Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Needle Felt a Tiger's Tail

Things have been hectic in Chilly Hollow in August and September, what with Destination Dallas deadlines, a vacation, and more. So I am late talking about needle felting on needlepoint canvas. Sorry!

But I knew you'd wait patiently just to find out how one needle felts a needlepoint canvas.  I'm using my coaster sized Timeless Tiger from Leigh Designs' new Imari series to explore needle felting and then report back to you.  I'm doing this as a model for Leigh so there will eventually be a stitch guide that has full instructions for this particular piece.  The things I've learned while working this piece will work for any canvas you want to needle felt, though.

If you've not read my previous articles on needle felting, they are collected here.

I used a single felting needle and the foam type felting block.  I took my canvas off stretcher bars but you don't have to do that.  I thought it would be easier to reach the various parts of the tiger if the bars weren't in the way.

Holding the Roving in Position

I started with the tail.  This is a narrow, curving area so I used a single needle since the multiple needle felting tools won't work here.  To needle felt, pinch off a small amount of the wool roving.  By small, I mean a nickel -ized piece that is thin enough you can see through it.  It will be wider than the tail but that's ok.  Just fold it in half to make it approximately the right width. Hold it in place with the fingers of one hand while you needle felt it with the other.   I started at the outside edge of the design but where you start doesn't really matter.  Lay the wool roving on the tail and poke it with the needle into the center of the tail, moving up and down perpendicular to the canvas.  (Holding the felting needle at an angle makes it easier to break.)  Remember to watch what you are doing so you don't poke your fingers with the needle!

Afraid of splitting your needlepoint canvas threads?  Don't be.  Practice poking the roving first with a regular tapestry needle.  You will notice that if you hit a thread, the needle will slide down into a hole.  This also happens with the barbed and sharp felting needle as long as you are not whaling the tar out of your canvas.  In other words, take your time.  Speed is not your friend here.

After you think your wool roving is stuck to the canvas somewhat, pinch off another bit of wool roving.  Fold it to fit and lay it on the tail, making sure it overlaps the first piece of roving.  Now use the felting needle again.  Once the second piece is felted, you can start to move the needle nearer the edge of the tail.  At this point, you can angle the needle and poke the wisps that are laying over the tail margin into the tail area.  Go slowly.  

Repeat this process up and down the tail, adding another pinch of wool roving as needed.  This will take far longer than basketweaving the tail but I think of it as doing background.  It takes time but is worth the effort.  To check that the wool roving is secure, flip the canvas over.  You will see the fuzz on the back side.  Like this--

Wool Roving on the Back Side
When you are happy with the look of the tail, check to see if there are any wisps of roving sticking up or out.  Poke those into position with the needle felting tool or trim them with sharp scissors.  You can use the needle to push down into the edge of the tail at an angle which helps secure it but go slowly as angled pokes are more likely to break the needle.

The final step is to stem stitch the stripes on top of the wool roving using a sharp needle.  It's really just like stem stitching on top of an already stitched area.  The sharp needle helps the thread go through the wool roving smoothly.

Next time I'll talk about needle felting the tiger's back and starting his face.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright September 26, 2014 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

Needle Keeper

Need a wooden needle keeper necklace? 

This unique item comes from Akerworks in Tennessee.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at
and at
© Copyright September 15, 2014 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.