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How to Make Wet Felted Boots for Children

Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials & techniques are as individual as she is — unique, experimental and always interesting.

Little Boho or Festival Hippy Boots!

Little Boho or Festival Hippy Boots

Little Boho or Festival Hippy Boots

A Little About This Project!

Wet Felting is a growing Art Form and as it grows, so too is the growing list of available aids and tools which are being developed to cater for this developing market.

Many of these tools are expensive. Many will claim that these things make it easier for them to create wearable art and/or decorative pieces in a much shorter space of time, but are they really necessary?

I prefer to use everyday items to help me create my pieces so with this in my mind I have searched for a few simple items which most people with young children will have at home or can buy very cheaply from a Car Boot or Thrift Shop.

I am passionate about recycling and repurposing. My mind sees developing projects in almost everything I come across. If it is 3D then I know that I can use it to create wearable or decorative Art. It is my hope that by the end of this Tutorial you too will begin to see the potential in everyday things which we all have laying around our homes.

In this Tutorial I will use a pair of Jelly Beach Shoes to achieve some Boho Hippy Style Boots for a child. The piece de resistance is the high sided Shoe Soles which I cut off from some shabby Clarke's shoes which I purchased second hand from a Car Boot for fifty pence.

A new pair of soles can set you back about £15 plus postage to have them shipped to your door, from some far flung land. The saving you will make is well worth the effort to keep your eyes peeled for bargains like these.

Items Required to Complete this Project

  • 1 Pair of Crivit Jelly Beach Shoes or Similar Brand
  • 1 Pair of High Sided Soles cut from a used Pair of Shoes

(Note that the Jelly Shoes should fit comfortably inside the Pair of Soles) Remember to buy soles which are one size larger than your usual foot size as the thickness of the felt will take up the space of another one size.

  • A quantity of Merino Wool Roving in your own choice of colors
  • 1 Pair of Boot Laces
  • Eyelets for the Boots and the tools for attaching them
  • Bubble-wrap
  • A large Bamboo Blind (Recycled)
  • A Thick Sheet of Recycled Packaging Plastic (In this case I used Pickford's Van Packaging from one of their house Removals which is the best thing I have found so far for making Templates
  • A Biro for Drawing the Template
  • Scissors
  • A pair of Shoes, Soles or Feet to draw around which you can make the Template
  • Olive Oil Soap Grated dissolved in hot water
  • A Speedy Stitcher Awl and Matching Waxed Thread
  • Pebo Latex
Recycled 'Crivit' Jelly Beach Shoes are used in place of expensive Shoe Lasts  Soles are recycled from Clarke's Kiddies shoes..

Recycled 'Crivit' Jelly Beach Shoes are used in place of expensive Shoe Lasts Soles are recycled from Clarke's Kiddies shoes..

The Beach Shoes should fit comfortably inside the Recycled Soles

Crivit Beach Shoes and Recycled Soles from the Clarke's range of shoes selected especially for their high sides.

Crivit Beach Shoes and Recycled Soles from the Clarke's range of shoes selected especially for their high sides.

Draw and Cut Around a Sole or a Foot to Create the Boot Template

Draw around a foot or shoe to get the right size for the boot.

Draw around a foot or shoe to get the right size for the boot.

Template Measurements

Measurements should be adjusted for different size feet.  Estimate on shrinkage of around 30%

Measurements should be adjusted for different size feet. Estimate on shrinkage of around 30%

Fold the Template in Half and Cut Out a Mirror Image of the Boot

The Template

The Template

Cover the Template with a Layer of Navy Woolen Fibers

Cover the Template in Woolen Fibers

Cover the Template in Woolen Fibers

Feel for Thin Spots in the Navy Fibers

Make sure that the layers are fibers is placed down with no thin spots anywhere.

Make sure that the layers are fibers is placed down with no thin spots anywhere.

Cover with Curtain Netting

Cover with curtain netting. Wet and smooth down the fibers.  Remove the netting and turn the project over.

Cover with curtain netting. Wet and smooth down the fibers. Remove the netting and turn the project over.

Wet with Warm Soapy Water

Wet each layer with warm soapy water, press the water downwards and outwards towards the edges of the template. Only gentle smoothing out of the fibers is required here.

It is not necessary to have the water very hot at this stage. Warm water will suffice.

2nd Side of the Navy Layer

The turned over Template

The turned over Template

Turn the Navy Fibers Over the Edges of the Template

Turn the fibers over the edges of the template using warm soapy water.

Turn the fibers over the edges of the template using warm soapy water.

Make sure that there are no Thin Spots!

Add an even layer of Navy Fibers to the Second side of Layer 1

Add an even layer of Navy Fibers to the Second side of Layer 1

Cover the Navy Fibers with Netting and Wet with the Warm Soapy Water

Cover with curtain netting and wet the fibers with warm soapy water.

Cover with curtain netting and wet the fibers with warm soapy water.

The Navy Layer is almost Complete

Wet edges just need to be folded over and smoothed down.

Wet edges just need to be folded over and smoothed down.

