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How to Make Wet Felted Booties

Updated on October 2, 2016
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Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker. Her tutorials & techniques are as individual as she is, unique, experimental and always interesting

Cute Ladybird/Floral Scene Booties

The completed booties, a cute floral scene and a pair of needle felted ladybirds!
The completed booties, a cute floral scene and a pair of needle felted ladybirds! | Source

About This Project

For this cute little Project, I made use of two tiny pairs of metal shoe lasts. One pair which was a size larger than the other was used to put the wool fibres down onto. The smaller one was used to shape the shrunken booties.

The floral scene was added when the booties had been partially felted.

Once partially felted, the shoe lasts were removed and replaced with supermarket plastic shopping bags and put into a tumble dryer for about five minutes until fully felted.

Once felted, the booties were thoroughly rinsed, first in hot and then in cold water until the water ran clear of soap.

The shoe lasts were carefully removed and the booties were left to dry and then the entrance of each bootie was top stitched with Patons Classic Wool Roving Yarn which is thick felting yarn...

To make life easier, I used a leather punch to put 44 holes through which the woollen stitches could easily be pulled through the felt.

I picked up 44 stitches for the knitting part, using Pitons Classic Wool Roving Yarn to go around the top opening of each small pair of booties and then knitted up 20 rows. These were then cast off.

A ladybird was needle-felted onto each bootie to complete the floral scene.

A pair of leather soles might at some stage be added to the foot of each shoe or alternatively I may paint on a latex product such as Saf-T-Bak This product is made by Environmental Technology and is a non-skid backing which can be painted on the bottom of each foot to prevent the wearer of felt shoes like these from slipping on hard or icy surfaces.

The Booties Made with Some Infants Metal Shoe Lasts

This image sets the scene for the tutorial below.
This image sets the scene for the tutorial below. | Source

What Will You Need?

  1. Merino Wool roving in a choice of colors
  2. Metal or resin shoe lasts - for a child. Preferably two pairs, in two different sizes.
  3. Old stocking or pair of tights
  4. Bubble-wrap
  5. Curtain netting
  6. Hot soapy water (dish washing liquid or grated olive oil soap) diluted
  7. Tumble Dryer
  8. Needle felting tool
  9. A leather punch, helpful for adding holes for the top stitching
  10. Two pairs pointed small sock needles
  11. Needle Felting Tool or just one needle felting needle
  12. Patons Classic Wool Roving Yarn
  13. Saf-T-Bak for painting on the bottom of the shoe or alternatively
  14. Small pieces of leather

Metal Shoe Lasts in Two Sizes - for Children

Cute and tiny, metal shoe lasts for children - they really make a difference to the finished shape of the booties.
Cute and tiny, metal shoe lasts for children - they really make a difference to the finished shape of the booties. | Source

Putting down Four Layers of Merino Wool Fibers.

Begin by placing a minimum of four layers of merino wool fibres onto a wet soapy shoe last.

Ensure that the area around the top of the bootie in the area where the shoe last will later be removed is just as thick as the rest of the shoe. You will be cutting through this area to remove the Last, but you need to ensure that it remains strong enough to support itself when you take off the last. This area also has to support the top stitches which will be sewn around the top later. It also has to survive a child pulling the booties on and off. I used a leather punch for making holes in this area. It makes it easier to get the stitches through the wool but might weaken this area if the thickness of the wool in this area is not addressed from the start.

I propped up the last with the other tiny shoe to keep it upright as shown here.

Cover the Shoe Last with Fibers

Lay the fibers on the underside of one shoe last. The second shoe last is seen supporting the first shoe last.
Lay the fibers on the underside of one shoe last. The second shoe last is seen supporting the first shoe last. | Source

A Minimum of Four Layers!

I used four layers of merino wool fibers. This is the minimum required to make a strong pair of little bootie. Five might be better.

You may like to do two shoes at a time. You can also add your layers one at a time to ensure that your layers are put down evenly. This method is a good alternative for less experienced felt makers.

