In a nutshell: Needle felting is the process of felting/tangling one piece of wool to another. This is done by using barbed needles which catch the wool fibers from one piece, drag them through into the other piece, where they get tangled, leaving your two pieces attached.
There are essentially two types of needle felting. The first we will call Appliqué needle felting, and the second Sculptural needle felting.
Appliqué needle felting is where you want to attach wool, yarn, or felt to a flat piece of felt or wool fabric. Imagine a wool sweater with raised wool letters on it.
Sculptural needle felting is where you actually create a three dimensional form from wool roving. Imagine a doll made from wool.
- Dyed/undyed Wool roving (#CNWR or #ROVE) and/or Wool yarns (you can dye your own with Acid Dyes)
- Felting needles
- Needle felting tool (multi-needle holder) - For large flat areas or large shapes multi needle holders make the felting faster, and the needles easier to hold.
- Needle felting mat - A needling pad will prevent you from breaking needles and scratching up your tabletops.
Note: Everything you need for a beginner needle felting project is in the complete Needle Felting Kit.
1) Start by laying down the base fabric over the needle felting mat, positioning the area to be appliquéd over the bristles.
2) Lay down the roving, yarn, or felt that you want to attach, onto the base fabric in the orientation you like. (Tracing out your design on the base fabric with a Vanishing fabric marker may be helpful in some cases.)
3) Using the needle felting tool, or a single needle, start punching the needles down through the roving, yarn, or felt, into and through the base fabric. The needles have barbs that catch the fibers from the appliqué piece and push them down into the base fabric. Make sure to cover the whole piece with needling, paying attention to edges so they don’t pop up.
4) Enjoy your felt appliqué!