This needle felted elf will make a cute addition to your Christmas decor!
I recently took a course on needle felting featuring needle felted elves. Needle felting is something I’ve alway wanted to learn! When I discovered that I could get wool roving online, I was excited to practice what I had learned and design my own project. Amazon has a great selection of colours of wool roving and tools by Clover.
How to Needle Felt an Elf *
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You’ll need a few supplies to make needle felted elves:
- Wool roving
- Needle felting tool
- Pen style tool
- Felting pad
- Pipe cleaners
- Sewing tweezers
- Wire cutters
- Variety of felting needles.
For this project, I used a variety of felting needles. In addition to the multi-needle tools, I also like using single needles without a holder; it’s really
The needle felting tool on the left is like a punch tool; it has 5 barbed needles that makes felting larger pieces go very fast. I love that the clear protective cover also protects my fingers from accidentally getting stabbed. The pen style tool (on the right) can hold anywhere from one to three barbed needles so is very versatile.
The only colour that Clover does not make is a skin colour, but that’s not a problem! I took equal pieces of white and pink, then tufted them together.
Keep pulling and mixing until you get a cohesive looking flesh-tone. This is about half way done:
Once mixed, I bagged it to keep it all together. You can see the difference between the lighter skin colour on the far left and the pink right next to it.
Gather up your roving, tools, a felting pad (I use high density foam to felt on), pipe cleaners (for structure), a darning needle, sewing tweezers, a chop stick, mini dowel and toothpick. You’ll also need wire cutters to cut your pipe cleaner.
For this project, I used a variety of felting needles. In addition to the multi-needle tools, I also like using single needles without a holder; it’s really your preference. For this project I used a 38 gauge and 40 gauge single needle for the finer details.
A Few Safety Tips
Felting is not a craft that you can do while watching TV: it needs your full attention. In light of that, be sure to place your project on a needle felting mat – not up in the air or on your lap! The needles are sharp! To keep your fingers away from your work, use a darning needle to hold the item and felt around it.
You don’t need to stab deep into the mat below your project as you work. Due to the barbs on the needle, shallow jabs are often sufficient for them to do their job. Remember to come out of the project at the same angle you go in. The finer needles are delicate and easy to break.
Fold a piece of pipe cleaner in half. Twist it until there is two an a half inches remaining at the bottom on each side. Fold back the tip 1/4″ on each side then spread it out (like a ‘T’). Take some red roving and twist it onto each side (this makes the legs).
At this point it will look like a moustache.
Body of Needle Felted Elf
Tear of a piece of white roving and roll it around the centre making a point at the very top. Use your felting needle to felt in the ends.
Take another piece and do the same…
…but concentrate on making only the bottom bigger.
The circumference at the bottom should measure 4″. In effect, the body will be pointy at the top and fat around the bottom.
Face of Needle Felted Elf
Tear off pieces of the custom skin colour made earlier for the face (shown on the elf), and the cheeks, nose and ears respectively. You’ll also need two pieces of black for the eyes. Wrap the piece for the face around the figure 1″ up from the botton and felt the seam.
Use the dowel to roll the pieces for the cheeks, the toothpick for the nose and the chop stick for the ears. Gently remove from their respective forms. Then roll the black into tiny balls between your fingers. Attach all to face as shown.
You can add the slightest amount of pink or red for rosy cheeks.
Felt on a circular piece of brown roving below the nose where the mouth will be. At first, it will look strange until the upper and lower lips go on.
Use the skin colour to make an upper and lower lip. Use the dowel and wrap a piece of pink around. Take off the dowel and felt the resulting tube all around to hold together. Then place onto the lower lip and connect.
Apply the ears to the sides of the head. Then attach the upper lip just under the nose.
Overlap the corners of the upper and lower lips. Use the darning needle to hold the corners as you felt the lips onto the face.
Place a piece of roving under the felt from lower lip. Stab around the desired shape to form a chin.
Hat for Needle Felted Elf
Now for the hat. Use the needle to stab the shape of a triangle into the roving. Shown below is the bottom of the hat.
Fold into the centre the three sides – one by one – and use your needle felting tools to solidify a triangular shape. Overlap the seam and carefully felt together to form the hat. I use a piece of foam backer rod right under the seam to make this step easier.
At the pointy tip of the hat, add a piece of white roving. Felt all around into a pom pom shape.
Place the hat on the elf’s head and felt a brim. I also bent the hat into a free-form shape off to the side and felted in a few spots to hold.
I wanted to give him some curly eyebrows so I used a crochet hook to crochet a chain as shown below. I wet it, then squeezed out the water and placed it into a convection toaster oven at 150 degrees for 10 minutes. When I unraveled the chain, voila! Curly strands! While I only used a tiny bit for the brows, I can’t wait to use this technique for hair in another project.
