Robins are everywhere this time of year, whether they’re adorning Christmas decorations or hopping from branch to branch in your garden. So today I thought I’d share how to make your own needle felt robin to perch in your Christmas tree. Needle felting is such an easy craft, you don’t need many materials and once you’ve got the hang of stabbing and shaping the wool roving you can create anything you like! I originally wrote this tutorial for Workbox magazine a couple of years ago (you’ll notice the step-by-step photos are taken in our old flat) but I took some new ones of him on the Christmas tree this year and thought it was time to share the step-by-step with you.
You will need:
Needle felting wool, also known as ‘wool roving’ in dark brown, light brown and red
A needle felting needle
A piece of foam
Polystyrene shape (optional)
Decorative items (optional) - beads and thread for eyes and wire will all come in useful
Most good craft shops should carry all of the above and you should have plenty of wool leftover to make into other things or more robins! I’d also recommend buying more than one felting needle as it is possible to bend and even break them. Oops.
How to make a needle felted robin:
Firstly, try to plan your process and design. I had an ipad with pictures of both real robins and toy ones open throughout, to keep me on track.
I used a polystyrene egg shape from a local craft store as the body, but you could easily go without this and make the body from the needle felting wool. To begin lay the wool in place over the polystyrene shape and then it’s time for the exciting bit - start felting it with the needle by stabbing it into the polystyrene. It feels a bit strange at first, but just keep going! I’ve found the shaping and speed needed for felting comes with practise and like most other crafts once you get into a rhythm it’s really therapeutic to do.
Use the dark brown for his back and base for his wings, once this is in place make his head by twisting the wool roving into a ball shape and felting together, it’s best to do these bits on top of your foam – so there’s less chance of a needle related injury.
Once you have a head shape felt this onto the body and then cover the rest of him in robin colours, a light brown for this tummy and of course a bright red for his chest!
Once the whole shape is covered you can start to build up the layers and tidy up the felting, I found that laying a thin layer of felt flat on top of the robin and felting this in gave a nice finish and stopped him looking overly fluffy. For his tail felt a rectangle and leave some wispy bits of wool at one end, use these to felt the tail on to your robin.
Next, make some felt triangles to use as wing tips and felt these on top of each wing, but leaving the tips free to stand slightly away from his body. For the feet, you could use pipe cleaners, but I went for wire and twisted several strands together to make it nice and strong. Include a loop one end of the wire and push a pin through this into the polystyrene to attach his feet. Felt a small bit of wool over the top of the pin heads to cover them.
Then it’s time to add his face, and here’s where your robin will really come to life. There are no rules – I opted for black beads as eyes and sewed them on, but you could use black felt. Use the dark brown wool to felt a beak and felt this on to his head.
And there you have it, a little needle felt robin.