kit
I think unless you got a specific piece of mind or are doing a course it is a good idea to use a beginners kit. I mean a real beginners kit as opposed to just an animal kit. Of course, you can get the animal kits just be aware that you may need to add extras like pads to your purchase.
It is a really great idea because you have everything that you need in it. A proper beginners kit will include all of your tools all of your wool and your felting pad it. It will also include some basic instructions although this is only to get you going and you’ll need a lot more instructions and wool then are included in these kits in the long term. If you want to see more on kits I have a post on recommended kits for beginners.
(12) Advance To a Project-Specific Kit
Now that you have a bit of experience it is worth thinking about getting your beginner’s kits.
You can either branch out and buy your own wool and tools individually, although of course you still have your kit tools. Or you can choose a specific kit like an animal or a fairy or something. These are great because they include very detailed instructions. Some may also include video tutorials. It really depends on who you buy from. Just check from your supplier that it’s ideal for beginners.
( 13) Start With Easy Projects That Don’t Have An Armature
If you avoid using armature it’s much easier than if you use armature and a lot quicker to felt. Don’t try to use a big project with the armature in it to start with. If you want to use armature to start with a small project like a mouse. These use pipe cleaners.
(14) Keep It Simple – Get Basic Tools Only
If you decide you don’t want to get a kit you want to buy your own tools you want to keep to the basics to start with because there are a lot of tools you can buy you may not find you need them. I am going to tools in an in-depth in another article but just for general information, you need needles, a needle holder, a finger protector, a felting pad and of course wool.
Learn Easy Techniques to Make Your Projects Look Better
(15) Explore & Learn Sound Techniques
If you learn some basic techniques to start out with it will save you time and frustration. When I started I didn’t know any different so I’d grab a pile of wool and squish it down and stab like crazy. This is not an efficient way to do it. What you actually do is you roll-up tight to start with and then this reduces the amount of air in. What you’re working with and firms up making it much much faster and firmer before you even start.
There are lots of techniques like this that will increase your pleasure of felting and give you better success with your early pieces and speed things up a lot.
(16) Different Techniques
One of the things it’s worth knowing when you are exploring different techniques is that needle felting is one of those things where people learn the basics and they often improve upon or change them to suit themselves. So if you are on YouTube for example and you’re looking at how one tutor does it and then how another tutor does it you might find that there are techniques are completely different or at least very to a degree. You might find yourself wondering who was right and who is wrong. And for a beginner, it can be very confusing.
The truth is neither is right and neither is wrong. Some techniques work better for one person while another prefers a different technique.
Depending on your learning preferences you can either just stick to one tutor so that you get very familiar with that one technique so you don’t get confused and then branch out and try other techniques once you were more confident or you could try a different range of techniques.
(17) Don’t Felt In Only One Area
One piece of good advice I was given when I started out from the book that I was using was too felt evenly all over rather than concentrating in one area. You want your piece to compact down to make a whole shape it’s no good keeping one area done and one not as you won’t be able to see what you’re doing or if you felt it down enough and it can make your piece uneven.
(18) If You Are Felting Your Top Colored Layer Felt Until Crunchy
People often don’t know when they finish felting. When you are on your top colored layer, if you use core wool, or simply your colored part if you’re not using core, you can actually feel when your piece is getting near to the end with a needle that you were using. It starts to feel crunchy and you can feel the resistance of the needle. You have the choice then to decide whether your piece is finished or if you want to go down a needle size to make it firmer and finer with fewer needle holes.
(19) Leave Undfelted Parts For Joining Pieces Together
I first learned this while making bears. If you felt a perfect ear for example and then try and attach it to the head it’s almost impossible or at least very difficult. What you do is leave the base of the ear to loose and fluffy so that it’s easier to push the fibers into the head. This applies to the joining of any of the pieces together. It makes it easier quicker and firmer.
(20) Don’t End Up With Floppy Projects
If you have a floppy project when you finished it’s not right. You felting should be firm. Learning basic techniques should help to stop this. Even if you don’t know the techniques lots of stabbing will result in a firmer piece. Make sure you get your shape fairly firm before you go onto more finer detail.
(21) Starting Out With Armature
If you want to use armature start with pipe cleaners as these are easier to use.
Safety Is Vital for Successful Felting
(22) Use a Finger Protector – Safety
Finger protectors are vital for the safety of your finger is by your felting especially when you start out as you will probably stab them quite a lot. While they’re really vital they’re also pain in the rear. I find when I’m doing something delicate they just get in the way and I’ve got small fingers so they always stick out. Certainly, while you’re starting out go for them but you may find that as you get more experienced you may not want to use them. I’ve noticed a lot of experience felters to his don’t. Some people use plasters or cut off rubber gloves as an alternative.
(23) Keep Needles Safe
Needle safety is vital they are so so dangerous. If you’ve got pets like cats or children or even if you just leave it a knock it off the side and then stand on it later it can cause a lot of trouble. It’s best you only have a couple of needles out one go or to have some form of a pincushion or something to keep them in while you’re working.
(24) Get a Needle Tube For Broken Needles
Knowing what to do with broken needles it’s also something to think about. They need to be disposed of safely and this causes a lot of people issues. My sister is diabetic so she is as her diabetic needle case. I have a needle tube that my needles came in. But something secure is a good idea.
(25) Keep Your Wool and Wool Project Away From Pets
Keep your project away from your pets not only is it dangerous for them some of them especially cats love to play with felted pieces or the wool. I’ve seen many a broken shattered piece a felting come through on Facebook where one pet or other has as torn it to pieces.
Where to Learn To Felt
(26) Join In – Tutorials, Classes, Courses and Books
There are lots of places you can learn from. If you’re lucky you might have a local course that you can try. Or there’s always needle felting books. And of course, there are lots of online tutorials. I’d recommend you do a mixture of these to get the best out of your needle felting experience. Books are great but sometimes you do actually need to see what is happening.
A Final Note
(27) Expect Failures and Successes
Expect it not to go completely right the first time and for there to be things aren’t working. This is just a matter of practice and experience and knowing where you went wrong.
I think the best thing to do is to find something positive in your piece but be aware of the negatives. Even if everyone is praising you when you’ve posted your item on Facebook you need to know in order to improve where you’ve gone wrong but only focusing on that tends to get you down.
(28) Create Something You’ll Love
Aim to create something that you will love. I know you’ll enjoy making it more. This may be difficult to start with basic skills, but a simple mouse and mushroom or one of the other amazing things that you can learn to make can make all the difference to whether you want to continue.
(29) Enjoy What You Are Doing
It’s hard to start with to enjoy what you’re doing cos you’re so busy concentrating but relax and enjoy needle felting and it could become the main part of your life for the future.