How To Needle Felt a DogSubtitled: There Will Be Blood. (Yes, you will stab yourself, at least the first 1 or 2 times you try felting.)
I come from a family of crafty folks. When my sis and I first saw Domenica More Gordon's dogs on TV, we knew we had to find out how she made those adorable dogs. (...since we couldn't afford the £500+ price tag!) That's how we discovered "needle felting."
Since our dogs are not as fine-tuned as Domenica's, we like to call them "caricatures" and we've custom made many pups over the last couple of years.
|My sister's Husky-mix and my bro's angel Golden|
You don't need a whole lot of stuff to get started. Just the following:
- Some foam to work on (because you'll be stabbing a very sharp needle into the wool)
- Special wool (called "roving")
- Special felting needles.
Also Band-aids. You'll need Band-aids. Cuz there will be blood (because you are stabbing a very sharp needle into wool, which is in a tiny ball that you're holding in place with your fingers).
That's pretty much it, except for some beads for eyes and a nose (although you could also make the eyes/nose from the wool).
We originally got all our supplies at some local knitting shops, but now get things online via Living Felt. We also originally ordered a book called "Wool Pets" off Amazon. There's good step-by-step info in here for 20 different animals, including a border collie. We started with the bunnies in the book. Bunnies are much easier than dogs - no long complicated legs!
These were the first things we ever felted. (My one sis ended up turning her bunny into a rat... And she never felted again...)
|Three bunnies and a rat|
Today I'll demonstrate how to make a beagle - the little beagle on the top left, to be exact.
Start by tearing off (or cutting) a piece of wool about 6 X 3 inches.
Roll it tightly into a cylinder shape...
...And begin stabbing as you go:
The needles are barbed, so as you stab, it makes the wool pull together. The more you stab it, the tighter it becomes (which is a good thing!). Be sure to stab it all over, including on the ends.
A small loop of wool, stabbed into place, forms the neck.
I'm not gonna lie... legs are hard. If you plan to felt a corgi, rejoice. If you want to felt a Great Dane... bummer. (I'd suggest having him be seated.)
For this beagle, I used a piece of wool that was about 2 x 1 1/2 inches for each of the back legs, and slightly smaller in length for each of the front. (I just rolled/stabbed these legs into shape, but for longer legged dogs, it can be helpful to roll the wool the long way around a thin skewer, then slip it off and start stabbing.)
Stab into one end to make the leg nice and "tight," but leave the other end loose (the haunch), where you'll attach it to the body.
Use the "fine" needle (it will be colored or #'d/labeled on the packaging) to do the detail work of adding the bend at the toes. Just repeatedly stab a little line across the foot, and it will start to take shape.
I admit, I forgot to measure the piece of wool we used for the head. But this is all very forgiving... We usually just eyeball things. Try rolling, say, a 4X2 inch piece of wool into a cylinder - if it looks like it will be too fat/too long after needling it, just trim a bit off the width/length and start over.
Once you have the head needled into somewhat of a cone shape, use the fine needle to define the face. You can stab across the bridge of the nose to define the snout. Then stab eye holes in. (To later sew in a bead, or you can stab in eyes made of wool.)
If you are using beads, sew them in before attaching the head to the body. (So you can tie off the thread/hide the knot at the base of the head where it won't show.)
For the ears, take a small piece of wool (slightly longer than the final ear will be) and fold and needle it on your foam until you have the ear shape you want, either rounded (as for this beagle) or pointed (if that's what your dog has - note that this is harder!). Leave the other end loose for attaching. Lay the outer side of the ear along the head and stab it into place. Then fold it over and give it a few more stabs to hold the ear down.
Forming the Dog
Attach all the body parts to the dog. Try to stab from all directions so the pieces come together well. (e.g. for the legs, stab mostly from the outside, but also up through the inner thigh.)
Ain't she cute?! But she's not done yet...
If you can see a lot of needle marks (say, where you attached a leg), just get a small piece of wool and gently needle it over the areas you want to cover up. It's very forgiving. (This is where felting a fluffy dog is an advantage!) Of course, for a beagle, you don't have to worry about the attached parts showing, because you'll be covering the body with brown and black wool. Just lay a piece of wool over the body, trim it to the right size and gently stab it into place. (We did a full piece of brown first, then laid a black "saddle" over that.)
For the tail, I just made a small cylinder of white, put some black over it, and stabbed it into place using the same method as the ear to hide the loose end.
If using bead eyes, you can stab very wee bits of black wool around the eyes to look like eyelashes. Adding a ribbon for a collar and a tag makes a nice final touch!
Tip: When we make tall dogs, we buy special extra long pins that we stab up through their legs, just to give them a bit more stability.
It takes my sis and I working together about 2 to 3 hours to make a dog, depending on how complicated it is. Then it takes us an additional hour to squeal over how cute it is and take photos!
Hope this was helpful. If you attempt this, I'd LOVE to see your work. But... seriously, I suggest starting with something easy like a bunny. Or a rat.
Let me know if you have questions!
Thanks to BlogPaws for hosting Wordless Wednesday!