Archive for the ‘tutorial’ Category

Needle Felted Cat Tutorial

Back on Day 5 of KaCBW I posted this tutorial in just pictures. If you have some practice needle felting, I think that’s probably all you really need, but if it’s your first or second, maybe even third or fourth, project, it was possibly a bit confusing. So I’m going to give you the tutorial again here, but with words included this time. Before I start the tutorial though, a little background about it. I actually wrote it to be instructions for a beginner needle felting kit made by the lovely Lisa at Flickertail Fibers. We talked about it a bit and went with a cat as a good beginning project because it gives you a few different color options, even if you want to stay realistic and not go crazy with neon pinks or something, and it has several different shapes. I tried to make it a simple piece to make, but something a bit more complicated than just a round ball. The point is to give a person who is new to needle felting some direction on creating different shapes, like the long round tube-like shapes of the cat legs or the irregular shape of the body, and how to combine simple shapes to create the complex shape of the animal. I also like the cat design because it gives the opportunity for the person to play with adding different colors. I’m pretty much copy and pasting the original in here, with minor changes, so you will notice that it is written with the assumption that you’ve never needle felted before. Without any further ado, the tutorial!

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Begin with an oblong piece of roving approximately 1 and a half times the size you want your cat’s body to be. Begin felting the roving by poking it with the felting needle. It is not necessary to poke especially hard or fast, go at your own pace and be careful not to poke yourself.

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Poke/felt the roving until it holds its shape and has shrunk slightly, but not so much that it feels solid if squeezed

Now you want to flatten out the bottom end, at a bit of an angle. Either end can be the bottom, it’s your choice, so that the cat will sit nicely. The body of your cat is ready to go!

Next, you will make the legs. The legs are formed by creating little “snakes” of roving, this is easiest done by rolling it between the palms of your hands like with clay, and then felting these evenly all the way around. Be sure to compare the length of the legs to the body, so that they aren’t too long or too short. Every cat needs paws, so we’ll make those next. Start with a small ball of roving, just slightly bigger than you want the finished paw, and felt it just enough for it to hold its shape. Then felt the ball onto the bottom of the leg, this should flatten the ball out a little. If the shape doesn’t look right to you, you can always poke the roving more in one spot to shrink that spot down a little.

Attach the legs to the body one at a time by holding the leg where you want it to be and poking through the top of the leg and into the body. The more you poke the more firmly the leg will be attached. Don’t be concerned if this creates a dent where the legs attach, we will smooth this out at the end.

The head and ears are all formed in the same manner as the pieces you have just made. For the head begin with a ball of roving and poke it until it holds its shape, being careful to keep it round by poking evenly all around. The ears should be triangular, which can be a more tricky shape to make. It can be useful to poke from the sides, rather than just the front and back, in order to achieve a triangular shape. The ears are attached to the head in a similar way to how the legs were attached to the body. However, this time you will need to felt downwards through the bottom of the ear and into the head, this is easiest done at a bit of an angle.

To make it easier to attach the head to the body, you will want to make a small flat circle of roving, and then felt only the center part of that circle onto the bottom of the head, on the side where the head will attach to the body. Then you can use the outside edges of this extra roving to felt to the top of the body. You will also want to felt both down through the bottom of the head into the body, and up through the body into the head, in order to make sure the head is well attached to the body.

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The round head doesn’t look very cat-like, so let’s add a muzzle. Start with a small ball of roving, felted enough to hold its shape. Attach the ball to the center of the bottom half of the face, the ball will probably flatten out a bit in the process, this is okay. Then use more roving, small bits at a time, to smooth out the difference between the top of the ball and the rest of the face, don’t make them even, just make it a nice, smooth slope. This is the most difficult part of the whole project, so take your time and pay attention.

Your cat is almost done, but it needs a tail! Make the tail in the same way you made the legs. Start with a “snake” of roving and felt it all around until you have a long thin piece. Then you can attach it either curled around the cat’s body, or sticking up off the back. To make the tail stick up, attach it just like the legs, hold the tail in place and felt through the bottom of the tail and into the body until the tail is secure. To wrap the tail around the body you will want to hold the tail in place, and felt through the tail into the body all along the length of the tail.

