Introduction: How to Needle Felt a Duck - Hey! Got Any Grapes?

About: Like Birdz of a Feather, let's flock together to create sustainably. After all, good planets are hard to find! We're a husband/wife team that takes our inspiration from everything around us; especially things …

Hey! Got any grapes? Let's see a show of hands for those of you who know the duck song? Don't know it? Watch the quick video above and you'll get the inspiration behind this adorable felted duck!

I made this little guy for my husband this past Christmas and it was huge hit (he might have mentioned it was the best gift ever)! As long as I've known him, Hubs always told the duck joke (the Duck Story is actually based on the joke). This project just brought it to life; complete with grape!

Feel free to have some fun accessorizing it (as you'll see at the end of this 'Ible)!


Step 1: Tips Before You Start

Before we start, I should mention that it's handy to have a visual aid to help guide you. I scanned the internet for duck drawings and printed a few out before I started.

For the sake of consistency, always work in pairs when you have two of anything (like the wings).

Make all pieces a bit bigger than you think you will need (about 1/3rd larger) because the wool will shrink as it is felted. Don't make it too big though: you can always add more roving, but you can't easily take it away.

I cover my felting pad with a piece of synthetic felt to protect it and give it a bit more longevity from the constant stabbing. Lift your work off the felt frequently to prevent it from sticking.

Needle felting needles are very sharp. Store any extra needles in a corner of the felt pad so they don't accidentally roll away. Keep your wool and materials stored safely from children and pets when not in use.

Custom Colours

I couldn't find a soft pale yellow for this project, so I made my own. I took equal parts of white and lemon yellow, then pulled them apart and stacked. Keep doing that until the fibres are well blended with no obvious streaks of any one colour in the mix. It helps if you have a pair of hand carders but for such a small amount they are not necessary (and are pricey!).

Step 2: Core Wool

I started with white core wool as the base. To get the initial shape, tear off some wool and roll it tightly into a croissant shape. Stab it to hold the ends and then all around the perimeter to keep the shape rounded.

Add more core wool to build it up. Concentrate the wool in the centre as you form the tail into a point.

I often refer back to an inspiration drawing. This one was printed from an online source.

Step 3: The Body

Once happy with the shape, add the yellow roving on top of the core wool (mix your own custom colour if you can't find a pale yellow).

Don't forget to stab the needle all around the perimeter to keep the circular shape. If you just concentrate in one area, you'll flatten it and that isn't what you want for the body.

Step 4: Head and Neck

At this point, I switched over to using my yellow roving for the remainder of the pieces. Form the head by pulling off more roving and rolling it into a tight ball. Stab all around to firm up.

Make a tubular piece for the neck, leaving a fluffy end. Add more wool to build up as you did for the body. Attach the fluffy end of the neck around the head.

Connect the head/neck to the body made in the previous step. I find using a darning needle helps to attach pieces allowing me to keep my fingers away as I stab with the felting needle. You only need to penetrate the felt about 1/4" to felt; it doesn't have to go deep.

Add more wisps of fibre to hide any seams and further shape the neck. Once you have the shape of the body where you want it, it's time to add the legs.

Step 5: Creating the Legs

Pipe cleaner provides the structure for the legs and feet.

I cut a piece of 12" pipe cleaner into 7" (leg) and two 5" pieces (toes).

I noticed it would be too long for the toes so trimmed another 1/2" off each piece.

The toes get twisted around the ends of legs as shown to form the toes. Position them so all toes look equally sized before twisting on to attach.

Then grab your orange roving and pull off some thin strands.

Wrap the pipe cleaner with strands of orange roving until everything is fully covered (last pic).

Step 6: Webbed Feet (aka Waddle Waddle)

Once the wire form is complete, the next step is defining the webbed toes.

Pull some orange roving and put it underneath the first foot. Stab a straight ling alone the outside edges to keep from shifting. Fold the outside edges towards the middle and stab to secure.

Add a second piece of roving over the top of the foot. This time, stab along the inside of each toe. When it's secured, once again fold the other in toward the centre (6th pic). Stab again along the inside, but this time concentrate in the middle section instead of just the edges.

Pull the first foot off the foam, flip it over and felt underneath the foot. Repeat all steps on the second foot. The legs are now ready to secure to the body, but I set them aside to complete the beak and grape first!

