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How to Make Duct Tape Shoe Lasts for Wet Felted Boots or Slippers

Updated on January 16, 2017
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Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker. Her tutorials & techniques are as individual as she is, unique, experimental and always interesting

Gaffer or duct tape shoe lasts

Custom Made Shoe Lasts to be used in Wet Felting
Custom Made Shoe Lasts to be used in Wet Felting | Source
One complete and one unfinished shoe last made from Gaffer or Duct Tape.
One complete and one unfinished shoe last made from Gaffer or Duct Tape. | Source

Custom made for the wearer

Wet felted boots or slippers can be handcrafted using a simple but very effective shoe last made from gaffer tape and recycled plastic bags. These are not only cost effective. but they can be used over and over again. Each pair you make can be custom made, sized or designed for the wearer.

Polystyrene or Duct Tape Lasts?

Polystyrene Foot Lasts can be purchased from Wingham Wool

There is no doubt that these Lasts are the ultimate when it comes to making wet felted slippers and boots for men, women, and children. The outlay. however can be considerable, especially if you require a number of different size lasts.

Homemade gaffer or duct tape lasts can easily be customized to fit the weaver. These lasts helped me to create slippers which fitted perfectly for just a fraction of the cost.

Unconventional felting methods!

I do like to use a few non-conventional methods for speeding up the felting process.

For one, I like to make use of a Tumble Dryer, sometimes a Washing Machine or even an Electric Sander. A Microwave Oven comes in very handy for reheating cold wet wool if I want to shrink the wool a little more some areas.

I found it really reassuring to discover how much of a beating my Duct tape lasts were able to endure in the Tumble Dryer.

The Lasts were almost as good as new when they emerged from their newly made felted boots.

Sally Pointer

I would like to start out by first giving Sally Pointer the credit for making the first pair of Duct Tape Lasts.

I have made a few modifications to her original concept and in Part Two of this Tutorial. I will show you how I used the Duck Tape Shoe Lasts to make my first pair of slippers.


Things you will need to make these Lasts

Items need to create your Duct Tape Shoe Last
Items need to create your Duct Tape Shoe Last | Source

Felting Methods explored.

Do you use any of these items in the Wet Felting Process?

See results

Materials

  • 1 pair of thin socks. (Be prepared to sacrifice these as you will not be able to use them again)
  • A roll of Duct or Gaffer Tape which is a waterproof sticky type of cloth tape.
  • Thin card, similar to the type which comes from a cereal box. I used a piece of surplus mount board which I had left over from picture framing.
  • Plastic carrier bags from your local Supermarket. A surprising number will be needed to stuff the shoe lasts. Alternatively, you could use some popcorn or polystyrene balls to fill the Lasts with.
  • A pair of scissors – preferably the bull nosed type - so that you don’t cut yourself!
  • A marker pen for marking your final cut, also for drawing the template on the cardboard.

Gaffer Tape Shoe Last Party!

Some of you may like me may find bending difficult. Try enlisting the help of an Assistant or a few friends, especially if you have a use for multiple sizes. Better still gather a group of like-minded felt makers together to make a variety of shoe lasts which can be used by the group at a later date.

Don’t forget to mark each one at the bottom with the relevant shoe size so that the sizes can be identified at a later date.

Draw around both feet

Draw around both feet
Draw around both feet | Source

Making the duct tape lasts

Start by standing flat on a piece of card with both socks pulled onto your feet. Draw all the way around each foot with a Marker Pen.

Cut out the soles

Cut out the two soles.
Cut out the two soles. | Source

Cut out the sole

Cut the sole shape out and then attach a piece of duct tape to the underside of each foot as shown in the images below.

Putting the duct tape into place

Place a strip of duct tape under the cut out sole
Place a strip of duct tape under the cut out sole | Source

Stand on a piece of cardboard

Now, stand on the cardboard sole and draw the tape up and around each foot so that the cardboard is now attached firmly to the underside of the Sock and your Foot.

One to Go!

Match each foot to the other.
Match each foot to the other. | Source

Mark out both feet

From now on, it will be necessary to repeat each step you take, on both feet before you move onto the next step. This help to ensure that your gaffer or duct tape is evenly applied throughout the process.

