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Fiber and Felting Resources

The Woolery        https://woolery.com

Peace Fleece       https://www.peacefleece.com     

Paradise Fibers, Inc.     https://www.paradisefibers.com

Harrisville Designs            https://harrisville.com/

Sarafina Fiber Art          https://www.sarafinafiberart.com

Pro Chemical and Dye        https://prochemicalanddye.net/

Dharma Trading Company         https://www.dharmatrading.com/

There are many other sources of fiber and felting supplies on the Internet. These are just a few.

Welcome to the Needle Felting page.  This page is where you can view videos and a gallery of felted work.  I will be including lessons, how-to’s, videos, etc. to create an educational area for felters who have a needle felting machine and want to learn how to get the most out of it.   I will also add felting instruction in my blog from time to time, but this page is where you can get started in your journey of making art with a felting machine.

My own journey of creating felt art began about 13 years ago when I saw the Baby Lock 12-needle Embellisher on the Internet and just HAD to have it, not really knowing why or what to do with it. I didn’t understand what it was at first, but I knew I wanted one, so when it went on sale at my local Baby Lock dealer and went down and bought one.  I assumed that there would be books, classes, and websites I could visit to educate me about this new machine.  Not so!  At that time, there were only a few websites and even fewer books written on the subject of Machine Needle Felting available anywhere. 

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As a quilter and quilting arts instructor, I kept the rules of patchwork and appliqué and even produced some Landscape quilts with couched wool embellishments to make them more three dimensional.  I found myself becoming more and more frustrated with traditional quilting methods that didn’t give me feathered edges, or gradations, or the texture in my work that I wanted – especially with creating trees and clouds.  I ordered several “felting” books from the Internet, all of which involved traditional wet felting or needle felting with hand tools. 

I took classes in my local area in traditional wet felting and Nuno felting to learn what this machine was supposed to replicate.  I began the journey of translating traditional wet and hand felting projects into Machine Needle Felting and, by trial and error, produced some beginning projects that I finished and hung on my walls.  These became the models for machine needle felting classes, which I taught regionally to other quilters who were just beginning to develop an interest in Mixed Media quilting in southeastern Pennsylvania.   They were taking the class because they, too, wanted a felting machine, but didn’t know why or even if they would use one if they bought it. 

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After my own experimentation and research into the development of machine needle felting around the world, I was asked to prepare a presentation for a local Quilters Guild.  After the presentation the guild members told me, “You need to write a book about this.”  And so,  with the help of the Tacony corporation, we published a complete workbook on everything you need to know to get started with your felting machine.  “The Art of Machine Needle Felting” book was created for the Baby Lock Embellisher but it can be used for any brand felting machine with 5, 6, 7, or 12 needles.  That book is now out of print, but the second edition can be found on the “For Sale” tab on this website as a digital download HERE.  This version is updated but much the same as the original version, with projects from Beginner level to the more Advanced level work.  However, it includes a “First Things First” section to build up a set of samples to try out different types of fabrics, fibers, yarns, rovings and sheers, etc.   Just getting the machine out and working with it to get the feel of how it works, is a major step for most who have this machine. 

I hope you enjoy your journey with your needle felting machine and find inspiration for your own future projects with all the artistic possibilities it affords.

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The video below was from a Nancy Zeiman TV episode that shows how to prepare the Autumn Leaf Appliques for the Falling Leaves Art Quilt below.  It runs about 7 minutes and shows the process using a needle felting machine with tulle fabric, then free-motion embroidery, to create the leaves which were then stitched onto the finished quilt.

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Sewing with Nancy is a half-hour show that Zieman co-produced on Wisconsin Public Television. On the air since September 1982, Sewing with Nancy is the longest running sewing program on North American television, with over 900 episodes filmed.  Zieman lived in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin with her husband, where her original Nancy's Notions shop still operates.

She wrote over 40 sewing books, including The Art of Landscape Quilting, Serge with Confidence, Machine Embroidery with Confidence, Sew with Confidence, Landscape Quilts with Natalie Sewell, Let’s Sew, 10-20-30 Minutes to Sew, The Best of Sewing with Nancy, Sew Clever Bags, and 501 Sewing Hints.