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All that’s left is to add the details; this is where your own artistry comes in. The eyes were made with little balls of black roving felted right onto the face, and the nose is an even smaller piece of roving felted onto the face in a triangle shape. If you want to add a mouth, I would suggest twisting a long thin piece of roving between your fingers before felting it onto the face; this will make it easier to get a line. I thought the face looked good without a mouth, but you can make your cat however you like!

I also added some spots on the cat’s body. This can be done by laying a thin bit of roving over the body and poking straight through it into the body. Everywhere you poke will begin to stick the new roving to the body, so make sure you have the roving where you want it.

Once you have all the details in place, you can go back and do a bit more poking all over to smooth out any rough spots or funny dents. I also like to do this because it tightens everything down and makes the whole piece a little bit sturdier. Congratulations, you have finished your needle felted cat!

 

And just for you guys, here are a few extra pictures of the finished cat!

 

And that’s the cat tutorial! Generally I’m happy to have you share my writing in any way you would like, as long as I am credited, but I ask that you please don’t reproduce this tutorial, in whole or in part, because I did write it for use by Flickertail Fibers. But feel free to use the tutorial to needle felt a cat of your own!

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KaCBW Day Five: Something a Bit Different

Today’s post is in a different format than usual.

50 posts

Stupid program I used to create the graphic didn’t tell me they’d put their name *all over* my entire picture, grumble grumble

Chocolate Tutorial

I’m slower to post this week but I haven’t disappeared! And to make up for it, I have a tutorial for you. I posted a picture or two of my needle felted chocolates early on, I’ll give you a couple more here too, and they tend to be quite popular. Lots of people ask me how I make them and always want me to teach them to make the chocolates themselves so I figured a tutorial would be popular.

A box of felted chocolates

This is one of my favorites that I’ve made, it sold a while ago

I made this one for my BF’s mom for Christmas, her initial is K.

So those are lots of fancy chocolates that I’ve made. Now to making them. They all start out just the same: with the stuffing. I use dryer lint (yes dryer lint like from your clothes, although I prefer wool dryer lint) in mine. I have used poly-fill stuffing but it didn’t work as well and got very compacted, resulting in a much smaller and harder chocolate than I intended.

I like to get a ball of stuffing about the same size that I want the chocolate to end up as, maybe a little larger if there’s a lot of air-space in the stuffing. I’m holding it in the picture to give you an idea of the size.

Then I wrap the base color of the chocolate around the stuffing. I wrap the stuffing in two layers that overlap and are perpendicular to one another. You can see that just the first layer leaves big gaps on either side, that is what the second layer covers. I like to poke a couple times where the two ends of each layer overlap to sort of tack it in and make sure they’ll stay.

You’ll notice that the wool still doesn’t perfectly cover the stuffing. That is easily fixed while you are doing the initial felting, which is what comes next. Basically you want to spread the wool out a bit to cover the holes and then gently felt all around the ball of wool and stuffing. I say gently because you don’t want to felt all the way through the chocolate, you only want to go through the top layer of wool and into the stuffing a little bit. If you felt all the way through you quite quickly get a flat chocolate.

You only need to poke until all the barbs are in the wool, thats maybe an inch deep at most. You should have a lot of needle still sticking out between the chocolate and the hand holding the needle. If you’re poking all the way through, you’re poking too far.

You also want to make sure that you are felting the whole surface, not just one side. I find this easiest to do by felting the chocolate while holding it in my hand. BE CAREFUL! this is a very easy way to stab your hand and fingers, I have done so many times, and nobody wants to bleed all over their chocolates. I also find it helpful to try not to poke more than 5 or 6 times without turning the chocolate a little.

Everyone always wants to know how much the chocolate needs to be felted. It’s difficult to give a definitive answer, because some people like to felt tightly and some people like to felt loosely, but I can give you a baseline for the least felted you want your chocolate to be.

