Intro: Needlefelt Wire Haired Fox Terrier
These instructions tell you how to make a needle felted wire haired fox terrier out of wire and wool roving.
If you would rather make other similar terrier breeds such as Airedales, Welshies, Lakies etc This design could easily be tweaked with different coloured wool to make them instead.
If you would prefer to skip the making part I do sell these and other sculptures.
I also make felt lookalikes of peoples pets on commission.
To see more of my work find me at these places:
Please do let me know if you make a dog from these plans! I love to see other peoples interpretations and learn from their feedback, good or bad.
Step 1: Equipment
I order wool online. Its hard to find good wool in shops here in Devon. You might have better luck in other places.
You can't use just any wool for felting, especially at first! Many shops stock carded merino, which is really hard to make sculptures out of. You'll do much, much better using a core wool batt to build a shape with.
I bought most of the wool I used for this dog from The Makerss.
Use any of their core wool for the basic shape,
Stonelands black for the nose
White shetland and Russian Karakul for the coat.
The only merino I used was a small amount of dark brown for the eyes, and some pink for inside the ears.
1mm gauge garden wire makes a great armature. It gives the terrier a strong enough skeleton to hold it up but is also flexible enough to pose. Most DIY shops stock it.
Needle felting pad.
The pad is to stop you stabbing yourself and to prevent you from breaking the needle. I barely use one anymore. I just felt and make sure I don't stab myself, but they are useful sometimes, especially at first.
Some needles. I broke loads to start with. I'm not sure if it was because I bought rubbish needles or because my technique improved. Either way, good needles aren't expensive.
I buy mine from Heidi feathers. She sells a mixed pack of needles here:
I mostly use their light blue spiral but if you get a mix you can work out which you prefer.
She sells handles too. I don't use them anymore. I find it way easier to just use the needle, but what ever you find works best for you.
Needle nosed pliers for cutting and bending the wire.
A few good photos of fox terriers. Ideally at least one of a fox terrier stacked (standing for the show ring). Make sure the picture was taken with the camera level with the dog, otherwise the picture will be distorted. If you do an internet image search you'll find plenty.
Step 2: Building a Nose, Spine and Tail
I begin by making a nose. Cut a roughly 8cm length of wire. Bend the end of the wire about 5mm from the end. Pull off a small strip of black wool (Picture 1) and wrap it firmly around the wire starting at the end and covering the bend in the wire. Keep wrapping up and down the wire until you get near the end of your wool. Then bend the end of the wire over the felt to hold it in place. Wrap the last of the wool strip around the bend and felt the wool securely on with several stabs of the the felting needle. You should now have a firmly attached black lump at the end of your wire (picture 2). Don't worry that it doesn't look like a nose yet, that'll come.
Next bend the wire the nose is attached to into the shape of a neck, back and tail. Leave a small amount of wire after the end of the tail for bending over wool to hold it in place as you did with the nose (picture 3)
Attach a strip of white wool at least twice as long as the spine and tail to the wire at the tail end. Wrap the wool along the wire covering it all the way up to the nose. Use the needle to felt the wool along the wire so the wool holds together. Wrap the white over the black leaving just a nose shape felting the white onto the black as you go (picture 4)
Step 3: Adding Legs
To work out how long the legs should be check your reference picture. Fox terriers front legs are roughly the length of their backs making a square. This varies slightly depending on which breed of fox terrier you are making and individually between dogs, so if you have a specific pet you are making check. Consider that unlike a 2D picture your dogs legs will bend out over its ribs so make them a little longer to compensate for that. The most important thing to keep in mind is that all the limbs are in proportion to each other. Consider all these points and cut yourself two pieces of wire each as long as a front leg and a couple of centimeters extra. Double check the legs are the same length. (Picture 1)
Tightly wrap the excess leg wire round the spine of the dog attaching the legs at the shoulder.
Repeat to make the back legs. Back legs are longer because they have more bends in them. Bend in an ankle and knee so that you can judge the right length, as in picture 3
Pull out a long piece of white wool. Attach it to the end of one of the
legs at the foot as you did for the nose and tail, then wrap the wool around the wire up the leg covering the wire. At the shoulder wrap the wool round the spine and back down the other leg. Attach it at the foot and felt it with the felting needle to hold it on. Again repeat for the back legs. Now you should have a shape that closely resembles picture 4.
Step 4: Standing Up the Dog
Next pull the legs apart and try to stand up your dog. Hopefully it should stand up like the dog in the reference picture above.
