December 14, 2009

Needle Felted Snowflake Tray Tutorial

I love working with fibers--not the kind that you get with your bran flakes, but the kind that turns into stuff like fabric and felt.  Felting is one of my favorite crafts, especially in these colder months when I just want to cozy up to some wool, either on my knitting needles or elsewhere.
Jingle and bells, Santa and reindeer, snow and hot cocoa--some things are meant to be together. For today's Holiday Craft Along, I wanted to share a needle-felted snowflake tray that I created.  It's perfect for serving up hot cocoa after frolicking in the land of snowflakes.
Needle felting is a way to adhere wool to itself by using a barbed needle to attach the fibers together. Unlike wet felting which relies on water, friction and heat to bind wool into felt, needle felting is also called dry felting and results in a similar product. Needle felting gives the artisan more control over details, unlike when one does wet felting.

  • pre-painted wooden tray (I painted an inexpensive wooden tray found at a craft store with acrylic paint)
  • piece of glass cut to the size of the inside of the tray (your local hardware store can usually do this for you)
  • scissors/pinking shears
  • 3-barb felting needle
  • cleaned, carded wool in various colors. I used Peace Fleece batting in greens from Halcyon Yarns
  • Needle felting pad or foam for punching the wool 100% wool felt (from a fabric store)
Measure the inside of your tray and cut your wool felt to fit. Then use pinking shears to fancy-up the border.

Plan out your design, either on paper or just in your head like me. I wanted to do snowflakes of varying sizes and designs and fill up the white space of the felt. You'll be using the wool to "draw" on the background.

Take a small amount of wool in a color you like...
and roll it together like you're making a coil of clay or play dough.
This will tighten the fibers and make a "line" for you to draw with.

Lay out the lines for your design and pin them down if you wish.
I worked snowflake by snowflake rather than putting my entire design on the felt background. I didn't want to keep arranging the design as my hand was working on one flake.

Then lay the entire piece on top of the felting pad or foam.

Take up your felting needle which has tiny barbs on the end, and begin to do your needle felting.
What you're actually doing is using the barbed parts of the needle to tangle the fibers together.
You just keep going along the line, poking the needle in and out. The fibers will tighten and look more uniform. The best part is is that if you make a mistake, just pull the fiber off. Just keep working your wool until you're happy with the result. You can mix colors, or add more wool if you need it. It's so versatile.

Eventually you'll get something like this...
which took a few hours to make. I layered colors and filled in blank areas with smaller snowflakes. When you're finished, cover it with the glass and you're ready to top it with some mugs of hot coffee, tea or cocoa.  And cookies, of course.
You could change out the felt for other seasonal designs, like pumpkins for fall. I could have glued the felt to the tray, but opted to just pin it between the wood and the glass, just to keep my options open.

Needle felting is a relaxing activity to do in front of a fire or the television. If you're interested in wet felting, check out my tutorial from last year.  Have fun and happy felting!


  1. I have to say that week was tough for me to pick. I had a hunch that one of the two felted crafts were yours :) But there were quite a few neat crafts!!

    I love the look of this tray! Super cute. So creative, you are :)

  2. Oh no!!!

    Your stuff for the challenge was AWESOME though, and I'm glad you're posting such fun tutorials!

  3. You were totally robbed! The tray is super cute...

  4. OH NO!!! This was the first week that I voted for your craft!!! I have loved all of yours, there were so many amazing crafts.

    Poo on them.

    You are so crazy talented!

  5. Although it sounds funny, me owning llamas and all, this is the first I have heard of needle felting. This is right up my alley, and I always have plenty of wool! Thanks for the great idea!!!

  6. That looks so awesome! What a great idea!

  7. This was the craft I voted for! I thought it was the best by far. You did great, Kathleen!

  8. The tray is very pretty! All of your entries were great.

  9. Aw, how cute is that?! Great tutorial!

    I'm sorry you weren't able to make it to the next round, but I completely understand the busyness of the season. I think everyone is feeling it now!

  10. This is still a really cool craft. But we're so busy, I doubt I'll be able to give it a go until the new year...

  11. Im glad I checked out your tutorial, sadly with only a few pictures allowed for each person on SYTYC, it's hard to tell all the detail, or know all the work that goes into each project. This was a very great project though!


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