How to Make a Needle-Felted Sock Monkey
Professional costume maker Ellen Allan of Santa Monica, Calif., demonstrates how to recreate the iconic sock monkey by needle felting. Note: Felting needles are sharp. Always felt into foam or a sponge. Think of the felting needle as a sculpting tool.
Materials and Tools:
38 inches of 18-gauge wire
assorted felting needles
unspun brown wool yarn
unspun wool yarn or raw wool roving: white, red, black
2" thick closed-cell foam pad or sponge
- Cut 18-gauge wire in these measurements:
One 11-1/2-inch piece of wire
Two 10-1/2-inch pieces
One 5-inch piece
- Using needle-nose pliers, curve the ends of both 10-1/2-inch pieces in half. One piece will form the body and the other the arms. Place the center of the arms around the middle of the folded body into a T shape. Crisscross the arms and tape into place.
- Coil both ends of the 5-inch piece of wire to form the monkey's tail.
- Coil only one end of the 11-1/2-inch piece of wire. This will be the legs. Fold the wire in half and make a V-shape bend. Place one coiled end of the tail in between the coiled ends of the body wire. Insert the uncoiled end of the leg wire into all three coils. Place the bend of the V at the connection.
- Fold a 60-inch piece of unspun wool in half again and again until it is about as long as the body part of the wire. Lay the wool folds on top of the body and begin to wind the brown unspun wool around the body. Wind up and down until the desired thickness of the body is achieved. Then, cut or pull the wool strand off. Lay the body on the foam piece and punch with the felt needle repeatedly until the wool is felted together.
- Fold an 18-inch piece of unspun wool in half about three times or until it is the length of one wire arm. Lay the folded wool on the arm wire. Wrap the brown yarn around the folded wool and wire about two times or until the desired thickness is achieved. Cut yarn and needle felt on the foam until sturdy. Repeat with the other arm, legs and tail.
- Wrap the ends of the limbs and tail in white wool and needle punch to give hands, feet and tail tip.
- Wrap the top of the body or "head" with white wool and needle punch in place.
- Make two ears by rolling the brown wool in a small coil about the size of a dime and needle punch just under the white cap on both sides of the head.
- In your hands, make a tiny peapod shape from the white wool and needle punch into the front center of the face, under the ears and above the arms. Make a smaller red wool peapod and needle punch onto the white. Especially punch the center of the red to accentuate the lips of the sock monkey.
- Roll two small black pea-size balls and needle punch between ears for the eyes.
- Roll two tiny black balls for the nostrils and needle punch into the top white shape of the lips.
- Roll one very thin line of black wool that is about as big as a toothpick. Pull off two 1/2-inch pieces and needle punch above the eyes into the white skullcap for the eyebrows.