A reader asked for tips when using glass eyes with wire loops on a needle felted face, so I decided to write a tutorial. This is probably not the only way to do it, it's just how I do it :)
This is my first actual tutorial (as opposed to work-in-progress pics), so bear with me. ♥ You can see larger photos if you click on them.
What you'll need:
- Glass eyes with wire loops - mine are 6mm eyes from glasseyesonline.com
- A long doll needle - mine is from JoAnn Fabrics, about 5 inches long, sold in packs of two
- Thread (preferably button/carpet thread for strength, but any thread will work)
- Exacto knife
- Your needle felted head shape - a simple ball is fine
When I first started trying out needle felted facial features, I would use a piece of yarn to mark the middle of the face to keep myself straight, so I thought I'd share that tip. Needle it lightly (just enough to keep it in place) in two spots, the top and the bottom of the head. You'll remove this later :)
Determine where you want your eyes to be and lightly needle a circular line to mark the spot.
Continue to needle in your marked spots, needling somewhat deeper, making nice little indentations for the glass part of your eyes to fit into. Don't worry about making a place to insert the wire loop yet, we'll do that in the next step.
Once your indentations (eyesockets!) are done, you can remove your center-mark yarn if you used any. A light tug should do the trick.
Now we're going to use an exacto knife like this one:
To make an opening for the wire loop, insert the exacto knife into the center of the eye indentation you created. Be sure not to slice too deeply, we just want a slit deep enough for the wire loop to slide into. I always make the slits horizontal (don't know why, really), I'm sure it makes no difference if you do them vertically. Here are two angles of the exacto knife in action; notice it's not in very deep:
We're almost ready to start sewing them in! So make sure you have all your other stuff gathered--
Before we start sewing the eyes in, we need to make sure everything fits. Make sure your wire loops are straight, and slide them into the slits you made. You may have to wiggle them a bit, but try not to bend the loops. If they just won't go in (trust me, it happens!), use your exacto knife again and make the slits a little bit deeper and wider until the eye loops slide into place with only a little push. Once you're confident that they will fit, remove them and let's get to sewing!
Thread your doll needle with a length of thread about 12 inches long. Insert the needle into the back of the needle felted head, coming out in the center of one of the eye slits (or as close to it as possible). Leave a few inches of thread-tail at the back of the head.
Once you pull the needle through, thread one of the eye's wire loops onto the needle like you would do with a bead.
Leaving the eye dangling for now, insert the needle into the eye very close to where you just came out, with the needle exiting very close to the same spot on the back of the head where your thread started. SLOWLY pull the needle through, and as you pull the last bit of thread through, use your fingers to guide the wire loop into the slit you made.
Make sure your eye is set into the slit correctly, and, while leaving your needle still threaded, tie the threads at the back of the head with at least two knots to secure it.
One down, one to go! Insert the needle into the back of the head, coming out in the center of the slit, just like you did for the other eye.
Repeat the same steps as the other eye, threading the eye's wire loop onto the needle like a bead, inserting the needle back into the eye socket and through the head, and guiding the wire loop into the slit as you pull the thread all the way through. Still keeping the needle threaded, secure the threads by knotting in the back of the head (you can add a tiny piece of wool later, and just cover those knots up by needle felting a 'patch' over them).
Once you have secured the eyes by knotting the thread, insert the needle into the back of the head again, but this time, exit down through the bottom where the neck would be. Pull the thread taut, snip it very close to the head, and it should disappear back into the felt.
Done! Seems like a lot of steps, but after only a couple of times, it becomes a lot simpler, believe me :) If you have any questions, just ask. Have fun!