Taping the sole to the feet

Taping the sole to the foot
Taping the sole to the foot | Source

Smooth out the Tape at Each Stage

After each step, smooth the tape down at each end of the tape as shown.

Stand flat!

Stand flat where possible or put your foot up on another chair placed in front of you.
Stand flat where possible or put your foot up on another chair placed in front of you. | Source

Tape around the foot

Continue standing flat whilst you wrap shorter pieces of tape around the ball of the foot and over the instep. It is important to do this standing at first to ensure that the last will provide sufficient foot room once the tape is being worked around your foot.

The same on each foot!

Keep on systematically binding the foot in short overlapping strips of tape. Smooth the tape down as best you can - one as you go. Remember to do the same thing on each foot as your work through the process.

Both feet wrapped

Two duck tape covered feet
Two duck tape covered feet | Source

Work up the leg

Work up as high up the leg as you would like your boot to go, not forgetting to include a little extra height if you would like a fold over at the top of your completed slipper.

Cut a slit at the back of the foot

Cut a slit down the back of each foot or one at the side of each foot - whichever way you find the most simple. I find it easier to cut the last down the side of my foot as this is easier to get to.

Draw a line

Once done, draw a line with a ruler straight down the side of the foot as indicated in the image below, or down the back and then cut right down the line through all the layers, including the Sock. I found that my large pair of scissors worked very well, but you can use a blunt-nosed pair if you are afraid of cutting yourself. Please be careful.

Cut a slit down the side of each foot

Cut a slit down the side of each foot
Cut a slit down the side of each foot | Source

Take your feet out of the lasts

Lasts removed from feet
Lasts removed from feet | Source

Smooth out any wrinkles

You need to cover the foot with two or three layers of duck tape. Work any wrinkles out as best as you can.

Stuff the lasts with plastic bags

Stuff the shoe lasts with plastic bags
Stuff the shoe lasts with plastic bags | Source

Stuffing the shoe lasts

It is now time to stuff the feet of each last with plastic bags. Tape over the slit as you fill the foot with the plastic bags.

Alternatively you could use popcorn or Polystyrene filling. Cheap black bags can also be substituted as can bubble-wrap. I find that supermarket plastic bags do work equally well.

Fold the sock over.

Once you reach the height you desire for your last, fold over the surplus Sock and seal the top of the last with a few layers of duct tape..

Top view of the lasts

Fold in the socks and tape over them with duct tape.
Fold in the socks and tape over them with duct tape. | Source

Side view of the lasts

Fold in the socks and tape over them.
Fold in the socks and tape over them. | Source

Different size feet

You may be surprised to discover that your own feet may differ in size. The beauty about using duct tape to make your Lasts is that can easily make Lasts which fit your own feet.

Add extra where needed!

At this stage, you may decide to alter the shape of your last a little.

Perhaps you want to add a little extra filling or tape to an area where you have a bunion on your foot.

You might like to add pointy or square toes to your boots.

Now is the time to add these little extras.

The duct tape can be very forgiving and perfection is not important but try to keep the surface of your shoe last as smooth as possible.

Ready to Use

Your shoe Lasts are now complete.

Mark the size or the name of the wearer underneath each foot if you are making Lasts on a variety of feet.

Slippers made on these lasts

A completed pair of slippers on a previously made on this pair of lasts
A completed pair of slippers on a previously made on this pair of lasts | Source

How to Wet Felt a pair of Baby Booties

© 2014 Sally Gulbrandsen

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    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 6 hours ago from Norfolk

      Alison, well done to you. I do hope the slippers turn out as you would like them. I still recommend in the future, that you use a template for a more professional approach. You can always use the lasts inside the boot-shaped template at a later date. The duct tape lasts should always be a bit bigger than your feet if possible for the best result.

      Best wishes.

      Sally

    • Alison 6 hours ago

      Hi Sally

      Well, the lasts are made and I'm off to work through the Master Class Boot tutorial. Thank you so much for posting all of this. Hopefully, at the end, I'll have a wearable pair of boots - not as pretty as the ones you've made but if I can get them soled and just wear them, I'll be happy.