She was named the 1988 Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year by the Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs Association. Zieman received the National 4-H Alumni Award in 1991 and in 2014 the University of Wisconsin-Extension 4-H Youth Development Program inducted her in the Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame.  Zieman won the 2013 the Distinguished Alumni by the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

Zieman was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in March of 2015. In July 2015, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Zieman died November 14, 2017, at her home. She was survived by her husband and two sons. Her death occurred just one day after the final episode of Sewing with Nancy aired.

Zieman published her autobiography, Seams Unlikely: The Unlikely True Story of Nancy Zieman, in 2016.

There are several makes and models  of needle felting machines but very few differences between them.  Some have 5, 7 or 12 needles and maybe some yarn ports and holders in different places but they all work basically the same way….. they tangle wool roving into flat sheets or embed roving into fabric surfaces without thread or bobbins.  They can also be used to texture fabrics to give them a crinkly look.  They all have removable needle heads with individual needles that can be replaced or removed.   What is the difference?  Some machines, such as the ones with 12 needles, are twice as fast at doing the same job.  However, sometimes, the 12 needles can overpower a small or delicate area to be felted and fewer needles are desired for some kinds of work.

 For this reason, you can remove needles in whatever combinations you choose.  For example, if you want to felt a thin line of yarn along an edge of a project and don’t want the other 12 needles creating unnecessary holes, you can remove all but 1 or 2 needles.  If you want a narrower range of felting, you can remover 5 or 6 needles on one side of the head and just use the other side, which would give you the felting capacity of the 5 or 7 needle machines.   I purchased an extra head for my machine AND I also have 2 felting machines I work with, set up with different needle arrangements so I have what I need right at hand.  I use the 12 needles for trees and shrubbery and 1 or 2 needles in the head for the fine window and fence details in the photo below.

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Needle Felting Kit

You will need some additional tools to make your needle felting projects easier to create and manage under the needles of the Embellisher.  Assemble your own needle felting kit with the following necessary items.

Hand Carders – Hand carders are used in pairs to prepare the fibers for needle felting.  They comb, soften and straighten the fibers of any staple length into alignment which then can be rolled into a rolag, ready for felting.  A rolag is the roll of fiber that is created after it has been lifted off of the hand carders.

Pet Brushes – These are smaller versions of hand carders and more readily available to purchase in pet shops.  They also prepare the fibers for needle felting and can be used to blend colors and can also be used to clean off the brushes of the larger Hand Carders. 

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Foam Rubber Pad - This can be any size most comfortable for you.  The large size (two feet by three feet) can be used on a table to lay out larger pieces.  I like to use a gray dense foam pad, about 12 inches by 16 inches to have right next to my machine as I work.  It is used along with the single hand felting needle or the Clover hand felting tools.

Hand Felting Needle – This tool is used in conjunction with the foam pad to tack different colors or sections of roving in place on the substrate so that the roving doesn’t slide off the piece when being placed under the needles of the Embellisher.

Pen Style Needle Felting Tool – This tool, by Clover, will handle larger pieces of roving to be tacked in place on the substrate before moving the substrate under the needles of the Embellisher.

Five Needle Felting Tool - This tool, also by Clover, has a clear plastic spring-activated needle guard to protect your fingers while tacking roving in place.  It is used whenever larger pieces of roving are being tacked in place, such as covering a background or larger surface.

Tweezers - Tweezers are a must-have when changing needles in the head of the needle felting machine.  They work like a third hand while you are replacing the parts after a broken needle or to change needle sizes.

Regular Gauge Nylon Netting – This is not to be confused with Tulle, which is much finer and softer.  This net has larger holes, is very stiff and is used as a topping to keep the fibers in place while needle felting.  The netting does not get felted into the work because the holes are large enough to accommodate the needles.  It does, however, get torn over time and needs to be replaced while working on a project.

Children’s Washable Markers – These work the best for transferring patterns on to whatever substrate you choose, because they are easy to see on more textured fabrics like flannel, velvet or craft felt. They can be easily washed out and come in many colors.

