Felted slippers – a clever idea, and easier to make than you think!

photos of the finished slippers.Make these beautiful woollen slippers; wonderful as a gift, or even for yourself. Get creative and have fun with your friends along the way.

What you’ll need: Pure Wool Fleece (Child 80g, Ladies 150g, Mens 200g) Pure Wool, Silk or Cotton Yarn or other natural material for decoration (get creative – feathers?) piece Bubble Pack approx 750cm square Plastic ‘resist’ eg piece of plastic floor tile, ie man -made material that’s just a few mm’s thick (thin foam-sheet packing is ideal) small piece Tulle (the size of the foot plus about 20%) Pure Soap Solution* or Liquid Wool Wash pointed Scissors or Stanley knife. Marker Pen and 1 sheet Paper/Newspaper * Soap solution can be made by mixing 1/4 cup pure soap flakes in half a bucket of hot water and leaving overnight. Add more water if it’s too solid; the solution needs to pour but be ‘gluggy’ and very slippery.

1 Divide the fleece equally into 8 making sure that each is identical (ie if you are using more than one colour, that the colour is equally divided between the 8).photo of fleece separated out.

2 Make a paper template of the foot shape by drawing around it.

3 Using the template draw an outline of it onto the Resist, 2-3 fingers widths larger than the template with a marker pen. Flip the template over and repeat for the other foot. Cut them out.

4 Using one of these pieces of resist cut out one piece of tulle.

5 Set up your workspace: Find a place suitable for working with water. Fold a large towel in half and lay it onto the work surface. Lay the bubble paper, rough side up, on top and, using a marker and the resist draw the outline for both slippers onto it leaving a good space between them.

6 Place a small ball of fleece in a contrasting colour, within each of the foot outlines on the bubble paper in the forward area of the slipper. This identifies the upper from the sole; we’ll call it the ‘spot’.

7  Taking one of the 8 fleece portions, pull gently to remove some fibres and lay these out on the bubble paper within the drawn outline, allowing the fibres to extend about 1cm maximum outside the outline.

8 Keep going!

9 Working left to right, cover the outline with a layer of fleece, then a layer front to back, repeating until all the fleece is used. Repeat with the other slipper outline.

10 Repeat with 1 more pile of fleece for each slipper. You have now used up half of the fleece and should have the wool piled up about 15-20cm high. This forms the upper of the slipper.photo of slipper decorating.

11 Get creative and decorate your slippers! Use silk thread or pure woollen or cotton yarn (knitting wool); anything that looks good and is not man-made can be used to felt into the fleece. Experiment – feathers might be interesting!

12 Now you start the first felting: lay the mesh over one of the piles of fleece. Make a bridge with your hand and push down into the fleece to make a depression in it. Pour some of the dissolved soap mix (gloop) into the depression and use your hand to allow it to spread to the edges of the mesh only, keeping the outer edges (about 2 finger-widths) dry. Pour in more gloop and press down as you work until the fleece has soaked through all the layers of wool below the mesh. Remove the mesh and use it to repeat the process with the other slipper. Remove the mesh

13 Once both slippers are wet lay your resists in position on the slippers folding the dry edges of the wool around the resist to encase it.photo of slipper resists in position.

14 Begin making the sole by repeating steps 7 to 10 for both slippers so that all your fleece has been used.

15 Now you’re going to attach the sole to the upper. Using the mesh begin wetting the fleece with the gloop as in step 12, one slipper at a time, once again keeping the fleece outside of the mesh dry.

16 Wrap the dry edges of the fleece gently around and under the slipper and then turn the slipper over. Lay the mesh once again over the slipper and working VERY gently, moisten the dry fibres using plenty of gloop. Using VERY gentle circular movements, begin to felt the sole into the upper. Once you see evidence that the felting process is working gradually begin to work more and more firmly creating a lather with the soap as you go.photo of slipper being felted. 17

When the wool begins to feel firm you can turn the slipper over and work the upper in every direction on all its surfaces, including the edges, using more and more pressure to rub as you work.

18 Now you need to really work the felt to cause shrinkage by rolling the slippers up into a tube and then rolling it with your hands backwards and forwards against the bubble paper.

19 Fold and roll the slippers in every direction to felt all parts of the wool equally, adding more gloop to keep the wool very moist, but not soaking.photo of slippers being rolled.

20 Once you begin to feel the resist inside buckling you know shrinkage is happening and you are ready to cut the slippers open and turn them inside out. With the contrasting spot uppermost cut an ‘X’ in the heel section of the slipper. Consider how high you want the heel when positioning  the cut.photos of cutting the slippers open. To give you an idea of the size of the cut, consider that this is where the foot goes into the slipper. It is better to cut a little smaller that you anticipate – you can always increase the cut if it’s too small! Don’t worry about the edges of the cut being ragged – they will soon felt into a nice soft edge.

21 Now you can turn them inside out and reveal you beautiful design! Continue with the rolling and rubbing for a while until they have shrunk down to a couple of shoes-sizes larger than the finished size of the foot.

22 Put the slippers onto the foot and begin rubbing, using gloop as needed, to mould the slippers to the footphoto of shaping the slipper on the foot. and continue shrinking them until they fit and the wool is firmly felted.

23 Rinse them in plenty of water and then soak in a bowl of warm water with half a cup of white vinegar for 30 minutes.

24 Spin dry the slippers, put them on your feet and mould them to shape before leaving them to dry somewhere warm.photo of leather sole on slipper.

25 Cut out leather soles using your original paper template. Using a nail and hammer make a line of stitching holes about 3-4mm inside the outer edge of the leather and stitch to the slippers using a suitable heavy thread (synthetic gut or heavy synthetic thread).

Pure wool slippers are warm and comfy and they make a great personal gift.

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