Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Tutorial: Beginner Needle Felted Christmas Ornaments: Pine Trees on Balls

Merry Christmas, everyone! In my family, we often make each other hand made ornaments as gifts at the holiday times. My tree upstairs is filled with love and memories.
Yes, we have a dog gate around our tree. We have 4 dogs and 2 cats in the house. It just seems prudent. Anyway, most of my family doesn't actually read my blog unless I link to it on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TangibleDaydreams/), so I'm going to take a risk here and let you all have a peek at the needle felted pine tree ornaments I'm making for them this year.

First all, my materials:
Materials:
wool roving
a wool dryer ball
yarn

Tools:
needle felting needles
a bit of foam for a work surface
scissors
a needle for the yarn
needle nose pliers

You can pick up the needle felting needles, needle felting roving, and wool dryer balls off of Amazon. The needle felting needles have tiny barbs on them, which will tangle the fibers of your roving down into the wool of the dryer ball as you gently stab stab stab. You will want at least brown and green roving, though I like having a few shades of each for this project.

 So, take your dark brown roving, and pull a wisp of fibers an inch or so long out from the main mass of wool.
 Twist your brown roving into a straight line. Hmm, the focus isn't very good here. Hard to take pictures without a third hand.
 Anyway, your brown roving will look something like this.
 Take the tip of the line of dark brown, and gently tap it into position with your needle. If you look at the top of the dryer ball, you can see that I have very lightly tacked a random bit of wool into place to mark which way is up. I ended up needle felting three trees onto this ornament, and this helped me place them.
 Tack the brown of your tree trunk very lightly down the line until you get to the bottom. Then, flare out the fibers just a bit to give you a sense of the trunk spreading into roots at the base of the tree.
 Tack the base of your tree into place. You can fold the stray ends of the fiber up into the tree trunk. Double check that you are happy with the placement and length of the trunk. Since you have been tacking very lightly, you can still rip things out at this point.
 Grab a similar wisp of pine green fiber.
 Lay the fiber crosswise, centered on the top of your tree trunk. Needle it to the tree trunk with several stabs up and down the width of the green fiber.
 Now, use the tip of your needle to drag the ends of the green fibers down at an angle, and lightly tack down the end of your branches.
 Do the same on the other side of the tree.
 Grab another wisp of pine green, and add it below the batch that you just did. Again, needle it to the trunk first to anchor it, and then tack down the tips of your branches.
 Move all the way down the tree this way. This gives you the outline of your tree shape. Since everything is still just lightly tacked down, you can still move things around.
 Do you like the general outline? Then it is time to needle felt in earnest. Gently stab stab stab, following along the branches from trunk to tip and back again. Be careful to enter and exit the wool ball at the same angle, or you may snap the tip off of your needle. They are fragile. In the above picture, I've been working on the right side, and not the left, so you can see the difference.
 Ok, you have the skeleton of the tree in place. But there are obviously some bare spots. Grab some more wisps of wool, and tack them into place where you want them. Use the pine green, but maybe also some other colors mixed in as well. I've got some of the lighter green here.
 And maybe some of the various browns scattered here and there might be nice too.
 There, that looks good for me.
 Ok, time to work on the base of the tree. I took another wisp of the dark brown, and tacked its midpoint in at the base of the tree
 Then, dragged the ends of the fibers out sideways and tacked them lightly down to show the ground line.
 I grabbed some of the light brown, and tacked it in below the tree.
 And then, I filled in between the two colors with the medium brown. I left things lightly tacked down on the ground for now...
 ...and then repeated making trees in two other places on my ornament. When I had trees next to each other, I drew the ground fibers toward each other to make a continuous ground line.
 Then I needled the ground fibers firmly down in place.
 Ok, once I had three trees in place, I didn't need my top of the ornament marker any more.
 Since it was just lightly stabbed down a few times, it popped right off.
 To add a loop for hanging, you can use a straight needle if you choose to...
 But I find a curved needle a bit easier to work with. Cut a length of the yarn, thread your sewing needle, and position the yarn at the top of your ornament.
 I find it is easier to use pliers to grab the needle to actually pull the yarn through the wool dryer ball.
 Tie a knot in the top of your yarn to make a loop.
And then, on to the tree it goes!!

You can use this same general idea to add whatever pictures you want onto the dryer balls. I figure my family gets these this year, and I'll see about adding a variety of ornaments to the Etsy shop come holiday time next year. I really liked this process, and want to do more of it!

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