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felt ninja tutorial

here's how to make this little felt ninja. the techniques used are a combination of wetfelting and needle felting. materials needed: wool roving, in red, white, and a dark color (black or brown). 8" of a linen or waxed cotton or similar heavy thread. large needle, hot water and dish soap, scissors (optional). total time 30-45 minutes.

Part 1: make a felt ball

the first step is to make a felt ball. You will need wool (called roving--the fluffy kind, before its spun into yarn), hot water, and dish soap.
take a bit of wool, by holding it in one hand and pulling gently with the other. You want a long bit of wool will all the fibers going in the same direction.

starting from one end, wrap the fibers into a ball. wrap them as tightly as you can.

you can keep adding fiber if you want a bigger ball. after felting, the ball will be a little smaller than it is now.


put a little hot water and dish soap in a bowl. dip the felt ball into the soapy water.

 roll it between you hands. what is happening right now is felting--the little fibers on the wool are becoming locked together. the hot water makes these fibers open up, the soap makes them slip around more easily, and the friction from you hands makes the fibers move  and interlock with each other.

you can continue rolling the ball between your hands until you are satisfied with its smoothness. the fibers should be tightly locked together, and of course you shouldn't be able to unroll it
note: if your early attempt doesn't work out the way you expected, it might be easier to just try again with a bit more wool rather than trying to fix a ball that is lopsided or lumpy.

rinse the soap out.
make one more ball--one will be the ninja's body, one will be the ninja's head.
let them dry. (if you are impatient, you can skip this step and proceed with them still damp, but it's not ideal). air drying is fine, if you throw them into your clothes dryer they will become even firmer and smaller.

Part 2: ninja face!

For this part, you will need a felting needle, and also hot water and soap, and a tiny amount of wool in each color: red (if you are making a red ninja), white, and dark (black or brown).

take a bit of white wool, and lay it on top of the face ball where you want the eyes to go. I usually choose the smaller ball for the head and a slightly larger one for the body.

take your felting needle, and gently stab through the white wool into the red ball below. similar to when you were felting with hot water, soap, and friction, the tiny barbs on the felting needle (be careful--they are sharp!) and accomplishing the same effect--locking the little fibers of the wool together. using a felting needle gives you more contol, but takes longer. so it's perfect for the detail of the ninja's face.

continue to stab the white wool into the red wool ball, paying careful attention to the edge of the white shape (oval) you are making for the eye area. make sure to keep the white wool where you want it.

once you have the white wool attached in the middle, fold one end back over towards the middle.

continue to stab the white wool with the felting needle, being careful to define the edge of the white area where you folded the wool over.

fold the other side of the white wool over towards the middle.

keep stabbing!


 until you have a white area for the ninja's eyes.

take a very small amount of the dark color wool and lay it over the place you want to put an eye.

stab it exactly in the place you want the eye to be. twirl the loose wool around in a circle with the needle, and continue to stab the needle into the eye.

if you continue to stab the eye, it will become smaller. you can add more wool if you want bigger eyes. if the eyes get a lot bigger than you want them to be, you can pretty easily pull the dark wool off and start the eye over.

after you finished both eyes, the last step for the ninja's head is a headband, needed for super sneaky ninja operations. you just need a small bit of red wool, as shown in the picture.

twist the wool together, and then wrap it around the face above the eyes.

use the felting needle to attach the headband to the head above the eyes.

wrap the wool around to the back of the head, and twist this ends around each other.

use the felting needle to attach the wool all the way around the head.

put a little soapy water on your fingers, and twist each end of the headband.

if you want, you can trim them with scissors.


Part 3. the last step is to put the ninja together. you will need about 8" of a cord or heavy thread, a tapestry needle (or large needle, it doesn't have to be sharp), and your felt balls-ninja head and body.


with a single strand of the cord threaded through the needle, and starting from the bottom of the 'body' ball, put the needle through towards the top.

continue up, taking the cord through the "head" ball as well. make sure it's just a single strand.

next, brind the cord back through, from top to bottom.

make sure to leave a loop at the top, and also to put the needle in a slightly different place and than the cord came up in.

 adjust the loop to be the size you want,

 tie a square knot in the cord at the bottom.

trip the ends of the cord, and pull the loop up a little, which also hides the knot.

all done, ready for stealthy ninja work




























easiest clothes for baby and kids, my new favorite japanese craft book

recently, i needed to make a bunch of baby presents for friends, and i knew it was time to take the plunge and get a japanese sewing for baby book. this was pretty daunting, because there are so many choices out there! i knew that i wanted one that included the fabulous japanese monkey pants (so so cute) and also some basic projects that i could sew using cute cotton knit fabrics for kids.

after multiple trips to the bookstore, where i would look at all the baby sewing books, and get confused and overwhelmed, i found myself coming back to this one over and over. it had so much variety, and so many projects that i wanted to try.

it has the wonderful cute japanese 'monkey pants', as well as bibs, shirts, dresses, panks, hats, leggings, romper and diaper covers. it also had a nice range of ages, so there are projects for new babies, toddlers up to 3.

full size paper pieces are included as an inset (you will have to trace them since the pattern lines overlap). all instructions in japanese, but if you are familiar with basic sewing you should have no problem. details are shown with step by step photos.

more photos in this flickr set:

37 projects total, 108 pages.
isbn 9784529048422

and now that i've tried it out, I have a new copy in the shop!


here are the things i made:

bibs-super fast, super easy! i used a bright tourquise nani iro gauze for 1 side. i love this fabric, so bright and modern.

and some organic cotton striped knit for the other side.

monkey pants!! also pretty easy, and i liked the pattern a lot.

and then i used a pattern from the book for a little shirt, and made up a whale using some of the nani iro. it was really fun to just whip up a bunch of sewing projects--and finally send them off!


bound in japan, a very cool book-making workshop

i love love love the idea behind the project, which is coming to kyoto!

unfortunately i won't be in town, but if you can attend, you should!

in kyoto, the workshops will be at we are one kyoto which looks like a fantastic place in its own right.


goodies from the bookstore

i'm off to tohoku to volunteer during the golden week holiday, but today i picked up a few treats for myself at the bookstore. they each deserve their own post...which i hope to get to sometime, but for now, a sneak peak: marimekko mook (magazine/book) (which came with a tote bag!!), sewing for babies book (one step closer to starting those projects i wanted to make for my friends' kids, and the new edition of the kyoto art and culture map (this is a fantastic guidebook for cafes, shops, in kyoto, and yesterday i found out my pottery teacher is in it!).


paper bento from hello sandwich

the talented graphic designer hello sandwich has created this lovely paper bento for japan vogue.

you can download the pattern (in japanese) here:


after a few weeks away, i am back in japan, and can't wait to eat yummy japanese food (not the paper kind!)

i'm going to be posting a little less frequently, as i will be busy with the disaster recovery (my first 2 day jobs are related to disaster recovery research), but i will be here!