Needle Felting 101 – All you need to know about felting needles

October 13, 2017 4 Comments

Needle Felting 101 – All you need to know about felting needles

What is felting needle –

Felting needle is unique by its shape and function. There are multiple barbs on the needle blade. Every time when we poke the felting needle into the wool, those barbs will mess up the wool fibers and make the fibers entangled together. By repeating the “poke poke” actions, the wool fibers will get interlocked tighter and tighter. Soonish, the wool will get tight enough and stay on our desired shape.
 
So, you know why we have to use dedicated felting needles to do this fun craft. Now let take a look at different types and sizes felting needles……….

 

Types - 

Usually we can see 4 different types of felting needles – Triangular, Star, Spiral and Spiral-Star
 

Triangular Needles – Barbs on 3 side
Traingular_felting_needle
This is the most common and inexpensive type of felting needle. There are 3 faces on the blade and make the blade a triangular shape. Usually when we see felting needle without specify the type, we can expect they are triangular. Triangular needles come with the most wider range of sizes.
(available sizes – 32G, 36G, 38G, 40G, 42G)

 
Star Needles -  Barbs on 4 sides

Star_felting_needle

The star needles have 4 faces on the blade and make the blade a star shape. Compare to triangular needle only has barbs on 3 sides, the extra side on star needle gives extra aggressive at pushing fibers, and help felting faster.
(available sizes – 36G, 38G)

 
Spiral Needle - Barbs twist around the needle

Spiral_felting_needle

Like triangular needles have 3 faces on the blade, but the blade twist around make a spiral shape. The unique spiral blade allow wool felted above and below the surface. The extra twisting can help tighten the wool slightly extra faster, and leave smaller hole on the surface.
(available sizes – 36G, 38G, 40G)

 
Spiral-Star Needle – Barbs on 4 sides and twist around the needle

Spiral_Star_felting_needle

The rare found spiral-star combine all the benefits of Star and Spiral felting needles, it has 4 sides of barbs working for us and twist/tighten the wool fibers above and below the surface in the same time.    
(available sizes –38G)

 

Sizes -

There are varies sizes of felting needles from coarse to fine. Most common sizes we use for needle felting crafts are in the 32G – 42G gauge range. Lower the number the coarser/thicker the needles are, and higher the number the finer/thinner the needles are.
 
In general, we start with a thicker needle (lower gauge) for initial shaping. Gradually we switch to medium and thin needles by increase the gauge numbers for better and finer shaping, and at the end we add details using extra-fine needle. During working on our project, we often switch back to the thicker needle for attachment, such as attach arms and legs to body, ears to head…….
 
We don’t need to have every size of felting needles to start and finish a project. If we only have one needle on hand, we still can make many creative felting crafts out of it. However, each gauge of needles can help us speed up or refine certain steps of our works. Try different sizes of needles and find out what works best for you.

 

32G -

The coarse needle felt faster and do not break easily, but tend to leave visible holes on the surface. They are generally used in the initial shaping stage for coarse fibers and attaching pieces. 

36G -

The medium/thick needle service similar function as a 32G needle, but leaves smaller holes on the surface. Good for initial shaping stage for medium fiber, and also can be used for attaching pieces.

38G -

The medium/fine needle is most commonly used all-rounder needle. It is great for further shaping and tightening work.

40G -

The fine needle is best for felting fine details. It can be used for finishing “skin” - refining small holes on the surface to make it smooth and neat.

42G -

The ultra fine needle is great for extra details. It leaves very small holes, and great for rooting doll hair or whisker or adding any extra details.





4 Responses

soni
soni

May 18, 2018

Thank you for this comprehensive guide!
I’ve been wanting to try this craft, and the tool nerd in me really appreciated the clear diagrams and instructions.
(PS Your work is charming:)

Carla Hundley
Carla Hundley

May 12, 2018

Neat to know.
I’d like to try
felting.
Carla from Utah

Nia Collins
Nia Collins

March 28, 2018

Thank you, I am a wet/needle felt beginner and this article is very informative and helpful.

Nia

Irmgard B M Ferreira
Irmgard B M Ferreira

January 24, 2018

I loved this article. I´m starting with needle felting and learned a lot. Thank you very much
Irmgard

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