Felted Slipper Tutorial Using Ear Shaped Resist by Nada V.

Our guest post today is by Nada V. She is a forum member and had showed us a different type of resist template to make shoes/slippers. It seemed almost magical so we asked her to do a tutorial to show how the template worked. She kindly agreed and here is her wonderful tutorial.

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In this tutorial I would like to present a step-by step procedure for making felted slippers. For a pair of slippers you will need approx. 300 gr of wool (coarse wool 31 mic) and two templates.

fiber

I was using local wool. It is very coarse with some rather wiry fibres.

template

 

The picture of the template is shown above.  You need to adapt it to your feet. I wear size 40 and this template is 31 cm long and 15 cm wide. As you may notice there are two ears on the template: one is positioned higher than the other one. The ear which is positioned higher on the template represents the inner side of the foot facing the other slipper. The size of the template also depends on the shrinkage rate of your wool. You need to consider this factor before you draw your own template.

Prepare your workplace: a towel, bubble wrap, soapy water (quite hot) which you can put in a ball browser or squeeze bottle. In dealing with coarse fibers and thick layers like in this case. There are many ways of wetting your work. I prefer to use olive oil soap which I simply hold in one hand, and a kitchen sponge in the other. I keep a bowl with hot water on the side , dip the sponge in it and squeeze the water out so that it runs through my fingers while I am rubbing soap and let the water trickle down.

laying wool

Start laying out wool: make sure that you make a total of minimum six layers, each placed in the opposite directions.

wetting

 

Place the first layer on the template and wet the wool well with soapy water.

pressing

Cover your work with a plastic sheet and press down to spread the water evenly through the fiber. Do not rub, just press. This is important since some types of wool start felting quickly.

folding back1

 

Flip the template carefully over and fold back excess wool (as seen in the picture).

folding back

 

Do the same with the other slipper and continue until you have formed six layers of wool. During the process of laying wool, do not rub and felt, just wet the fibers and press them down. I try to comb fibers with my fingers working from edges towards the middle and if some folds start forming I just gently rub and straighten them.

folds

Thickness of layers is a relative thing. For this reason a good rule of thumb is that the final thickness of your work, after wetting and folding should be approx 3-4 cm ( i.e. 1.1 to 1.5 inches).

thickness

 

In my case I started laying grey wool (4 layers) and continued with white wool ( 2 layers)simply because I didn’t have enough white wool. After wetting you need to make sure that your templates are in the right position. Remember, the ear which is higher should be facing the left slipper from the inside like in the picture below.

embellish

Now you can start applying embellishments. Use your imagination as you wish. I used some black yarn to make branches and red pencil roving for flowers. I wanted to make sure that the flowers do not move and needle felted them into work.

cover net

After the stage of wetting the work you can start felting. During this phase I like to use a tray to catch excess water. Cover your work with a mesh and start rubbing gently the upper side where your embellishments are, making sure that they become fixed enough to the base and will not move when you turn your work over.

excess watter

 

Turn your work and start felting on the opposite side. I start pressing gently, increasing the pressure as I proceed. Be prepared for long felting. Even though my wool felts well, the total time I spent on felting was one hour which is because the layers are very thick. (Those of you who are using a sander may perhaps complete this stage in shorter time, I’m not sure). Always work from the sides towards the middle thus making sure that you don’t lose the shape. If folds start forming in the middle, rub them gently in circular motion and straighten them. During work it may happen that there is too much water, and of course, our slippers must not swim in water. From time to time I lift my work and drain excess water and continue adding hot soapy water for rubbing as necessary.

cutting

 

When you have a feeling that no more felting is needed and that your felt is stiff enough take sharp scissors and make a slit across the slipper – from the tip of the ear to the opposite corner, as shown in the picture.

remove resist

 

Remove the template.

yettishoe

 

Don’t be frightened when you see that you got a large shoe. In the following stage you need to work on shrinking the slippers.

rub edges

 

I like to rub the edges of the opening first so as to avoid separation of the layers on the edges.

wash sink

 

Transfer your work to the sink and soak it in hot water and squeeze the water out. Shock your felt with cold water and squeeze the water out again.

kneadroll

 

