How to make Wet Felted Slippers using Duct Tape Shoe Lasts
Wet felted boots and slippers
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.
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.
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 look attractive but also fit the wearer perfectly.
Duct tape shoe lasts
Is one of your feet larger than the other?
These boots were custom made. The wearer has one foot larger than the other.
Items you will need:-
Things you will need
A quantity Merino Wool Roving suitable for Felting
A pair of Custom made Duct Tape Shoe Lasts:
A squeeze bottle for damping down the fibers
Washing up liquid dissolved in hot water
A pair of stockings which are surplus to requirements
Useful but are not essential - A tumble dryer
- 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.
Duct tape shoe lasts
Apply hot soapy water to a small section at a time.
Wet the lasts
Hot soapy water helps the slivers of fiber to stick to the last. You need only wet the area where you intend working at the time.
Lay down a few even layers of merino wool onto the work surface
Lay down the fibers
Pick up the small bundle of fibers from the surface and place them onto the wet area.
This step is optional. If you would prefer to lay your fibers direct onto the Last, this is perfectly acceptable.
Place the fibers on a damp last
Cover with curtain netting
In this view a fairly thick piece of curtain netting. Use a finer texture one if you are a novice. It will make things easier.
Gently flatten down the fibers
Press the wet fibers down firmly
Wet the fibers through the curtain netting, press gently down at first and then press the water outwards. little more firmly. Once they are wet but not soaking, rub gently until you can easily remove the curtain netting from the fibers without disturbing them.
Remove the netting gently.
Tuck the fibers in
As seen here, the fibers have been folded down over towards the sole of the foot
Fold the loose fibers over onto the sole of the foot
Second layer, left foot
A second layer
A second layer has been added to the first layer here. You may wish to continue working over the whole foot and then add another layer. This is a simply a matter of personal preference. Feel free to do what works best for you.
Second layer right foot
Cover and wet with hot soapy water
Second layer with the curtain netting removed.
The first two layers of white have now been completed.
Some of Your Questions Answered before we move on!
Question: Should I complete one shoe at a time?
Answer: This is really a matter of personal preference. if you find it easier, do one layer at a time. The benefit of doing two at a time is that it helps one to replicate the design on both feet and get the thickness of the layers even at the same.
Question: Do I have to place the fibers down on a table and then lift them onto the surface of my last?
Answer: No, do what works best for you. The most important thing is that you should get your layers even. You may start out one way and then halfway through, adopt another method. This is no problem You may even want to start laying the fibers direct onto the last! There really is no hard and fast rule when it comes to felting - do what works best for you.
Question: Can I complete one layer over the whole Duct Tape Last before I begin the next layer?
Answer: Yes of course you can. It will make no difference to your finished project. The only thing that matters is that you keep your layers even through the project. There should be no thin spots left anywhere throughout the project. You don't want to end up with holes.
Question: Can I finish one layer and leave the project until the following day if I find myself in a position where I can't complete the project in one day?
Answer: Yes you can. I find that it makes no difference whatsoever to my finished project. The key thing is never to rub your wool so much between layers that the fibers are fused together before you start the next layer.
I deliberately left this project for two days before I completed the final layer. Spray the project with hot soapy water and smooth the fibers down before you start again. I did not as can be seen in the images, but I guarantee that wetting the project down will always make your progress much easier.
Add a little color
Begin with the toes!
Here I began with the toes.
Cover the fibers with a piece of curtain netting
Wet with hot soapy water
Wet with hot soapy water and then smooth down the fibers, rub a little and then remove the netting carefully.
Remove the netting
Move up the foot
Start moving up the foot with the wool fibers.
Add the next layer
Adding a little decoration to the top surface.
Cover with the curtain netting
Fold over any loose fibers
Folding over the loose fibers
Use the curtain netting to help fold over any loose fibers and rub all the edges smooth.and then remove the netting.
Rub and remove the netting
Continue up the leg
Cover with curtain netting and wet with hot soapy water
Remove the netting
Continue working up the whole of the leg.
Add a little surface decoration.
Cover with curtain netting and wet with hot soapy water
Work around the whole of the leg
Place curtain netting around the edge of the foot
Place curtain netting on the edge of the foot
Place the curtain netting around the edge of the foot and smooth all surfaces.
The bottom of the foot
Time to add fibers to the foot area.
Remove the netting and begin placing a dark color wool to the surface area of the foot.
A sideways view.
Foot is now completely covered with merino wool fibers
Cover both Lasts with bubblewrap
Damp down the bubblewrap and rub vigorously with fingers and palms
Moving away from the conventional, just a little!
I am not a conventional felt maker. I do like to test the boundaries and I do like to try to invent the wheel! I don't mind using modern aids such as a tumble dryer and a microwave oven or even an Electric Sander. Here, I hasten to add, I always abide with good safety practices and so should you. It is so much better to be safe than sorry!
Rub the fibers on the lasts until they begun to feel a little firmer under your fingers and carefully encase both feet into one leg cut from a pair of tights.
Put the lasts into the tumble dryer, for about ten minutes to begin with. If the project is very wet when you put it in, it might take a little longer to felt properly. It is best to keep on checking the fibers regularly. If they become fused to the stocking, don't stress, they will easily pull away from later.
Cover each last with one leg of a pair of tights.
Feet covered with the tights
Ten minutes in the Tumble Dryer!
Place in the tumble Dryer for about ten minutes. Open the tights to check to see if the fibers have felted together. If not, put the Lasts back into the Dryer until the wool has felted.
Remove the tights from the lasts.
One leg off and one leg on
Tights both removed
Rinse the boots or slippers
Still on the Lasts, Rinse the Boots with hot and cold water until the water runs clear of soap. Ease the boots gently from the Lasts.
Shape carefully and allow the boots to dry.
Visit my Wet Felting Blog
- Step by Step Instructions for creating Wet Felted Items using a variety of different techniques
Learn how to Wet Felt with Sallybea with simple Step by Step Pictorial Instructions
The Completed boot or slipper
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I welcome your feedback. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have. If you have any suggestions for future felting projects I welcome those too.
How to make a pair of Baby Booties
© 2014 Sally Gulbrandsen
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