      I'll let you know how I get on . . . . . . .

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 34 hours ago from Norfolk

      Alison,

      You are very welcome. Please take a little time to visit a few of my other tutorials, in particular, the Master Class Boot Tutorial. There are many ways to make boots but this is one way to make a pair of boots which should fit you perfectly.

    • Alison 35 hours ago

      This is exactly what I've been looking for! I've been wanting to make a pair of felt boots for ages but haven't been able to work out the pattern properly - these lasts will be perfect though. Thank you - you're a lifesaver!!

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 7 months ago from Norfolk

      You are welcome Maria.

    • Maria 7 months ago

      Genial!!!!!!Gracias Sally

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 11 months ago from Norfolk

      Antoinette,

      Hello, not too late in the question. The slippers fitted me. If I was to write this tutorial again, which I will to do sometime, I will advise people to put on thick socks, maybe even 2 pairs and then cover them with a pair of tights and then put the duct tape over the tights. That way you will have more space for shrinkage. Cut through the tights and leave the socks intact. Always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to shrinkage when felting, so easy to shrink something but not so easy to stretch it. I wish you succcess with your project.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Sally

    • Antoinette 11 months ago

      Hi. I know this is late in the conversation, but I have a question. When I have made other felted boots and slippers they shrink considerably. Since these can't shrink because they are on the last, will they still firm up enough without shrinking, or should the last be made larger than my shoe size, for forming, and then further shrink the boots after removing from the last? Thanks for any help. Great idea. Going to try it today!

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 22 months ago from Norfolk

      I don't have any personal experience of the product you mention by name but I do know from personal experience that the foam I used 'Gorilla' was highly flammable and I would not use it in a microwave. You can purchase polystyrene lasts but they tend to be rather expensive but nice to work with. I appreciate your visit and would love to hear how you get on.

      Sally

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 22 months ago from Norfolk

      Betsy True

      I have used a foam in a can. It is incredibly messy to work with and highly flammable. I used it very successfully in one of my hubs to make a hat last which I carved into shape when it was dry. I did try filling some wellington boots with the foam to make shoe lasts but did not find it altogether successful. The product stands up to use in a tumble dryer with no problem but I would not use it in a microwave because it is such a flammable product. Good to receive your comment, thank you.

      Sally

    • Betsy True 22 months ago

      I love this project and will try it. I was thinking I would plaster cast some old shoes and then cut them off the cast. Then I found your wonderful site.

      I was also thinking that instead of stuffing the duct tape shape with plastic bags, I might get a firmer shape using the version of Great Stuff that isn't supposed to expand, just flow and harden. I didn't know if this would be as durable in the microwave, but I know a version of this is used in constructing garden ponds, so it should handle getting wet ok.

    • Betsy True 22 months ago

      I wonder if you could us the "great stuff" insulation that doesn't swell to fill the forms? It's supposed to fill out the space and harden. I don't know if it would stand up to water and microwave. Have you tried it?

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 23 months ago from Norfolk

      Jacobb9205

      Thank you, if you like this you will find many more wet felting ideas on my profile. Glad you enjoyed this. Thank you for stopping by to comment.

      Sally

    • Jacobb9205 profile image

      Jacob Barnard 23 months ago from Gloucestershire

      Wow very unique and interesting idea! Love it!

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 23 months ago from Norfolk

      peachpurple

      Thank you so much. Your comment is valued and appreciated.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      you sure are clever with both duct tape craft and felt too, awesome hands

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 24 months ago from Norfolk

      Hello Jennifer, it was nice of you to stop by to comment on my this tutorial. I was able to make the slippers on my own but I am sure it must be a lot more fun doing it with someone. I very much appreciate your taking the time to comment.

      I hope the project works out well for both of you.

      Best wishes,

      Sally

    • Jennifer 24 months ago

      I hope I can get my husband or daughter to help me make a pair of these so I can make some slippers. Maybe if I offer to make some for my helper it will be easier to get them to help.