Move your work to your tray. Use more soapy water and start rolling and kneading your slippers so that they start forming a real shape. You don’t need to be gentle at all. Roll and knead them in all directions so that they shrink evenly. This may take you quite some time.

rubinside

 

Rub them inside and outside.

kneadroll2

 

If you think that the felt is not shrinking enough, apply the shock treatment again (hot and cold water). In my case I applied this shock therapy three times. Use your hands for shaping a shoe-like form and only when you feel that you are close to the final shape and size, take a pair of plastic or styrofoam lasts if you have them, otherwise you need to complete the work with your hands.

fitting on last

 

I bought my lasts from Wollknoll Germany at a reasonable price (8 EUR) and think this was a good investment.

tools

 

Use any tools that you normally use for fulling. I was using a roller pin for pounding (spanking) and a small roller for rubbing and straightening the surface.

pull sock

 

When your slippers completely fit the last, take an old pantyhose and pull it over your slipper and tie a knot so that the slippers cannot move during machine tumbling.

from the machine

 

Put the slippers into your washing machine (300C if little shrinkage is needed or 400C if you feel that more shrinkage is needed). I use the programme for delicate washing with short spinning. Remove the last and let your slippers dry.

final product

 

This is what you should get in the end.

final

 

If you look carefully you’ll see how hairy my slippers are. Our wool is really course and some sharp fibres are sticking out. When the slippers dry up, I’ll simply shave them. To completely finish the slippers, attach a sole (I like to use leather) and voila, your new slippers are ready. This project will take a whole afternoon to complete. It is a lot of work but you will enjoy the result. It took me five hours in total.

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36 Responses to Felted Slipper Tutorial Using Ear Shaped Resist by Nada V.

  1. Lyn says:

    Fantastic tutorial – very clear. I like the slipper shape you achieve by using this ear shaped resist and I think the lasts were a good investment. The pattern on the top of the slipper is a pretty finishing touch.
    Five hours to make a perfect pair of slippers might sound like a lot, but if you went shopping for a pair, you could easily spend that amount of time and end up with a pair of slippers that may not be exactly what you want.

  2. Leonor says:

    Nada V., I am in awe of your slippers and your perfect technique, they look amazing! I so want to make my own now… need to find time! 🙂

  3. I love the shape you get with this resist. I nice tutorial too. Does the top end up straight or on an angle? it looks like it is straight to me.

  4. Nada says:

    Thank you for your comments. Here I would like to acknowledge the help of Cathy who proof-read the text and gave some useful comments and of course Ruth for putting the file together and posting the tutorial.
    I hope you are encouraged now to make your own slippers. It does take time but it is worth it.
    Shepherdessann, sorry I don’t quite understand your question.

  5. Marilyn Nelson says:

    Excellent tutorial Nada! I love the decorations on top of the slippers — like wearing spring on your feet. I guess that’s on my mind since it seems winter is never ending here in the US. Yet another thing to put on my to do list. Thanks for sharing!

  6. luvswool says:

    Nada, Terrific tutorial! Very clear with numerous helpful photos. Quite a bit of work to make the slippers, but they will most likely be around for many years. Thanks for sharing!

  7. ruthlane says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I really want to try a pair, hopefully I will get to soon. I love the embellishments on your slippers – very nice design.

  8. zedster66 says:

    I think you asked what I was wondering, Ann. I’m still not sure about the position of the ‘ears’, does lining them up result in the slipper having a curve?
    Thanks for doing this, Nada, the slippers look great 🙂

  9. Nada says:

    Zed, I’m not quite sure I quite understand your question. Yes, the curve is formed because of the ears. The ear which is positioned higher is inside, facing the other slipper. Hope I was helpful.

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  11. jane dolan says:

    I like that shape you get with that ear shape resist. Great tutorial.

  12. craftywoman says:

    thanks for the great tutorial, so clear and and easy to follow, I must have a go at these they look gorgeous 🙂

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  14. tiffany says:

    where can I find the template you used for your beautiful slippers? I am wanting to make my first pair of slippers and yours are the best design! Thank you!

    • ruthlane says:

      Hi Tiffany – you’ll need to make your own template so that it will be the right size to fit you. I did this by standing on a piece of foam resist material and marking around my foot. Then I added about an inch to an inch and half all the way around each foot. Then you add the “ears” going by Nada’s photo above.

