tiny needle felted hearts

Homemade Valentine’s Gift

This is a  tutorial on a great homemade gift for Valentine’s Day–needle felted hearts.  These are super tiny, and super sweet; they remind me of those pale colored sweetheart candies!  For the pros at needle felting this should be a breeze and for the newbies it will show you a little bit of what this craft has to offer.  For those of you that are new to the idea of needle felting you will need a few materials.

Basic Felting Equipment:
Wool Roving or Wool Batting(in color of choice)
Felting needles in various sizes
Foam Pad

Information for Beginners!-
Felting needles have tiny barbs on them that knot the wool as you move the needle up and down. They are very sharp, so use caution especially around children.  A foam pad or felting brush is necessary for a felting surface; the needles will break when they hit a hard surface.

Now on to the Tutorial!-
1.  First grab out a small handful of wool roving or batting.  I have chosen a purpley pink colored wool batting.  Next lightly shape it into a ball with your largest size felting needle; I used a size 36.  Remember to do all felting on the foam pad surface. Simply push the needle in the wool over and over again.  Turn the wool as you go to create a ball. Do not make the ball dense, just a very light felting at this stage.
tutorial for needle felt hearts
2. Next felt a straight line down the top center of the wool ball.
needle felt tutorial for hearts
3.  Now look carefully at the photos below, this is a bit tricky to describe but easy to do.  Place your finger in the center of the line you just felted and smush the wool down to one side of that line.  Needle felt the smushed part flat.  Next needle felt the other side of the line flat.  These two smushed bits on either side of the line will be the top round parts of the heart in the end.

needle felting hearts

needle felting valentine hearts
The felted wool is beginning to take some shape now.
heart tutorial for needle felting
4.  Next lets work on the sides of the heart.  Lay the heart on its side, needle felt the bottom bit that will be the tip of the heart.  Now, turn it on its opposite side and needle felt the bottom bit again.
needle felting small valentines heart
Now the heart shape is definitely alot more obvious.  A bit wide, but that’s next . . .

needle felting a heart

5.  Flatten the heart shape with your fingers and lay it on your foam pad.  Needle felt the front and turn it over and needle felt the back.  Next lay it on it’s side and needle felt the side of the heart and then the other side.
tutorial on felting hearts
At this point your little ball of felt should definitely be heart shaped.  It is still a little soft.  To get a great finished product we need to go down a needle size.

needle felting hearts

6.  So grab a size 38 needle and felt the inside of the round top parts of the heart, then needle felt the front and back of the heart and then needle felt the sides of the heart.  Be sure to pay close attention to the tip at the bottom and the indention at the top.

how to needle felt a heart

how to needle felt a small heart

7.  We grab a smaller size needle again(a size 40 needle) and repeat the steps in 12.

felting valentine hearts

a tutorial on needle felted hearts

8.  Now the heart is looking pretty good, but let’s finalize that perfect heart shape.  Maybe your bottom tip is slightly off center or one side bulges more than the other.  Simply grab your large needle again(size 36) and shape the parts that are slightly off.  I usually focus on felting the tip of the heart and the top indentation at this stage.  Just needle felt problem areas until you are happy with the shape.

tutorial needle felt heart
You did it, your Valentine’s Heart is now complete.  It should be very dense at this stage and the shape should be to your satisfaction.
felted valentines heart
These little hearts each take me 10-15 minutes to make.  They would be a great Valentine for a loved one.  You could attach them to a barrette for a child.  Add some ribbon and hang them as decorations, use it as a gift topper, make it for play food candy hearts for your kids, or simply put in a pretty bowl as a decoration.  I hope you give it a shot; they are really fun and quick to make once you get the hang of it.  And if this is your first time needle felting, Good Luck!

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how to dye wool for needle felting

Dyeing Wool Roving or Batting Using Food Coloring

So here it goes. I’ve got a tutorial for everyone; a how to dye wool tutorial. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t simply born with this all important knowledge. I found this information at eHow. However, I thought that adding some pictures and possible variations to the instructions might help out anyone trying to dye their own wool.  This is not the only way to dye wool; however, I prefer this method because it is a safe, non-toxic way to add colors to your felted projects.

.Dying Wool Batting.

First things first, you need some key materials:

wool batting or roving
vinegar
food coloring(Wilton’s works really well)
large bowls and cooking pots or large casserole dishes

Materials needed for dying wool

I should note that heat is required to affix the colors to your wool. I did this in two ways. The cooking pot way uses the stovetop and the casserole dishes use the oven. So decide what your preferred method of heat will be. I performed both the stovetop and oven methods, so that I could make more at once.

Okay, now we can begin the messy part. Start by pulling a large tuft of wool out, place that wool in a bowl or casserole dish.(Remember the bowl is for the stovetop method later and the casserole dish is for the oven method). Next we make our vinegar solution, the proportion is 1 quart water to 1/4 cup vinegar. Pour this solution over your wool. Make sure you pat the wool down into this solution and get it completely colored.  Once all your wool is soaking in this solution, let it set for about 2 hours. This is a process people. Be prepared to have your kitchen taken over if you are making a few colors!

covering wool with vinegar solution

Next pull out your trusty food coloring. I am making 8 different colors. Only seven are displayed, because the brown I am making a darker and lighter brown out of.

food coloring

Fill a measuring cup or glass with warm water and add some food coloring of your choice. If you want a deep color, add a lot of it. If you want a pale color, just add a bit. Then stir the food coloring until dissolved.  If using the OVEN method simply pour the warm colored water over the soaking wool.  Stir the edges ever so slightly to move the color around.   Make sure the color is covering all the wool. If the color does not cover the wool, just make up more color mix and add some more. Then place the casserole dish in the oven at 250 degrees for 1 hour.

adding color to your wool

If using the STOVETOP method, pour the excess vinegar off the soaking wool and into a pot. Then pour the warm colored water mix into the same pot. Bring the pot to a boil, and then add the wool. Let the wool heat for half an hour or so.

dying wool with food coloring

Be careful, with the food coloring. I went a little crazy and decided my hands were excellent utensils and just look what happened!

Food Coloring on Hands

After your wool has heated for the time listed above, it is time to check it. This part is fairly easy. Simply pull a little wool away from the edge of the vessel and look at the liquid in the pot/casserole dish. If the liquid is clear, the color has been completely absorbed and your wool is finished!

If it is not clear, more heat is needed. For the OVEN method, up the heat to 350 degrees and heat for 30 more minutes. For the STOVETOP  method, simply keep the pot heated for 30 more minutes. After this time, the wool will most likely not absorb any more of the color, so consider the wool finished.

In the pictures below, the purple wool is not ready and the yellow wool is.

checking the wool for color absorption

Once the wool is colored. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool in its vessel for about 20 minutes.

Then pull out your trusty strainer, pop your wool in and run cool water over it. This step is to get that vinegar smell gone, as well as to rinse off any color that didn’t take. Once the water coming out the bottom of your strainer is running clear, the wool is ready to dry. Just ring it out carefully, and place on a towel. You may have to swap the towel out after a few hours, as it gets pretty damp. Let it dry overnight, or possibly longer.

cool, rinse, and dry the colored wool

Once your wool is dry, if you notice color is coming off your wool and onto your hands(this is especially the case with black), simply rinse it again and let it dry. The black color, I dyed a few months back, took me days to get right!

Well that’s it, it is actually very easy. Your kitchen will be occupied for a while, but most of the time involved in this process is “waiting time”. So just be patient, your wool creations will be better for it! Now, I have a myriad of colors to choose from for my next projects.