I'm really a needle felter but last time I checked this section of the forum I saw wonderful wet felted creations so I decided to try something easy; slippers. This is what they look like. I did them using a mix of tutorials from the web and from this forum. I used bubble wrap as a resist. I also used bubble wrap that I rubbed and rub and rub before putting them on a wash board and then I finished them on my feet in the bathtub.
I have back and neck pain so needless to say the next day I could barely move. I know people use a sushi mat which I think would be best for my back but I just don't really know how to go about it. Do you keep your slippers between pieces of bubble wrap, put that on the mat and roll back and forth, first in one direction then the other ?
Any help with this would be greatly appreciated. I enjoyed making these but not the back pain that followed
Your slippers look great.
I'm primarily a needle felter too. But I couldn't resist making a couple pairs of slippers.
I used an electric sander to start off with. That made getting the felt started easy.
But, I did the fulling stage by hand and that was a lot of work. And it's cold, wet work.
From other posts it seems that the fulling can be done using a homemade or foam shoe "last" and a clothes washer/dryer.
I'm going to try that next.
Your slippers really look good and comfy, but I was surprised when you said you'd try something easy like slippers, because I wouldn't describe slippers as easy.
Yes, I've rolled slippers in a mat. After a little rubbing to get the wool to hold together, I rolled them up, still between bubblewrap, in a bamboo mat (not a sushi mat as that's too small - I use a bamboo window blind with the fittings removed). I rolled, turning as you describe, until the resist 'buckled'. Then after cutting out the resist it was down to sheer slog - but Teriann's idea of a last and washer/dryer sounds good enough to try! It would eliminate a lot of physical work.
I think your slippers turned out great. I agree, that slippers are not really an easy project. The fulling part takes work and I've found that using the washboard is the best method so that you can shrink the slippers in the spots that are needed. Teriann's idea sounds great. I couldn't find any foam shoe lasts though without having to buy a whole set of sizes. Do you have a source for shoe lasts, Teriann?
Thanks so much for the advice. When I said that slippers were easy, I guess that for me who couldn't sew to save my life and can't read patterns and is terrible at measurements, slippers were the perfect project. As long as I don't have to do any of those things it's easy. Slippers can still be nice without any embroidery and I can even needle felt some details and this is easy for me. Not that it's not hard work, my back is still killing me.
Teriann using the washer/dryer sounds great. I understand that you can control the size (shrinkage) by putting a last inside but what about the part around the ankle ? Can that be too big or too small ?
Lyn you are right, a sushi mat is too small. Will have to look for a bamboo blind, thanks for that suggestion. So if I understand correctly, you still need to rub a bit and THEN roll them up and then you use the washboard.
To make these I used fibers I had bought when I first started needle felting and soon realized that it was not suited for what I was doing. I used lots of different fibers in these; merino, Icelandic and alpaca roving. The size of the slippers is just perfect but I guess that next time since I will be using different fibers (I used all that I had) even with the same resit the shrinkage might be quite different and they can end up too big or too small right ?
Hello again Linda
I made slippers from merino wool, and although nice and soft, they're not hardwearing!
I've seen 'recipes' for slippers that suggest a mix of C-1 Norwegian wool and Merino wool (for durability and softness together) and the ratio doesn't seem to matter.
Yes, you are correct, rub them a bit, then roll in the bamboo blind (still protected by the bubblewrap until the wool is holding together well, then discard the bubblewrap). When the resist starts to buckle it's time to cut it out. You can roll some more in the blind after that if you want, but don't roll too many times before giving the inside a rub otherwise the slipper could felt itself shut! Then it's the fulling.....
I've attached a photo of a bamboo blind sold by 'Ikea' in case you are unsure of the kind of blind I mean and it's handy to have 2 or 3 different sizes for different sized projects.
(In the UK they can be bought cheaply, secondhand, at car-boot-sales or charity/thrift shops.)
Your slippers are gorgeous, I have wanted to try that for such a long time but worried they'd never fit after all that work. I was thinking about using merino inside and shetland or something more coarse and long wearing on the outside or parts that don't touch me.
The idea is to use duct tape to make the last and "stuff" it with something that can be removed so the last can slip out from inside the slipper. And to hold the felt onto the last with rubber bands until it shrinks up enough to stay on the last.
That said, getting the ankles right is another bit of trouble.
Too small and your foot won't go in... too large and they feel loose and sloppy...
here's where I saw the duct tape last idea. http://www.deeplyfelt.com/2010/02/let-m ... ction.html
Thanks Lyn, That is what I had in mind but I was not sure because of the cords I was afraid it would make ridges in the felt. Do you have to take them large enough as to put your slippers in the middle so they are not in contact with the cords ?
You can use C-1 ? That is what I use mostly for needle felting but I thought for wet felting you needed longer fibers. In all the tutorials I saw they always had roving in the pictures. For my slippers I put the alpaca inside as I wanted the inside to be soft. The plan for the outer layers was to use Icelandic which seemed strong but I didn't have enough so I used merino also.
Thanks Beachwalker, do try it. If you have a good back it's fun I live in Canada and winters are really cold so I'm really happy to be able to make thse they will be put to good use. I plan on having a little collection next winter
Terriann thanks for posting that link. So you basically make a mold of your feet, even better you include your ankle ! Now at what stage do you put that last in ? I guess you still need to rub until everything hold together ? The lady says she doesn't use a washer, anybody have with that technique ?
Sorry to bother you all with so many questions but I thank you for your patience and all your help.
Remove all the metal bits from the ends of the blind and the cords that pull it up and down - the picture shows what's left (but please note that it doesn't show the top and bottom canes that are useful in making a good 'roll').
You will get impressions on the felt - less actually than you get from bubblewrap - but as you keep turning the felt the impressions get less and less and will disappear during the fulling.
I use a bamboo blind large enough so that there is a minimum of 30cms (1 foot) each side of the project when it's on the blind. That ensures that you have enough bamboo to work with.
From all the replies you've had I'd guess you're going to have some experimenting to do!
I would advise that you make notes every time you try something (type and quantity of wool, how much rubbing, how many times you rolled in each direction, temperature of soapy water, how you fulled, etc etc) because if it turns out well it would be nice to be able to replicate.
Happy Felting! Lyn
Yes Lyn I have enough information to make many experiments. I wish I had noted everything I did. When I needle felt I take pictures of my WIP but with wet soapy hands it was the last thing on my mind... Thanks again for all your help.
Thanks Marina, they were fun (minus the back pain) to make and it will be even more fun to wear them
These are really lovely....wish my first pair came out as good as this. I used bubble wrap and then massaged the roving to get it to felt. I used to hand shape the slippers during the fulling stage to get the final size and effect. Now I use polystyrene lasts to mould the slipper during fulling. These work really well but I had to modify my design to allow for a cut to remove the last after shrinkage. These are available from Wingham Wool Works in Yorkshire UK.....they have a website and online ordering. They were about 11 pounds per pair. Well worth a try. I use alpaca which is super light and very soft - except for my very hairy boy. To make the slippers more durable I now add a sole of kangaroo leather. I love the colours that you used too. Gorgeous!
WOW! They look perfect! And sorry for your felting aftermath pains.
My first try became gigantic pink booties, yet forgiving as FELT is, a cycle in the washer ..and they fit me!
I've worn them through and they're gone... Next time I will apply that polyure.... to the bottoms.
I had been looking for the answer to expensive felt rolling machines. After taking a look at the super expensive Australian clam shells, the huge A-frame, and the compact, but still too expensive EZ...