4 Layers (Or) 5?

Put down four layers of merino wool fibers.  Each layer should run in the opposite direction to the previous one.
Put down four layers of merino wool fibers. Each layer should run in the opposite direction to the previous one. | Source

Covering the Last Evenly

Try to maintain even layers throughout the process. I added a few additional fibers in the toe area as shown here. Do what you can to put the wool down evenly. Felting is not an exact science. If your method works for you, do it your way.

Cover the Shoe Last Completely in Merino Wool Fibers

Encase both the shoe lasts in four layers of wool fibers, use the curtain netting to help support the fibers by pulling the netting up tight against the last,  Wet with hot soapy water before and after doing so.
Encase both the shoe lasts in four layers of wool fibers, use the curtain netting to help support the fibers by pulling the netting up tight against the last, Wet with hot soapy water before and after doing so. | Source

Dampen down Wool Fibers on the Underside of the Shoe Last

Wet fibers flattened down on the underside of the shoe last
Wet fibers flattened down on the underside of the shoe last | Source

Shoe Last Turned over with Fibers Ready to Be Folded Over.

The underside of the shoe has fibers attached.   and smoothed down with hot soapy water. The top fibers should now be folded in to complete the whole foot.
The underside of the shoe has fibers attached. and smoothed down with hot soapy water. The top fibers should now be folded in to complete the whole foot. | Source

Wrapped Shoe Last

Here the fibers can be seen completely covering the Shoe Last. The curtain netting should now be drawn upwards to help support the edges of the wool, wet down with hot soapy water and rub well.

The Wool Fiber Covered Shoe Last

Wet the wool and bring up the curtain netting and cover with the curtain netting as shown below.
Wet the wool and bring up the curtain netting and cover with the curtain netting as shown below. | Source

Cover with Netting and Wet with Hot Soapy Water.

Pull the netting up and around the wool, wet and smooth the fibers down until the shoe last is evenly covered.
Pull the netting up and around the wool, wet and smooth the fibers down until the shoe last is evenly covered. | Source

Curtain Netting

The curtain netting supports the wool and allows you to rub the fibers until they cling to the shoe last. An alternative would be to use bubble-wrap to cover the wool.

I find that I prefer to use the netting and then rub the netting with a square of bubble-wrap held in my hand.

A denser curtain netting than the usual very fine ones adds a little weight works very well for me.

Wetting and Smoothing down the Fibers

Pressing the fibers hard against the shoe last. Flatten and rub the top of the netting.  Wet further if required.
Pressing the fibers hard against the shoe last. Flatten and rub the top of the netting. Wet further if required. | Source

Wet Fibers Covering the Shoe Last

Time to cover the fibers.  Rub until partially felted.
Time to cover the fibers. Rub until partially felted. | Source

Wrap the Wool Covered Shoe Last

I wrap the shoe tightly into the netting and use the folded bubble-wrap to felt the fibers.

Wrap Carefully in Curtain Netting

Wrapping the shoe last
Wrapping the shoe last | Source

The Covered Project

Here you can see the curtain netting has surrounded the whole of the project, making it very easy now you can rub easily from all angles.

Hold Firmly as Shown Here.

Hold firmly as shown and rub with a small piece of folded bublble-wrap.
Hold firmly as shown and rub with a small piece of folded bublble-wrap. | Source

Place on a Waterproof Surface

You may wish to place the project on a waterproof surface and rub with a piece of folded bubble-wrap and work around the foot, do what works for you.

Rub with a Piece Folded Bubble-Wrap

Rub firmly with bubble wrap until the fibers begin to knit together
Rub firmly with bubble wrap until the fibers begin to knit together | Source

Still Needs a Little More Work!

As the fibers firm cover with netting or bubble-wrap and rub until the fibers are evenly distributed throughout the project.
As the fibers firm cover with netting or bubble-wrap and rub until the fibers are evenly distributed throughout the project. | Source

The Partially Felted Bootie

The partially felted Bootie
The partially felted Bootie | Source

Time to Repeat the Process with the Second Shoe Last.

