I’m often asked how much it costs to start needle felting. It’s an understandable question: many crafting activities are expensive! Thankfully, needle felting is not one of them. The basic supplies are quite affordable. Plus, purchasing sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials is often better for the budget!
Not sure where to start or how much you need to spend? Let me walk you through the needle felting essentials so you can make your shopping list. I’ll make sure to recommend the most affordable options each step of the way.
Your Felting Needle
You really only need one needle to start, although you’ll need to replace it every so often. Felting needles are specially designed for this type of craft. They have tiny barbs near the point. These catch on the wool and allow it to get entangled with itself. The more you needle the wool, the denser it becomes.
Felting needles come in different sizes. Some wool requires larger, some wool requires smaller. It depends a lot on your comfort level, the type of wool you’re using, and the level of detail you need. My go-to size is 36, which is what I include in my starter kit.
The nice thing about felting needles is that they are quite cheap, you can get a set of two for just $3.50. You can use the same needle for multiple projects if you take care of it. One issue I hear from my students is that the needle tip breaks off. To avoid this, try moving the needle straight up and down — not at an angle.
Your Felting Cushion
The cheapest option for a felting cushion is foam, especially if you are just starting and you are not sure this is the craft for you. The thing with foam cushions is they wear out after just a few uses, so you end up buying lots of foam and tossing it in the trash, you can find more tips here.
I realized that wool is actually a great base for needle felting. So, we source local wool and we make wool felting cushions that last for years and bonus, they don’t leave little bits of foam in your project! This is one of my needle felting secrets. Our locally sourced wool cushions are my favorite surface to felt on and they will last a long time. In fact, they are the only wool felting cushions you will find that use locally grown USA ethically raised wool, that is processed using eco friendly products and crafted all in the USA. All in a little town called Nome, ND. They are a bit more expensive but well worth the price if you will be doing a lot of needle felting.
Once you have a needle and the surface to work on you will need to find the most important part – wool. This is where you can spend the most amount of money. I recommend starting out with Romney wool as it is the easiest to needlefelt with. Most of the wool available to purchase in stores and in kits is Merino, which is the most widely available and most known type of wool but it is not the best for needle felting.
A kit is the perfect way to save money when you are just trying out needle felting for the first time. Our kits include the perfect amount of wool so there is no guessing on amounts.
Once you get hooked on needle felting (pun intended!), you’ll end up doing bigger projects. One thing I recommend to my students is to invest in a good holder to prevent hand fatigue. In a pinch, an empty ballpoint pen works. But if you want multiple needles working at once, there’s a nifty multi-needle tool you can use. It’s less than $30 and will save you tons of time — and hand cramps!
As you continue your needle felting journey, you end up collecting different sizes of needles. Sometimes, you end up using multiple needles in the same project! These needles are super sharp, so please be sure to store them safely. I like to keep mine in our carrying case. It is perfect for taking your project on the go.
And guess what — there are even reverse felting needles where the barbs face upward. This allows you to bring a different-colored wool from underneath your top layer. You can do some really cool patterns with these. Reverse felting needles are great for adding detail to your sculptures.
Of course, you don’t have to buy all these supplies at once. But if you’re investing in your hobby, it’s often cheaper to buy things as a package rather than constantly running out to buy various needles and tools. Here is a felting needle bundle with both 36 and 38 size needles (the sizes I use most often) plus the multi-tool.
If you’re just getting started, it’s often cheapest to buy a starter kit with the basic needles, a cushion, and just enough wool for a project. Eventually, you can invest in more needle types, multi-tools, and so on. Overall, though, needle felting is both affordable and highly rewarding!