How to Make Duct Tape Shoe Lasts for Wet Felted Boots or Slippers
Gaffer or duct tape shoe lasts
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?
Wooden or Polystyrene shoe lasts can be purchased from Amazon. They will last for many years to come.
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 last 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.
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.
- 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
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 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
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!
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
Smooth out the Tape at Each Stage
After each step, smooth the tape down at each end of the tape as shown.
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
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
Take your feet out of the lasts
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
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
Side view of the lasts
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
How to use your duct tape shoe lasts can be found at:-
- How to make Wet Felted Slippers using Duct Tape Shoe Lasts
This is the second part in a two part wet felting tutorial. It is aimed at people who find it difficult to find footwear to fit them. These Duct Tape Shoe Lasts provide the perfect solution.
How to Wet Felt a pair of Baby Booties
Felting Methods explored.
Do you use any of these items in the Wet Felting Process?
© 2014 Sally Gulbrandsen