Last Winter I made some wet felted slippers and they are the best and warmest slippers I have ever had. They take a bit of effort but it is very satisfying to make your own warm winter slippers from only wool, hot water, and soap. I am no expert at wet felting, however I do remember making my own slippers as a child using the same technique. Not much has changed with welt felting through the years, fulling wool is an ancient technique that employs hot water and soap or urine to encourage wool fibres to cling together and become warmer, denser and more resilient. Before waterproof fabrics it was an excellent way to make clothing weatherproof. The tutorial I used was this youtube video. It is a great basic overview of the process from beginning to end.
There are also a number of great online tutorials available, in particular this one which seemed like a great alternative to the plastic sheet method.
Step one was dyeing the wool – which I use for needle felting and wet felting.
Assembling all the materials, wool roving, hot hot water, soap, and old net curtains.
The next step is to cut out a plastic template, just slightly larger than your foot.
Trace around the foot like so
I do my felting on a piece of yoga mat, on top of a brolly sheet. This is waterproof, and has a great texture for felting.
The next step is taking small pieces of roving and placing them over the template – first horizontally and then vertically. You want to get your layers as even as possible.
Next up you take your net curtain and lay it carefully over your slippers, At this point I made myself a cup of tea as I was boiling the jug anyway.
Add the boiling water – but not so much your slippers are swimming.
Once there is enough soap, you need to gently pat and smooth the wool. If you are too vigorous you can destroy the shape.
Stage one complete – time to flip them over.
Flipped over and ready to gently fold the excess wool over into the centre
Folded over like this to create the slipper shape
Repeat the wool laying down step on the second side using the same strategy as the first side
The slippers after a few layers – I used a darker more sturdy wool for the core layer. to give added strength without wasting my lovely coloured yarn
On the top and final layer I wanted to create an ombre effect with my different colours
Last layer folded over.
Once all the layers have been felted, the next step is to full the slippers properly. This is usually done over a wooden ‘last’ or foot shape. Given these come at a cost, I employed my own foot in a breadbag. First a suitable hole needs to be cut in the top of the slipper and the plastic sheet removed. Then the slipper needs to be shaped over the foot and rubbed vigorously. This can take some time. Once the basic shape has been achieved, you may want to re-insert the plastic sheet, wrap the whole slipper in a stocking and then wash on a gentle cycle to complete the work. It pays to closely monitor this step so that you don’t wreck your slippers.
I don’t have photos of the last 3-4 steps but these are the final product, after the slippers have been properly fulled and a hole has been cut for the foot.