 

Sew Steady Table – Just like a sewing machine, you sometimes need a larger bed to lay your projects on when you are felting.  This is an after-market sewing table, which means you can order one custom fit for any size machine you may already have.   Click HERE for more information about getting a large extension table custom built for your needle felting machine.

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Fibers

Just as a Quilter collects a fabric stash, an Embellisher needs a stash of different fibers and colors.   Here are some of the fibers that are available for needle felters. 

Merino Roving – Merino is the highest quality wool that is silkier and more lustrous than any other wool roving available to needle felters.  It has a long staple (2.5 – 4 inches), comes in over 100 luscious colors and is popular in yarn shops and online.  

                                 

Colonial (also called Corriedale) Roving – is a bit coarser and fluffier than Merino and does not have the color range but is still a beautiful wool used alone or as a core wool underlayer.  It covers the felted area much more quickly and can be used in place of Merino when necessary

Mohair – Mohair is from the Angora goat and is a different texture of roving altogether.  It has a very long staple (4-6 inches) and is very shiny and silky.  In a landscape wool painting, it is best used wherever you want soft, translucent lines or as a thin, transparent color wash over a base color. 

Peace Fleece – This is a very unusual fiber and an absolute necessity for Impressionistic Landscape Wool Paintings.  It is a blend of different types of wools from sheep from around the world and has flecks of color throughout. It is very fluffy and felts very thickly and quickly. 

Hand – dyed Fleece – This fiber is often very fluffy and, when felted by itself, looks very coarse and thick in a project.

Angora – Who can resist the softest fibers available from the adorable Angora bunnies?  Their fibers are the softest, silkiest and most fluffy and make the best clouds for a felted landscape painting. 

Alpaca – Huacaya Alpaca is my new favorite roving for dyeing, carding, felting.  It is soft, thin and easy to create wispy overlays for landscapes. 

Silk Roving – Although silk doesn’t really felt by itself, it is a luxury fiber that brings a shine and dimension with whichever fiber it is mixed.     Like Mohair, it retains its linear shape when felted but if it is mixed and carded with another feltable fiber into a rolag, it will create a luster and brightness that cannot be duplicated with wool.  It is best used when creating landscape scenes requiring water highlights. 

Mixed Fibers – There are many kinds of mixed fibers that give the felter the best of all worlds, depending on the fibers themselves.  Alpaca, silk, cashmere, Tencel, soy silk, etc. are all exotic additions to the needle felters’ stash.  These are usually blended with Merino or other high-quality fibers for stability and affordability plus they felt beautifully. 

Bamboo – Bamboo looks very similar to silk due to its shiny appearance, but it is a plant fiber and needs to be blended with a feltable fiber, such as wool, to be worked into a piece.  It is also best used where shine and highlights are needed.

Trilobal Nylon Firestar – This is another luxury must-have fiber that adds a hint of sparkle when mixed with other feltable fibers.  It comes in a limited range of colors.

Angelina – These fibers have many interesting properties and uses in differing crafts fields such as quilting, doll – making, knitting, spinning and even fishing.  It is the most sparkly fiber available and must be mixed sparingly and carded into a more feltable fiber. 

Nepps and Burrs – These little aberrations of the wool milling industry are collected and sold to fiber artists for special effects in their art.  They can be used as facial features, flowers, foliage, wherever little balls of color are needed for the effect.

Curly Locks – Like the nepps and burrs, these natural sheep curls, right off the shorn sheep itself and dyed, create a one-of-kind look that cannot be reproduced any other way. They create interesting sky and cloud formations when used just as they are. 

Yarns – There are many uses for yarns of all sizes, shapes and colors for outlining, creating texture and design.  By removing some of the needles in the head of your Embellisher, you can easily felt these in place anywhere on your design.  If you are also a knitter, keep all your old balls or skeins of yarn for future felting projects.

Merino
Peace Fleece
Hand-Dyed Fleece
Angora Rabbit Fur
Alpaca
Silk Fibers
Mixed Fibers
Bamboo Fibers
Firestar
Angelina Fibers
Ribbons and Yarns

Substrates for Needle Felting

The following description of substrates (or base fabrics to felt into) is not meant to be exhaustive or exclusive to what is presented here.  These are just some felters’ favorites.

