~Tracy (Cedara) Dunn of "Thru the Attic Door"
I had been seeing mention of needle felting more and more and wanted to see what it was all about. Simply put, it is felting without water. You do this with special needles that are extremely sharp and have special barbs along them. The barbs "catch" the fiber you are felting and act to interlock it into another fiber.
So to needle felt doll hair was just going to be using felting needles to attach sheep's wool to a doll head already filled with stuffing. I was lucky enough that when I mentioned my new interest to my family; that my aunt had a set of the needles and she gave them to me.
I took a felting needle; a doll head that I had started making and laid a pile of sheep's wool out.
You learn very quickly how to hold your needle as its very sharp and can jab into a finger quickly. OUCH! Holding the top of the felting needle with your thumb and first 2 fingers....hold firm. Place a piece of the sheep's wool across the doll head and just start jabbing into the fabric thru the wool. Some folks place a large piece of foam under their project so that the tip of the needle can go into that instead of your fingertip. I just try not to jab so far into my doll. It doesn't have to be done hard......just over and over to attach the hair.
You will hear what sounds like ripping....don't panic. The needle is so sharp its jamming into the muslin in very tiny holes. The barbs on the needle are then pushing small sections of the sheep's wool down thru the hole and attaching to the stuffing inside the dolls head. Jam the needle down straight as much as possible. They can have a tendency to snap and break if done on an angle.
Continue jabbing with the felting needle until you feel the hair is attaching firmly. I like to go in a bit of a random order as I don't want to be able to follow exactly where the hair as been attached. When you think you have attached it enough....just give it a good few more jabs in places for good luck. I like to actually do this with a style in mind for the hair. You can see that this doll was going to have a part in her hair shown in the middle. That is where it was attached the most even though I was felting all over the piece of sheep's wool.
Now by attaching the sheep's wool this way....it is attached but not enough to withstand a child playing and pulling on the hair. Always state that your doll is for display use only.
If you lift the edge of the hair up......you can see the tiny pieces that have been "caught" with the stuffing inside the head.
Continue felting in this manner until you achieve the desired look to your doll.
You can use single pieces of sheep's wool. I have also done the same thing using long pieces of roving as well and had a wonderful effect take place.
Play around with different hair and enjoy the fun of using felting needles. She will always have that perfect prim hair!