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      vespawoolf

      Glad you found this hub interesting. I love experimenting with creative ways to wet felted items - this is one of my many tutorials on wet felting. I hope that you will return when you find that time is in your favor and creativity is begging you to try this out.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

      What beautiful felt boots! It´s interesting that the duct tape lasts hold up even in the washing machine. I also found it interesting that you customize the shoes for extra comfort where needed. Although I don´t do crafts at this point in time, I am interested in them and look forward to reading more about your felt shoes.

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Hello Elena,

      I did try the expanding foam when I started out with this project, with one difference. I tried filling Wellington boots but found the polystyrene did not expand evenly throughout the boot. The foam can also be a bit messy to work with.

      I did use the expanding foam to make a hat last. It worked brilliantly. The bonus - I was able to carve the polystyrene with a carving knife when it dried. The polystyrene on the hat last was largely unaffected by water so I don't think you will have a problem. Not sure how it will work in a tumble dryer - if you decide to go that route.

      If you enjoyed experimenting with this one, you might like to try my tutorial - Making gloves with fingers rather than fingerless gloves where I used kitchen gloves stuffed with polystyrene balls:)

      I would be interested to know how you get on. It was very kind of you to share your felting experience with everyone.

      Thank you

      Sally

    • Elena 2 years ago

      Just to give an idea. I stuffed mine lasts with expanding foam and putting over a thin plastic bags when using them as don't think they waterproof

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      poetryman6969

      The possibilities are endless once you realize how amazing this stuff is - I am not surprised that duct tape sometimes finds itself in space too:)

      Thanks for your comment, it is much appreciated.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      I have heard they take duct tape into space because there is nothing you can't do with it.

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Glimmwe Twin Fan - thanks for the pin and the comment. I appreciate your visit as always.

      Sally

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      This is fascinating and perfect for folks wanting to make felted booties. Nice hub! Pinned.

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Suzanne Day

      Definitely the possibilities are endless and the lasts certainly open one to all sorts of possibilities. I rather like the idea the rag rug ones.

      Thanks for your comment.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Wow - what an interesting process. I had vaguely heard of lasts, but to see the process and the felted shoes was amazing! I guess you could use the lasts to make lots of different kinds of shoes, from plaster casts, to newspaper mache and many others. Maybe even rag rug ones? Voted useful!

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      I imagine the old car parts worked pretty well - as do the wonderful vintage wooden ones which you can still buy at great expense.

      Thank you for your comment grand old lady:)

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      I've always wondered about shoe lasts and now I'm glad I know how to make them. Back in the day when I was very young, someone told me they use old car parts for shoe lasts. This way is so muc better.

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Jo Goldsmith11 -I am afraid the credit should go to the person who first thought of making these - namely Sally Pointer. I have just shared my own experience with the idea and tried to make the lasts more in my own style. Thank you for the vote up and the share - your visits and comments are always appreciated as always Jo.

      Best wishes,

      Sally

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

      Jo_Goldsmith11 3 years ago

      this is so cool. I think you need to put a patent on this! wow. You are so

      wonderfully creative. Thanks for sharing these how to's and how neat a project! Definitely voted up & shared...have fun with your creative projects! :-)

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      teaches12345 - I hope you let me know how it goes. I guess one is always striving to make life a little more simple and of course - trying to save money at the same time. Thanks for your comment, it is much appreciated as always.

      Sally

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Such a clever and creative idea, Sally. I may try this some day just so that I can experience the benefits.

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      EGamboa - better still, send her some of lasts made using your own feet - that way you can be assured of getting another pair which should fit you! Thanks for your comment, it is much appreciated as always.

      Sally

    • EGamboa profile image

      Eileen Gamboa 3 years ago from West Palm Beach

      AH! Very cool…and duck tape is so hot right now. I'm thinking of sending this to my daughter who was wanting a new pair of boots. Hee hee.

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      VVanNess - there are quite a lot of my creations on HubPages and I am sure you will continue to see me writing about further projects I have in the pipeline.

      Thank you so much your visit, it is much appreciated.

      Sally

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Very creative! I would love to see more of your creations. :)

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Kristy Kirwan

      I do believe this is the tip of the ice-berg. I hope I can create a few more useful items with the use of this amazing product. I am sure your mother will find this very useful in many applications. especially when felting.