Demonstration / Take a Long Length of Wool Roving

Part of a long length of roving

Part of a long length of roving

Open up the Length of Merino Wool Roving with your Fingers

The roving which was only 5 cm across should be opened up to measure around 13/14 cm to form a flat even piece of woolen fibers.

The roving which was only 5 cm across should be opened up to measure around 13/14 cm to form a flat even piece of woolen fibers.

The opened out Fibers

The opened out fibers

The opened out fibers

Cover both sides of the Second Layer with the Opened Out Merino Wool Roving.

Place the opened up wool roving across the width or the length.  Wet, turn over the repeat on both sides.

Place the opened up wool roving across the width or the length. Wet, turn over the repeat on both sides.

Continue Covering the First Layer with the Spread out Roving

Cover the template on both sides with the spread out wool roving. It can be put down widthwise or lengthwise. Alternatively, you may like to keep this layer as your final layer and repeat the Navy Layer on the second layer.

You need a total of three layers. One should be the spread out thick layer and two thinner ones which should give you the perfect thickness for the boots.


Wet with Warm Soapy Water

Both sides of the template have now been covered with the opened out Wool Roving.

Both sides of the template have now been covered with the opened out Wool Roving.

Cover the Final Layer with a Thin Layer of Fiber

Cover layer 2 with a thin layer of fibers.  This will be the final decorative layer.

Cover layer 2 with a thin layer of fibers. This will be the final decorative layer.

Thumb finger shown here indicates the approximate height of the combined Layers and the Template Inside

Cover with netting. Wet with warm soapy water. Smooth out the fibers and then turn the template over. Repeat on the other side with another layer of fine fibers.

Cover with netting. Wet with warm soapy water. Smooth out the fibers and then turn the template over. Repeat on the other side with another layer of fine fibers.

Final Layer which is ready to be completed

Third Layer ready to have its edges turn in.

Third Layer ready to have its edges turn in.

Smoothing out the Fibers of the Final Layer

Smoothing over the fibers on side 3, the Final Layer

Smoothing over the fibers on side 3, the Final Layer

Put Bubble-wrap over the surface and wet with a little soapy water. Rub firmly on both sides

Wet the Bubble-wrap with warm soapy water and rub firmly before the final rolling on a Bamboo Blind.  If no Blind is available rub using the Bubble=wrap. It will take longer.

Wet the Bubble-wrap with warm soapy water and rub firmly before the final rolling on a Bamboo Blind. If no Blind is available rub using the Bubble=wrap. It will take longer.

Bubble-wrap once ready should be rolled inside a Bamboo Blind

Ready to be rolled in-between a Bamboo Blind

Ready to be rolled in-between a Bamboo Blind

Rol the Project up inside the Bamboo Blind

Roll up inside a bamboo mat.  Change the direction in which you roll it, several times as shown in the next images.

Roll up inside a bamboo mat. Change the direction in which you roll it, several times as shown in the next images.

Change the direction of the Roll

Keep changing the direction of the roll

Keep changing the direction of the roll

Fold the Project when Felted and cut it into 2

Cut through the template with a pair of scissors

Cut through the template with a pair of scissors

Continue rolling the two boots until they have shrink a little more

Roll the boots a little more until they shrink a little way down the template.

Roll the boots a little more until they shrink a little way down the template.

Time to Start Shrinking the Boots!

A wooden shoe last and the Project

A wooden shoe last and the Project

Put a Shoe Last Or a Jelly Shoe Into The Boot

Take the boots to the kitchen sink and using a folded piece of bubble-wrap begin to rub the fibers with. Use warm water from the tap and add more soap to the fabric as you massage.

I used a slightly larger wooden last to start the felting process with and then replaced it with the Jelly Shoes as it started to shrink. It Is, however, not necessary you can just use with the Jelly Shoes stuffed with Bubble-wrap. Begin rubbing on the bottom of the boot and work gradually around the sides and back of the last. You will soon see the fibers beginning to shrink against the last.

Don't worry about the top section until you have the shape of a boot in your hands. If you started with a larger shoe last, you might like to take now and replace it the Beach Shoes. Continue rubbing the foot area until it has shrunk to the size of the Beach Shoes. Don't rub the area where you will cut the tongue yet. It should be shaped into a fold as shown before you cut a slit down the side to form the tongue. You can shape it more once you have cut the tongue slits.

Slit down the fold with a pair of scissors and work on the tongue until you are happy with the result.

Removing the Jelly Beach Shoes

Put some bubble-wrap into the little jelly shoes and use them in the place of a pair of shoe lasts.

Put some bubble-wrap into the little jelly shoes and use them in the place of a pair of shoe lasts.

Crivit Beach Jelly Shoes

The Jelly Shoes should perfectly into the recycled Shoe Soles

The Jelly Shoes should perfectly into the recycled Shoe Soles

Shrinkage!

With the tongue folded in and the boot placed on the non shrunken boot it is easy to see how much shrinkage takes place in a project like this.

With the tongue folded in and the boot placed on the non shrunken boot it is easy to see how much shrinkage takes place in a project like this.

Put the shrunken Boots into the Shoe Soles and rub with hot soapy water to get a Perfect fit!

