Monday, May 9, 2016

How to Make a Needle Felted Cactus Pin Cushion Jar

I've been in desperate need of a pin cushion for ages. I wanted something small to top a jar for double-duty storage and convenience. Padded mason jars are a popular choice, but I wanted something smaller and a bit more fun. I also wanted to skip the screw-top both for ease of use.  My heart was a set on a cactus, and I debated making a version of the pretty felt ornamental cacti at Garden Therapy or these cactus pin cushions at A Beautiful Mess; however, they didn't really suit my jar plans for size/stability. Then it dawned on me: needle felting!  It's almost too perfect since stabbing with pins and needles will help not harm my pretty pin cushion over time. Yes!

To make a pin cushion jar you will need wool roving is suitable colours, felting needle(s), a jar with a fitted cork lid, and glue (or alternative adhesive).  I use a Clover needle felting pen tool and find it very easy to handle, but you can use a plain felting needle or any tool you wish.  My roving is from Ashford, locally produced in New Zealand.  You can find wool roving through specialists, large craft stores, or online. The jar was purchased at a local homegoods shop. 

Create several small cacti (details below) of varied shapes/sizes in complimentary colours sized to suit your jar. Glue securely to the top of cork lid for a glass jar. I like the look of natural cork on the base as it is sort of like sand; however, you can completely cover the top in cacti and/or small felted boulders if you prefer. 

To make a basic needle felted cactus: Start with a small amount of roving (you can add later to build up if/as needed), roll it, then fold the roll into a very rough ball/log. Needle the wool, taking care as noted above, turning periodically to ensure that you are pushing the needle in from all around the cactus piece.  Wrap around additional wool roving at anytime to enlarge, if needed.  Cacti come in all shapes/sizes and are naturally perfectly imperfect, so you can't really mess this up.  Relax and have fun!  Once you are happy with the size and firmness, you're done.

To join two cactus pieces into a larger cactus: Position them together as you wish them to look in the finished piece. If the joint is perpendicular, cutting a little notch in the main body (as shown above) can help things look more natural and be more secure.  Wrap the joint with a little additional wool roving, and needle until securely felted together. 

To add flowers: Roll a very tiny little ball of roving and needle in place. If you are using a multi-pen tool, change to a single needle for small detail work. Repeat with an even smaller ball of contrasting colour for the center of the flower. 
Needle felting is best done on a soft surface, such as a foam pad; however, you can work with care on other surfaces if you prefer. ALWAYS keep track of your fingers (ouch) and enter/exit straight to avoid breaking your needle(s). Every needle action compresses and entwines the wool fibers, slowly turning the loose wool/fur into firm felt. Don't be intimidated - felting is as simple as repeating that action over and over. It just takes time, patience, and attention to detail. Peppy music is a fun addition and this is very cathartic crafting if you are feeling a bit "stabby". :)


  1. This is adorable Laura! I have always wanted to try needle felting :-) Especially when I see those cute little felted animals getting around the place ;-) Megan

    1. Do try it, Megan! It isn't a speed craft (lots of needling) but is so deceptively simple - details like little animal faces/accents are easier than you might think. I wasn't kidding about the cathartic crafting either - I think that hubby worries a little about my enjoyment of the "stabby craft". You do need a few supplies to get started, but nothing crazy expensive and you can get them in craft shops, from a specialty supplier, or online. Perhaps a winter crafting experiment for you?

      I've been using this little pin cushion jar for around two months now (I like to pre-prep my craft posts) and it is so handy, and I love that poking it with needles and pins is kind of good for it, instead of slowly destructive like it would be for many other types of pin cushion.


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