Wool/Rayon Felt – tends to be thicker than craft felt but has a beautiful but limited color selection.  It can be used to create appliqués for mounting on a quilt or can be nicely sewn into a quilted wallhanging.

Craft Felt – similar to wool felt in its thick look, feel and felting ability.  Although it comes in a wide assortment of colors, it has a tendency to shrink or warp under the action of the felting needles so this must be taken into consideration when planning a project.

Quilters’ Cotton – Unfortunately, needle felting compromises the integrity of the fabric so that it shreds as if it had dry rot after felting.  It tears easily and is too weak to sew afterward.  However, if cotton is used on top of another stronger fabric, it can be stabilized.  Craft felt or flannel is a good stabilizer for cotton fabrics. 

China Silk or Habotai – Can be very densely woven and can cause some needle breakage – experiment first and use size 42 needles.  Felting removes the sheen and distresses the surface but can be useful as a textured surface against a glossy surface. 

Silk Chiffon – Use size 42 needles.   Chiffon can be felted with any fiber; however, it creates occasional snags or loops that show in among the fibers. It also shrinks somewhat but acceptable for a thin scarf.

Silk Gauze – can be felted with silk or bamboo fibers for a lovely sheer gossamer effect.  Using size 42 needles, some holes appear but can be steam ironed away.

Flannel – The best, most stable substrate is flannel.  It felts well and has a texture that blends well with felted fibers. It is much thinner than regular craft felt and can be sewn into a quilt or mounted on a wooden frame. 

Tulle – Believe it or not, tulle (fine netting) makes a great substrate for needle felting finer pieces.  As long as it is used double thickness, it will be felt easily and provide the thinnest felted fabrics that can be cut into appliqués for leaves or flower petals.

Upholstery Fabrics and Denims– These are generally heavier than those previously listed and some experimenting would be necessary.  Put the fabric in question under the needles and use the hand wheel to gently lower the needles into the fabric.  If the needles bend or struggle at all, do not use this fabric. 

Miscellaneous Fabrics – metallics, laces, sheers and special effects fabrics can be felted themselves or used together with other more stabilizing fabrics

Knits or Stretchy Fabrics - are not recommended for needlfelting but can be experimented with if you insist on using them.  They tend to make the needles stick or bounce off the fabric and ultimately break.

 

Wool Rayon Felt
Craft Felt
Cotton Flannel
Tulle or Fine Netting
Silky and Satin Fabrics
Show More

Machine Felting Needles

I have found that I can felt most any type or style of fabric with the standard size 14 felting needles that are sold by your felting machine manufacturer.  I have used the same size needle for silk scarves, heavy tapestry fabrics and layered felted paintings. 

And remember, just like your sewing machine needle becomes dull over time, your felting needles need to be replaced even if they do not break.  When needles begin to take longer to get the same result, it is time to change them all for a new set.  With a needle felting/punching machine, there is no bobbin or thread, so sharp needles are that much more important.  Contact your felting machine dealer to order the extra needles for your machine.

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The video below was from a Nancy Zeiman TV episode that shows how to prepare the Autumn Leaf Appliques for the Falling Leaves Art Quilt below.  It runs about 7 minutes and shows the process using a needle felting machine with tulle fabric, then free-motion embroidery, to create the leaves which were then stitched onto the finished quilt.

Believe it or not, I was able to present how each of the finished projects were designed and created in the gallery to the right during this video.  Machine Needle Felting was new to most, if not all of the audience that day so I went into great detail on how to create felted Art-For-The-Wall, and Art-To-Wear.  For more information about needle felting, visit my blog, also on this website.

Wool, Silk Carding Arrangement
Provincetown
Bottle Study
August Afternoon
Santa Fe
Autumn Tree
Morning Mist
Falling Leaves Art Quilt
Oleander
Erin Black Yellow Scarf
Erin Purple Scarf
Taylor White Scarf
Taylor and Sandi Scarves
Taylor and Sandy
Marble-Dyed Wool Roving
Show More

I will be adding blog lessons soon so check back and look for Needle Felting ideas and tips.

© Updated 2019 by Linda Hall

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Autumn Tree