I could never understand why some people don’t like bats. Lovely little creatures – unless you live in England, in which case some of them look like they fell out of the ugly tree and repeatedly nose-butted every branch on the way down. But still, they have an adorable charm. Fluffy. Flappy. Bringers of the night…
I really want a bat. I can’t have a bat. It’s frowned upon to glue wings to mice. Had to get creative!
Barry the Bat is the result, and for all of you who suffer from equal frustration at having your dreams of bat ownership thwarted I am very pleased to present to you Flippity Felts’ very first needle felt tutorial. I hope you enjoy making him as much as I did – and I hope he won’t bite your bum while you sleep, because I’m fairly certain he has that look about him…
Note – Barry is actually a very easy project and would be classed as a ‘beginner’ project if it weren’t for the speciality wings.
You Will Need
- Core wool
- NZ Carded wool (available here) in the following colours: White, Black, Charcoal, Dark Grey, Mouse Grey, Hint of Grey*
- Felting needles (36 gauge triangle, 38 gauge triangle or star, 40 gauge triangle or star**
- Pre-made bat wings (for tutorial click here)
- Sharp craft scissors
- A felting mat
- A needle and thread (I recommend a tailor’s needle due to strength and length, and embroidery silks – all 6 strands – for added strength)
- Glue (it needs to be very strong – superglue works well)
* These are the recommended wools for best results – you will not need more than 10g of each colour. Each of the greys listed above is a blend, and as such create a natural effect when used together that may not be so easily replicated in non-blend colours. If you can only use two of the four recommended greys you should choose one very dark grey (in this case Charcoal ) and one mid-grey (in this case Mouse Grey) and adapt the tutorial accordingly.
** These are the recommend needles you use for best results, and will be referred to in the tutorial below. However, the 40 gauge needle is not as necessary as the 36 and 38.
Before you begin:
You will need to make your wings several days in advance of this project if you wish to use the bat wing tutorial here.
1) Using your 36 gauge needle, felt a ball shape that is slightly squashed, and a thin egg-shape that is, at its widest, as wide as the ball and twice as long.
Tip – the core shapes should be quite firm when you’ve finished them but they do not need to be perfectly smooth, and it won’t matter if they are still a bit hairy.
2) From this point, until otherwise instructed, switch to a 38 gauge needle. Felt over the shapes with a thick layer of Charcoal – you don’t want any core wool showing through. Keep the wool fairly evenly felted, with no bumps, although the wool should still be slightly fuzzy.
3) Thread your needle with a long length of embroidery silk. Triple-knot the end. Enter through the rounder end of your egg-shape, through the centre, and up through the other end. Pull the thread tight and go up through the bottom of the ball, out the top, and then back down through both pieces again, taking care to enter and exit the shapes close to the original entry/ exit points.
Sew in the end of your thread repeatedly and cut close to the wool.
4) Using more Charcoal carded wool, cover over the visible thread marks/ dips at the top of the head and the bottom of the body.
5) Felt a thin layer of Dark Grey wool over the front half of the head and body, and layer it thickly on the lower half of his face to shape a prominent underbite – this will need to be quite solid.
6) Felt a thin layer of Mouse Grey NZ carded over the belly area and the top half of the face (above the underbite). Felt this down quite smoothly.
7) Add a thin, small layer of Light Grey to the top of the tummy area/ chest area – felt it down smoothly.
8) Take two small pinches of Black NZ carded and roll into loose balls using your forefinger and thumb (one ball should be twice the size of the other). Felt firmly into eye position – one bigger than the other – and form into secure, neat ovals using your 40 gauge needle. Use the same needle to define the underbite, and felt deep grooves at the ends of the underbite to form the corners of a smile.
9) Take two small pinches of White NZ carded, the same size, and roll into a ball between your forefinger and thumb – these will be the teeth. Felt the top edges of each tooth into the mouth gap and using a 40 gauge needle felt them into firm triangles (point down) that overhang the underbite.
10) Take two large pinches of Dark Grey wool and felt into two loose balls of equal size. Felt each piece onto the side of the face – these are the cheeks. Use the 40 gauge needle to ensure a seamless, smooth fit onto the face and felt in a continuation of the smile into the centre of the cheeks, turned up at the ends.
11) Now we’re going to move onto the ears. Take two thin ‘sheets’ of the Charcoal NZ wool – they need to be very thin as you’ll be turning them in as you shape them and then adding other colour layers, so the thickness will build up later. Just make sure there aren’t any big holes in the layers. Felt these into flat sheets, then turn in the edges and felt them down – this will shape the ears, double the thickness and neaten the edges. Note that the bat’s ears are rounded on the outer edge but straight and angular on the inner edge.
12) Make sure the edges are neat by holding them tight between your thumb and forefinger (wearing finger guards!!) or between two pieces of cardboard, and felting into the edge of the ears.
13) Fold in the bottom corner sharply on one side to create the right shape.
14) Once the ears are shaped and relatively firm, add a thin later of Dark Grey NZ wool to what will be the inside of the ears.
15) Then felt a small amount of Light Grey to the centre of the ‘inner ears’.
16) The ears at this point will be quite thick – now’s the time to felt like the wind and really smooth those ears down. You want them to be quite thin by the end – not so thin that they can’t support themselves but thin enough to easily bend.
17) Now we’re going to go back to Barry, although he will probably wish we didn’t! Take your sharp scissors and cut (carefully – you don’t want to cut through the thread from earlier!) a slit on each shoulder-blade – this will be where you insert the ends of the wings you’ve already made. You have already made the wings, right?
It’s ok, we’ll wait.
18) Cut the bottoms off the ears (Barry is starting to have a bad day!) Felt the ends in so that no loose fibres escape and fray.
19) Glue the wings into the slots you made earlier. Make sure you put the glue on the ends of the wings NOT in the holes, or it will get messy. Secure them into place quickly, and try to avoid smudging glue anywhere else. If you do have a gluey build up this will be covered by the next steps.
You may need to wait some time for the glue to dry, depending on the type you used.
20) Pinch the base of each ear in and felt into place onto the back of the head – for best positioning you want the base of the ears to be just below the eye-line. Felt in tightly, re-enforcng the ‘pinch’ as you felt, then cover the join with a small amount of Dark Grey NZ wool.
21) Felt some Charcoal NZ wool over the back (covering the base of the wings) and around to the sides of the belly. Felt loosely and at a slight angle to avoid hole-marks – you want the final effect to be quite fluffy, but secure enough to not fall off with gentle handling.
22) As above, loosely felt some Light Grey NZ wool over the tummy, overlapping the Charcoal you’ve just added.
And he’s done! Your very own Barry the Bat is now ready for japes and merriment and the occasional frightening of anyone he feels like, for he is Barry the Bat, lord of the night skies, and he will come and go as he pleases!
If you like this tutorial please be sure to either leave a comment, like my page on Facebook or pin this to Pinterest! In fact, if you do end up making your very own Barry please let me know as I would love to see it! And be sure to keep checking back for more tutorials, as I have many more planned – and all of them free!
This free tutorial was created by Gabrielle Dexter for your personal enjoyment and non-commercial use. It is not for resale, and I ask users of this tutorial not to sell any products made using this tutorial.