A few readers have said “I love needle felting, but not those needles!” Well, leave it to Kathleen George to share this shortcut felting technique that requires no needles. The washing machine does the hard part! These DIY Felted Holiday Trees look like the real thing, but they’re easy enough that older kids can make them, too. If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, use white wool roving instead, and wrap the trees in bright red ribbons.
To make Felted Holiday Trees, you’ll need:
- STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam:
- Cones, 9” and 6”
- Scraps or 2” balls
- Wood roving, 8 oz. in olive green
- Wooden dowel or natural stick, 3/8” dia. x 12”*
- Terra cotta pots, 1-3/4” – 2-1/2” dia.
- Acrylic craft paints in olive green
- Ribbon, 3/8” x 3 yds.
- Embellishments: Kathleen used wooden buttons that she stained with burgundy paint; or, you can use colored buttons, metallic buttons, etc.
- Reindeer moss
- Craft wire
- Liquid dishwashing soap
- Pillowcases, one for each tree
- Garbage bag ties, three
- Thick, white craft glue
- Low-temp glue gun
- *Optional: if using a wood dowel, you’ll also need brown acrylic craft paint
- Tools needed: Scissors; Xacto® knife; pencil; ruler; flat paintbrush; small sponge; paper towels; spray bottle; craft pins; small handsaw; washing machine
To make Felted, Holiday Trees:
1. Gently separate roving into long, thin strips.
2. Prepare a spray bottle with hot water and a very small amount of liquid soap; mix well.
3. Working with one foam cone at a time, hold cone horizontally in one hand and use your other hand to wind roving strips tightly around cone until surface is completely covered. Gently squeeze wool against the foam cone to help secure it; the textured surface will hold the roving in place. Repeat to cover all three cones with a layer of wool.
4. Working over a sink or other waterproof surface, spray a wool-covered cone with soapy water and squeeze with your hand to evenly compress the wool all around the cone. Repeat for two remaining cones. (Note: Don’t skip this step and assume that the washing machine will do the work for you. The cones must be hand-felted before placing in machine to prevent damage to machine.)
5. Wrap wet cones with a second layer of wool, criss-crossing first layer. Spray and squeeze cones again to further compress wool.
6. Add bits of roving as needed to cover any thin spots. If needed, add a third layer of roving to cover the entire cone.
7. Once wool begins to shrink and no longer slips over the surface of the cone, place each cone into a separate pillowcase and close with plastic ties. Place cones in a washing machine and wash in hot water. The agitation of the washer will continue to shrink and felt the wool. At end of cycle, remove cones from cases and set aside to dry.
8. Use saw to cut the branch or wood dowel into three, 4″ lengths. If using a wood dowel, paint the pieces brown and let dry. Use the Exacto knife to cut a small “X” in the center bottom of each foam cone. Insert and glue the stems into the cones.
9. Lightly sponge paint clay pots olive green; wipe away some paint with a paper towel to reveal the clay underneath. Glue small balls or foam scraps into the pots. Insert and glue the tree trunks into the pots. Glue moss over the foam to cover. Let dry.
10. Wrap and pin a ribbon garland around each cone. Tie three small bows and pin one to top of each tree.
11. If using wood buttons, paint buttons burgundy and then immediately wipe off the paint to create a stained effect. Cut twelve, 2″ wire lengths and bend over a pencil to create U-pins. Insert wire ends through the buttonholes and “pin” buttons to trees.
Needle felting is an ancient craft, and one of the earliest ways that ancient people made fabric for clothes. I think we can honor the history and still take a shortcut! However, if you’re a traditionalist (or believe that no pain = no gain), be sure to check out the many beautiful needle felted projects you’ll find on Crafts ‘n Coffee. Like these Needle Felted Holiday Trees by Rebekah Meier.
If you’ve been afraid to try traditional needle felting, what do you think of this technique? Do you think you’ll try it?