Arms and Mitts
Now it’s time to give him some arms. Wrap a piece of pipe cleaner around the body to determine the size you need and cut it with a pair of wire cutters. Choose a colour for the mittens (I chose blue).
Wrap the ends as shown. Then wrap two more pieces of blue around a toothpick. These will be the thumbs. Attach to the mitts.
Needle Felted Elf Coat
Felt together some white roving for the coat with the multi-needle tools. Ensure it will fit around the circumference of the body with room to overlap.
Take pieces of green, red, yellow and blue roving and place onto the white coat. If you haven’t already guessed, my little elf is getting a Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket-Inspired coat! How Canadian is that? I’m crazy for point blanket stripes as this point blanket inspired upcycle attests.
Use the pen tool to felt in the coloured stripes. Make two holes in the back so you can eventually put the arms through.
Use pieces of white roving to attach the arms at the back.
Thread the arms through the holes in the jacket and bring around to the front. Roll four balls of black and needle on to make ‘buttons’ on the coat. This will help fasten it onto the body.
Make sleeves by rolling two pieces of white roving in a tube. I rolled the roving onto a piece of backer rod to make it easier to close the seam. You can stab right into it to maintain the tube shape!
With the sleeves ready to go, wrap his arms in a piece of loose plastic. This is a great trick to get the sleeves on in one piece.
Once the armholes are felted securely onto the coat, use your tweezers to grab the plastic and remove it.
Clean up around the neck and collar.
Skis and Boots
I was just going to give my needle felted elf some boots and call it a day. I originally intended for him to sit. But I actually made the coat a bit too long for the legs to stick out from under the coat. On to ‘plan B’: I straightened out the legs and decided to put him on skis! Much more fitting for my coastal Christmas decor!
Using a popsicle stick, I outlined a ski shape onto two equal-sized pieces of red roving and felted them to a stiff consistency. Leave the middle a bit fluffy so you can felt the boots on later.
To create the curve of the skis at the front and back, place a darning needle into the mat for support so you can bend the shape against it. Felt it into a curved shape.
For the boots, we’ll use the thinner pieces to wrap the bottom of the legs, creating the cuff.
Here’s the bottom of his legs wrapped in black, ready to receive the boots.
Use the wider pieces of black roving to create a foot shape. Place onto the bottom of the legs and felt on. This part is tricky! You need to fold the back up to create a heel. When that is done, fold the toe and secure around the entire boot.
Attaching the Skis
The boots are done and ready to attach to the skis.
Place darning needles through the boot, into the skis securing it to the felt pad so you can work with both hands to steady it. Ignore the fact that I used a felting needle for the picture; I couldn’t find another darning needle!
Once the boots are secure onto the skis around the perimeter of the boots, turn your elf over so the bottom of the skis are facing you. Carefully stab upward from the skis into the boot to secure the entire bottom.
He’s now ready for his holiday debut!
Over the weekend I spotted this adorable light house at a thrift store while we were out of town.
It reminded me of the lighthouse we visited in PEI when Hubs and I were still dating! You just never know where your inspiration is going to come from; it had to come home with me!
I adorned it with these mini ornaments from the dollar store.
And here he is! I haven’t named this little guy yet, but if you have suggestions, I would love to hear them!! Leave me a comment 😉.
I know there’s a lot of information on how to make needle felted elves so I made this full instructional video for you! It’s an hour-and-a-half long but will show a lot more detail of the step-by-steps. If you’re like me, and you’re a visual learner, you’ll find it helpful.
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I have a really fun idea for another holiday-related needle felted character so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out a few of my other unconventional Christmas projects: these glass mini blocks and shrink plastic art.
Needle Felted Elf FAQs
What is the easiest thing to felt?
A great beginner project is a needle felted elf. That because you’ll learn all the basics like needle felting both flat and 3D objects.
Can I use a regular needle to needle felt?
No, you can’t felt with a regular needle, although you can use it to hold some of the pieces you are felting. A needle felting needle is specially designed with barbs to mesh the fibres of the wood together. It transforms loose fluffy fibre, into dense structures that can be sculpted into any object.
Can you needle felt onto any fabric?
Fabric containing wood fibres are the best fabric to needle felt onto. It will lock your design in place.
Do felting needles break easily?
It’s easy to break the tip of a felting needle if you bend the needle at the wrong angle and don’t plunge it into the roving in a straight motion. Work smart and position the work comfortably onto a felting pad as you work around your project.
What is the best surface to needle felt on?
A high density foam mat is a great surface to work on. Be sure to work on different areas of the surface so you don’t wear through any one area. It will extend the life of the pad
Why is my needle felting so fuzzy?
Continue to needle felt until the structure is firm and smooth. It just takes a little more patience to finish your project to a professional looking finish.