Fans of the classic novella The Little Prince are equally enamored over the 3D animated version. Perhaps one of the most memorable and insightful characters from this timeless tale is the fox who befriends the prince during his travels. Harness some of the story's enchantment by sculpting your own version of the ruddy sage out of a few balls of wool roving.
One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eyes. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
Things You'll Need
Wool roving in white (approx. 1.6 oz), orange (approx. 2.4 oz) and dark brown (approx. 0.8 oz)
Felting needle and felting pad
8 x 11 wool felt sheets, dark brown and tan
Two blue buttons
Needle and thread (brown)
Optional: High gloss decoupage medium
Optional: Mini quilting iron
- Optional: Pipe cleaners
Step 1: Form the Fox's Head & Body
Begin by placing a large handful of orange wool roving on your felting pad. Fluff it up and pull the wool into a medium-sized zucchini shape, tapering one side of the wool mass. Using a barbed felting needle, begin carefully poking the needle into the wool, in slow, thoughtful strokes. Always keep your wool against the felting pad so that the sharp needle goes through the wool and into your protective pad rather than your own flesh!
Continue poking the wool in an up-and-down motion throughout the tapered end of the wool mass, until the fibers being matted together become stiff. Bend the wool fiber to make a gentle, elbow-like shape, and use your needle to evenly felt what is becoming the fox's face and body.
There are many different thicknesses and fiber lengths in wool roving, although most packages do not state the type of roving within. If you find that your roving is very fine and free of any foreign flecks, then it has been carded more than the wool used in this tutorial, and may need more felting than shown in my example.
Step 2: Continue to Shape the Fox's Body
When you have an evenly-matted elbow-shape with one tapered end, grab a handful of your white wool roving and smooth the white wool into a tubular shape shape similar to the length of your orange wool. Set the orange shape aside for a moment, and begin inserting the barbed needle into the white wool roving to mat the fibers together.
When you feel that the white wool is of an even consistency, lay the white wool against the inner curvature of the orange wool. Press the orange and white roving onto your felting pad, white side up, and use the barbed needle to poke through the white wool and into the orange wool, so that you mat the fibers together and attach the two colors.
Continue poking your needle into the white and orange wool until you have a shape that vaguely resembles a fox’s tummy and head.
Step 3: Check the Proportion of the Button Eyes
Now would be a good time to check your blue button eyes against the fox's head to see if the proportions are right. (I watched the trailer for this film an awful lot before I had a descent grasp on the proportions of the fox, so be easy on yourself if you don’t have the exact right size eye buttons handy.)
If you need to make your fox body smaller, you can continue to stab your overall project until the entire wool mass has compressed, or use scissors to trim away excess material. If your fox body is a bit too small, tug at the wool roving to enlarge or stretch it, then add more wool atop your project, and use the barbed needle to poke it place. Be mindful of seams and ridges that can be created when you patch a project. Pulling a small bit of wool and felting it into these naturally occurring grooves will help give the entire project a seamless look. Continue patching the fox's body until you have the right proportion.
Be forewarned, perfection is not really achievable in needle felting, but you may just feel like you want to keep patching, patching, patching! Needle felting is so addictive and a major stress reliever. (Stab, stab, stab!)
Step 4: Create the Arm & Leg Limbs
To create the fox's arms that hang limp next to its body, pull a thin length of roving from your master wad (yep, that's the official term). Use the barbed needle to felt the wool until you have a fox limb roughly the width and length of an index finger. Wrap a small amount of brown felt around the very end of the fox's limb to form a paw, and stab it with the needle so that both the brown and orange wool have been attached.
Note: If you would like to create limbs that can bend and that have a bit more structure, start by wrapping the roving around a piece of craft grade pipe cleaner. Then continue to felt the limbs as normal.
When your fox arm is complete, hold it up the the body of the fox, where the “shoulder” would be, and use your barbed needle to poke the woolly end of the limb into the wool of the fox's body until it is attached securely.
Make a second fox arm of the same length as the first, and attach that to the other side of the fox's body. Then make two slightly shorter limbs for the hind legs of the fox and attach those to the body as well.
Step 5: Make the Fox's Tail
To make the fox’s tail, grab a bundle of orange wool roving that looks to be approximately the size of the fox’s body. Taper one end, but leave the rest of the mass a bit wild.
Stab the wool mass with your felting needle until it resembles an ice cream cone and has enough density to hold together when you tug at it.
Grab a small fist-full of white roving and felt it to the widest end of the orange ice cream cone shape. Continue to shape the tail with your needle until the piece looks seamless. You're going for a wild, bushy tail effect here.
Attach the fox's tail to the back of its body. Use extra bits of wool roving to patch, if needed.
Step 6: Sew the Eyes Into Place
Use your needle and thread to sew the eye buttons in place on the face. Hide your thread knot under one of the buttons.
Step 7: Create the Nose
Add a bit of brown wool roving to the tip of the fox’s nose and felt it in place. Twist the brown roving as you place it on the tip of the nose. Twisting the fibers before setting them against the rest of your piece will make for a cleaner line when you being felting it.
Step 8: Make the Ears
Cut out two oval shapes from brown wool felt sheets for the fox’s ears. Eyeball the size based on how large your fox's head is. Cut two slightly smaller tan ovals out of wool felt as well. Remember that fox ears are large, so cut larger ovals than you think you will need. It’s always easier to trim away excess than it is to add more!
Use the needle and thread to stitch the brown felt ears in place on the fox’s head. Secure the inner tan ovals with fabric glue. Allow the glue to dry completely.
Step 9: Give Your Fox a Final Look
You may find that you want to add accents in the tail, by poking your needle in uniform rows to create intentional lines, or you may want to add roving patches for added bulk in certain areas.
To keep the wool strand fly-aways to a minimum, trim with sharp scissors or press with a hot quilting iron. The heat and gentle rubbing from the iron will smooth out the fox and give it a finished look.
Finally, add a little twinkle to your fox’s eyes by dabbing on a coat of high gloss decoupage medium to the buttons. The perma-wet look of the eyes will give a hint of life.
The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched. They are felt with the heart. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince