The Ultimate Needle Felting Tips and Tricks

The Ultimate Needle Felting Tips and Tricks

After understanding about the tools and materials for needle felting, l would love to share the tips and tricks for your needle felting projects to level-up your knowledge and to become a better artist. If you keep trying but keep getting discouraged, these tips and tricks hopefully will help you. Without further do, let’s keep reading! 😉

Understand the shape of your sculpture

You have to know your sculpture well. For example, if you’re going to make a dog, please do have some references about the dog’s anatomy. I encourage you to search for the references. The ideas of the right size, the color, the shape and every detailed property from the references will lead you to make a better sculpture. Another important thing is you will know the right proportion of the body parts.

Even if you are not going to make a realistic look of an animal or human, but you still have to know the shape of your sculpture to lead you right.  I mostly make cute animals for my needle felting projects. Cute illustrations from Pinterest give me lots of inspirations about the sculpture I am going to make. It’s not to copy them but to give you ideas about the right shape of your sculpture!

Use the right felting needles

You probably think any felting needle will successfully do its job to felt your wools. No, you are wrong :)! There are two types of felting needles to complete the whole project. They are thin and thick felting needles, which have different functions. I’ve mentioned the differences between both needles. Now, I will tell you in details how I use both types on my projects.

Thick felting needle is best used for:

  • Shaping your wool at the beginning process with or without armature (e.g. body, head, muzzle, tail, arms, legs)
  • Adding long fur on some parts of your sculpture like body, legs, arms, tail

  • Creating flat pieces of felt like ears, tongue

  • Attaching 2 pieces (e.g. head and body, arms or legs to the body, muzzle on the face, tail on the back, ears on the head)

  • Adding bulk to your sculpture

Thin felting needle is best used for: 

  • Creating lines or any shape with very minimum use of wools (e.g lines for mouth, nose, spots,  dots, eyebrows, eyeliner, sclera or white part of the eye.
  • Adding any color of roving wools on the basic color of your sculpture (this is serious! Don’t use thick felting needle to do this)

  • Adding long fur on some parts of your sculpture like face, muzzle, floppy ears

  • Layering in between two attached parts with wools

  • Pulling the wools on your sculpture to make a hairy look

  • Adding eyelids

Roll and poke the wool tightly at the very beginning

Whatever shapes you’re going to make, please make sure you roll your wool and poke it tightly. It is simple but often forgotten. For me, it’s the most crucial thing about needle felting. If you don’t roll to shape your wool tightly, it is hard to make it solid and hard. This makes it impossible for you to attach another part on it, creating a very bad finish.

Poke until it becomes firm!

It is very important to keep your shape nice and firm. You can test the firmness by pinching it or if you found lots of loose fibers coming out from the surface, it simply means you have to poke more. I know that this is time consuming but it is worth the effort. If you don’t start your base firm, it will create a bigger problem later.

Use a wire armature

Some enjoy making a sculpture without armature while some don’t. I mostly use armatures for legs, arms and tails. Some asked me why not the whole body? well, it’s just my personal preference. I always mess up making legs, arms and tails without the wire inside while it’s pretty easy to make the rest like head and body (in case of making an animal sculpture). However, to save your time, it is indeed better to create an armature for the whole body. This also will help you to achieve the even size and proportional shape of your sculpture. 

Layer in between two parts with wools

To achieve a nice finish of your sculpture, you have to understand well how to attach two parts rightly (the head to the body, the arms or legs to the body, the tails to the bottom part, the ears to the head, the muzzle to the face, etc). Before you step into this point, make sure to poke the base until it becomes firm. Otherwise, it’s impossible to perform this.

After you successfully attach one piece to another, don’t forget to always layer in between both parts with wools. It’s simply like blending them together. The first reason why you need to do it is because you need strength to let both parts attached to one another. Second, it is because layering with wools creates a better and more natural look on your sculpture.

Tools and Materials for Needle Felting

Tools and Materials for Needle Felting

Are you interested in needle felting and confused about the tools and materials to begin with? You’re in the right place! I will let you know my favorite tools and materials for all of my needle felting projects that I share on my Youtube channel. Keep reading to find out!