Put the shrunken boots with the jelly shoes still inside and place them on the recycled soles.  Continue rubbing them until they fit perfectly into the soles.  Rinse well and allow to dry before completing.

Put the shrunken boots with the jelly shoes still inside and place them on the recycled soles. Continue rubbing them until they fit perfectly into the soles. Rinse well and allow to dry before completing.

Attach the Boots to the Recycled Soles with Gede Latex and a Speedy Stitcher Awl

Put a thin layer of the latex onto the Recycled Sole. Insert the Felt Boot into the Sole making sure that all the edges line up correctly. Wrap a wide piece of cloth around the boot to keep the two pieces together whilst it dries.

You may wish to drill a few holes into the edges of the sole and use a Speedy Sewing Awl to complete the attachment. A Speedy Awl can be purchased from e-Bay or Amazon or you may be lucky enough to have a Ship's Chandler close by. An Awl can also be used to repair awnings, sails, and heavy material so you will very likely find one there.

The Gede Latex is a product which I discovered fairly recently but it is showing great promise and appears to be the perfect product for attaching the Sole to Felt Boots. It does not discolor the fabric, maintains the softness of the fabric whilst making it waterproof from the ground up.

The Completed Boots

The completed boots.  The soles and Boots should be allowed to dry out properly before they are attached.

The completed boots. The soles and Boots should be allowed to dry out properly before they are attached.

Close up of The Speedy Stitcher Awl.

After drilling a few holes into the edges of the sole you can use a Speedy Awl and some Waxed thread to complete the project.

After drilling a few holes into the edges of the sole you can use a Speedy Awl and some Waxed thread to complete the project.

A little more about the Speedy Stitcher Awl.

It comes with Instructions and Waxed Thread with 2 needles which are hidden inside the handle of the tool. Please see the video below which gives detailed instructions on how to use this great little Tool.


Recycling or Repurposing

© 2016 Sally Gulbrandsen

Comments

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 29, 2016:

Beverley

Thank you so much! I have written to you separately about the fedora hat you asked about.

Beverley on December 28, 2016:

Hi Sally

I love your tutorials, they are so helpful. Thank you

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on November 21, 2016:

vocal coach

I still can't get over the fact that one can make 3d items from just a few fibres, soapy water and some friction.

Start with something like a flower or a little pair of booties so that you can learn how the wool behaves under your fingers. Felting is not an exact science but it sure is an interesting medium to work with. I am glad I have piqued your interest. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

vocalcoach on November 20, 2016:

Love those cute boots! I had no idea what wet felting was until I found your hubs. This is a craft I want to learn. Saving your hubs for when I'm ready to begin.

Thanks so much Sally.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on September 10, 2016:

So glad you enjoyed it MartieCoetser, the creative spirit should never be abandoned. I hope you can draw a little inspiration from these little Boho Boots.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on September 10, 2016:

This is extremely interesting! Really triggering my creative spirit. Thanks for this awesome free tuition, sallybea!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 20, 2016:

teaches12345

So glad you enjoyed this Tutorial. I can say that I enjoyed making them very much. The end result still makes me smile as they remind me of little donkey ears.

As for your shoes which can be stored flat on a shelf! I am intrigued, I think I might go looking for them:) Thanks for stopping by to comment, every visit is valued and appreciated.

Dianna Mendez on August 20, 2016:

Your final product is fantastic! I recently saw an article on shoes that you wrap around your feet. You can store them flat on a shelf. I'll bet your would know how to make these, right?

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 09, 2016:

Hi Devika,

So glad you enjoyed this Tutorial. I loved sharing it with everyone. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

DDE on August 09, 2016:

Hi sallybea you have a creative mind and always a new idea. I just had to stop by o see for myself. Your work is fantastic!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 09, 2016:

MsDora

I think that they are taking advantage of these free Tutorials. I have had a great reaction from the felting community on Facebook and Flipboard. I am delighted and I think that they are too. Thank you for your feedback. It is always such a pleasure to have you grace one of my pages.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 08, 2016:

Sally, I hope that the craftily inclined take advantage of these tutorials you offer. These boots are darling.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 08, 2016:

Hello Donna,

Thank you so much. You are valued and appreciated.

Sally.

Donna Herron from USA on August 08, 2016:

I love this project! Your tutorials are so creative and inventive. Thanks, as always, for sharing your wonderful ideas and projects!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 07, 2016:

It was a very satisfying project with a great outcome. Even now, after a few years of writing these felting Tutorials, I am still in awe of this thing we call Wet Felting. Amazing how on can turn a few woolen fibers into wearable art with just a little soapy water and lots of rubbing and rolling. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on August 07, 2016:

Looks like a wonderful project.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 07, 2016:

Hi Billy,

Wish I could have been a fly on the wall. How exciting! I would have so enjoyed seeing your reaction:)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 07, 2016:

Other than your articles, Sally, I have never seen anything wet-felted...until yesterday. In a gift shop I saw a wet-felted birdhouse. LOL And I was so excited. LOL And I have you to thank for that excitement.

bill

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