One shoe completed, one more still to go!
One shoe completed, one more still to go! | Source

Hint

If the fibers don't fully attach themselves to the Bootie during this stage, no harm done, you can always needle felt any stray pieces into position after the whole felting process has been fully completed.

Add the Floral Scene

Wet some very fine pieces of merino wool roving and decorate the surface of the Bootie. You could prior to this add some very fine pieces of wool in the color of your bootie. This will help the fibers to attach to the surface.

Time to Add a Floral Scene to Both Surfaces.

Wet thin pieces of fibers and place them on the surface of the partially felted bootie.
Wet thin pieces of fibers and place them on the surface of the partially felted bootie. | Source

Cover with Curtain Netting

Cover the carefully placed scene and wet with hot soapy water and rub gently at first and then rub until the fibers no longer move.

Cover with Curtain Netting

Cover with curtain netting, wet and rub well with fingers or using a piece of folded bubble-wrap. Keep on checking the placement of the fibers to make sure none have moved.
Cover with curtain netting, wet and rub well with fingers or using a piece of folded bubble-wrap. Keep on checking the placement of the fibers to make sure none have moved. | Source

Hint

Gently extract the shoe last by gently pushing down the wool on the back of the foot. It will not be fully Fulled at this stage so take care to do this very carefully.

Cut on the White Line

Cut a straight line where indicated on the image below by a white piece of string.


Remove the Shoe Last!

Cut where indicated with a sharp pair of scissors.  Gently slip the bootie off the last.
Cut where indicated with a sharp pair of scissors. Gently slip the bootie off the last. | Source

Remove Both Shoe Lasts

This should be done very carefully at this stage. Once you have pushed down the fibers at the back of the foot, ease the last out carefully without tugging or pulling any of the fibers on the bootie.

Remove Both Metal Shoe Lasts

Cut a straight line into the booties and remove the metal shoe lasts.
Cut a straight line into the booties and remove the metal shoe lasts. | Source

Tumble Dryer!

Fill the wool booties with plastic bags from the supermarket Put the booties into a pair of stockings, Knot after the first pair has been inserted with a slip know and then place the next one into the same stocking. Tie a slipknot and put into the tumble dryer to complete the felting process. This may take up to five or more minutes, depending on how wet the project is when you put it into the stocking. I would suggest that you keep on opening the stocking and checking the progress.

After the Dryer!

Once the booties have become felted, rinse well in hot and then cold water and if necessary neaten off the top edge.
Once the booties have become felted, rinse well in hot and then cold water and if necessary neaten off the top edge. | Source

Time to Top Stitch the Edges!

Put some top stitches around the top of the Bootie. Try to gauge how many stitches you will need on each knitting needle to give you the width required for a child's foot to go into the completed bootie. Please see images. I used approximately eleven stitches per needle.

I also used thick pure wool which will felt in the washing machine. This is not necessary but just personal choice. When I wash the booties I expect them to become more like the surface of felt bootie rather than that of a pair of knitted socks.

Top Stitching and Picking up Stitches!

Pick up the stitches around the bootie with four sock knitting needles.
Pick up the stitches around the bootie with four sock knitting needles. | Source

Ladybird, Ladybird!

Don't forget the ladybirds! These should be needle felted onto the bootie once everything else has been completed.

A Close-Up of the Floral Scene!

Needle felt any loose bits of wool to the slipper and add a little ladybird using black, red and white merino wool roving.
Needle felt any loose bits of wool to the slipper and add a little ladybird using black, red and white merino wool roving. | Source

Ready to Step Out!

The completed Bootie.  The knitting will become felted as it was made with yarn intended for that purpose.
The completed Bootie. The knitting will become felted as it was made with yarn intended for that purpose. | Source

Your Comments and Suggestions

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I am always pleased to hear any comments or suggestions for future projects.

