Friday, January 6, 2017

Felted Slippers. Tutorial (of sorts)

The slipper experiment continues, and I got the feeling that the flat resist makes just an OK slipper.  My friends likes the one that I added the knit cuff to, but I thought I could make a better slipper.  Many of the PINTEREST photos showed finishing (or even starting) over a foot mold, either duct tape match of your own foot, or a plastic (and expensive) shoe mold.  The duct tape worries me, as it could only be used in the end to stretch the final product, and as far as that goes, I used my own real foot, covered in a plastic bag, to final stretch the previous ones.  No, I wanted more form.
I decided to try using Crocs, or equivalent off-brand as the mold/resist.  The previous blog entry shows a baby size slipper as the test try, and I was impressed.  So here goes the adult version:

First I bought one size bigger Croc, in a clearance priced colour! One size bigger, and wrapping on the outside of those, allows for enough shrinkage to create a really firm slipper.  The process does not actually damage the shoes in any way, so you could borrow the ones you want to use!
Other materials include, wool batting (you could use only roving, but batting saves some steps and makes it really uniformed.),  roving, and any embellishments you like.  Also plastic and a panty hose leg.

 I start with the batting, and a bit of roving.  I show the roving in grey, so that we can see where it goes.  Extra roving over the toe to make sure it is not too thin there.  The baby sample seemed to shift away from the toe, so I think adding extra will counter this migration.
Wrap the batting evenly around the shoe, covering it completely.  I actually ripped the batting in almost half, wrapping first one way, then the other, to make it evenly covered.
If you are using only roving, make a flat bed of two thin layers of roving crossed in perpendicular directions, to create a strong felt.  Then wrap it around the shoes, followed by another bed of 2 thin layers.  (four thin layers total).   HINT:  whichever way you do this, make sure you lay the batting or the roving out for BOTH shoes at the same time, trying to use the exact same amount of fibre on each shoe!
 Once wrapped, add pencil roving of contrast merino to "tie" it together.  Make sure left and right have mirror details.  I then added some silk and yarn, mostly to the top of the toe area.
 Wet the whole thing really well with cold soapy water.  Gently massage without dislodging too much fibre and squeeze excess water out.  Once it feels completely we thoughout, roll them both into plastic (you could use zip lock bags, just get out most of the air) and try to seal the ends to mostly keep the water in the package.  Slide the plastic wrapped slippers into the leg of a panty hose, tie some acrylic yarn in the space between the shoes, and tie off the end, to make a two link sausage of slippers!
Then the magic!
Wrap the package in a large towel (again rolling sausage style) and tie with stretchy fabric ties.  toss this in the dryer on NO HEAT and tumble for about 20 minutes.
When you unwrap them, you should have firm, but not too puckered, slippers.  The photo below shows what it looked like in the lower slipper.  Carefully cut a two inch hole in the center of the open space of the shoe.  Do not cut too near the heal, as the felt will stretch open even further, and you want some felt on the back of your foot.  Stretch the opening out as in the upper picture.  Best to under cut, and if the stretch does not get large enough, you can cut more.
 Now make a really hot bath of soapy water, and using the bubble wrap, dip in water, massage, squeeze out excess, then rub on the bubble wrap. I rubbed every surface, even flipping them inside out to rub the insides.   Do this over and over until you get the size you need for your foot.  Should only take about 5 minutes.  Hand rub the opening of the slipper to really firm it up.  You can see in the final dry photos how the opening got bigger, but not too big to stay on the foot.
 The shoes continued to mold to my foot after wearing a few days.  Try to know left from right (mine, the rose silk is on the outside of my feet).  I plan to sew some suede to the bottom to have them last much longer.

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