Hi crafters! How are your Christmas preparations going? I’m a teensy bit behind but I’ve made sure that this year’s Xmas wreath has at least been made on time. My wreath this year has been made by needle felting and I thought I would share with you how you can make a needle felted wreath in time for Xmas.
Needle felting is the craft of matting/binding wool fibres together with the aid of a barbed needle. You can use the barbed needle to fix the wool fibres to other fibres, such as cotton, and to sculpt the fibres into shapes, such as flowers and leaves.
You will need:
- Needle felting wool (also called wool roving or wool tops) in green, white, red and black.
- Polystyrene wreath/ring (good quality dense polystyrene)
- Needle felting needles and needle holder/pen
- Needle felting foam mat
- Leather thimble
First, take large strips of the wool roving (unspun wool) and begin to wrap it around the polystyrene ring. After wrapping it around the ring a few times flip the ring over and push your needle felting needle or needle felting pen (holds 3-6 needles at once) through the wool roving into the polystyrene ring, do this a few times in the same area. Repeat the previous actions until the whole ring is covered and fixed firmly on the back.
The more times that you push the needle through the fibres the tighter the fibres fix together and the firmer the hold, but be a little careful when using polystyrene as a base as even with a good quality, dense polystyrene there is a limit to the amount of prodding it will take.
If you go slowly around the ring you will notice if the polystyrene starts to soften and that’s your warning to ease off the pricking. If you wish to keep your wool tight to the ring and your polystyrene will take it, you can push your needle into the front of the wreath too.
One tip with the needle is to always pull the needle out in the same angle as you pushed it in, the needles are fine and can break if they get twisted. You may also want to use a leather thimble to prevent being pricked by the needle.
Next step is to make your holly leaves. Take a lump of wool and start to matt the fibres together, you can use your multi-needle pen to help speed up this bit. How much wool you need will depend on the size you are going for, it takes a bit of trial and error to get a feel for the amount you need, but you can always add more wool to the shape as you go. You will need to keep lifting the fibres of the mat as you go otherwise the fibres begin to bind with the foam mat and it gets stuck. Once you have started to form the fibres together into a loose oval shape you need to push the sides of the top of the oval into the middle of the shape so that you start to form a point in the top of the oval.
Shaping the fibres with the needle takes a little practise but generally, if you push your needle into the middle of a shape more times than other areas the shape will shrink and pull in the sides and if you push the needle into the shape horizontally you can pinch the shape in sharply.
You will need to pinch into the leaf shape roughly half way down the outer edge of the oval to create a sort of ‘waist’ by pushing your needle through the outer edge horizontally towards the centre of the shape, repeat on the opposite side. It’s best to keep tweaking the points on the holly leaf by doing a little at a time in one area then rotating your way around the shape as this helps to keep the shape even. Once you have ‘waisted’ your leaf you need to make another point at the bottom of the shape.
Then, find the middle of the outer edge between the ‘waist’ and the pointed area of the shape and carefully hold it between your finger and thumb then taking your needle horizontally push the needle away from your fingers and up into the ‘waisted’ area, again repeat this action around the leaf doing a little at each side then rotating. You will start to see a holly shape form. When your happy with the shape neaten up the edges by tucking loose bits into the side or on the back of the leaf. Don’t worry about getting it perfect as leaves are rarely identical, I also made the leaves on the wreath in various sizes as it helps to make it look less formal.
To finish the leaf, I took a thin strand of black wool roving and pushed it into the middle of the leaf in a line from top point to bottom point. If you push your needle into the centre of the leaf on the outside of the black vein you have just added you will notice that the leaf pinches or crease in the middle and folds which adds to the shape of the leaf.
To make the Christmas rose I used three different sized petals roughly 1”, 1 ½”, 2” high. I used 3 small petals for the centre of the rose, 5 petals for the middle and 7 of the largest petals for the outer layer.
Take a loop of white wool roving and needle felt it until you make a loose triangle or plectrum shape.
I assembled the rose on a loosely felted circle of white wool roving, this helps to give a firm base to fix the single petals too and makes it easier to fix the rose onto the wreath. Take the 3 small petals and overlap them around each other and place in the centre of the circle base. Push the needle down at an angle through the bottom of the petals and down through the base and repeat until the petals are fixed firmly to the base. Wrap the 5 middle-sized petals around the small petals and fix the 5 petals to the base, finish by adding the 7 largest petals in the same way. I made the holly berries by taking a small amount of wool roving and folding it in on itself and rotating it as I needle felted it.
To assemble the leaves to the wreath all you need to do is lay them out on the wreath where you want them and push your needle through the leaf and into the polystyrene ring a few times until its firmly fixed. If the leaf is not holding onto the wreath that easily just take a small amount of loose fibres and sandwich them between the leaf and polystyrene ring as this will help the fibres grab onto each other, I did this to help the rose hold onto the leaves. Fix the rose and berries in the same way.
I hope you liked the needle felted wreath and that you’ll pop by soon to check out some more Xmas crafts and handmade gift ideas.