01 of 10
Make Sheets of Faux Birch Bark From Felt
Birch bark is a lovely material for many crafts, but it isn't always available. Use these felting techniques to make a faux birch bark suitable for many soft projects. I'm going to use mine to make a fairy house. This is an indoor or play fairy house, so the felt substitute for bark will work just fine. If you prefer, you can also make faux birch bark by coloring paper, or by using permanent markers on a felt or fabric backdrop. If you only want a single layer of felt, you may want to make only the outer layer, and not the inner bark.
I'm making my faux birch bark 'full size' but you can use the same techniques to shrink the effect of the bark for smaller scale projects. Working the textures with roving on felt fabric is much faster than felting the fabric as well.
See pages 3 and 4 of these instructions for photo samples of birch bark you can use for inspiration.
For more projects using felting needles see any of the following tutorials:Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Materials Used to Felt Faux Birch Bark
To create a faux birch bark from felt you will need:
Continue to 3 of 10 below.
- Sheets or yardage of felt fabric. - I used wool felt but you can with care use the polyester craft felts, although they are not as easy to work with for this technique. Try a local yarn shop or felting supplier for sheets of felt fabric. You will need a sheet of white or cream for the outer bark and 'flesh' or light orange for the inner bark if you want to make that as well.
- Wool or Silk Roving - I used black, off white and white wool roving and some fine grey yarn. You can use soft natural yarns instead of roving if you have them on hand. For smaller scale projects you can use crewel or tapestry wools or embroidery threads.
- Felting Needles - I used a set of extra fine needles for making miniature animals and felting with silk available from Christine O'Neill of Fantiny Creations.
- Simple felting kits including needles, roving and foam blocks are available online from companies like Jo-Ann. Buy Direct
- Foam or Brush Felting Block
- Lint Roller - to clean up the finished product.
- Fine Sharp Scissors
03 of 10
Sample Photo of Birch Bark
This photo of birch bark shows the shading on the main bark and some of the many types of lines on the bark. While the lines are randomly placed, they are all in straight lines, or lines with 'dots'. The older the bark is (the wider the girth of the tree at that point) the more dark lines the bark will have.
If you wish, you can make faux birch bark by laying down lines of acrylic paint onto cream colored or white paper, or layers of tissue paper.
You can make miniature birch trees by using paper covered craft wire to make a branched tree frame, painting it white, then adding birch markings.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
Birch Bark Sample With Lichens
Here's another sample photo to model your faux birch bark projects on. This one is from an older section of a birch tree that has lichen growing on some of the heavier markings.
You can felt layers of green roving through from the back to mimic lichen marks like this if you wish.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Make Background Markings For Faux Birch Bark
As you can see in the sample photos on the previous pages of this tutorial, birch bark is not evenly white. In some areas it can have shades of grey or off white coloring. To mimic that on my faux birch bark made from felt, I've applied small areas of off white roving, and felted them onto the cream felt fabric for thin flat blends. This will give my birch bark a bit of color dimension in addition to the white and grey stripes.
Unlike the main birch bark markings, these areas can be curved, but generally run in vertical patches up and down the trunk of the tree.
The felting needle is worked straight up and down through the roving into the felt fabric, and down into the backing of a felting brush or a foam block. For fine lines I work across the roving to set it in place, then felt tightly along the roving with a fine felting needle to keep the line thin. See the instructions for making a miniature raccoon if you are not familiar with the needlefelting technique. To felt in smaller scales you will need extra fine felting needles (40-42 gauge)
Note: Take care when using felting needles. They are very sharp with rough edges and you can easily prick your fingers. Work carefully and do not leave the needles unattended around children or pets.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10
Adding The Dark Striped Lines to Faux Birch Bark
To add the most noticeable lines to my faux birch bark, the fine grey and black stripes, I use wool roving or fine yarn. In the photo on this page you can see a line made with a few fibers pulled from a hank of roving. The fibers are felted in a flat horizontal line across the felt fabric to fix the roving temporarily in place. When the line is established, fine scissors can be used to cut out sections of the line, making sure the stripes line up across the fabric. You can leave some lines long, or cut them into shorter sections with the scissors as shown.
Once the length of the stripes has been established and they have been trimmed, use your felting needle to felt the lines tightly into your fabricContinue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
Adding Different Texture Lines to Faux Felt Birch Bark
In the photo on this page you can see a number of different felted 'textures' taking shape on the faux birch bark made from felt. Some depend on the materials, although often that doesn't make as much difference as you might think.
The line on the left of the photo beside the felting needle was felted from a few fibers of black roving. The line on the right was felted from a fine lace weight yarn. Once felted they are very similar in appearance.
The thick rough line above the felting needle mimics the wider bands on older birch bark. It is created by felting a thick band of roving through from the back of the felted material. Felting from the back leaves rougher lines. Felting from the back is also a good way to mimic the darker sections at the center of old branch marks. Any 'fuzziness' in the lines felted through from the back can be reduced by trimming with sharp scissors once you have the effect you want.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
Felt the Interior Bark for a Faux Birch Bark
For many craft and miniature projects you will only need the outside layer of faux birch bark as that is all that is usually seen. For some projects you will need the inner birch bark layer as well. The inner birch bark has the same distinctive narrow stripes as the outer white bark, but the inner bark is a soft pale orange, and the stripes are a lighter color.
To mimic the effect on my faux birch bark I used fine sections of white roving to add stripes to my inner birch bark. The inner birch bark is felted by itself and joined to the outer layer by sewing, gluing, or felting after all the striped markings have been made.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Clean the Surface of Your Faux Felt Birch BarkWhen you have the lines and background areas securely felted to your fabric, trim long fibers tight to the fabric to give it the appearance of smooth bark. This will create a lot of fuzz. I find a regular lint roller, or the sticky side of some packaging tape, will remove most of the fuzz and lint left behind in this process. Clean up your felt as neatly as possible. Use your felting needle to secure any bits of roving which are still loose.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
Finished Sample of Faux Birch Bark Made From Felt
Here's a sample of a sheet of faux birch bark made from felt fabric and roving. This sheet shows a number of different techniques to create different texture and effects. You may want to create simple sheets with lots of thin long lines, or you may prefer to have a few branch markings or areas of thicker bark lines to create the effect you want.
The sheet of faux birch bark shown here will be used with a center of quilt batting and a back facing of faux inner bark, to make walls for a miniature felted fairy house that looks like it is made from birch bark. I'm not too worried about the exact markings on the fabric, as they may be largely lost in the final finish.
If needle felting is a technique you dislike, you can make a similar faux birch bark by using permanent felt fabric markers and drawing on your lines. You may want to use a pencil to establish the pattern first, before you apply permanent markers to your felt. Check the maker instructions to make sure the marker is permanent on your particular felt fabric.