Notice the dogs back. Compare it to your reference picture and check it is at the same angle.
If the legs do end up out of proportion or the back isn't at the same level don't panic!
You can bend the legs over on themselves to shorten them to balance it out. I don't reccomend cutting
them shorter because it's hard to make them longer again and you may end up with a dachshund.
Step 5: Bulking Up
Ball up a lump of white to form the chest and felt it to the frame under the spine as in
Pull some more strips of white wool and wrap them around the chest, back and neck felting them on as you go.
Wrap more round everywhere the dog would be thicker but don't add the fur yet. Make a 'naked' fox terrier.
Don't worry about shaping them up at this stage too much. I aim for a rough shape as in Picture 2 at this point
Step 6: Adding Fluff to the Beard
Pull off a small piece of the white shetland wool to become two lengths of curl
Roll it up in your hands so all the fibres hold together (picture 1).
Bend it in half at the middle. Stab it through the middle at the fold (picture 2).
Then stab the needle with the curl still impaled on it into the dog by the nose (picture 3). I know the wool turned black at this point! I found it impossibly hard to take pictures of white wool on a white dog so I switched it out so you could all see better.
Stab it several times to tightly attach the strip. Then you should have the two ends of the strip sticking out.
Twist those ends separately around the needle and then felt their ends lightly back onto the dog (picture 4).
Don't felt them too much, or too precisely, the intention is to give the impression of close rough curls.
Work around the nose to give the dog a good beard. It's a feature of a wire fox, and shouldn't be neglected.
Step 7: Ears
Pull off a ear sized strip of Russian Karakul wool. Felt it together shaping it into an ear as in picture 1.
Don't bend it yet, for now we'll make a prick eared terrier.
Attach it to the back of the dogs head felting in a semicircle where a real ear would attach to the head (picture 2).
Wrap any excess wool around the neck and felt it on. Repeat for the other ear.
Step 8: Bending the Ears
If the ear set looks like it is set right from all angles then we can make them bend. Have a look at how ears bend on a real terrier. They only bend straight over on the side of the ear closest to the other ear. On the outside side there is a concertina like fold as the ear attaches to the neck.
Try to fold the ear as in real life and then felt along the bend into the skin of the ear
(picture 1) That should hold the bend in place. Then lightly felt through the concertina fold on the outside edge of the ear to hold that in place.
Now your dogs ears should look like picture 2
Step 9: Eyes
Eyes are the windows of the soul. You need to get them right and then the rest will follow.
If they aren't right nothing else will work. So no pressure ;).
Roll two small pieces of dark brown merino wool into spheres.
Felt them to the dogs face. They go roughly halfway up. (Picture 1) Don't worry about shape, we'll shape them up with the eyelids.
Felt them lightly and then check if they look right.
If they don't pull them off, adjust them, and reattach.
The next part is to add the pupil and a glint to the eye. It's rather fiddly. I use a really fine gold felting needle for this. Roll some black pupils (picture 2)
Felt them onto your eyeballs (picture 3)
Get a teeny bit of white wool. To give the impression of a round shiny eye make it a straight piece and bend it into a crescent moon shape while felting it onto the eye (picture 4)
Next I use some black Shetland or Jacob to make eyeliner. Those two types of wool have long straight fibres perfect to be rolled into thin lines (Picture 5)
Felt the eyeliner round the eye.
Don't be afraid to felt the eyeliner onto the eyeball. (Picture 6)
Step 10: Eyebrows and Face
Add longer fuzz all arong the eyebrow area as you did around the nose. Pay attention to where the dog is clipped. Felt on some fuzz there too but felt it tightly so it's just slightly textured.
I also added two blobs of spare pink wool to the insides of the ears. You can barely see it really once the ear is folded over but it adds a little something if you have some.
Step 11: Adding Colour Spots
Before adding a rough coat I like to block in the colour. I get a few small pieces of black or tan and felt them on flat where the coloured coat will be. We also need to cover some of the tan on his neck with white. Just stab it on till it holds so you can use it as a guide later
Step 12: Body Fluff
Add curls of felt closely up and down all four legs. Make shorter curls toward the feet and shoulders.
Leave the paws bare. If you're going for a show trimmed look the hair is short on the body, tail and neck.
Still add some curls in those areas but less densely packed and felt them in more so they just add texture and not thickness.
It does take ages. I tend to work on it in the evenings while watching tv so I don't get horribly bored.
It does look nice in the end though.
After felting the legs you can use scissors to shape up the legs and trim off any flyaway hairs