Share your love of all things woolly this holiday season with this adorable needle felted Christmas sheep ornament tutorial.
This year, I’ve had so much fun making different needle felted decorations. Naturally, this seemed like the perfect way to add some handmade decorations to my tree this year. It seemed fitting to celebrate my love of all things wool by making a Christmas sheep ornament.
Not only is this Christmas sheep super adorable, it is a quick handmade project that is perfect for last minute gifts for any wool lover in your life. This is the perfect ornament for my tree because I have two little ones running around this year, and the fewer breakable ornaments, the better.
What is Needle Felting?
If you’ve never heard of needle felting before, you may be wondering what I’m talking about. In short, needle felting is sculpting with wool.
Wool fibers have microscopic scales on them that let the fibers lock together if they get agitated. If you’ve ever shrunk a wool sweater in the wash, congratulations! You already have practice felting wool!
Using felting needles gives you control over how the fibers come together, letting you create whatever shapes you like with wool. The more you stab at the wool with felting needles, the more compact the wool will become.
There is no limit to what you can create will wool!
What You’ll Need to Make a Needle Felted Christmas Sheep
Needle felting needs a few specific items. Once you have these things, you can use the same supplies to make a bunch of needle felted projects.
Felting Needles are super sharp, strong needles, with barbs and/or twists to help make the wool lock together. Without felting needles, you can’t do needle felting.
These come in a variety of sizes. I have three different sizes: 40, 38, and 36 gauge. Having different sizes allows you to use the right needle for different situations.
Larger gauge needles work well for making large shapes quickly. Smaller needles are great for finessing fine details.
You can use these needles just as they are. You can also find handles for a more ergonomic hold, or for using multiple needles at once. They aren’t a necessity for needle felting, but they may improve your experience.
You will need wool to make wool sculptures. Felting wool comes in three broad categories:
- Core Wool
- Undyed wool that is used to build up the bulk of a shape. Usually a cheaper wool.
- A fluffier wool with shorter fibers. Used on the outside of a shape for the final colors and designs.
- Smooth, longer wool where the fibers all go in the same direction. Great for fine details.
The bulk of this Christmas sheep is made with off-white core wool. There are additional details with a bright white roving, red roving, and a tiny bit of black top for the facial feature. You can use whatever colors you like for your sheep!
In total, one sheep uses about 6 grams or 1/4 ounces of wool.
You will want some protection for your fingers so you don’t stab yourself. Many felting needles will come with leather finger protectors for your forefinger and thumb to prevent any bloodshed.
If you don’t want to damage whatever surface you are doing needle felting on, you’ll want something to protect it. There are mats made specifically for needle felting, but some thick cardboard could do the same job.
Needle and Thread
If you want to turn your needle felted Christmas sheep into an ornament, you’ll want a needle and thread to make a loop so it can hang.
When I first started needle felting, I purchased a starter kit from Desert Breeze (not sponsored), and it has had everything I’ve needed.
Let’s Make a Needle Felted Christmas Sheep!
First, take a large section of core wool and roll it into a vaguely cylindrical shape and start stabbing it all over with your largest felting needle. The color of this wool doesn’t have to be what you want the final color of your sheep, it will be covered up later.
Keep going until the wool has condensed into the shape you want for the base of the body.
The head is shaped like the body, only smaller. You should use the color of wool that you want the face to be in the end.
Just like with the body, roll a small piece of wool into a rough cylinder, then start stabbing.
As you are shaping the head, keep one point of the shape a bit wider than the other, so you have a front and back of the head.
To make the ears, take a small amount of wool that matches the head color. Split this wool in half so you have two equal portions.
Shape the ears, leaving the wool at the base of each ear loose. Once you have two matching ears in the shape you like, attach them to the head of your sheep by working the loose wool into the head piece.
How to place the ears is up to you. There are so many breeds of sheep and a wide variety of ear placement. I placed my sheep’s ears out to the side. This ear arrangement also leaves room for the hat later.
Before adding the head to the body, I like to add the face. You can make the face at any point after the head is made, but I find it easier without the body attached.
To make the face, you’ll need a tiny amount of black wool and your smallest felting needle. I used a 40 gauge felting needle.
To make the eyes, take a tiny amount of black wool and split it in half. This way, your sheep’s eyes will be the same size. Then just stab the black wool into the face where you want the eyes.
The nose and mouth are made by working a bit more black wool into a Y shape at the tip of the head.
To join the body and the head, your sheep needs a neck. This piece also helps the final result have more realistic proportions.
Using a small bit of your desired sheep body color wool, make a disc to use as the neck.
Don’t felt this disc as tightly as the body and the head. Leave the fibers a bit loose so they can hold onto the head and the body. At this point, the neck piece should be a bit bigger than you want the final shape.
Once you have a partially felted neck piece, start using it to connect the head to the body. Once the head and body are firmly attached, you can finish shaping the neck how you like it.
The tail of the sheep is shaped just like the ears. I made my tail about a bit bigger than my ears. With different breeds of sheep, there are different tail shapes and lengths. It’s your sheep, make it how you want to!
To make sure the legs are all the same size, take a bit of wool in the final body color, and divide it into four pieces. Then work each piece into a cylinder with the wool loose on one end.
If you have followed my felted tarantula tutorial, you should be an expert at making this shape!
When all four legs are made and roughly the same size, join the legs to the body using the loose wool at the top of each leg.
With the base of the sheep’s body complete, it is time to add its woolly coat!
Taking some roving in your chosen color, loosely felt it all over the body, leaving the legs, head, and tail uncovered.
I used a brighter white wool than the rest of my sheep for contrast. You could also use a contrasting color or a matching color.
At this point, you have an adorable felted sheep. To make it Christmas-y, I went one step further and added a hat.
Using a little bit of red roving, I rolled it in my hands into a cone shape, then used a felting needle to lock the fibers together and get the right shape I wanted for my hat.
Once then red portion was done, I took a little bit of white roving and stabbed it into a ball at the tip of the red cone.
Finally, I took a bit more of the white roving and felted it into a loose disc. This disc got felted directly to the sheep’s head, then the rest of the hat was felted on top.
Once the hat was secure and looked how I wanted it, I folded it over and felted it down a bit to give it a bit of a drape.
The Finishing Touch
The very last thing to do to make this needle felted Christmas sheep ornament is to add a way to hang it. I simply used a large needle and a bit of embroidery floss left over from my mini embroidered ornaments and pulled the floss through and tied it in a loop.
Baa La La La La!
This sheep is so adorable! It is the perfect addition to a wool lover’s tree!
One of the fun things about sheep, is there are endless varieties to take inspiration from. I would love to felt a whole flock in different shapes and colors. The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook was a great way to see different breeds of sheep and get inspiration for how I wanted my sheep to look. I highly recommend this book for any fiber lover.
I hope you make your own needle felted Christmas sheep ornament for your tree and for all the fiber enthusiasts in your life.
If you want more needle felting ideas, click here!