Let's make a small(1,5 inch to 6 inches) poseable needle felted doll.
This is my first tutorial. I hope you will like it. Let me know how I can improve it.
First, decide what kind of doll you want to make(fairy, people, animal...). Then, draw it or find a picture of the doll at the size you want to create it.
What you need:
wool roving for the body in the colors of your picture/drawing
embroidery floss for the hands, or polymer clay, or wool roving
wire for the armature:
one or any mix of these wire gauge 16 or more(the higher the gauge, the thinner the wire) The pipe cleaner and thinner wires are easier to bend but break more easily. It all depends if the doll will be bent a lot and how strong the person bending the doll will be. 16 gauge is a bit hard to bend. You can also twist thinner wires together to make it thicker and stronger. Pipe cleaner won't let you get very thin parts( limb, tail...) but the roving attaches very easily on it.
wire cutters and pliers
felting needles, more than one as they sometimes break
felting mat: some foam would be the best but a sponge or a brush would work well. Since you mostly will hold it in your hand, you likely can do it without any mat too.
embroidery needle if using embroidery floss
Instructions for the armature:
Draw the armature at the size you want. Put tracing paper other the picture and draw the armature or draw it free handed.
Bend the wire and check the size and shape by putting the wire pieces over the armature you have drawn. Make the legs way longer to allow enough wire to create the feet.
Add the arms: You can make them at the same time as the hands or on separate wires.
Attach them to the body but leave them free to rotate.
Add hands: You can create hands with polymer clay too. It's easier but they won't bend. If you choose to make hands without polymer clay, create the armature for the hands. You can make plastic figurine hands, best for tiny dolls with tiny hands:
or more realistic hands:
It helps to use a drawing or picture of the hand at the size you want it to check the size and position of the fingers. For small hands, make the fingers a bit longer toward the hand as the floss will take some space. As you can see, this hand is too thin at the base of the thumb and the thumb is too long. That's why you need a good picture of the hand as a reference.
Bend the wire to form the feet and check that the doll can stand up:
Do not wrap as much wire around the torso to attache the arms as I did, it will be a pain to felt around that much wire and may break needles. Do not wrap wire around the fingers as you see in this picture, you will end up with fingers too thick.
Instructions for the doll:
First, polymer clay: If you choose to create the feet, hands or head with polymer clay, now is the time so you can bake it before wrapping any wool roving or embroidery floss.
You could also use beads for the head, hands and feet.
hands: If you choose to make hands with wool roving, they likely will be fuzzy, especially tiny hands. Maybe wet felting would help. I did not like the fuzzy hands so I used embroidery floss. Wrap the floss tightly around one finger working toward the end of one finger.
Pass the needle in the tiny hole at the end of the finger so as to prevent any unraveling. Do this as many times as needed to cover all the wire.
Wrap back toward the hand and do the same for all fingers. Then, wrap around the hand.
In no particular order, you will have to create the head, feet, tail eventually and, body.
head and feet: wrap the roving, pock it with the needle, many many times so that it felts and hardens. Add roving until you get the size and shape you are looking for. Do not pock too hard as the needle will break if it touches the wire too fast. Pay attention to your fingers, these needle felting needles are sharp. This head is not felted or shaped enough.
Adding more wool roving to create Hobbes' cheeks and snout:
body: Take a piece of roving about 1/4 of an inch thick or a bit less and about 3 inches long and wrap it around one leg. Do the next one. Felt it by pocking the needle a lot in it. Add roving and felt. and so on...
tail: I don't recommend using this kind of mat, it makes the opposite side very fuzzy.
Once you are satisfied with the shape, you can add the details like the eyes, the stripes or the hair.