You want the chocolate to be felted enough that you can’t pull out a chunk of wool without a lot of work. The tops picture there is me just grabbing a bit of the chocolate and pulling gently, see how much fiber I have between my fingers there? That’s too much. The bottom picture is me grabbing and pulling hard to get just a few fibers out. Really most of what I’m holding in that picture is the little bits of fluff that were sticking up from the piece, not any of the actual chocolate.

So that’s the minimum amount of felting I would suggest. I like to felt mine down a lot more because it gives them a smoother texture and they feel more solid to me.

Once you have the chocolate felted enough that it will hold together you start shaping. Mostly the shaping just involves making a bit of a flat bottom, so the chocolate sits nicely. But if you want to make a square chocolate this is the part where you start defining the sides and edges. It’s a pretty simple concept, you felt more where you want it to be flat (whether that be the bottom of a round chocolate or the sides of a square chocolate). As I shape my chocolates I like the felt them tighter, but not quite as tight as they can go, because we still need to add decorations.

You can see the nice flat bottom on the left side of the picture. I like the make the bottom slightly smaller than the widest part of the chocolate because I think it makes it look like it was a ball of chocolate that got set down to cool and just developed a small base to sit on. Take a closer look at round chocolates, or make some yourself, and you’ll get what I mean if you don’t already.

Now that you have the basic shape of your chocolate you’re up to the part I like the most: decorating. For the tutorial I just did a basic chocolate with a drizzle of one color over the top because it’s the simplest one to do and can be used as the basis for almost all of the designs I do. But I love to come up with new decorations for the chocolates, whether that’s making letters, using two colors of drizzle, putting dots and drizzle on it, you name it, I’ll try it.

To start the decoration you choose the color you want, I like the minty green and use this one a lot, and pull out a small bit, preferably longer than it is wide. Then you pull it out a little bit more and twist it, as if you’re spinning yarn. This makes it so that you get a nice clean line. You can use yarn for this part, preferably wool, and I have a time or two but I don’t have much yarn that is as thin as I like for the decorations.

When I’m putting a line of drizzle on a chocolate I like to start at one end and a bit to the side. And then I try to curve the decoration like it would be if it were frosting dripped onto a real chocolate, as opposed to making nice straight lines, which is quite easy with felting but a good deal more difficult with frosting!

I felt down the very beginning of the line very well so that I can put some tension on it without it pulling off. I like to leave a bit of extra fuzz at the end that I later cut off or felt down, so that I’m not worrying about getting the beginning of the line just right and it isn’t overly skinny at the start.

You can see the curve of the line here. I also try to just tack the line in at first rather than felting it down securely, so that I have a bit of wiggle room later to get it just right.

It is important to felt the turning points down well just like you did the beginning of the line, and for the same reason. In order to get the line where I want it and to hold the twist in it while I work it is necessary to put some tension on it, so it gets quite annoying if it keeps popping off the chocolate.

The chocolate tends to end up with a weird shape and possibly some strange bulges when the decoration is first put on. Therefore, at this point more felting is required. Often that is the solution to any needle felting problem, more felting!

In order to reshape the chocolate I usually felt extra between the lines of the decoration, and then make sure that the decoration is felted down tightly. Felting the decoration more means you need to felt between the lines a bit more again, but this way seems to work quite well. You may also notice that the chocolate in the last picture above is more tall and skinny than it was before. This is one place where the fix is quite simple and easy, you simply need to squish it back to the right shape. Think of it like a pillow or teddy bear with loose stuffing, you can squish it into weird shapes if you try, but then you just squish it back into its regular shape as well. I find once I am completely finished felting the chocolates, decorations and all, they hold their shapes quite well.

From start to finish one chocolate takes me 30-45 minutes, depending on the complexity of the decoration, and with square chocolates tending to take a bit more time because the shape is more difficult to make. And here is the finished chocolate from a couple different angles.

Please comment if you have any questions and let me know what you think about the tutorial. If you think I missed a step, or you want a picture of something I missed, or you think there’s too many pictures, let me know! I am aware that the picture quality is not the best, that is mostly laziness with not wanting to set up good picture, which could take me 5 to 10 minutes, for each step that takes maybe 2 minutes to do, so I just took pictures where I was working.

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