How to Make Wet Felted Boots for Children
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
- 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
- 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
The Beach Shoes should fit comfortably inside the Recycled Soles
Draw and Cut Around a Sole or a Foot to Create the Boot Template
Fold the Template in Half and Cut Out a Mirror Image of the Boot
Cover the Template with a Layer of Navy Woolen Fibers
Feel for Thin Spots in the Navy Fibers
Cover with Curtain Netting
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
Turn the Navy Fibers Over the Edges of the Template
Make sure that there are no Thin Spots!
Cover the Navy Fibers with Netting and Wet with the Warm Soapy Water
The Navy Layer is almost Complete
The middle layer should be laid out in the manner shown in the example below. Take a long length of merino wool roving and spread the fibers out as shown. They can be laid down over the first layer, lengthwise or widthwise as desired. Alternatively, you may wish to repeat the first layer once more and put the spread out fibers down as your top layer. If the fibers were dip dyed this can make the finished project very interesting!
Demonstration / Take a Long Length of Wool Roving
Open up the Length of Merino Wool Roving with your Fingers
The opened out Fibers
Cover both sides of the Second Layer with the Opened Out Merino Wool Roving.
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
Cover the Final Layer with a Thin Layer of Fiber
Thumb finger shown here indicates the approximate height of the combined Layers and the Template Inside
Final Layer which is ready to be completed
Smoothing out the Fibers of the Final Layer
Put Bubble-wrap over the surface and wet with a little soapy water. Rub firmly on both sides
Bubble-wrap once ready should be rolled inside a Bamboo Blind
A Note On Using Bamboo Blind!
Bamboo Blinds really are great Tools for Feltmakers. They can be bought very cheaply from Car Boots and Thrift Shops. They help speed up the felting process help one maintain perfect seamless edges. The position of the template inside shifts slightly as you roll helping to avoid unsightly uneven edges.
Rol the Project up inside the Bamboo Blind
Change the direction of the Roll
Fold the Project when Felted and cut it into 2
Continue rolling the two boots until they have shrink a little more
Time to Start Shrinking the Boots!
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
Crivit Beach Jelly Shoes
Put the shrunken Boots into the Shoe Soles and rub with hot soapy water to get a Perfect fit!
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 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. Speedy Sewing Awl
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
Close up of The Speedy Stitcher Awl.
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
How important is the idea of recycling and re-purposing to you?
© 2016 Sally Gulbrandsen