Needle felting, also known as dry felting, turns a piece of unspun wool into fabric that can be embellished with embroidery thread, sequins, beads, cut felt and other materials. Some yarn can be used, too, including alpaca, mohair and wool. The best choices are natural and loosely spun, according to Woolcrafting website. The felting process involves poking the wool repeatedly in an up-and-down motion with a felting or general purpose needle while holding a piece of foam or a pillow behind it. Individual fibres tangle together tightly, creating a soft, usable material.
All Fiber Arts, a website that offers free crafting patterns, suggests using a cookie cutter filled with layers of Merino wool to make felted Christmas ornaments. Trees, candy canes, stockings, gingerbread figures and stars work well. If you have a simple round cookie cutter, you can create a snowman, Santa face or peppermint candy. Add embellishments before needling thread through to make a loop for hanging on the tree.
Decor objects that even novice needle-felt crafters can do are those with inexact shapes, such as a sheep or fluffy teddy bear. You can tie red and green plaid ribbons around their necks to add Christmas colours. A tree garland can be made by threading together several small felted balls. A felted sculpture for a tabletop or mantle -- an elf, snowman, tree or reindeer, for example -- requires separate felted pieces that need to be felted together.
Based on a project at Crafts 4 Less, cutout cards make an easy Christmas craft: Fold a long piece of rectangular card stock into three equal parts. Label the top section 1; the middle section, 2; and the bottom section, 3. Cut a shape out of section 2. Try a tree, star or even a rocking horse. Next, cut a piece of flat felt -- a bit smaller than one card section -- and felt some wool onto it. (The wool doesn't have to be a particular shape because it will show through the cutout.) Glue the felted wool piece onto section 3, and glue sections 2 and 3 together. Turn the card around. The felted wool should show through the cutout, and that becomes the front of the card.
Small felted objects, such as a bird, snowball, clementine or bookmark make surprising stocking stuffers. You can also felt a brooch out of a favoured shape -- a bug or heart, for example -- and embellish it with sequins before attaching a pin. Felted toys are ideal for babies, too, as long as they don't have small parts that are choking hazards. A felted ball, stuffed animal and bootees make useful baby gifts.
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