Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials and techniques are as individual as she is—unique, experimental and always interesting.
The idea for this tutorial was born when I used veg tanned leather to wet form a tiny pair of leather boots for the first time. Wool and leather, I found, share one very useful property: Both can be wet formed and both will retain their shape.
The purist feltmaker in me only wants to create seamless items, but this desire comes at a price. The compromise is fit! The seamstress in me understands that articles made with seams not only fit better but they look better. We make seamless boots and are sometimes asked, how can I make felt boots more serviceable, inside and outside, in snow and ice, in the wet, and on slippery floors! Of course bootmakers and the shoemakers understood that the answer lies in having a good template, shoe lasts and a good pair of leather or rubber soles, so why do we shy away from these traditional methods of shoemaking when we make our own wet felted boots?
Waste and diminishing natural resources are of increasing concern to people. Sometimes we feltmakers fail at our efforts to create items with wool. Feltmaking is not an exact science and failed projects can and do sometimes happen. These failures can be upcycled and made into items just like these adorable boots. Scraps of leather give the boots hard-wearing soles. The wool will keep little feet warm.
Wet Formed Veg Tanned Boots
Things You Will Need:
- A pattern (Instructions below).
- Thick woolen felt (upcycled from a 'failed' project); Alternatively, a flat piece of pure wool felt may be used.
- A small pair of resin or wooden shoe lasts.
- Uhu contact glue for attaching the felted boot to the leather soles.
- Veg tanned leather (scraps) with a thickness of approximately 2 mm/5 oz leather for the sole and heel of the boots. This natural leather can be wet formed to make tiny leather boots using the same method as was used here.
- 2 large-eyed sewing needles.
- Waxed thread for the saddle stitching.
- Dish-washing liquid, diluted with warm water.
- A rotary leather punch for making holes in both the leather and the woolen felt or a narrow leather punch.
- Eyelets, a hammer, and complimentary colored shoe laces or cords.
- Leather burnishing tool (wooden).
- Masking tape for taping the shoe last to create the front of the shoe.
- Warm soapy water.
- A small piece of bubblewrap.
How to Make Wet Felted Baby Boots With Leather Soles
1. Create the Templates
- Draw around the shoe lasts using a felt tip pen.
- Draw a further thick line around the edge of each foot as shown. This line should be wide enough to create a seam allowance. Make this generous as you can always trim it down later.
2. Make the Tongue for the Boot
- Stick masking tape over the front of one of the shoe lasts and draw the outline as shown below:
- Extend the tongue area to beyond the top of the shoe last, as tall as the back and sides of the shoe template.
- This can be trimmed later if necessary.
3. Make the Sides and Back of the Boot
- Wrap a half sheet of white printer paper around the back of the shoe.
- Estimate the required height of the boot you want to make and add a fold at the bottom of the paper as shown. This fold will become the seam allowance.
- Trim across both corners of the paper as is shown to create the eyelet area for the laces.
4. Cut the Felt
Cut out the 3 pattern pieces using upcycled woolen felt.
5. Wet the Pieces
- Wet the felt sections with warm soapy water.
- Place the toe cap pattern on the shoe last and rub well.
- Use a small folded piece of bubblewrap to rub until the section takes on the shape of the shoe last.
- Repeat the process on the second last.
- Leave the pieces to dry in a warm place.
6. Make the Back and Sides of the Boot
- Fold the lower back piece of the felt up, wet the fold down and mold as shown.
- Secure the pieces together as shown using elastic bands.
- Leave in a warm place to dry.
7. Remove the Shoe Lasts
- Once dry, remove the sections from the shoe lasts as is shown seen below.
- The woolen felt can be seen retaining the shape.
8. Make the Upper Soles
- On the leather draw around each shoe last and cut out 2 soles.
- Add a seam allowance as before.
- Cut out.
9. Punch out the Stitch Holes
- Use either a small leather punch or a rotary leather punch to cut out the stitch holes.
- Cut evenly spaced holes along the red line which are approximately 1.5mm in size.
10. Cut Boot Insoles
- Cut out 2 inner soles from the woolen felt as shown.
11. Attach the Insoles
- Stick the inner soles to the upper sole using the Uhu contact glue as shown.
12. Attach the Front Piece
- Apply a small quantity of glue to the seam area and attach the front piece to the inner sole.
- Repeat on the second side.
13. Attach the Eyelets
- Punch the correct size holes for your chosen eyelets
- Insert the eyelets with the back caps as indicated by the manufacturer.
14. Attach the Back and Side Piece
- Apply the contact glue sparingly to the edges of the inner sole and stick the back and sides on as shown.
15. Attach the Inner soles
- Sew on the inner soles using a saddle stitch.
- Use two needles and a complimentary colored wax thread.
- Trim and neaten the edge afterwards, where necessary.
16. Attach the Outer Sole
- Apply contact glue to the both inner soles and and press the outer sole together.
- A heel may be applied before or afterwards as shown.
18. Burnish the Edges!
- Burnish the edges of the leather to create a neat edge.
20. Nourish the Leather
- Use a little leather cream to nourish the leather.
- The sides of the boots can be finished off with edge paint if desired.
2 Needle Saddle Stitch
© 2020 Sally Gulbrandsen
Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on June 08, 2020:
Thanks for stopping by Denise, it is much appreciated.
Denise McGill from Fresno CA on June 07, 2020:
These are darling. I love that you are recycling the leather and the felt from other projects.
Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 25, 2020:
Ms Dora, thank you so much! Your continued support means a lot to me. Stay safe.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 24, 2020:
Sally, you should be proud of your ability to produce such awesome work. The boots are amazing!
Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 19, 2020:
Thanks Billy, that means a lot to me. Sometimes life just takes over and one just has to ride along with it. I am delighted to be back writing again. I hope you and yours stay healthy as well.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 19, 2020:
As always I am impressed, but more than that, I'm just happy to see another article from you, Sally!
Take care of yourself and stay healthy, my friend.
Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 19, 2020:
Thank you so much Devika. I am glad you like the little boots. It was a lot of fun working out how to do this one. Stay safe.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 19, 2020:
Sally Gulbrandsen great to see you writing again. Your creative work is amazing! These beautiful boots are cute
Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 18, 2020:
Yes, I am well thank you and hope you are too. I loved making these little boots. We have lots more time to be creative now. I guess the virus epidemic gives us that at least. Stay safe.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 18, 2020:
So cute! Always love seeing your handiwork. Hope you're staying well!