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© 2014 Sally Gulbrandsen

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    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      randomcreative

      You are very welcome and I very much appreciate the visit and also the comment. It was very nice to receive a HOTD for this one:)

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      So cute! Thanks for another fabulous wet felting tutorial and congrats on getting HOTD. Well deserved.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Nell Rose

      Thank you, I appreciate your stopping by to comment. Perhaps it will encourage you or others to take up wet felting:)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      That is amazing! you are so clever! lol! I would have no idea how to do this, wonderful!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Sunshyne1075

      I hope she enjoys them. Thanks for taking the time to comment and to share this hub.

    • Sunshyne1975 profile image

      Sunshyne1975 2 years ago from California, US

      Wow these look amazing! I am going to send this hub to my daughter right now. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Iris Draak,

      My goodness, I would hate to be responsible for your having another little one! So glad you liked the little booties Iris.

      Hope you Christmas is a wonderful one,

      Sally

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      mySuccess8

      Not so difficult but just a little fiddly and it certainly does help that time hardly matters when one is creating. I am glad you found the instructions easy to follow. I very much appreciate your stopping by and thank you for taking the time to comment on this hub.

      Happy Holiday,

      Sally

    • mySuccess8 profile image

      mySuccess8 2 years ago

      A seemingly difficult-to-make DIY awesome and creative handicraft project, made simple by your well-explained detailed tutorial, attractive photos and video. Love the final product, and amazing talent! Congrats on Hub of the Day!

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Sally, just about the time I think you can't make anything cuter you do something like this. You almost (almost!) made me want to have another little one. These are just adorable!

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      colorulone

      Thank you very much, I do appreciate the visit and your comment.

      Happy holidays,

      Sally.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      What a great tutorial with illustrations for us to follow.

      Congrats on Hob of the Day

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      heidithorne

      Thank so much for stopping by to comment on this hub. I am glad you found the images helpful. It was such a lovely surprise to find that this hub had received a HOTD. I very much enjoyed making the booties and it is so nice to have my work recognized in this way. I appreciate you best wishes and I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

      Best wishes,

      Sally

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Your hubs are always so well done with amazing helpful photos for your projects. This definitely is so deserving of its Hub of the Day Award! Congrats and Merry Christmas!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Joyfulcrown

      I guess you need to have the desire to create, after that it just falls into place. I have several easy tutorials which are great for adults and children alike. I think it is always best to start with something simple first.

      Thanks for the kind comment and the visit, both are very much appreciated.

      Best wishes,

      Sally

    • Joyfulcrown profile image

      Joyfulcrown 2 years ago

      sallybea I love these booties, they are so cute. I wish I was as creative and as talented has you are.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      billybuc

      Thank you Billy, you are very kind. It is lovely to have my work recognized and I appreciate your valued support as always,

      Happy Holidays,

      Sally

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      2besure

      Wet felting is increasingly becoming more popular. I appreciate your visit and your kind comment, thank you very much.

      Sally

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      David Rugu

      You are very welcome, I appreciate the comment and also the visit,

      Thank you,

      Sally

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      poetryman6969

      Send the magic fairies please! There is lots of work for them to do before Christmas gets here. Thanks for your comment, it is much appreciated.

      Sally

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 2 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I have never heard of this! Very well done and very interesting project!

    • David Rugu profile image

      David Rugu Ngigi 2 years ago from Kitui, Kenya

      thanks very helpful

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Congratulations on the HOTD. It is well-deserved.

      Merry Christmas, Sally!

      bill

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      I didn't realize that so much went into making shoes. Now I see why having magic fairies do it for you overnight would be such a big deal!

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Alwifitness

      Thank you very much, I appreciate your taking the time to stop by and comment.

      Happy Holidays,

      Sally

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      mytone

      You are very kind. Thank you for stopping by and I look forward very much to reading your own work.

      Happy holiday to you,

      Sally

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      pstraubie48

      Thank you so much, it means a lot to me. I appreciate the pin +

      I hope you and yours have a terrific holiday.

      Best wishes,

      Sally

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Glimmer Twin Fan

      Thank you so much, it is always so nice to receive recognition with a HOTD.

      You have a great holiday too.

