The great thing about needle felting is that it needn’t be expensive.
You need very little to get started, and your initial overlays can be quite small as the essential equipment is minimal and inexpensive. Of course, you then have to contend with the fact that felting is very addictive and you will want ALL THE WOOLS!!! but it really is possible to get by quite happily with just the basics. Here I’ll talk you through the essential equipment, equipment that’s really useful and equipment that is handy but completely optional.
Core Wool – Some people debate whether core wool is necessary, and you can get by without it, but it’s a struggle. I personally strongly recommend using core wool, which is typically a less expensive, natural coloured and rougher wool than most “top colours’. Use core wool to build up a firm shape for your creation before adding a top colour. For more information about core wool click here.
Top-Colour Fibres – The coloured fibres that are used on the top layer of
Felting Needles – These barbed, specialist needles are essential to this art and are not the same thing as sewing needles. To learn more about different needle types, click here.
- A selection of glass eyes, beads or buttons that can be used as eyes.
- Finger guards – trust me on this one! They take a bit of getting used to but save a lot of pain and bloodshed.
- A needle holder – I particularly recommend the pen-style holders that keep the needles close together.
- Embroidery scissors (the very sharp ones) – for cutting threads, trimming fibres on your finished products and occasionally hacking away at over-felted items.
- A selection of sewing needles and threads (I actually use embroidery silks as they tend to be stronger and come in a wide range of easily re-orderable colours).
- A doll-maker’s needle – these are thick, strong and very long needles used by doll makers and are ideal for sewing through thick, dense felted shapes if you want to attach a limb.
- Plastic, airtight, sealable sandwich bags – the type that press closed – for moth-proof storage of fibres.
- Glue – fabric glue is good, but does take time to dry. To help fix on eyes or keep the fibre inside a pot etc.
- A pair of jewellery-making wire cutters (for trimming wire/ pipe cleaner armature).
Handy to have equipment
- A magnet (to help locate the ends of broken needles)
- A pair of jewellery-making pliers (for when you’re sewing on eyes or limbs etc – if you’re using a fine needle a pair of pliers will help you grab the sharp end without hurting yourself.)
- A selection of ribbons, materials, beads etc for decoration.