Needle Felted Mouse
These precious wee mice are fun and easy to make!
In this tutorial, I show you two ways of making a felted mouse, armature based and free-form/core based.
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Two mice, created with different techniques, can you tell the difference?
This mouse can be made with an armature (wire framework on which the felted piece is sculpted), which means he will have the ability to move his arms and legs somewhat, or you can make him in the free-form method by adding the pieces on after the body has been created. He's not as movable this way but if you don't want to make an armature this is the way to go. Throughout this process, I will be citing the pros and cons of armatures vs. piece by piece creation. There are pros and cons to both methods. An armature is optional for a piece this small, but as you make larger and larger pieces you will need to learn armature making. And starting with a simple mouse armature is a good place to start. You can get the same results with both techniques but the journey is different.
ARMATURE Verses FREE FORM
ARMATURE: Making an armature from scratch, just by eyeballing it, can be a challenge when you first start out. It takes a practice. Using a pipe cleaner is much easier than using plain wire. Why? The wool sticks to the pipe cleaner much better than the slick wire.
FREE FORM: Building a core (head and body) is very fast and relatively easy. Roll the wool batt, fold it and felt in one piece the head and body
ARMATURE: Begin wrapping the armature with wool, this goes together fairly quickly.
FREE FORM: Felt the head and the body. Everything is in one piece.
The armature takes a bit more time; wrapping, felting down and trying to avoid hitting the pipe cleaner with the needle.
ARMATURE: The felting goes fairly quickly now, you will need to build up areas that need more "fat" on them. It's nice to have a guide and felting goes more on autopilot.
FREE FORM: Here is where the armature and the freehand really divert. You have to make individual limbs and felt them down firmly, this is not easy or fast when you are working in miniature.
ARMATURE: Your armature is now well underway and your only work for the body now is building it up and firming it down. You will want to add an extra piece to make the nose larger, but that is all the additions necessary.
FREE FORM: The limbs must now all be added. I put a needle in each limb to hold it in place as I felt it onto the body
ARMATURE: For the tiny paws you can add bits of pink onto the top of the bits of pipe cleaner at the end of the arms.
FREE FORM: I'm still adding limbs at this point. You can add the pink to the paws before or after felting the arm to the body.
The time saver is definitely the armature.
These steps are the same - armature or free-form
For the ears, make 2 circles with a slight oval at the end and add pink to the middle. Felt tightly.
Add the ears to the head. I usually pin small pieces on before felting so as to not injure my fingers when I'm trying to felt/stab and hold it on at the same time.
Cover the entire piece (except the paws) with some white roving. This gives the piece a finished look. Wrap all the limbs as well and felt down with a #38 or #40 needle. These needles don't leave large hole marks.
This clover tool works well for fine work. It has 5 needles inside of it and a needle guard. It came with #40 needles which leave small holes and therefore gives the piece a smoother look. It is not recommended for attaching pieces or felting the core.
Here is how the piece looks after it has been wrapped in a finer top wool and felted down.
Using a #36 or #38 needle, felt indentations for the eyes. If you don't do this the mouse winds up having eyes that pop too far out and make him look like he has a severe thyroid condition.
The nose is a small triangle of pink. If the nose is too big or too small it winds up looking like a different animal entirely. Keep adjusting it as you work.
Outline the bottom half of the nose and then go downwards to make the muzzle. Your black should be very thin.
This is how he looks after the first pass of outline felting. Tucking all those tiny stray hairs in takes a while.
Using hot glue or a wee bit of Elmers glue (Elmers or white glue takes much longer, you have to hold it in place quite a while) place the eye and press down into the felted indentation. You may want to felt a wee bit of white over the top for an eyelid. I used plastic beads for eyes. You can also buy glass eyes online or felt small circles.
Here is a close up of the finished face. Remember that eye placement and nose size mean everything to a creature. Even the size or placement of an ear can mean the difference in your piece looking like a cat or a dog.
For the tail, use a pipe cleaner. Wrap the tail in light pink wool. I roll this tightly between my fingers before I felt it down. Felting this is tricky, it's easy to break a needle here. Keep going until it's fairly firm.
I cut a hole in his derriere with scissors and put the pipe cleaner tail in. I then added wool to the top to secure it well.
This tail is very important as it gives him the balance he needs to stand up. Curl the tail in such a way that it helps him to stand.
I love to dress the mice in scarves. They are fairly fast to make. Tiny knitted clothing is adorable as well.
Needle felting for beginners is a step by step, pictorial guide to sculpting with wool that will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to get started felting quickly. Along with our clear tutorials for each of the 7 projects, this book teaches you all the basics on wool, needles and supplies.
This book is written to answer all the questions a felting beginner might have and take them incrementally from newbie to confident creator.