Friday, April 29, 2016


"The son" & DIL gifted me some felting supplies for Christmas. I've been wanting to try my hand at making felted slippers for a long time.  It WAS supposed to only take about 2-3 hours.....NOT, def. NOT!
 I started with a kit from Living Felt, thinking it'd be wise to have some specific instructions as a first time slipper felter!  The instructions were excellent, but if you already have felting supplies, it's unnecessarily expensive.

The first step was to trace one's bare feet and then expand that outline by 1"-2".  After tracing the 1" margin I decided to go back and do the full 2".....outlined now in red.
 The shape was transferred to a flexible plastic resist.
 Cut out and placed on my work surface from bottom up: towel, bubble wrap, netting.
 I also splurged on olive oil soap which is shredded and dissolved in hot water.  I've always just used bar soap from the huge stash I have via hotel stays.  I have to say, I'm not sure whether this soap helps the wool to felt better, but my hands appreciated it.
 The instructions recommended using hot hot as hands can stand. Which meant zapping water in a ceramic bowl in the kitchen and carrying it up to my studio where it was added to a larger plastic container with the soap.
 Two layers of Living Felt's wool batting where placed over each template, altering the direction of the wool fibers.  Then it was 'wetted out' using the hot soapy water and a sponge.
 Next the wool is patted smoothly, removing any air bubbles.  Excess wool is wrapped to the opposite side....smoothly evenly.  These steps are repeated two more times on each side of the template.
 Now the real work begins......between a layer of netting....each slipper is rolled up with bubble wrap....rolling, repositioning, rolling, rolling, adding more hot soapy water.  You can see I transferred my 'package' to a shallow tin tray to help control the water.
After the wool begins to hold's moved to a bamboo mat and gets the same treatment....lots of rolling, repositioning, adding hot soapy water.   Finally.....after way too much physical work (grinning), they are ready for the next step.

A slit is cut in the center of the top layer of each one, shaping the opening, and removing the resist.  The final 'fulling' (which means felting the pieces till the shrink and are VERY firm), takes additional time.  As I do at this stage when felting bowls, the item is pretty aggressively thrown onto a hard flat surface, between 100 - 200 times. That action really helps to bond the fibers together, shrinking the wool even further. 

I followed the suggestion to put the wet slimy slippers on to form them to ones' foot.  

Finally they are rinsed and the final shaping is complete.  It will take several days for them to dry.

Frankly, they are kinda a mess.....some of the felt layers really never meshed, even though it certainly felted sufficiently, shrinking by about 2" in every direction. You can see a separation on the right slipper's opening.  The edges of the openings are very thick, and unattractive because the colors of the uneven various layers are visible. Clearly, additional practice is needed.

Lessons learned:  If I make any more, I'll stick to one color, except for the final top layer where I could add some roving to create an interesting pattern.  Also, I'm not a fan of what Living Felt calls 'wool batts'.  Even when making bowls I don't feel I have the control of thickness when using this product. It's supposed to be faster because it shortens the time of laying out layers and layers of wool roving.  However, given my (still fairly limited) experience, I'll use roving instead.

The untidy edges are driving me nuts, so I'm considering doing a blanket stitch with wool embroidery thread around the openings. OR perhaps wrapping a narrow strip of Ultra-suede, and securing by machine if possible, otherwise by hand.  

Why not pop over to see what other artists have been up to this week:  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, Sarah's Whoop, Whoop Friday, and Crazy Mom Sews.


quiltedfabricart said...

So interesting! Thank you for sharing your experience with this. I've seen these and have always admired them but now seeing how much work is involved I will admire with awe and know I will never attempt such a project (grin)

I think a blanket stitch will add a lot to them. I wonder if they are comfortable?

The Inside Stori said...

It's Mary here........the question is......are they comfortable? Sigh.....not so much I think mainly because the fit just isn't right. Maybe I'll cut them up and repurpose into coasters!!

Gwyned Trefethen said...

Who clocks the times for instructions? I have yet to make anything whether it is a quilt in a day a la Eleanor Burns or recipe within the allotted times. I'm left feeling inept and frustrated. New thought! Could that be why so many of us that share posts like to create our designs? Too bad the slippers aren't cozy after all that work.

The Inside Stori said...

Well.....even though the slippers were a bit disappointing....I can now check that off my 'wanna try' list! Perhaps with more experience it would have been more successful.

Kitty | Night Quilter said...

Wow, thank you for sharing this process!! It sounds pretty labor intensive and I'm sorry they didn't come out as you had hoped. If they were at least comfortable, I would say wear them with pride and as a visual reference for "this is how far I've come" when you finish the second, third, fourth try! I haven't attempted felting yet, but it intrigues me. Felted slippers definitely sound complicated but SO cozy if they worked!

Cathy Tomm said...

I think they look good. I have done some felting and the different wools make a big difference to how it goes and the finished look.

Ruth Lane said...

Great job for your first try. Batts are hard to use when you first start out because of the thickness issue. You should try a second pair, they will go better for sure. We have a great tutorial on The Felting and Fiber Studio for a different design that I really like written by Nada. It just takes practice :)

Robbie said...

I'm impressed you even finished this! They look cute...aren't they hot? But they are cute!

margaret said...

what a process you went through certainly lots of hard work was needed to get to the stage where you will be able to wear them but I think worth all the effort I think they will be lovely and soft on the feet

Anonymous said...

Wow! what a lot of work. You must have muscles on your muscles by now! Can you imagine how hard it would have been if you didn't already have experience at wet felting? I applaud your perseverance. I think they're pretty cool and if you decide to do another pair they will be even better.