I went to a felting workshop last year with the Tawe Guild.
It was the first time that I ever felted anything (on purpose) and it’s something that I’ve been wanting to try again ever since.
I’ve also been wanting a new pair of boots – but didn’t want the same old same old that I’ve been buying for years.
So a new quest was born – how to felt myself a great pair of boots.
The foot lasts were fun to make. I bought a roll of duct tape for £7.99 and spent a happy Sunday afternoon duct taping my feet over an old pair of black socks. It was very easy to do but time consuming. By the end, though, I had a pair of a lasts that were pretty fair matches for my feet.
I then dug out my bag of scrap tops and roving and started to felt.
I used an old vinegar bottle which I filled with hot water and washing up liquid. I covered the foot lasts with three layers of white merino, soaking each layer with hot soapy water and rubbing gently over a nylon sheet until the wool stuck to itself and the nylon sheet could be pulled away gently.
I then added one layer of coloured tops as a pattern and began to rub the boots all over with bubble wrap to begin the felting process.
I rubbed the boots for around 45 minutes, by which time my arms and hands were starting to get tired. At this point, the boots were starting to felt really nicely but I could see that it would take a reeeeeally long time to felt them this way – I thought it was time for a bit of an experiment.
I wrapped each boot in the leg of a pair of tights and bunged them in the washing machine with some washing up liquid for a 1 hour wash. I then put them through the tumble drier for about 45 minutes.
When I took them out, the boots were felted very nicely, but they were awfully thick. I think I’d “over topped” them because, in places, the felt was nearly 3/4″ thick!
I knew that the boots would never work as they were so I decided to cut them down and use them as slippers instead. I removed them (with difficulty!) from the lasts and found that the felt was so thick that I couldn’t get them over my feet!.
There was no help for it – to get them on my feet at all I had to cut most of the boot away. So I grabbed a pair of scissors and started cutting.
I know I’ve cut them a wee bit too short but they still fit really nicely on my feet so I know that making lasts this way works. What I’m left with is a pair of slippers that fit my feet really well, if a bit short around the heel, but they don’t fall off and they feel great.
For a first attempt, to get something that will actually stay on my feet at all feels like a great achievement and next time I’ll learn from my mistakes. I’ll make a pattern from wellington boots and try to get enough width in the leg to make a tongue that I can use to lace the boots up.
Meanwhile, I have a pair of slippers that fit really well – even if they look a bit crap!