As of Wednesday 27th of July I have spent the past 4 days trying to needle felt a unicorn.
As you can see from the featured photo, I obviously succeeded to some extent. I probably poured between 6-10 hours into this amalgamation of wool, and now that it’s finished I don’t know what to do with myself. If you’re interested in watching me make this unicorn, I uploaded a How To video to my YouTube channel, click here to take a look.
As a self critical person I can’t help but only see the faults in it, but all in all I am quite happy with how it turned out. The pictures don’t do it much justice as it emphasises all the tiny needle holes left in the wool and makes it look a little disheveled.
Before I get into the process of how I made this little guy, I want to point out all the materials I used. For the main body I used a mixture of plain white merino wool and a chocolate blend merino wool. The mane and tail I used both blue and pink dyed merino wool. Finally for the hooves and eyes I just used a plain black merino wool. I got all my wool from The Wool Shop.
So I started off as I usually do, with the torso. I grabbed a handful of the white and also the chocolate blend wool and rolled it up into a shape that could resemble the body of a unicorn, if you squinted I guess. The point is you have to needle felt it into the shape that you want, so I did that for a little while. At this point I left the torso very soft and squish-able, because if you needle felt it too much and it becomes too hard, you won’t be able to attach all the limbs without the body looking like it collapsed into itself. Shaping the torso was actually the last thing I did!
The next step is my least favourite part of needle felting… The legs! I usually hate doing legs and arms because they’re so flimsy and thin, which makes it very difficult to needle felt. But this time it wasn’t too bad because the unicorn was bigger than I would usually make my felts, giving more wool to work with for the legs. So I grabbed the same coloured wool as the torso but rolled them into long cylinders rather than a chubby one. I just started to needle felt without making much effort to shape for the first while, there’s so much time to create shape later on! At this point you just want to condense the wool and strengthen it. Once the legs have a bit of strength to them, try to add in some loose shape to lead you in the right direction later on.
You can see from the above picture that I made the first two legs into the back legs and the last legs the front ones. The back legs should have a backward bend in them and be thicker toward the top. The front legs can be much thinner, and I added a little bend near the hooves to make them more horse-like. Don’t forget to add in the hooves!
Now it’s time to attach all these legs to the squishy torso you should have lying around somewhere. I didn’t really think much while doing this, just needle felted kind of around the edges of the legs rather than stabbing through them to attach them to the body, which would dent everything. Once all the legs are attached you have a much better view of what needs to be fixed and what looks just terrible… in my case anyway!
You will know yourself what needs to be strengthened or maybe have some wool added to it to make it look a bit better. The legs can be fixed at any time though, so don’t worry too much. The next part is more fun at least.
Time to make use of the lovely blue and pink wool I linked up the top. It’s time to make the tail! This can go however you want it to, I wanted mine to just attach at the butt and flow down, but wool doesn’t exactly flow too naturally. The picture you see here isn’t how the tail ended up looking, but it’s how it began. I just gently pulled out very small amounts of blue and pink wool and mixed them together, keeping the strands straight. Next I just held the end of all the strands and started stabbing it into the back of the unicorn. It gave the effect that the strands grew out from the body which is what I was going for. I thought the tail looked very weak and pathetic when I pictured it above, so I added more and more wool until I was happy with a beautiful voluminous tail.
So now you have a headless unicorn but who’s got a real nice tail. This part was pretty funny looking tbh, I grabbed another handful of the body coloured wool and made a long rectangle shape with it. I needle felted it until it was strong and kind of resembled the neck of a horse, then stuck it onto the torso. Again, making use of the fact that the torso was left soft and could take all this extra felting.
The image above is nightmare fuel to me but it won’t stay that way for long! So make sure the neck is strong as I said, then if yours is long enough, you can start making the top of it into the head, otherwise you can make the head out of a separate piece of wool and attach it afterwards. I did both of these really. The neck was way too long so I made it into half the head, and I then added extra wool to make the muzzle. This can be difficult, but just keep felting and step back to take a look at the shape you’re heading toward and make sure it’s how you want it to end up looking.
Mine ended up like this:
Not too bad for not knowing what I was doing I guess. from here I strengthened up the neck and head a bit more then added the mane. This is the same method as the tail but I cut the lengths much, much shorter and then stabbed them into the wool. This was tough to make it look like it was flowing naturally because if you leave it alone the strands just float and stick up everywhere, but if you felt it all down it looks like it’s part of the body. My solution to this was just to add a lot of blue. This made the mane look thicker, settle more naturally and stand out from the body’s pale colour. It ended up looking like this:
Not too natural looking but I’ll take it!
Next step is the horn… Remember how much I hate small pieces? This was tough, but maybe it’s just me. I just got a small bit of white wool and rolled it into a very thin cone and felted it through my finger tips. What I mean by this is I held it tightly between my thumb and index finger and had the needle in between them, and just felted. The indents in the needle are enough to felt the wool, you don’t need the point to keep going in and out of it, which is much safer for your fingers too! After a while I ended up with a cone shape and just stuck it straight onto it’s head.
You can still shape it a bit after this part too.
So you have yourself a unicorn looking thing. You’re nearly finished! The only things left are the face features and fixing up any last minute shaping. For the eyes, just grab a very small bit of black wool and roll it up between your fingers. Try to make it into an oval shape, and once you get it in the right position on it’s head, felt it from the edges inward so you don’t lose your perfect position. Small amounts of wool are easy to pull out and try again if it doesn’t look right so don’t get too worried if your unicorn looks cross-eyed! Once you’re happy with it, get a teeny tiny piece of white wool and felt it into the corner of each eye to bring a bit of life to them.
Use the same technique to make tiny nostrils in the muzzle and you’re done! After this I just shaped up all around and make sure the legs were strong enough to stay standing on their own. Keep stepping back and looking at the shape and see what needs to be fixed, or if it looks great already!
I hope if you followed this tutorial you are happy with the end result. Bigger animals can be much harder to felt, in my experience anyway. But even if you are disappointed, everyone starts at the same place and it takes a lot of practice to get better at anything, let alone a craft that involves stabbing wool!
As I mentioned earlier, if you want to watch the video version of this tutorial, click here.
Thanks so much for reading!