Needlefelting doesn’t require a ton of equipment. If you are just dipping your toes into the water, I recommend purchasing some single felting needles and some felting wool. Use a sponge or a rolled up towel as a felting mat. A great way to acquire all of these tools is through a pre-made needle felting kit.
However, if you decide that this is a hobby you might enjoy, you may want to invest in a few tools, including my top 5 needle felting tools.
My Top 5 Needle Felting Tools
1. Single Felting Needles
2. Needle Felting Pen
3. Needle Felting Thimbles
4. Sharp Scissors
5. Felting Mat
Read more about my top 5 needle felting tools below.
#1: Single Felting Needles
Single felting needles are the #1 essential tool for needle felting. Without a felting needle, you cannot needle felt. Single felting needles form the basis for a felting pen, which is essentially a device that holds one or more felting needles.
Felting needles are different from regular sewing needles. Felting needles have tiny barbs or sharp hooks on the end. The barbs create tears the wool when you poke the wool. The barbs on the end of the needle also create tangles in the wool, which, as they build up, helps to compress loose wool into felt. There is no substitute for a felting needle.
#2: A Needle Felting Pen
In my opinion, a felting pen is the ultimate tool for needle felting, because it speeds up the needlefelting process by at least 33%. I tested out the efficiency of:
-a single felting needle
-a double pointed pen with two needles from Daiso, and
-a triple pointed pen with three needles by Clover.
It took me 12 minutes to create the same round ball with the felting pens, compared to 20 minutes with a single needle. You can see the video here (at 0:27 seconds in).
My favorite needle felting pen is a three-pronged pink pen by Clover.
When I use this pen, I feel that my products seem to come out smoother and less bumpy compared to using a single needle, or another double pointed felting pen I have from Daiso. The Clover pen is pleasant to use, but I have found that the needles are somewhat delicate. Also, you cannot substitute just any needle for the Clover needles in this pen. The Clover needles seem to be a little shorter than other needles I have purchased.
When you buy a needle felting pen, make sure to buy replacement needles, because the needles do break and get dull. It is always nice to have some extra ones on hand. The Clover needles are not cheap. I purchased a pack of five Clover brand needles for about 500 yen (less than $5 USD) at a Japanese craft store. This is a bit expensive compared to the Daiso needles I typically work with, but for me it’s worth it since I do a lot of needle felting.
I also have a double pointed felting pen from Daiso. This pen cost me only 100 yen (less than $1 USD) and the replacement needles come in a pack of 4 for 100 yen.
However, you get what you pay for. The Daiso pen is a cheap plastic device that holds 2 needles. It doesn’t feel smooth in your hands and isn’t as comfortable to use as the Clover pen. Nevertheless, I must to admit that the Daiso pen gets the job done! The Clover pen was significantly more expensive, but surprisingly, it was not much more effective than the cheap Daiso pen. In pure efficiency terms, I would recommend the Daiso pen over the Clover pen. However, the Clover pen is more comfortable to use and feels nicer in your hands, and results in a smoother end product. It is also more widely available than the Daiso pen, which is only available at… you guessed it. Daiso!
#3: Felting Thimbles
If you have ever poked yourself with a felting needle, you know how painful it can be! And it happens more often than one would hope.
If you watch my YouTube videos, I use my felting thimbles in every single video. I have accidentally poked my fingers multiple times, but thanks to my thimbles, I didn’t feel a thing. I don’t recall an incident where the needle penetrated the thick leather of my felting thimbles.
If you can find felting thimbles, I highly recommend buying some. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen these available outside of Japan.
I have been testing out a pattern for felting thimbles, so stay tuned for a tutorial on how to make your own felting thimbles on my YouTube Channel!
#4: Sharp Scissors
Finally, a needle felting tool that you should be able to find in your own home!
I use my scissors for pretty much every felting project to trim things down, snip off loose wool, or cut out shapes.
Sometimes, when I break a felting needle and lose the tip inside of my needle felted object, I will use my scissors to cut the object in half so I can fish out my needle. Then I felt the object back together using loose wool.
My favorite pair of sharp scissors is from Cutco. These are actually kitchen scissors which I was gifted at my bridal shower! They are extremely strong, and they are the sharpest pair of scissors that I own.
#5: A Felting Mat
The purpose of a felting mat is to help protect the delicate needle tips by absorbing the shock from poking. Without a felting mat, you might poke the surface upon which you are working, and risk breaking your needle!
I’m still on the lookout for the perfect felting mat. So far, I have used a few different felting mats, and while each have their good points, I haven’t found a felting mat that I absolutely love.
A Bristled Felting Mat
I found that my bristled felting mat is really nice for creating flat products, and small parts such as arms, legs, ears, etc. The downside of this type of mat is that it tends to collect a lot of stray wool. I generally use packing tape to pick up the stray wool, but you can also buy a felting claw which functions as a rake to clean the mat. In my needle felting tutorial for Kuromi (at 2:47), I demonstrate how to clean the bristled felting mat using packing tape, which I find works perfectly well.
My favorite felting mat is this white foam felting mat from Daiso. It’s really inexpensive, but it seems to pick up the least amount of stray wool. I feel that this is important when finishing up needle felting projects, so even if I start out with my bristled mat, I will always finish off my project on one of the white foam mats.
The downside of this mat is that it’s cheap: You get what you pay for. It tends to get dented and pick up the color of your wool after one or two uses. The dents are permanent, but the dents can come in handy when you want to felt on a face and you need a little help holding your wool in place.
I have also used a gray foam felting mat that came in one of the needle felting kits that I purchased. This mat is more durable in that it doesn’t seem to dent as much, but it tends to pick up a lot of stray fibers. I have also noticed that recently, it has started to degrade. After felting for a few minutes, I will get small bits of my foam mat that stick to my wool.
I hope this post was helpful! Please email me if you have any questions about supplies. I am happy to answer any questions you may have!