We love a beautiful children's toy that doesn't take batteries! These bug magnets by Maker Team member Laura of @feltlikeaparty are sure to impress your toughest (and shortest) critics. If you're new to needle felting, don't be intimidated! This is a great exercise to improve your skills. Let's all get into line to make this felted caterpillar with Laura!
As a mom to two young toddlers, I often think of what I can create that I can use in my house. After many a night cooking dinner with alphabet letters sliding down and underneath my refrigerator, I said, “Better magnets.” This counting caterpillar is perfect for a few reasons. One, it has educational value. Two, it uses super strong magnets that, even under felt, don’t go sagging to the floor. And three, it’s super cute! I give it a perfect 10.
Skill Level: Intermediate
Time: 4 1/2 hours
1. Use a disappearing ink pen to draw four 1" circles on each of the five felt sheets. Tracing a quarter works great for this! Cut out the twenty traced circles.
2. Place ten super strong magnets on a magnetic surface. Mark a 'T' on top of each with a permanent marker. Super strong magnets are SUPER MAGNETIC! I recommend keeping them on a magnetic surface while you work and working with one at a time.
3. Use a hot glue gun to adhere the magnets to the middle of ten felt circles, two of each color felt. Put the glue on the unmarked side, so the ‘T’ remains visible. Set aside.
4. Select a felt circle and tear off a small piece of color-coordinating wool roving. With your fingers, roll the roving into a small ball just slightly smaller than the felt circle.
5. Using a felting pad and needle, poke the roving just enough to hold shape. Stab straight down and turn the roving as needed. I used a 38-gauge star needle.
6. Place the small ball in the center of the felt circle and needle felt it to the felt. The needle and some of the roving will poke through the other side of the felt. Firmly needle felt the wool to the felt without going too far into the felting pad or bending or breaking your needle.
7. Take another strip of roving, about 6" long, and begin felting to fill in the gaps around the felt circle. Work around then onto the top of the ball for a smooth finish. Always tear roving, never cut, to remove any excess.
8. Your final piece should resemble a little gumdrop! Pull the felted shape from the felting pad. Use scissors to trim excess roving that went through the felt.
9. Repeat steps 4-8 until you have ten felt gumdrop shapes, two in each color. These are your caterpillar body segments. Arrange the segments into a color pattern.
10. Select nine flower stamens for the caterpillar legs and one stamen for the antennae. Set aside the head segment with its stamen.
11. Hot glue the flower stamen legs across the center bottom of segments 2 - 8.
12. Fold the last stamen in half, creating a crease. Place this crease in the center of the circle and hot glue the back legs to the last segment.
13. Return to the first segment (caterpiller head.) Cut the stamen into two pieces, approximately ½” long. There is a point where the stiffness on the top of the floral stamen ends. This is the best point to cut, as you will need a more rigid end to insert into the segment.
14. Insert felting needle (or awl) into the head piece at the edge at an angle and swirl it about, creating an opening in the fibers for the antenna. Coat the end of the antenna in glue and insert into hole. Repeat for the second antenna.
15. Replace the caterpillar into desired order. Place segment 2 on the felting pad (skip head.) Tear a very small piece of Midnight wool roving and roll it between your fingers to form a teeny ball. Place it on top of the segment and felt it into the shape by stabbing straight down until it is fused and even with the segment.
16. Repeat this process for the eight remaining body segments, adding one additional dot of Midnight roving to each.
17. Using the matching color, place the first magnet felt circle under the caterpillar head. Blanket stitch around the circle with corresponding floss. Angle your stitch so you are sewing the felt pieces together - not the felted wool.
18. Continue stitching the magnets to the segments. When blanket stitching around the stamens, carry the working floss underneath the leg and come up the other side.
Your counting caterpillar is complete! High 10!
I love using supplies in surprising ways, like these flower stamens. When creating this tutorial, I chose six colors of wool roving so that you can try one of Benzie’s wool roving palettes to create a little bug that matches your style. If you are new to needle felting, another great option is a roving scrap bag. While they are only available a few times a year, it’s a great option to get a bunch of colors and experiment. Any way you add it up, you can’t go wrong!
Thanks to Laura for designing and writing this tutorial! You can follow her on Instagram @feltlikeaparty or visit her website. Stay tuned for more tutorials from the Benzie Design Maker Team!