Needle felting machines are the latest craze with sewers and crafters. These machines are equipped with a "head" that has twelve different barbed needles loaded into it and works like hole punch, but on a much smaller level. Every needle that you choose to use in the head works together to punch small holes through your top layer of cloth and through your bottom layer of cloth, thereby embedding fibers through and through. Knowing that, you probably have several other questions about how this machine works and what it does, as well as what happens when you need to rework your projects.
Sewing Without Actually Sewing
Because there is no thread involved with the needles in a needle felting machine, you never have to worry about buying thread or threading sewing needles. The threads of the top piece (or pieces) of fabric, usually felt, are pulled down and into the fibers of the underlying base felt. The barbed needles push and pull fibers down and up into a slight interweave, causing the fibers of the felt cloth pieces to intertwine with each other. No real sewing is ever required. The catch is that only different types of felt can be used with the felting machine.
It is very possible to "overpunch" your felt with the felting machine. This occurs when you have used the needle head to repeatedly pierce the same area and the fibers of the felt become overworked, break and separate. You can avoid this by first spending some time with the machine and getting a feel for what is overworked felt versus felt that is secure and should be left alone. Just like using a serger, it takes some time to learn how to use the felting machine and use it well.
Reworking Projects When They Pull Apart
Projects can eventually pull apart. This can happen with brute force (e.g., kids are pulling really hard on the felt pieces) or when the felted project is washed repeatedly and the fibers become stretched and loose. If this happens, it is possible to rework the project, but you have to be really careful with it. The fibers from the base piece of felt may be a little fuzzy, but if you trim the bits standing up, your smooth base will be fine. Also be careful not to overwork the top pieces when you reattach them so that you do not get holes.