How to Make Wet Felted Booties
Cute Ladybird/Floral Scene Booties
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
What Will You Need?
- Merino Wool roving in a choice of colors
- Metal or resin shoe lasts - for a child. Preferably two pairs, in two different sizes.
- Old stocking or pair of tights
- Curtain netting
- Hot soapy water (dish washing liquid or grated olive oil soap) diluted
- Tumble Dryer
- Needle felting tool
- A leather punch, helpful for adding holes for the top stitching
- Two pairs pointed small sock needles
- Needle Felting Tool or just one needle felting needle
- Patons Classic Wool Roving Yarn
- Saf-T-Bak for painting on the bottom of the shoe or alternatively
- Small pieces of leather
Metal Shoe Lasts in Two Sizes - for Children
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
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?
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
Dampen down Wool Fibers on the Underside of the Shoe Last
Shoe Last Turned over with Fibers Ready to Be Folded Over.
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
Cover with Netting and Wet with Hot Soapy Water.
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
Wet Fibers Covering the Shoe Last
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
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.
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
Still Needs a Little More Work!
The Partially Felted Bootie
Time to Repeat the Process with the Second Shoe Last.
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.
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
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!
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
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!
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!
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!
Ready to Step Out!
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