  15. lorid941Lori says:

    I’m very new at this, trying it for the first time. My question is: how/where do you get the wool you use ? It looks fluffy. I have several old sweaters/baby blankets I was hoping to use… &thought I’d would send it through washer first… But then read “once felted, felted forever” – how do I get the material to begin?? Thank you sooooo much

    • ruthlane says:

      Hi Lori – you are talking about “felting” (which is really fulling) with something that is already knitted or woven. That is like making “boiled wool”. Nada’s tutorial uses wool fiber that hasn’t been spun into yarn, knitted or woven. You can either use a wool batt or wool roving. There are many places online that sell a variety of wool roving or batts that would work. If you are in Europe you can try World of Wool or in the US, you could try New England Felting Supply. Or just google wool roving. In the right column of this site, you could check out our forum where you could ask lots of questions and learn a lot about felting if you join us.

    • lorid941 says:

      Thank you ruthlane! Yes.. I’m looking for wool that’s not spun. Batting would work better than the rope-like kind. I found some at my local store, and it looks like my first go at this was fairly successful… I’ll see how lying they last! Thank you for your info I will order online from now on!
      Happy felting

  16. Jean says:

    Great slippers, love the toe design! Just one question, when you open the slipper, do you cut from the tip of one ear to the tip of the other ear?

  17. Ted Booth says:

    I would make the front of the last curve a lot more, because I noticed that shoes that have a sharp curve to the left or right are more comfortable, because I noticed the final product, the slipper looks straight.

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  21. DebraLee says:

    So happy I found this and I’m a size 40! This will be my therapy (AKA creating something) this weekend! Thank you!

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  24. bbgoodwin says:

    I am excited to make these slippers, and have all the materials to do it, but a few questions: If I don’t have the lasts, what do I do as an alternative if I put them in the washing machine? Do I need to use the machine at all? The reason is, I’d like to make these at the cottage, and we don’t have a washing machine there (but I could take them home and finish them there) Why are the ears placed one higher and one lower? (as opposed to directly opposite each other?) Do you even need the ears? Sorry for all the questions…but really great tutorial! Thank you!!!

    • ruthlane says:

      Hi bbgoodwin,

      You do not need lasts or to use the washing machine. You can shape them on your feet and full them as you usually would for felt. I often use a wash board for slippers as they need to be completely fulled. The ears are placed so that you can tell the slippers apart right from left. It makes a slant and when I make them, the higher ear is on the inside of the foot. The slant then goes from inside to outside moving back on the foot. Hope that makes sense. You could make them straight across if desired. You definitely need the ears to make these fit well. The ears actually help form the heel.

      Hope this helps – it’s Nada’s tutorial but she doesn’t get notification for questions so I try to help out.

  25. Barbara Goodwin says:

    @ruthlane: Thank you for your response. I made my slippers this week, and I made my template with the ears, but I’m not absolutely happy with how it turned out… overall the slippers worked out great, but I either made my ears too far apart, or I did something really wrong, because it doesn’t look as good as the photo here. Oh well, I will try again, but maybe without the ears. I can see how it benefits the heel, but… maybe the second time will be better!

    • ruthlane says:

      Hi Barbara – if you’d like to join us over on the forum, you could show us photos of your slippers and ask questions of all the members including Nada who wrote the tutorial. All you have to do is register, we’ll approve you and then you can join in. It’s a great community of felt makers who love to share and will answer all your questions.

      http://feltandfiberstudio.proboards.com/

  26. Hi Ruth and Nada, it is a great tutorial. It gives sense that one ear is higher than the other so you can see what is left or right feet. My question is ; where do I have to cut , how many cm is the distance to the heel (or do you have to measure it by your own feet and count shrinkage to it?).

    • ruthlane says:

      If you ask this question on the forum, Nada will answer you. I don’t think she checks here any more. I just guessed on the ear placement, closer to the heel than the front. Then you cut from ear point to ear point. Hope that helps.

  27. Oke, thanks, I’ll ask her.

  28. Evelyn Franklin says:

    That is the best tutorial I have seen. Took a class in making slippers and learned so much more from yours, I can’t wait to start another pair . Thank you

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