I conquered the slippers! I really hate when a project blows up on me, so I took on the slippers again. This time I used wool batting, which I purchased at The Pines this weekend. Because I couldn’t bring myself to leave the alpaca out completely, I blended it into the inside layer. Here we go with directions and pictures!
You will need:
- Wool batting
- Towel (or 3 or 4)
- Plastic bag, plastic feed bag, or bamboo-type place mat or blind
- Extra piece of plastic or bubble wrap to help flip template
- Sheet of bubble wrap
- Mesh laundry bag
- Glycerine soap (Like Neutrogena bar)
- Bottle of watered down dish soap
Lay our your towel, plastic layer, bubble wrap – bubble side up, and slipper template.
You will find directions for the slipper template in my 10/9 post. Lay out a layer of fringe around the edge of the template. This is where I put the alpaca. This fringe will be folded over to the other side later, so don’t get it wet until you’re on the second side. Fill in the rest of the template with a layer of batting going “north-south.” Then add another layer of batting going “east-west.” This gives you two layers of batting on the first side. Sprinkle cool, soapy water over the layers of wool, being careful not to wet the fringe. Gently press the water into the wool, working from the middle out. Be careful not to move the fiber around too much.
Carefully massage the water into the fiber, making sure the fiber is wet to the edges of your template. You will be able to feel the template through the fiber. The soap helps open the scales on the fibers, which allows the felting to occur. Continue to massage the fiber until it starts sticking together a bit. You’ll have a goopy mess at this point, but it will all be OK.
At this point, many tutorials say to lay a sheet of plastic over the wet fiber, and flip the whole thing over so your template is on top. If you’re looking at a goopy mess of fiber, and you’re anything like me, “just flip it over” sounds ridiculous. I put the plastic over the wet fiber, roll the package up about halfway, THEN flip it and unroll. It makes me feel like I’m a little more in control of where things are flopping. Now, fold the fringe around the edges of the template, flattening it out with soapy water. Make sure your fiber is tight around the edges of the template. If the folded over fiber felts onto itself, it will make a lumpy ridge around the edge of your slippers.
Again, you’ll place a north-south layer of fiber, then an east-west layer. You’ll want another row of fringe, too. Wet the fiber with soapy water and massage like you did on the first side. Once the fibers start sticking together a bit, add two more layers of fiber, continuing to lay the fibers in opposite directions. This will be your fourth and last layer will be the outside layer of one side of your slippers. If you want a particular color or design on the outside, this is where you want to put it. Sprinkle with water, press into fiber, and massage gently until felting begins.
Now, you get to “just flip it over” again. I used the roll and flip method again. It works for me. Here, I folded the fringe over, then added the final two layers of fiber on this side. Doing it this way, I had to make sure the final layer of fiber stayed within the edges of the boot. I think next time I’ll lay the two final layers of fiber and then fold the fringe over. It seems this would make for a neater edge. Repeat the soapy water-massage step until everything is holding together pretty well. Some people like to have bubble wrap over the fiber at this point to add a little more friction. Keep rubbing the fiber, adding water to keep everything sticking together. You should be able to just flip it over now. Rub a little, flip, rub a little, flip. Each time you flip, make sure your edges are snug against the template to avoid a ridge. This part can take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the type of wool you’re using, and how quickly it felts. Since my alpaca slippers disintegrated when putting it in the washing machine at this stage, I worked this pair by hand a little more. The layers at this point should be plastic, bubble wrap, and slippers. I place a nylon mesh laundry bag over the slippers, then roll all the layers around a pool noodle. The nylon bag prevents the fiber from felting onto itself, and the pool noodle gives you a little more to work with as you roll. If you don’t have a pool noodle, you can do without. I like doing this step without the pool noodle. Roll everything up, and with your hands on top, roll the whole package back and forth 50 times. Unroll, then reroll everthing from the opposite end. Again roll back and forth 50 times. Some people will feel confident throwing their slippers in the wash here, but I’m still not risking it. The fiber is beginning to shrink, and I can feel the template crinkling up inside. That’s OK. One more time, I unroll the package, reroll it from the other end, and now I roll it back and forth 100 times. Unroll again, reroll from the other end, roll back and forth 100 more times. You should see you fiber noticeably felting at this point, and acting as a solid fabric. NOW, I’m ready to stop rolling.Your slippers should be really wet now. Throw them in the washing machine on the spin cycle and spin all the extra water out.
Cut your slippers carefully around the middle. You don’t want to cut your template. You can see here how much the felt shrank around the template. There will be a bit of a crease around the edges. Get the slippers wet, and use a bar of glycerine soap to rub out the crease, and any ridge that may have developed. They are WAAAY too big. I’m a little afraid they’re never going to shrink enough. Don’t worry. Keep watching. I put my slippers in a mesh laundry bag, then ran them through the first wash with cool water, extra-gentle/handwash. I use the bag to keep them from getting too beat up, and possibly messed up under the agitator. The directions don’t specify to do this. I’m just paranoid. The slippers were still super-big, so another run through the wash. This time warm water and regular cycle. Still too big. One more wash – warm and regular. During this wash, I put them inside out. This helps discourage creases from forming. Almost perfect, but still a little loose. You have to be careful once things start shrinking. I wore the slippers for a few hours while I hung out with the babies and they got a little looser. I put them in the washer for, MAYBE, 5 more minutes and they were almost too small. I would never have expected that. While the slippers were still wet, I shoved my feet into them so they would form to my feet. It worked, and they now fit perfectly!