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      Sally

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Anamika S - thank you, I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

      Sally

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      AudreyHowitt, it sure is - the mind brims with new ideas with which to use it for. Thanks for your comment.

      Sally

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      rebeccamealey, not sure that it would provide you with sufficient warmth. Wellies would be better or some waterproof boots!

      Sally

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Blond Logic - Duct Tape is certainly remarkable to work with and incredibly waterproof. I don't see why it would not work. I would love to know how he gets on.

      Sally

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S 3 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      This is not something I would like to make, but it is interesting. Keep up the good work!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Duct tape is a miracle!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      What an amazing project. A new use for duct tape! Thanks, I suppose this will really be great for snowy wet grounds!

    • Christy Kirwan profile image

      Christy Kirwan 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Sally, this is such a great Hub! My mother belongs to a local spinners' and weavers' guild, and she uses a similar technique to create dressmakers dummies-- I had no idea it could also be used for slippers. So cool!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      This is so interesting. I have told my husband about this. He is an amputee and sometimes the artificial foot deteriorates. This could be useful for molding the foot shape to accommodate a shoe.

      I must say, the photo where both of your feet are wrapped to the shin with duct tape, I had to laugh. I just know that is when the doorbell would ring. The caller would think you were radioactive or something.LOL

      Great, unusual, but useful hub. Voted up and sharing.

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      RTalloni - it certainly does, I have several idea in the pipeline. Glad to have you stop by, thank you!

      Sally

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Interesting to read about making shoe lasts and it has me thinking about other applications. Thanks!

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      MsDora - you are so kind:) Thanks for the vote up and the share. Your constant support is much appreciated.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Sally, your creations are in a class all by themselves. Thank you for sharing. Interesting and Voted Up!

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      DDE - thank you very much but the credit should really go to Sally Pointer who was the first person to make these. Glad you were able to follow my instructions in my step by step images though.

      You valued support is much appreciated. Thanks for the vote up.

      Sally

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      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Sally this such a wonderful idea and must work perfectly if followed properly. You always have great ideas this one is one of your best. The step by step procedure is explained in detail. Voted up!

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Craeft

      Thanks for your insight, had better stick to the Brand name as should have be applied. It sure is an amazing product - incredible to realize how waterproof it can be as well. Better get back to some quick editing,

      Thank you.

      Sally

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      Jeremy 3 years ago from Grand Blanc, MI

      I believe the correct term is "Duct Tape" (Duck is a knock-off brand specific).

      With my cynicism out of the way, very cool. Being in theatre, I have pretty much translated anything duct tape related into Gaff tape. heh...

      I love the fact that you can do pretty much anything with duct tape; from patching a hole to a full wardrobe.

      In the immortal words of the Internet: "It has a light side and a dark side and it binds the Universe together. Duct tape is the Force."

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      tirelesstraveler - For some people, finding shoes can be a very difficult problem. Making your own foot last and your own slippers or boots with the wet felting method would certainly be an option. Thank you for your useful comment.

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Faith Reaper - I will be posting a Hub on how to use these shortly. I appreciate your visit, the share and your very kind comments.

      Thank you

      Sally

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      I know people, with foot problems ,this would be idea for. Fabulous!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, how awesome and clever you are dear sallybea! I love this great idea! You are so clever and have provided such easy to follow instructions.

      Up and more and sharing.

      Blessings,

      Faith Reaper

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      FlourishAnyway

      You are too kind - thank you very much! I appreciate your continued support, it means a lot.

      Best wishes

      Sally

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      You are clearly an expert. Very detailed instructions with photos that should really help anyone looking to do this. Well done.

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Thank you very much, I appreciate your visit.

    • athurion 3 years ago

      Voted up.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Hello Billy,

      I wonder why it would not be something you would do! You never know when you or the lovely missus might like a nice pair of slippers to pad around the house in. Thank you so much for your continued support - you are amazing Bill.

      have a lovely day.

      Sally

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That is so clever, Sally. Obviously this is nothing I would do, but I can still appreciate how easy and useful it is. Well done my friend.

      bill

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