      Best wishes,

      Sally

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Olinda

      Merci vous et tres gente

      Sally

    • mytone profile image

      mytone 2 years ago

      Amazing idea and congrats for selecting hub of the day. I like your narration and am going to follow your hubs as well. Keep it up.Thanks

    • profile image

      Alwifitness 2 years ago

      Wow that looks gorgeous Sally!

    • profile image

      Olinda 2 years ago

      Amei show de criatividade http://www.dhermobela.com.br/

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      I think I commented on this when I first saw it but if I did not I think it is so clever. I am pinning g+ Congrats on HOTD

      Angels are on the way to you ps

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      Many congratulations on your HOTD Sally! You now I love your felting hubs and this is no exception. These are just beautiful and would be so sweet on a baby!. Have a lovely holiday!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Hi Devika,

      Thanks for your very kind comment. I am glad you liked the booties, I had fun creating them.

      Thanks too for the vote up, interesting and useful. It is appreciated as always.

      Sally

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Hi Sally this is an amazing job! I love this idea and you just keep on surprising me with such great talent. Well achieved The booties are beautiful!

      Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      FlourishAnyway

      Thank you very much. I appreciate the very kind comment, thank you.

      Sally

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      This is intricate work and so beautiful. You are a very talented lady.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Ann1Az2

      I really appreciate your very kind comment Ann. Wet felting really is not an exact science by any means. I am always looking at new ways to be creative and this is what makes this art form so exciting and interesting. Thanks for stopping by.

      Sally

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

      You are just amazing at this skill! You make it look so easy! And the finished project is just as cute as can be. I love it.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      AliciaC

      Thank you so much, I very much appreciate your stopping by to comment. Always a pleasure.

      Hope your Christmas is a wonderful one

      Sally

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The baby booties look so pretty, Sally! They would make a wonderful gift. Your detailed instructions will be very helpful for anyone who wants to make the booties.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      m abdullah javed

      You are very welcome. Thank you for your comment, it means a lot to me as I love sharing this craft with others. Thank you so much for the vote up and the share. It is much appreciated.

      Sally

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      Hi Sally you made it quite easy, the booties of our choice for little ones are now within our reach. Thank you so much for putting in loads of efforts with attractive pics to make the read interesting and attractive. Voted up and shared.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      ChitrangadaSharan

      You are very welcome. I am glad you found the instructions and photos helpful. Practice makes perfect. If you have never done any wet felting before you might be best advised to begin with an easier project. I am sure though that your knitting and crochet experience will be very helpful when it comes to completing this project. Enjoy, I hope it works out nicely for you.

      Thanks for the vote up,

      Sally

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This looks so cute and creative. I have not seen such baby booties earlier. I do love to knit and crochet but this is worth trying.

      Thanks for providing the detailed instructions and helpful to understand pictures.

      Voted up!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      randomapples

      I appreciate your taking the time to stop by, thank you very much.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Billy that is a nice thing to say. I am a believer too as I begin to see the fruits of my labor. I just need a lot more time that I have already or I need to use the time I have more productively.

      Have a wonderful week

      Sally

    • randomapples profile image

      Ale G 2 years ago from Houston

      very cute and pretty

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And the future book continues to grow. :) Keep pounding this niche, Sally, and start writing that book of yours. I'm a big believer in you.

      bill

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

      Love these little booties! What an interesting technique! I, of course, love the knitted cuffs and needle felted details. I'll have to try this. Voted up and pinned!!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      DJ Anderson

      I live north of Norwich. I am glad it provides some interesting memories for you. Fancy, I did not know there was a Norwich terrier.

      Glad you enjoyed this hub, I certainly enjoy making these booties.

      My best to you too DJ, always lovely to have you grace one of my pages.

      Sally

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      Hi, Sally,

      I am forever amazed at your talents!

      Is there Nothing you cannot do?

      Sally, I don't understand why you have a map of Norwich

      on your hub. But, I think it is very special, as I own a Norwich terrier

      and they originated from the village of Norwich.

      Did you put that map in there just for me?? :-)

      Do you live in Norwich or one of the outlying villages?

      This is another terrific hub. You do make it look so easy.

      My best to you, friend!

      DJ.

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