15 March 2014

How to Make Felted Wool Shoes: Felting

Here is a set of instructions for making felted wool shoes. I wasn't able to find a really good tutorial online, so hopefully this will be helpful. This post will be on felting, the first step in making felt. The next post will be on fulling, which is finishing the felt, so that it becomes sturdy and does not fall apart.

Disclaimer: This is my first try, and they didn't turn out perfect, but I think the basic instructions are good for someone looking to try this method for making wool shoes. 

You will need: 

  • bubble wrap
  • Sharpie marker 
  • scissors
  • a bowl with soapy water 
  • a cup for pouring water wool batting 
  • a bar of soap
  • a large towel or two
  • 1/2 yard slippery material like acrylic or polyester
  • shoe lasts, I am using the ones from my previous tutorial 
  • a hard, waterproof surface to work on

Step 1: The Template

First you will need to make a template for your shoes. Trace your foot onto bubble wrap with a Sharpie marker. Add 2 cm around the outside. Cut one out for each foot. This will be your template for the wool shoes. You can smooth out any bumps, since these details will be lost in the process of felting your shoes anyway. Cut out with a scissors.

You are now ready to set up for the felting process. Be sure to allow plenty of time when you decide to start. You have to do it all at one time I think. It took me somewhere between 4-5 hours since I didn't really know what I was doing and had to refer to my sources several times throughout. I think they say it takes at least 4 hours even if you are an expert felt making genius.

Step 2: The Set Up

Lay a folded towel on the floor or counter or whatever surface you decide to use. Make sure this surface is one that is ok to get wet for several hours i.e. not carpet or hardwood floors probably. Linoleum is good. A glass top table could work.

Place a piece of your slippery material on top of the towel. Some sites I read did not do this, but I did, so my tutorial will tell you to do it so I don't trick anyone into accidentally felting the shoes and the towel together irrevocably.

Place your template on top. The set up looks like this:

Make sure your wool, water, and soap are within reach.

Step 3: Laying the Wool

Now we will put a layer of wool on the template, using the template as a rough guide on where the wool should go. When grabbing the wool, pull off small bits at a time, as seen below. This will allow more control over how much goes on at a time, and pulling the wool like this makes all the fibers of the wool lie in the same direction.

Do the first layer one direction, making as even a coat as you can. Then make another layer in the opposite direction, as seen below.

Step 4: Add Water + Soap

Cover the wool pile you made with the slippery material. We will call this material "netting" because it seems to be the common term for it. Doesn't look like a net in any way though. Pour a little water at a time on top and gently rub into the wool. Get all of the wool wet.

Rub the soap between your hands, adding water to get a good lather, then firmly rub into the wool through the netting. Keep rubbing until the wool is completely sudsy in all areas.

Step 5: Flip and Fold

Carefully peel the netting off the wool. Then carefully flip the wool so that the template is on top. Fold the extra wool from the edges around to the top.

Step 6: Repeat 3-5

Add more wool, one layer in one direction, one in the opposite direction. Cover with netting, add soap and water, rub in, and flip. (we are repeating steps 3-5). Repeat until you have done this 4 times, two for each side.

Look how goofy big it is! Don't worry, this is ok, it will shrink as we do the fulling. If you didn't do both shoes at the same time, do the second one now.

Please follow the next step, a process called "fulling." It will fall apart if you do not do this step.

Thanks, and happy cobblering!

video sources: felt making, shoe making
web sources: felt making

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts