Has anyone ever used flat felt squares to needle felt? I mean cutting out shapes on the flat squares and needle felting them into other felt squares???
I am trying this at the moment although it does work I have broken two needles which leads me to another question : How long do your needles last?
Hi Sheree, maybe if you felt with a bit of an angle rather than straight down in to the foam it will work better? I felt flat felt on bunny noses all the time but that is on mohair or synthetic with polyfil stuffing inside the bunny's head. I love the way the flat felt felts! Maybe something other than foam would work, too - something a little softer?
Are you using commercial felt to needle felt? Some of the commercial felts are felted a little too well and are quite hard to penetrate and do not stick to the others well. I sometimes use a matching color of wool roving to needle felt the pieces together. When looking for commercial felt to needle felt, you should look for felt that's fairly soft. You might want to try wet felting your own flat pieces.
Is this felt which you've purchased from local fabric or craft shops? That's made out of man-made fibers (polyester/nylon/etc) and are very hard fibers to needle through.
All available felt used to be the traditional wool felt but that was replaced in the 70s - 80s by the cheaper-to-make stuff.
If you hold it up to the light, you'll still see the holes in it; it was still produced in the same manner, by passing fibers through commercial punch needle machines (what the industrial machines holding our felting needles are called.) You'll probably find that it doesn't even glue together as easily as the felt of the old days used to!
Now you'll have to search for real wool felt online or in specialty shops. Teddy bear suppliers carry both types so be sure of what you're ordering—you don't want Craft Felt!
As to how long needles last, a lot depends on the brand of the needle and how one uses them.
I use only Foster Needles, though I've tried several other brands. I've posted pix elsewhere to show the cut barbs of other brands, where the barb is just cut into the sides edges of the needles as opposed to being 'Formed' a Copyrighted word by Foster, with beveled edges forming the entire barb. The cut edges wear down rapidly with multiple trusts whereas the fiber slides over the beveled edges without impacting either through abrasion—itself (being cut) or wearing down the metal edge.
And I've found that if I catch the bend at the top of the width reduction early enough, which is where the needle usually starts to bend, and E v e r so G e n t l y bend it back straight again, I can keep on using it.
I'm mindful of what I may be doing that's caused it to bend, if I haven't hit anything.
-Am I tending to bring the needle out at a slight angle to the entering angle, which is putting a bit of pressure on it?
-I keep one finger near the top barb, especially in the narrow sizes, just above the top barb because I only need to thrust slightly farther in than that top barb to bring all barbs into work—have I been putting a bit of pressure on the needle tip w/o knowing it?
Some of the needles I use are at least 5 - 8 years old, so you know that they can last a long time once you have some experience in how to handle them and which ones work best at which stage. I will sometimes use almost all of the 9 needles I carry in one project - they each have their own special use! It's best to keep changing needle sizes and shapes and not to make 1 or 3 needles do the work that a few other types might be better equipped to handle....