Needle felting

dry felting technique which employs one or more specially designed needles to manipulate wool fibers

Needle felting is a dry felting technique which employs one or more specially designed needles to manipulate wool fibers. This technique is used by artists and craftspeople to sculpt objects and embellish textiles with wool. Needle felting can be used to create soft sculpture, dolls, figurines, and 2 dimensional wool paintings.

A needle felted monkey holding a banana.



Needle felting dates back to the 1980s. The technique was adapted from industrial felting by David & Eleanor Stanwood. They took needles from a wool factory and used them to create handmade felt without the use of water or soap. The skills for needle felting were passed on to Ayala Talpai who wrote books and taught others to needle felt. Today, needle felting is still not as popular as wet felting. However, it has a strong following with people who enjoy arts and crafts.[1]



Finger gloves


Finger gloves are small leather strips that cover the index finger and thumb in order to protect fingers from injury. Finger gloves can be useful for beginners, but contact with a hard surface can damage or break delicate felting needles.

Felting cushion

Felting needles

A cushion or mat is required for needle felting. A mat is used to protect both the delicate felting needles as well as the work surface below. A felting mat can be made out of many materials, but are commonly foam, sponge, or other soft materials that can withstand repeated puncture by the needle without causing damage to it.

Colorful wool roving

Felting needle


Felting needles are the most important tool for needle felting. They are specially designed with notches or 'barbs' all along the shaft to mat and lock wool fibers together. They come in a variety of sizes: smaller needles have finer barbs and can be used for more detailed work, while larger needles have thick barbs and can create felt faster than other needle sizes.[2][3] The needle size is measured in gauges ranging from 12 to 42. It is a measurement of how many needles fit in a square inch. That means the higher the gauge, the smaller the needle.

The wool that is typically used for needle felting is called roving or batting - wool that has been cleaned and carded is packaged this way for spinning and other fiber crafts. Many different types of wool are suitable for needle felting. Sheep's wool is most common, but other animal fibers and even some plant and synthetic fibers can be needle felted.[4]



Needle felting starts by placing a cushion or mat on a flat surface. To create a 3D object, a small amount of wool is tightly rolled up into a small bundle. The wool is then stabbed over and over again with the felting needle to lock the fibers together, eventually creating a firm texture that is called felt. Adding more wool and poking it repeatedly into the felt expands the object until it achieves the desired shape.[5] Needle felting can also be used to create 2D wool paintings. For this process, wool is applied to an existing piece of felt or fabric. Small amounts of fiber are painstakingly poked into the fabric to create the desired image.[6]


  1. "Free Needle Felting Patterns | Needle Felting Kit | Needle Felting Wool | Needle Felting Instructions". Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  2. "All About Felting". Archived from the original on 2019-12-04. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  3. "Needle Felting Needles | Weir Crafts". Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  4. "Needle felting - Ruth Packham's tips on how to work with vegan fibers". Retrieved 2022-09-19.
  5. "What is Needle Felting?". Bear Creek Felting. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  6. Wall, Rebecca (2022-03-11). "Needle Felting: A How-To Guide for 'Painting with Wool'". The Crafty Kit Company. Retrieved 2022-09-19.