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Some asked me if there’s any alternative for the felting needle. The answer is NO. This needle has barbs that allow the wool fibers to be locked after repetitive pokes. There are many different kinds of felting needles but I will only discuss in details about the ones that I always use. Let me divide the felting needles into two types, which are thick and thin.

1.1  Thin (top) and thick (below) felting needles

1.2 felting needles


Thick felting needle has a main function to shape the wools in the beginning of felting process. The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the felting needle. I usually use 36 or 38 gauge felting needle that I categorize it as thick ones. The thickness allows the wool fibers to hook easier, stronger and faster. It will take ages if you start shaping your wool with thin felting needle.



Thin felting needle is used for detailing and working on small areas. It can also used for creating a smoother surface if you found large pores on the surface of your sculpture. What you need to do is to only poke the surface until it becomes smooth.  The size I use for the thin felting needle is 40 gauge. Thin felting needle is not as durable as a thick one, it’s better to prepare more needles just in case it breaks or worn out.



Some artists consider felting mat to be very important like me but some also enjoy felting without it. However, for safety reasons, it’s always better to use it. I have used several felting mats but I found the foam mat is the best.

1.3  EPE white foam

EPE foam

EPE foam is used mostly in my projects. It’s always nice to work with this mat because of the pillowy feel you get when you poke it with a felting needle. It minimizes your wool to stick on the surface. This foam is also cheap and easy to find. However, it also has its own shortcoming, after two or three projects, the foam will be worn out. The more you felt on it, the flatter the mat becomes. No pillowy or even a stringy feel anymore. All you can do is to throw it out and replace it with a new one.


Out of many different kinds of wool out there, I use roving wools, which looks like a long rope with the same length of fibers. It comes with many different colors that allow you to create anything you want. While for the base, I use core wools and sometimes polyester wadding to felt easier and faster because it has shorter fibers. It is best for adding bulk as well. After making the base, you can top coat it with colored roving wools. Sometimes, I use roving wools as the base as well.

1.4   Roving wools

1.5  Core wools 

Other than straight roving wools, I usually use curly roving wools to add effects of animals like Poodle, Alpaca, and other curly-haired animals. I have used the curly roving wools and curly locks, both works amazing.

1.6 Curly wools


1.7  Aluminum craft wire

I mostly use alumunium craft wire to make an armature or bendable arms and legs for my sculptures. The size of this wire is 20 gauge or 0.8 mm. This wire is quite strong and easy to cut and twist, which is why I choose it. I have also used pipe cleaners to make my armature. It works amazing because the little bristles around it could grab the wool better than regular wire. Some of my subscribers on Youtube also find it better than regular wire. Both are fine! Choose what’s the best for you 🙂



1.8   Eyes (5mm and 3mm)

I used several kinds of eyes for my project, which are black, cat and handmade eyes. Black eyes are used mostly to make dogs, human, and some creatures. It comes with many sizes. For small sculptures (under 10 cm), I use 3 to 5 mm of black plastic eyes.  While for the bigger sculptures, I use 12 to 15 mm of black plastic eyes.

While for the cats, I used the same size like stated above but different kind of eyes. Cat eyes have unique pupils and a sharp look.

I also made my own doll eyes from shrink plastic and UV resin. Shrink plastic is kind of plastic that shrinks when heated in the oven or with a heat gun. So, I color, shrink and coat it with UV resin to achieve a glossy look. It’s a nice way to create custom made eyes as you want it. You can check this out to see how I made eyes for my sculpture.


For all of my projects especially dogs, I made the nose using Premo polymer clay. Making it by yourself is better than buying it because you can customize the color, size and even the shape of the nose. 

1.9 Polymer clay nose


You can use any type of scissors for needle felting projects. However, I prefer a curved tip scissor than a regular scissor. This scissor has a pointy and curved tip that is very useful to make holes to insert the eyes.

2.0 Curved tip scissor


For attaching the eyes, I use any white glue such as Fox (any brand is fine!). While for attaching the embellishments on the sculpture or attaching any part on the wool sculpture, I use the all-purpose adhesive by UHU or E6000. It also works amazing to attach your sculpture on the wood chop or any stand.


2.1 Soft pastels

I use chalk or soft pastels to create blushed cheeks, shade some color on the body and even do the eye makeup. The pastels allow the sculpture to have more natural colors.