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How to Make Wet-Felted Slippers Using Duct Tape Shoe Lasts

Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials and techniques are as individual as she is—unique, experimental and always interesting.

These wet-felted boots were made on my duct tape shoe lasts for a custom fit.

These wet-felted boots were made on my duct tape shoe lasts for a custom fit.

How to Wet Felt Custom-Made Boots and Slippers

Many people have difficulty in sourcing footwear which fits them perfectly. This tutorial has been designed to help them solve their problem. You'll need to start by making a pair of duct tape shoe lasts, and my tutorial for those is linked below.

I don't for one moment suggest that this is the quickest or the easiest method to create slippers. It is certainly possible to make wet-felted footwear with templates made from bubble wrap. These can later be molded to the foot using a vintage or polystyrene shoe last.

These duct tape shoe lasts were custom made. The wearer has one foot larger than the other.

These duct tape shoe lasts were custom made. The wearer has one foot larger than the other.

Is One Foot Larger Than the Other One? No Problem!

In the example above, you can clearly see that one foot is larger than the other. This pair of boots were custom made to fit the wearer, whose one foot is permanently swollen due to a medical condition they have.

This tutorial makes it possible to create custom-sized footwear which not only looks attractive but also fits the wearer perfectly.

A pair of Duct Tape Lasts, Wool Roving and hot soapy water.

A pair of Duct Tape Lasts, Wool Roving and hot soapy water.

Required Items for This Tutorial

  • A quantity of merino wool roving suitable for felting
  • A pair of custom-made lasts; see my tutorial for creating duct tape shoe lasts
  • A squeeze bottle for damping down the fibres
  • Washing-up liquid dissolved in hot water
  • Bubble wrap
  • A pair of stockings which are surplus to requirements
  • (Optional) A tumble dryer is useful but not essential

Quick Overview of the Felting Method

  • Lay out a small quantity of wool slivers on a table surface. They should be thick enough to ensure that you cannot see through to the surface below
  • Damp down the surface in the area you would like to start out.
  • Gently lift the small bundle of fibers from the table and place them on the dampened section of each shoe last.
  • You may wish to place the fibers direct onto the last. If this is the case, wet the last in the area and start by placing the fibers down on the damp area.
  • Cover with fibers with a piece of curtain netting and wet the wool with the squeeze bottle filled with hot soapy water and a small quantity of dish washing liquid.
  • Flatten the wool fibers beneath the netting using both hands. Gently smooth the fibers below and rub the surface of the curtain net gently, until you are able to lift it off without disturbing any of the fibers below
  • Continue onto the next area and repeat this process until you have completely covered the whole of the last.
  • Once the first layer has been completed, Add another layer in the colors of your choice. This layer should be placed down with the fibers running at 90 degrees to the first layer. This helps the fibers to felt together when you later begin to rub the last vigorously under bubble-wrap.
  • Try to keep your fibers even. Fill any gaps if you can see the Duct Shoe Last showing through.
  • This tutorial utilizes three layers. You may prefer to use four.
  • A white layer was deliberated used here to make it easier for the reader to see the different layers, but sometimes this is not always sensible as these may show through in the completed project. I would suggest that if you are first starting out with felting; try using colors which blend easily into one another, or use just one color.