O.K. So you have an idea floating around in your head and you want to do a needle felted picture of it!!!
'Where to start??'
Well, it's pretty simple, with the base material! "But I already knew that" I hear you say. But did you give the base material, any thought? Because , yes you can use just about any material for the backing but will it suit the subject? Will the felting needle go through it relatively easily because, don't forget, depending on the size of the project, you could be poking that needle through the material for many, many hours! And believe me, if you've chosen a 'tough-to-poke' fabric, it really takes the enjoyment out of the task, when you end up half-way through , thinking"I wish I'd used an easier fabric"
O.K. so, the denser the thread pattern, like water-proof nylon and heavy weight canvas, the more resistance to the needle, the less dense, like fleece fabric, the less resistance.
Another consideration is visual suitability. A 'Hard Rock' subject, would look a bit silly on pink fleece!! So a balance has to be made.
I'll list a few materials that would be useful to have in your supply cupboard.
Hession- it comes in roll form as well as sheets, I even use old grain sacks. I wash them and then dye them in a whole range of colours.
Upholstery fabric, even patterned ones can be useful.
Linen, cotton(duck and mercerized) poly cotton, polyester,Ramy, Pre-felt ( kinda like a felt sheet but a bit looser), Felt, I have even used felt underlay for carpeting, Felted woollen clothing(sweaters etc that have felted due to washing wrongly or just aged) Denim, Canvas(can be hard on needles!!),Twil, Sinamey,(I'll talk about Sinamey later on) Chiffon, Silk Chiffon, Velvet, Organga, Satin,Silk, Jersey, Worsted, Chambrey, Corduroy, Fleece Fabric, Voile, Calico.
The list goes on but suffice to say that if you have some kind of fabric that you don't want to see go to waste, then try a sample piece and if it doesn't cause any problems, break needles or is very hard to penetrate, then I suggest you give it a go. Be led by your needle so-to-speak!!
If you want advice on any materials, fabrics and their suitability, just email me or comment and I will try to help as best I am able.