Starting on a needle felted bunting

Starting on a needle felted bunting

As you may have guessed, my family lives in London, United Kingdom at the moment, but English is not our mother-tongue. We happen to celebrate our birthdays all in UK, though, so during the years I managed to collect a few birthday party buntings here: of course, all of them celebrate “Happy Birthday!” in English and none in our language, Italian.  Also, I only have a short felt one and all the rest are plastic. I like the felted one a lot better than the plastic ones, it’s so much easier to store without worrying about creases, it is always in perfect shape and luxurious looking, even though it was not actually more expensive than the flimsy Lego themed one!

I decided to make us a new felted bunting with the Italian equivalent of “Happy Birthday!” written on it: as it will use Italian words, it will be longer than the English one, and I will be able to add more elements to make it longer still. It will be very colourful and it could be used for all our birthdays for years and years to come, and no more worries about creases and folds. It seemed a nice plan.

It is a fairly easy basic kind of felting project: one just needs to make as many flat triangles shapes as needed to spell the words and punctuation (in my case “Buon” and “Compleanno!”, so it’s 15), with one more for the space between the words, and as many more for decoration as one likes. On the triangles, you can needle felt the letters in contrasting colours.

Then, a satin ribbon will be passed through slits on the upper part of the triangles: this will mean that one will be able to adjust the length of the bunting to different size spaces. If you do not wish to have an adjustable bunting, you could make a felt cord of the desired length and attach the triangles to it at fixed intervals by needle felting or sewing them to the cord. And the bunting will be ready to go.

I wanted to go for needle felted triangles, although I guess it could be a much quicker job if you wanted to wet felt them : just wet felt different wool colours and cut them in triangles, then seal the edges with rubbing.

Well, I need the needle felting practice, so I took out my needle felting supplies and had a go at making a needle felted triangle shape.

Red merino wool laid out in a vague triangle shape on a foam mat
I laid out the wool on a vague triangle shape on my small foam mat
Needle felting supplies on a wooden table: there are some red merino wool, two wooden needle holders, a small plastic box of felting needles and two white finger protectors on a foam mat
My supplies for needle felting are laid out on my foam felting mat.
On the foreground, Kiki's hand is holding some needle felting needles in different colours. On the background there is red merino wool on a foam mat on a table.
I have different sized felting needles that are colour coded for ease.
Two wooden felting needle holders are on the foreground, and there is some red merino wool on a foam mat on the background
My two wooden needle holders, one can hold 6 needles and the other only 1 needle at a time: I enjoy the feel of the wood!

I needed a thicker needle for the first shaping stabs: that would be a 32 gouge, that is silver coloured in my set.

On the foreground a 32 G felting needle, on the background red merino wool.
My, it is quite thick, you can see the gouges quite clearly.
A 32G felting needle gets placed in a wooden needle holder
My one-place needle holder is quite easy to use: just insert the needle into the gouge of the inner bit, and push the inner bit+needle into the handle.
Kiki's thumb and index finger into finger protectors.
Donning my finger protectors that I bought at
Felting needle stabbing at red merino wool
Now I can start roughly shaping my wool!

Never mind the photo, that I was taking with my phone while moving the needle with my right hand: I actually started shaping my triangle by stabbing and shaping the edges of the triangle first, then moving towards the center.

I lifted the shape from the foam mat and stabbed a bit more on the other side as well, adding some more wool if I thought that some parts were uneven or not thick enough.

A vague triangle shape in red merino wool on a foam mat
It is taking shape nicely on a side, let’s see the other..
A red merino wool triangle shape a bit distorted on a foam mat
That is the fluffy B side: it needs working on.
Red merino wool being stabbed with a felting needle on a foam mat
I noticed some thin areas in the corner, so I added wool in.

Then, I saw that it was the time to change the needle to a thinner one.

A triangle shape of red merino wool prefelt on a foam mat
It is coming along well, but still a bit too fluffy: time to change needle.

I usually like to use a 38 gouge needle, colour coded red in my set, to do more detailed work when I am needle felting. Sometimes I pass through the 36 gouge needle (green one in my set)  before the 38 g, or use a 40 g needle (blue in my set) to finish, but in this case the job was fairly basic, and I did not want to change too many times.

