Basic Needle Felting (on a Photo)

Needle felting basics (via Needle felting basics (via actually haven’t shared a project using this technique in a couple years. Crazy how the time flies! If you’ve never tried needle felting before, you’ll probably be happy to know that the basics are SUPER simple. You don’t have to have any sewing skills whatsoever—you just need the ability to poke holes and choose colors.

That’s seriously all you need! Well, that and supplies, of course. You can get really intricate if you have been needle felting for a while (just type “needle felting” into Pinterest and see all the pretty stuff!).

Needle felting basics (via Needle felting basics (via For this project I’m going to show you the basics of needle felting onto a vintage portrait. This was a perfect project for me to partner with our friends at Canon USA. I love how vibrant I was able to make these old photos of my grandparents by taking a picture of the photo and then printing it with my PIXMA MG7520.

I’ll show you how I used a couple of old photographs of my grandparents to create these whimsical needle felted portraits. These are a little quirky, but I just LOVE how they turned out and I can’t wait to find the perfect spot to display them in my home.

I’m thinking about trying to do a similar technique with portraits of my other grandparents too so I have the whole set. 🙂

Canon Pixma printerSupplies:
fabric transfer sheets + photos you want to use
-plain cotton fabric (I used off white)
needle felting needle
-foam block or an old cushion
wool roving in colors that work with your photo
-frames or embroidery hoops to display your project
Canon PIXMA MG7520 Photo Printer

The most expensive thing about this project is the wool roving. It can add up quick, but you need VERY little for needle felting (see video to understand how much I used). This project cost me about $18 (not including tools).

In the video, you can see all the steps I took to complete this project. Simple, right? The only step the video doesn’t show is when I photographed my pictures and then increased the color saturation in Photoshop before printing.

Why did I do that? I didn’t want to damage my original photos in any way (and now I have a digital version I can print anytime), and the original photos are quite faded. I wanted the colors to be a little more vibrant to go with my wool roving.

Another note: keep most of your needle felted areas around the outside edges of the image. The felted areas will be raised and textured, so this naturally draws your eye to those areas. But, the subject of the pictures, my grandparents, should be the focal point.

So I chose to keep my needle felting around the perimeter so that the design sort of points to the subject instead of distracting the viewer from it. I also let my felt hang off the edges of the image (like the horse’s tail and clouds, etc.) to give it a whimsical feel. 🙂

How to needle felt onto a pictureThere are tons of different ways to use this technique, so feel free to get creative! But if you’re a beginner and want to create something fun that you can display, try this out because this is a great project to start with. Thanks for letting me share! xo. Emma

Credits// Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman. Video and Music: Jeremy Larson.

  • Hi Clara! I’m sorry about that. Send us an email at support AT abeautifulmess DOT com and we’ll help you out! 🙂 -Jacki

  • This didn’t work out for me at all. The felt won’t stay in place. I used different sizes of needles and repeated over and over again and it still won’t work.

  • I think it’s my favorite too!


  • I can’t even stand how much I love this idea! Might be my favorite ABM craft I’ve seen lately! And congrats on the bar, so cool!

  • OMG! I love this project! I love everything you ladies do, but this one looks especially fun! Those photos of your grandparents are amazing, by the way! Also, I was wondering what lens you used to capture the third and fourth photos from the top (the close ups). I love the style of those shots!


  • yes! incorporating some type of needle art on old family photographs has been on my to do list for quite some time. i’m so happy to see a post here! thanks for the kick in the butt to get mine done.


  • I adore this idea! And the photos of your grandparents are too cute!

  • What a cool idea! I have a load of roving sitting in my cupboard unloved, because I SUCK at spinning! It’s all a bit, er, neon, but I quite like the idea of making some of my pictures psychedelic? xx

  • This is soo cool! What a great way to make your photos a little extra special, I now know how I’m going to be spending this weekend… 🙂

  • What a great way to showcase pictures, and I think it gives a “vintage” touch in the photos 🙂

    life perks

    • Hi there. Your blog is wonderful, just stumbled across it. I’m new to needle felting. I can’t find the link to your article “needle felting 101” with the crosses done on a blanket. Have you removed it? Would love to be able to access it. 🙂 Thanks!

  • These are so cute! I love that you’ve only felted parts of the photos. It adds such an interesting texture to the images. love it!

  • What a fun project! Love the wispy cotton / felt cloud on the print, it’s a nice touch:)

    Juju Sprinkles

  • I love the photographs that y’all chose. This is definitely something I’ll have to try!

  • Omg – cutest idea ever! Please do this and share a pic 🙂 Dog moms unite!

  • These turned out so well! I need to get my hands on some felting supplies – the results are awesome!

    Monica / Mocha and Moccasins

  • That’s really cool I never would have thought of this!


  • OMG CUTE!! I need one of those Canon printers ASAP. My current printer is pretty blah to be honest.

  • Oh man, a dog shrine would be PERFECT for this technique. I love it! Great idea! Oh a fluffy cat would be great too.



  • OH MY GOSH, these are amazing!!! I definitely need to try this!! LOVE IT!!


  • This is one of those posts that INSTANTLY gave me an idea. But since that idea is to create a shrine to my fluffy white dog with this technique on a ton of photos of him, I’m going to refrain! 😉 Maybe just ONE photo with his adorable ears or cute lil tail needle felted. Even then, that may be too literal and too much of an homage to my pet. Haha! Whatever happens, my creative wheels are spinning now, which I LOVE. THANK YOU!

  • I love this SO much! Such a great way to make old pictures feel fresh.

  • SUPER cool! I’ve never thought of doing this to a photograph before, but it really makes them feel even more special! Beautiful work, and I love that you’re showcasing your family members. 🙂

    Always, Anita

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