It’s more important than ever to keep kids entertained right now, and what better way to keep little hands busy than with craft? Felting is a fantastic craft for children of just about every age, being easy and, most importantly, fun!
What is felting?
Felting is essentially creating a piece of fabric or textile from animal fibers, usually by combining and compressing loose fibers, wool, or hair.
Traditionally, felting uses sheep wool, alpaca, mohair, or yak fibers, but it is becoming common to felt with acrylic, rayon, and blended fibers. You can do felting with fibers of different kinds, from raw locks of wool to processed roving or batts.
Felting is the perfect craft for kids: it’s fun, easy, safe, and needs few special tools. There are a few different felting methods, but the most common are needle felting, sometimes also called dry felting, and wet felting.
In wet felting, you apply water and soap to the fibers and then agitate. This makes the fibers open up and they bind together as they dry.
Unlike other forms of felting, you can use this method with woven, crocheted, or knitted pieces such as an old scarf or sweater. In fact, wet felting is essentially what happens when you accidently put a wool item in the washing machine on hot!
On the other hand, needle felting uses special barbed needles to weave the fibers together to create a textile. You can use a single needle, a multi-needle tool, or even a large felting machine that incorporates hundreds of needles.
Is needle felting or wet felting better for kids?
The tactile nature of felting makes it great for small hands – kids love the feel of working with the fluffy wool top. This is doubly true of wet felting, which involves working with the extra-fun texture of squishy wet felt.
Wet felting is suitable for kids as young as three years old, as all the tools you’ll need are water and regular soap. Furthermore, although the wet felting process requires some heat, it can be done with bathtub-temperature water – the water doesn’t have to be hot, so it is totally safe for young kids.
On the other hand, there are a few more safety concerns when it comes to needle felting. By its nature, this type of felting involves using sharp objects, which can be dangerous, especially in small hands.
Safe needle felting for kids
There are a few ways you can minimize these risks and make needle felting safer for kids. Obviously, supervising your little ones while they’re working with needles is a must, particularly for children under ten.
It would be best to also have your kids use a felting pillow. This absorbs the force of the needle and helps protect their fingers.
Additionally, always have your children work at a table or crafting space, and make sure they don’t do any needle felting on the couch, the bed, or on the floor. A clear, stable space will make sure the needle goes only where it’s supposed to.
Another good idea is to have your child work within a solid structure such as a cookie cutter. They can fill the cookie cutter with the wool roving or fibers, and then needle the wool within this frame.
This will help to minimize further the risk of a stray needle going into their finger!
Even with these measures, it is best to reserve needle felting for when your kids are around eight years old or older, though this depends on the individual child, of course. Essentially, both types of felting are great for older kids, but younger children should give needles a miss.
It’s also worth noting that needle felting takes time. Therefore, it can be a good exercise to encourage older children to cultivate patience, but don’t expect instant results!
Our favorite felting craft projects
Here are our favorite DIY felting video tutorials that are suitable for young crafters!
Parents will need to use discretion when discerning between tutorials, as only some of these projects are suitable for young children. Other beginner tutorials, such as those using sharp objects, will be OK for older children, but not younger kids.
This is a super simple wet felting project that is great for first timers. In this project, you (or your little ones) will make a cute and colorful snake.
The project is suitable for young crafters of all ages, even younger children. You’ll just need a few simple supplies, including two pipe cleaners, wool fiber, soap, and water.
It’s a good idea to use a non-abrasive safe soap like olive oil soap, which won’t dry out your children’s hands. Kids will love playing with the snake, water, and seeing the transformation!
They can also add googly eyes and a tongue to finish the snake.
The video tutorial by Living Felt gives clear instructions which you can use to show your kids how to make their own wet felt snake.
This is another extremely easy project aimed at beginner felters. It is appropriate for older children, as it involves needle felting and so means using sharp tools.
It is a simple and fun project, but each animal will take several hours to make, and this will probably be longer for beginners. This means your children will need to be fairly patient!
However, they’ll be rewarded with the stunning results, creating adorable felted animals – a chick, rabbit and koala. These felted animals can also be customized with little touches, such as a mustache.
This tutorial by Maqaroon walks you through the process step by step. Follow along with the video to felt the body parts, shape the ears, and then add the eyes and other features.
This one is designed specifically for young children so will be suitable for little ones aged around three and up. They’ll learn how to create a pretty felted headband with a contrasting flower.
Along with fibers, you’ll just need a bamboo matt, a ball, and some bubble wrap. Making this project is super fun – kids will love spraying the wool with warm soapy water and rolling it out.
Sally Gulbrandsen’s tutorial goes through each step with instructions on how to make each piece and create the headband.
In this project, your kids can make a unique bowl with wet felting techniques. In the video, you make an open bowl by rolling the felt around a form – you can use either a balloon or a Styrofoam ball.
However, you can use the same techniques to make vases, flat felted textile, and even sculptures – this is a great way to teach kids about color, texture, and soft sculpture.
Cathy Kelley Design shows you how in this video tutorial, which is designed for teachers, covers how to teach children wet felting, and how to troubleshoot common issues. It also talks about how felting ties into other crafts you may be doing with your kids.
The great thing about cookie cutters is that they come in so many shapes that you can use them to wet felt hearts, snowflakes, gingerbread figures, and just about anything! This easy project is suitable for young kids and uses multiple colors by ripping and mixing together felt in two or three colors.
Your kids will love smooshing the wet felt into the mold, and the more smooshing they do, the tighter the felt they create. It is super easy – they just have to work the felt with liquid soap and warm water within the form.
You can make several shapes and turn them into a garland, or just leave them as fun objects. Check out this video tutorial from Applebushel to learn how!
This video from Marie’s Kawaii World is an easy introduction to wet felting, shows you how to make balls using wet felting techniques. It uses an immersion technique, unlike some of the other tutorials on this list.
Kids will love playing with the wet wool and shaping it into a ball. You can make balls of any shape, it depends how much wool or fiber you use! This does involve going back and forth between hot and cold water for about 10 and 15 minutes.
Therefore, this needs some patience which may be a problem for younger children – you may need to take over and finish when they get bored! The video covers troubleshooting tips, including two different ways to deal with cracks or wrinkles in the ball, which can develop as you work.
Felting for kids is a fantastic craft – it’s easy, only needs a few simple supplies, and they’ll love the unique result they achieve! Most importantly, felting is super fun, and little hands will love playing with the textures involved.
However, not all types of felting are suitable for all ages. Wet felting is awesome for kids from three years and older, but needle felting is best left for older children.
Regardless of the technique, your budding crafter will be able to make unique textiles, and a range of projects.
If you liked this round up of the best felting tutorials for kids, please do share it with other parents so their children can discover the joys of this craft!