A 38 gouge felting needle is shown on the foreground while prefelted wool is on the background
Choosing a 38G felting needle to go on with my project

After stabbing more, I felt that the shape was looking good. If you wanted it more regular, and were not lazy like me, you could make it more regular  than mine by starting at the beginning with a rectangle shape and then folding the rectangle in half diagonally into a triangle shape, and stabbing more. But if I have to make more than 15 triangle shapes I am not going to bother making them regular: I am just so lazy!

Triangle needle felted shape in red merino wool on a foam mat
My first triangle does not look too bad, although it is a bit irregular.

I guess one could stab on and make the shapes very firm, but I have no patience and was eager to go on (14 plus triangles to go, you know…), so I selected a bit of merino wool roving in teal for the first letter to add to my triangle shape. You do not need a big amount to complete one letter, you can use leftovers from other projects. I like to use carded merino slivers if I have them for small areas of flat needle felted decoration, I find that it is easier to shape them into small regular shapes.

Some teal merino wool roving on the foreground, a red triangle felt shape in the background
A small amount of merino wool roving is enough to shape the flat letter on the triangle shape.

I used the same red 38G needle to stab the teal wool on the triangle shape. It is not difficult to make the wisps of carded wool take the shape that you want, you just need to work on the surface, really, without stabbing too enthusiastically.

A felting needle stabs into some teal merino wool on a red prefelt
Stabbing the teal roving on the triangle shape to form the first letter.
A felting needle shaping the letter B in contrasting wool on a prefelt
The letter is getting shaped bit by bit.
A triangle shaped element for a felted bunting, with the letter B on it
The first letter is done! B for Bravo!

I managed to finish my first letter quite quickly, but, guess what, I stopped there and never mustered the will to make all the other 14+ triangles! Well, the first birthday coming is not till ages….

P.S. the nail varnish was courtesy of my daughter, who wanted to play nail decorator that day!

14 thoughts on “Starting on a needle felted bunting

  1. Good idea to make your own, but that’s going to take you quite a bit of time doing it all “by hand” so to speak. I, being basically lazy, would do what you mentioned earlier – make felt pieces and cut out triangles and then needle felt the letters on afterwards.
    I’m looking forward to seeing the finished length of bunting.

    1. 🙂 I agree with you! I guess that I will get a lot of needle felting practice, if I ever can find the will and time to complete this UFO of mines!!
      For sure, it will be like no else, totally unique, being handmade in the slowest way 🙂 no one else would spend the same amount of time making it like that!

  2. Caterina, you have definitely chosen the “slow” route of creating this bunting. I would definitely have chosen the wet felting route. But, yours will definitely be a labor of love 🙂

    1. Thanks, Ruth. I took the idea from a beginner booklet for needle felting by, that used the idea of creating a bunting to teach how to needle felt basic shapes. I usually wet felt, so I wanted to practise the needle felting a bit. But, yes, it is very slow compared to making it by wet felting, and maybe adding the letters by needle felting!

  3. Byh the time you finish you will be the Queen of felt triangle making and you will be very proud of yourself!
    Looking forward to seeing the bunting in all its glory 🙂

  4. Great post Caterina. A complete labour of love. (I suspect your parties are super fun!).

    1. Thank you, Hélène! Well, they are mostly kids parties, so quite quirky, with very rainbowy cakes and lots of sparkles and soap bubbles…not much of the other type of bubbles! 🙂

  5. Wow, what a labour of love. I too would have gone the wet felt route with applied letters.
    Looking forward to seeing it finished.
    Really great idea passing a ribbon through slits to make the length adjustable.
    At least your daughter chose a matching colour 🤣

    1. Thank you, Antje! I am looking forward to finishing it too! I have another felt bunting that I bought, and it has the same system of slits for adjustable length: it is more convenient than the others that we have, because we can move it from one place to another and always have it looking good.
      My daughter’s nail polish is the only one that I got, 🤣she made me pick the colours, like a pro, and I actually liked the final effect! It is my first one not peeling immediately just because I kept my hands dry for a bit while needle felting! Fleeting art 🤣

  6. Great idea! Maybe try getting the family involved so it is a group project and will have more meaning (and memories) attached to it?

    1. Fantastic idea, Carlene! I will try and involve my kids in the project: it will surely be more meaningful. Thanks!

  7. Wow what ambitious project for needle felting. Maybe compromise and do the triangles wet felted and then for needle felt practice do the letters and may be some other designs for different occasions.

    1. Thank you, Ann. I see your point, it is definitely slow going!

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