So who’s heard of felted feet then?! I hadn’t until a few months ago on a brilliant girls and Mum’s birthday weekend in a bothy in Northumberland last December. They are fun and fab!
If you enjoy crafting, especially with natural materials, and you love walking with children, then learning how to make felted feet could be just the thing for a day’s fun family entertainment with some outdoors thrown in too. It’s a whole new genre of walking!
Since posting our gorgeously colourful ‘felted feet’ (wet wool felted slippers) on Instagram I’ve received requests to provide more instructions. So here they are! (I’m not the felting expert of our tribe so feel free to comment any amendments to the below)
View this post on Instagram
This is a whole new genre of walking; making felted feet! Wrap each foot in felting wool, cover with a plastic bag then socks, add hiking boots and head for the hills. At least an hour's walking is required to create these fantastic slippers! Day 17 of #splodzdpc photo challenge, theme 'on my feet' #felting #woolfelting #feltedfeet #walking #hiking #getoutdoors #felt #art #feltart #walkingwithkids #onmyfeet #footwear #colour #homemade #slippers #wool #woolfelt #kidscrafts #outdoorfun #countrykidsfun #craft
It’s a simple tutorial where you’ll learn how to make wet felted feet slippers while walking, with a supply list included, perfect for a children’s birthday party, Scout and Guide evenings, a country weekend or hen/stag party!
What are Felted Feet?
Simply put, you wrap each foot in felting wool, cover with a plastic bag & socks, add hiking boots and head for the hills. An hour’s walking is all that’s required to create a fantastic pair of bespoke slippers! (We did a country walk but an hour at the play park or walking around the neighborhood works fine too)
Maybe a mad idea for a hike if you’ve not heard of felted feet, but it gets the kids walking outdoors with the goal of creating their own pair of perfectly sized, soft and comfy wool felted slippers?
It’s probably the ultimate end-goal bribe to keep children happy while walking but if you need more ideas there are another 10 in how to make walking with kids wonderful, for child-encouraging inspiration!
What is Wet Wool Felting?
Felting is the process of locking wool fibres together by agitating them. Wet wool felting uses soap and water while needle felting requires special barbed needles.
Caroline and I attended a half term felting workshop with the fabulous Charlotte at FeltOn Arts and were amazed at what we were able to produce in just two hours.
Felted feet are a little different as they require time outdoors as well. Perfect for Kids of the Wild!
How to Make Felted Feet
Not as complicated as they sound, felted feet are fun and easy to make. After making a couple of patches you’ll be almost expert, and the end result is a gorgeous multi-coloured slipper with a plain cream lining.
The trick is in the preparation, and also having a few friends join in too.
You will need:
- Half a day to spare and some fun friends who like crafting and walking
- Waterproof tablecloth
- Plain undyed wool roving (approx 100g per foot)
- Any amount of wool roving in various colours
- A jug or bowl
- Warm water
- Felting soap or eco-friendly washing up liquid
- Bubble wrap recycled from old packaging (garden netting or bamboo mat)
- Plastic bags (one per foot)
- Loose socks
- Outdoor boots
- Strong needle (optional)
- Coloured yarn for laces (optional)
What to do:
How to make pre-felted patches
- Place waterproof table cloth on table
- Tease the plain wool into lengths about as long as your foot
- Lay them horizontally on the table
- Tease out more wool and lay these lengths vertically (at right angles) across the top of the horizontal lengths
5. Mix a squirt of washing up liquid into the jug of water
6. Sprinkle a little of the water over the dry wool – not too much; you can always add more
7. Pat down until the entire surface is wet but not sodden
8. Place a sheet of garden netting or bubble wrap on top
9. Keeping the netting in place, gently rub with the flat palm of your hands for a couple of minutes to agitate the fibres without pulling them apart. You are aiming to keep the wool flat while allowing the soapy water to dampen it and lock the fibres together
10. Peel back the netting to check if the wool has felted – it should be soft and pliable and look like a piece of wet felt!
11. To check if the wool is suitably felted rub a finger gently across. If the fibres move, it needs a bit more rubbing beneath the netting
12. Squeeze out any excess moisture
13. This is your first pre-felted patch! It will have shrunk by about 40%, like a woollen jumper on a hot wash. It won’t be a regular square shape either
14. Put the completed patch to one side (see cream pile in above photo)
15. Repeat 8-11 times until you have enough to wrap around each foot, like a Mummy, approx 6 per foot!
16. Repeat the same process with the coloured wool until you have 10-12 coloured pre-felted patches
17. This whole process should take an hour
How to felt your feet!
18. Now the fun part! You need a friend to wrap about 6 pieces of the plain felt around each foot (or however many it needs), overlapping the edges and covering your whole foot up to and around the ankle
19. If you don’t overlap the edges the pieces will not be able to felt together
20. Add a little extra water if required to keep the wool damp but not wet
21. Repeat with the coloured wool, wrapping 6 pieces around each foot on top of the plain wool (resulting in a coloured outer slipper with a plain cream inside)
Make your felted feet on a walk with the kids
22. Place each foot inside a plastic bag
23. Pop a flexible sock on top of each bag and squeeze your feet into your walking boots or wellies24. Head to the hills for an hour’s walking (or the play park etc). The warmth & gentle friction will agitate the damp wool patches, ensuring that all the fibres rub and interlock together, creating a solid fabric slipper
25. Try not to get water or mud into your boots as this will dirty the felted feet
- At home, remove boots, socks and plastic bag and check out your made-to-fit slippers!
Felted wool shrinks by about 20-40% so the slippers may be difficult to remove. As they will still be damp, don’t pull too hard.
You may need to cut down the front to ease each slipper off, which can be left with an open split or laced up with yarn for a different look (see above photo).
The felted fabric is quite thick so you will need a strong needle to make the lace holes.
ALLOW THE SLIPPERS TO DRY NATURALLY – they will shrink further if dried too quickly on a radiator etc.
Fabulous Felted Feet
Because they fit your feet perfectly and are made of natural wool, these slippers are incredibly warm and comfortable. But they’re not supper durable so wear with pride and take gentle care of them. You could always sew a strong fabric or leather sole to the bottom for added strength.
I’d love to hear how you get on trying this brilliant indoor-outdoor craft activity – pop some pics on the Facebook page or leave me a comment below.
Why not follow Kids of the Wild on Instagram for more great outdoor suggestions for all the family?
Get the Gear
Yuli Somme from Bellacouche sells a mail order felted feet kit for making 3 to 5 pairs of natural coloured slippers on her website. If you want to make the coloured slippers in this tutorial you’ll need to buy coloured roving too, as below.
Buy the rest of your supplies for felted feet from Amazon, just click on the images below. If you make a purchase, Kids of the Wild receives a few pennies from the sale (£1.26 since Aug 2016!!!)
Beginners wet felting kit with 20 colours of merino wool, soap, bamboo mat, voile, bubble wrap, rolling pin and 6 projects instruction booklet
Wool roving felting starter kit (36 colours)
Natural coloured wool roving for felted feet base
Ecover washing up liquid