My favorites are a “Coarse” needle, sized 34, for making the body and applying the color. Then I go over the whole thing with a “Fine” needle, sized 36 or 38. I started with a basic set of Fine & Course felting needles from Michaels. I wrapped masking tape around the top tip of the coarse needles to keep them distinct from the fine needles. Eventually I invested in a set of Specialty Needles, but most often I still use the needles from my first pack of basics.
IMPORTANT NOTE! When I first started felting I attempted to use two or three needles at a time, in the misguided theory that would get the project done quicker. Don’t go down this road! It’s painful!! All I ended up doing was stabbing myself bloody. When you use a single needle you have more control, and you can stab deeper into the form of the project, which is actually what gets the project done quicker. Also I don’t use a handle, those seem to be meant for flat wet felting, not 3D sculptures.
On the discussion of felting mats, I don’t use one. Some people buy premade mats. Some people use foam of various thickness. Sometime people fill simple cotton bags with rice to use on a table. I’ve tried foam, I’ve tried the rice bag, and I find it’s really mush simpler to hold your project. True, you may get jabbed more this way, but only until your muscle memory kicks in, after which it quite rare to pierce yourself too hard.
One of the dragons I’ve made, for more photos click here: Morgan