Unorthodox Needle Felting Findings and Two Wise Men

Inspired by this needle-felting tutorial at Dabbled by Sally from Pollywog’s Cakewalk, my mom and I recently embarked on a nativity scene making odyssey. We’re needle-felting figurines for a nativity set or three for next Christmas. We’ve already completed a few characters, including Mary, baby Jesus, a manger, Joseph, a sheep, and last night I worked on these two wise men. (The one on the right is supposed to be wearing a turban… I might have to work on that!)

We’re still refining our technique, but needle-felting is a fairly simple process, and also much more fun than you might expect. The thing that has kept me from needle-felting before this is the cost of the supplies, namely the felting needles (we got 5 fine needles for around $9) and the cost of the roving ($3 for half an ounce at our local yarn store). I am always tempted to buy in bulk when starting a new project, but who wants to do that when you don’t know if you will enjoy it or not?

Legit needle-felters might roll over in their, um, studios, but we have some unorthodox findings to share with you. If you have been hesitant to jump into yet another craft because you don’t want to drop $50 in initial supplies, listen to this:

  1. You can needle-felt polyester batting. Yes. That cheap polyester batting. It works well for creating an initial shape that you can then cover with wool roving.
  2. You can also use the polyester batting as is, and let it show. The white-haired wiseman has batting hair and beard.
  3. You can needle-felt non-roving stuff like wool yarn onto a polyester batting base. So, if you have a stash of wool or partially wool yarn, you can use it to try needle-felting out. We tried Lion Brand Wool-Ease and it worked.
  4. Wrapping yarn around the polyester batting and felting it works. Cutting shorter pieces of yarn and unraveling it into “roving” works better.
  5. You can needle-felt polyester felt pieces together.
  6. If you try to needle-felt polyester felt to polyester batting, the little batting fuzz comes through the holes in the polyester felt, so it doesn’t work as well.

I haven’t found info anywhere else on the internet that tells you the shocking truth about polyester batting and needle-felting. If I were teaching a class on needle-felting, I would hand out a lot of polyester batting to start with. It is great for practicing your technique.

I even had visions of dyeing the polyester batting for a huge supply of colored felting material. I did a bit of detective work and found that you can use a dye called iDye Poly to dye polyester. I haven’t tried it, and have found no info on dyeing polyester batting, but it would be worth a try. Just imagine dyeing a huge bag of batting and having all that material to needle-felt with.

Your world has been officially rocked!


4 Responses

  1. Anitra Cameron Says:

    Oh. My. Goodness. I’ve been running away from felting. Now look what you did!

  2. Croq Says:

    I know! I avoided it for the longest time but my mom wanted to try it!

  3. Sally McEntire Says:

    Those wise men are great! Love the detail. And I LOVE the cupcakes. I’m so glad that I gave you the felting bug! And I totally love your “budget tips”. Very good to know indeed.

  4. Christina Says:

    Heather, these are amazing… all of my stuff is flat! And there it is, right at number 5, my apparently not-so-original discovery! There are two women in my crafters group who are big needle felters, and I’ve been admiring their work for the past few weeks. I had some wool that I purchased too hastily (it had some beautiful colors, but almost half of it turned out to be yellow and black-yuck), so I knit up a couple of headbands with the pretty sections of it. I kept thinking how cool some wool flowers would look on them as accents, but I couldn’t justify the expense of the thick wool felt. I had all of this cheap felt left over from Christmas and began to wonder if I could make it look like the thicker wool felt. I shared my idea with my friend at last week’s meet up and asked if she had ever tried or seen that. I think she thought I was crazy to even think of something like that! It’s not flawless, but I like it and it didn’t cost me a fortune! I will definitely have to try the polyester batting…let me know if you try the iDye Poly. THAT would be a true coup!