Sheep, Sheep! Tote, By Holly Shelly
Needle felting is a wonderful way to use wool to create beautiful and fun projects. You will need a few basic supplies as listed here.
- A high density piece of foam. It should be very firm and mine measures 9 1/2 inches X 20 inches. It is three inches thick. Be sure your foam is thick, as needles are VERY sharp. You also need a smaller piece that will fit inside of a pocket, just 3 or 4 inches square and two inches thick.
- needles, and needle holders. You can use individual needles, but it is faster to use groups of needles at once, and easier on the hands if you have a handle to hold your needles.
- Wool batts in the main color (about 5 ounces). You will also need wool for your sheep in the desired color, a small amount of green, and black or brown for eyes and noses.
Main Purse Body
The first layer will be the inside of the purse. You can have the fiber direction running in either way, mine is going lenthwise. Lightly tack it in place to the foam to hold it in place while you add another layer.
Now you lay a piece of fabric, a light muslin fabric is fine. I find discount fabrics or use old pillowcases or sheets. The fabric adds stability and keeps your purse from looking floppy.
Wrap this fabric around the wool form. Do not over lap edges , I do my corners similar to an envelope , and trim off the excess. Remember you have to felt through the fabric, so you don`t want overlapped pieces...
Now, lay another layer in the OPPOSITE direction that your original wool layer was going. This layer is going horizontally. Now you will very lightly tack this layer down as well. This is a bit harder because of the fabric , just punch through the fabric , not too far down into your foam . Remember you want to kind of BOUNCE off the foam . Excessive punching into your foam causes it to break down faster , plus push your fibers into the foam.
Now add a third and last layer, which will go in the same direction as the original layer, mine is going vertical again.
Now you can start felting your fibers ....work all the sides until pretty flat. Leave the very top fuzzy. Later, we will fold this into the inside and it will blend in better if it is NOT felted.
Now it is felted quite well, notice the top is still only lightly felted so that we can turn this down later.
Now, run your hand between the foam and purse to loosen the fibers. Once you have them pretty well loosened , turn the top so you can peel it off your foam. Now you can turn it inside out.
Put it back on the foam form inside out, and felt this side. you will do each side twice . Check for thin spots , where you can see the fabric poking thru , add a small patch of fiber and felt that on if needed. When you feel it is pretty well felted , peel it off once more and felt the first side again, and then the second side once again.
To make your pocket, you will need 3 layers once again, and you will layer them in opposite directions as before, in the approximate size of your finished pocket.
Felt with your multi needle tool , two times per side, leaving the edges a bit fuzzy.
Fold the edges over to the wrong side and felt well, at least once on each side.
Felting the edges down
A finished pocket. I made 2 pockets, and I am putting both of them inside my tote/purse. However you can put one on the outside if you prefer.
Felting The Pocket On
For an inside pocket have your tote/purse flipped WRONG SIDE OUT, place your pocket, but remember not to have it up too far, you will need to add handles yet. ALSO, if you add the sheep embellishment on the outside, you don`t want your pocket overlapping the bottom either.
Use a single needle (i am using a size 38-medium) and felt around the 2 sides and bottom, poking maybe about 1/4 inch in from the edges. Turn your tote/purse right side out and touch up where you just felted the pocket on, I take my needle at an angle and felt those fuzzies back in, remember your needle goes in and out at the same angle to avoid breaking.
Tear a strip off of your batt, and lightly stretch to make the proper length, you may have to add an extension, (just overlap the 2 pieces, maybe 3/4" )
I made my width about 2 1/2" then tear small little pieces to set in the opposite direction, now lightly felt your handle. On the handle, we will just use two layers.
I wanted my handles round, so I need to roll them and felt as I go. I am folding them almost in thirds. So fold in one side and felt lightly, then fold the other over and felt it down. Now I roll and felt to make a round handle.
Take a single needle and felt the ends really well. I wanted a knot, so I cut a button hole in through the tote and thread the handle through this hole, then tie a knot on the end. Once you have it in place, you may need to re-felt the knot.
Now the knots are finished ... I use a single needle to touch up the ends of the knots.
Now we get to the really fun part. Place your small piece of foam inside your tote, depending on where your pocket is. You may need to put a small piece of foam inside the pocket (so you don`t felt the pocket closed.)
2 globs of wool have been felted on, for your sheep bodies, I like them a bit 3-D so I used a good sized glob....I like to sculpt my edges so it isn't a perfect circle. You are looking for a cloud type shape for your sheep body. Make one, two or a whole flock of sheep!
Now, add another glob for the head, you can see that the heads stick out from the body a bit, felt with a single needle. Shape the head in a rounded T like shape. Once you have the first head done, put heads on any other sheep you have.
Now, felt a small amount of black for the eyes and nose.
To begin an ear, take a small amount of wool and felt, I fold this in half and then felt from all angles to form the shape.
Now flip over and felt again, I do a lot of felting inside the ear to give it more depth and shape.
To attach the ears to your sheep felt the ends down firmly in place.
Now, we add the legs ....I only added two legs, I started with four legs, but they looked crowded, so I pulled them off and felted over the spots with the base colored wool.
Now the legs and ears are finished.
Now you can add grass, I dyed my wool green and the tips seemed to dye a darker shade, which adds dimension. A variegated fiber will work nicest for the grass. I thought they needed some of that lush grass to chomp on too, so they each have a mouthful!
Here are my 2 totes .... I thought they needed a bit more embellishment, so I felted on some wool yarn. I also added some of that on the back. If you decide to do this don`t forget your pockets are in there , so put your foam inside the pocket!
TA- DAAA Finished !
Holly lives with her husband Tim, adn her 14 year old daughter on a farm in Ohio. With horses, goats, llamas, sheep chickens, rabbits, and a couple of dogs for variety, life is always fun at Windy Hollow Farm. Holly has needlefelted for 4 years, and teaches local classes with her friend Joy, they duo are known as "The Two Ewes".