Step 7: Hey! Got Any Grapes?

Tightly roll some purple roving into a ball. Stab the needle completely around it to keep the circular shape.

Pull a small amount of green and form into a stem. Keep one end wispy for attachment.

Make a divot in one end of the grape. Stab in the wispy end of the stem.

Continue to felt until firm as shown.

Step 8: ​Attaching the Legs

Use a darning needle or pin to hold the legs in place. Add some yellow roving spanning between the underbelly and tail. Stab to felt.

Add another piece of roving to wrap further down the legs for support (3rd pic).

Build up the belly area with additional yellow roving (last pic).

Now onto the beak.

Step 9: ​The Beak

The beak is made in two parts out of two triangles (an upper and lower piece); one larger and the other smaller.

To form, pull off some roving and place on the foam pad. Stab a triangular shape and fold in the two sides. Stab until felted, leaving the top part fluffy for attachment later.

Add two tiny pieces of black to the upper beak for the air holes (2nd pic).

Bring the two pieces of the beak together and felt a line along where I'm holding the two pieces together to attach (3rd pic).

Pin the beak to the head using two pins from underneath with the beak pointing up (2nd last pic).

Stab in between the two pins and then fold the fluffy part toward the beak and felt together. don't stab too deep; you need the mouth to open. On the top side of the beak, stab in toward the head to secure (last pic).

We'll be further shaping the beak later, but before we do, you'll need to pad out the head.

Step 10: ​Add Padding to the Top of the Head

To pad out the head, take some yellow roving as shown and stab a line through the middle.

Fold one side over and lightly stab to secure (2nd pic).

Attach the fold just about where the beak is (3rd pic).

Once secure, fold the padding over the head and down the neck. Keep it fluffy and stab in lightly along the edges.(4th & 5th pic).

Near the side edges of the fold, make two evenly positioned divots for the eyes. You can also test out the grape as I did! I didn't care for the squared off shape of the beak (and I wanted to insert the whole grape, not just the stem), so I addressed that after felting the eyes.

For the eyes, use tiny pieces of black roving to add two dots. Ensure the spacing looks even from all directions.

Add two triangular pieces of orange roving from the beak up toward the head as shown (2nd last pic). To complete the beak, stab in from the sides into the centre to create a more rounded and compact shape. You can see the difference by referring back to the two previous pictures above.

The last picture shows how the beak and eye looks from the side. If you wish, you can further define the eyes with fine strands of white around the perimeter of each one.

With the face done, we can now complete the wings.

Step 11: ​The Wings

When making two pieces that should be identical in shape and size - such as the wings - I find it best to work on them side-by-side at the same time.

Stab a wing shape into the roving and fold in the edges. As you can see in the 1st pic above, the wing on the right looks a bit sparse. You shouldn't be able to see through it, so I added more roving to that one before proceeding. Working on the wings together makes it easy to see what you need to do to make them consistent.

Keep adding more roving until you are happy with the shape and size, but be sure to leave one side wispy as show for attachment to the body (2nd pic).

Bring them together to ensure that the wings are the same shape and make any adjustments needed (3rd pic).

Sit the duck in front of you with it's back toward you. Position the wings evenly and pin to temporarily hold (4th & 5th pic).

Turn to the side and place another pin at the opposite end to hold the wing in place. When you're happy that the placement is even on both sides, felt in the wispy ends. You can also felt along the wing a bit to keep it secure to the body, but for the most part they should remain loose.

Step 12: ​Embellishing

I added a ball chain with charm that says 'hand made with love'. I also positioned the grape in his mouth (1st & 2nd pic).

The last two pics show the duck from the back. If keeping this for yourself, you might think about displaying him on duck tape, to further tie into the Duck Story. Purple duck tape seems fitting! Or if you're a fan of the joke, add a hammer :).

Step 13: Gift Giving

To keep the dust at bay, I found this thrifted glass dome (it's available at IKEA). I added a piece of synthetic grass under the duck first before adding the dome. Then I surrounded it with some plastic grapes. You could needle felt bunches of grapes instead if you have that kind of patience!

Have fun with it (and if you like this project, let me know by sending a vote my way in the Fibre Arts Contest)!

Step 14: Get Your Craft Mojo on at Birdz of a Feather

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