farmer's market needle felting tutorial- kristen dickson

Thank you to @hellokristendickson for sharing this post with us!

I’m so excited to be here today to talk about one of my favorite thingsneedle felting! I started making little felted hair bows for my daughters Jane (five) and Rose (four) last fall and I’ve gotten a lot of requests to do a tutorialso here we go!

We adore our friends at Fin & Vince and instantly fell in love with their Summer Nostalgia collection. It made me think of fresh laundry and backyard parties and fresh fruits and veggies, so I was inspired to make my own little felted farmer’s market. These can be used as toys, magnets, or accessories (pins, brooches, earrings, necklaces)or in our case, hair bows!

To get started, here’s what you’ll need:

  • a mat
  • a needle
  • wool roving. 
I love this oversized woolen mat from Woolbuddy, but you can also use a piece of craft foam or even a large sponge. There are lots of different styles of felting needles; for larger projects I like this multi tool, which unscrews to reveal eight individual needles (they break, so you’ll want backups on hand). I usually buy my wool roving from Amazon or Hobby Lobby, and someday I’d like to try dyeing my own! You can also purchase starter kits.

One note: felting needles are extremely sharp! You might want to add some gloves or thimbles to your cart too. And always keep them somewhere safe, out of reach from little hands.

If you’re a beginner working on your first few projects, I always recommend using a cookie cutter – it’s an easy way to keep your desired size and shape while you felt the wool. 

Simply separate the wool into smaller strips, gather them into your cookie cutter, and use your needle to poke the wool into the mat. There are special barbs in the needle that felt the wool fibers together as you work. 

Once your first layer is loosely felted, take it out of the cookie cutter, flip it over, insert it back into the cookie cutter, add more wool roving on top, and use your needle to felt the new wool onto your first layer. Repeat this last step (flipping the wool back and forth inside the cookie cutter) as many times as you need until you achieve your desired thickness (it should feel firm but springy). 

Add details! A little bit of wool goes a long way; you only need a few fibers to create stems and flowers like these. 

Good news – a heart cookie cutter works perfectly to create little strawberries. Cute, right? Tip – use white wool to create your base, then add a layer of color on top. 

This approach works especially well if you’re trying to build color dimension; with these peaches I started with white, added orange, and then peach. P.S. – a heart cookie cutter works to make little peaches too! 

If you don’t have a cookie cutter on hand, never fear. Take your white wool, roll it up like a jelly roll, and form it into whatever shape you have in mind. I’ve gotten a ton of my ideas from Pinterest and Etsy, and there are so many different video tutorials available on YouTube. Needle felting is an extremely forgiving medium (praise!) so you can’t really go wrong. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at achieving what you have in mind. 

You can also try wet felting! This involves hot water and dish soap; it’s a great approach if you want to involve kids because you don’t need the sharp needle.

For this broccoli, we used our white wool to wet-felt eight balls (you can also needle-felt balls, but the girls wanted to help and this was a way to involve them). 

The easiest way is to dip the felt in hot water, add a few drops of dish soap, and enclose it in a small mason jar or tupperware container (the smaller the better). 

Make sure the top is secure and then comes the fun part -- encourage your kid to shake, shake, shake it out! After a minute or so, the fibers will felt together into a loose ball. 

 

 

Take it out of the jar, dip it in the hot water, add a little more dish soap, and use your palms to lightly roll it into a more defined ball shape (you only need a tiny amount of pressure or cracks will appear); repeat this process till the ball feels firm and springy to the touch. 

Run the ball under the faucet to rinse out some of the soap (again, do not squeeze or cracks will appear) and set aside to dry (or to speed up the process, place inside an old pair of pantyhose and throw in the dryer). 

Once the balls dry, you can return to needle felting; cover the balls with dark green wool and felt them together, then add them to a light green stalk. 

Almost finished! To make hair bows, I like to line alligator clips with felt (full craft store sheets work great) and then hot glue them. My children are obsessed with everything I make for them and bonus, they look pretty cute too. 

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