Kirstie's Handmade Britain

How To Make A Needlefelted Cushion

Needlefelted cushion

If you were inspired by the needlefelting featured in Kirstie's Handmade Britain, why not have a go at your own project? Here's how.

An old sack or open weave fabric or even an old jumper

Alpaca fleece or sheep's wool

Needlefelting needles 38 and 40 gauge

A deep sponge or foam

Carding combs or two dog brushes

Sewing thread and needles

Decorative ribbon if needed

Small beads for eyes

Skill

You need a healthy dollop of imagination and patience to master this project, and some needlework experience would be an advantage.

Budget

A 100g of felting wool costs around £8.50.

Time

Depending on your level experience, allow at least three evenings.

Step One: Cut The Cushion Shape

Cut yourself a cushion shape of your chosen fabric. It needs to be an open weave fabric or soft, so that you can needlefelt through into it. You will need a back and a front with a bit extra around the edge to allow for turnings. Mark out with a loose running stitch or marker pen a square in the middle of your fabric. This will become your window/picture, the outside being the border.

Step Two: Prepare Your Fibre

Prepare your alpaca fibre or sheep's wool or any other fluffy fibre that you have available. Remove any pieces of debris. You can card the fibre if it doesn’t come already prepared. You can do this by using special carders or two dog brushes, the idea being to fluff up the fibre and separate the strands so that they run in no particular direction. Alpaca fibre is fine enough to be able to just use your hands to fluff it up.

Step Three: Start To Needlefelt

Take your protective sponge and place this on your lap. Select the border colour of the fibre you are going to use. Start to lay it out thickly enough on the fabric so that it will totally hide the fabric underneath. You can always add more if gaps appear. Carefully with your sponge underneath start to needlefelt the fibre using your 38 gauge needle. Gently stab through both the fabric and the fluff, being careful to watch your fingers and to not go too deep into the sponge.

Step Four: Fill In The Background

Once you have covered the border, start on filling in the background for the window aperture.

Step Five: Make The Sheep's Head

Once you have finished the background, you can start making your sheep. You can blend the different coloured fibres together to make new colours. For the sheep's head, used black with a little white. Taking a ball of fluff, approximately twice the size of the finished item you want to make, start to needlefelt it, turning it regularly so it starts to form a kind of pear drop shape. Use the 38 gauge needle first. Then make some ear shapes and some sausage shapes for building up the eyes and nose. Using a different coloured fleece to make the horns. Using the finer 40 gauge needle, needlefelt these items on to the head of your sheep. You will need four heads for the corners of your cushion and one for the main panel/window.

Step Six: Make The Sheep's Body

Next take a new bundle of fleece to make the body of the sheep for the front panel. Needlefelt it loosely so that it remains quite fluffy. Then needlfelt this onto the back of the head. You can slip a stitch through this just to make it really secure. Stitch all the 3d items onto the cushion and add any embellishments, ribbons, eyes that you wish. Finish off with tidying up any loose felting or hairy bits you don’t want with the finer 40 gauge needle and/or a pair of scissors.

Step Seven: Finish The Cushion

You should now be ready to stitch the cushion together.

With thanks to Naomi Stannard

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