How to Make Wet Felted Baby Booties
A Little About this Project
This project has been designed to be used by both beginners and the more advanced Feltmaker. Merino Wool is a great choice for the booties as the wool felts easily and is soft enough to be worn close to the skin of a young child.
Things You Will Need to Make the Felted Booties
- Small quantity Merino wool roving (Merino wool roving felts quickly and is well suited to a small project like this which is aimed at those who are new to felting.
- Bootie template or pattern
- Plastic squeeze bottle or spray
- Dish washing liquid
- Boiling hot water
- Bamboo mat
- Small piece curtain netting
- Towel for soaking up excess water
- Palm sander (Not necessary - but can be useful as this speeds up the whole process)
- Thick piece of heavy duty plastic( if using an electric sander.
Baby Bootie Template (Pattern)
Before You Start!
- Copy the Template from the diagram included with this tutorial.
- Cut the Template using a piece of bubble-wrap, or a firm piece cardboard with the edges taped. I used an old plastic folder for the purpose of this tutorial. However, it was slightly more difficult to remove them from the Booties than a bubble-wrap Template would be. It did nevertheless give a nice clean crisp edge which left no creases.
- The booties are made up of eight separate layers of Merino wool fibres, four thin layers on each side of the Template.
- For simplicity, the same colour can be repeated throughout the project, alternately you can use any colours of your choice or even a mixture of hand dyed Merino Wool.
- I have included an image below of a pair of plain red Booties. These were made using the same template and are displayed here purely as an example.
- For the purpose of this tutorial, I have used a mixture of colours. The fibres should be placed at 90 degrees to the previous layer. This encourages the felting process
- If you wish to have a very smooth surface on your Booties, use the bottom layer as your top layer and treat the first one as the decorative layer. Turn the Booties inside out once you have removed the Template.
- When you make the cut for the cuff, all the layers will show through in the resulting cut. If you would like the cuff to be one colour throughout the layers, use only one colour.
- Be creative and have fun with your colours. Experiment with stripes or spots. Wet thin pieces of fibres can be used to make eyes, noses, and mouths. Try using odd bits of silk interspersed with little bits of wool. Small slivers of wool fibres should always be placed over any silk decorations you use. The wool fibres will help embed the silk fibres into the wool. Silk always gives a lovely sheen to the surface of any felt.
Use a Damp Proof Surface to Work On
- Place a towel down on a damp proof surface.
- Next, lay a bamboo mat down or the towel, alternatively you can use a piece of bubble-wrap with the smooth side facing upwards,
- Put the template down on the mat or bubble-wrap
- Begin by laying down the fibers as shown in the video tutorial above, Lay the fibres first in one direction and then on each subsequent layer keep them at 90 degrees to the previous layer.
- Place a small piece of curtain netting over the wool and sprinkle the fibers with hot soapy water
Template on Bamboo Mat
The Layers of Wool
Wetting the Fibers With the Hot Soapy Water
Folding the Fibers over the Edges of the Template
Fold over the fibres which extend beyond the template. Keep them crisp and tight against the edges of the template. This will give the whole project a nice clean edge.
Try using a plastic bag placed over your hand to help smooth out the fibers. It will help the hand glide easily over the top of the curtain netting. As the fibres start to relax with the hot soapy water, some will extend over the edge of the template. These are the fibers which should be folded back over the edge to give a nice neat edge.
Four Layers of Wool on Both Sides of the Template
- Repeat the same process for each layer using fibres in your choice of colors
- Once you have completed all four layers, place the whole project into the center of a piece of bubble-wrap. The smooth side should be on top. Cover with a sheet of thick plastic if you intend using an electric sander.
Felting With an Electric Palm Sander
- Place a heavy duty piece of over the whole project if you intend using an electric Sander as shown in these images.
- Please read these safety instructions carefully
- The heavy duty plastic should be large enough to ensure that there is no risk of any water coming into contact with the Sander. You may choose to use a more traditional method for your felting. If you do not intend using an electric Sander for this project, simply place a plastic bag over both your hands and rub the bubble-wrap well. Use gentle pressure at first, Turn and roll the project frequently. It should take about ten minutes for each side to reach the felting stage. You should be able to see the fibers as they start to tighten up. Add more hot soapy water as required until you reach the pinch test stage. This is when you can no longer grasp any of the fibers between your two fingers. Please see images.
Felting With and Electric Sander
- How To Use An Electric Sander To Wet Felt A 3D Flower
This short video Tutorial demonstrates how to make a 3D Felt Flower with an Electric Sander. It comes with a safety warning! Please always use a 'Ground Fault Adapter 'when working near water.
Cover with a Thick Sheet of Plastic If Using an Electric Sander
The 'Pinch Test'
- Do a pinch test to see if the Project is ready for cutting. If individual fibres still drift and can be pulled away from each other, continue massaging for a further few minutes on both sides. Keep applying hot soapy water to further encourage the shrinking process.
Fulling With a Bamboo Mat
Fulling Using a Bamboo Blind or Mat
- The bamboo mat or blind makes fulling very easy. Keep changing the direction in which you roll the project. You will start to notice that the fibres shrink back very quickly.
- Results are far quicker using a bamboo mat than if using a piece of bubble-wrap! Ensure that you don’t remove the template too soon. If you roll the cut booties without the template, the fibers can sometimes felt together making it difficult for you to separate the walls of the Booties from one other. Only remove the template once you are satisfied that the fibres are felted properly together.
- If you find you have shrunk the Booties too much, apply some hot water and stretch them with your fingers.
Removing the Template
Adding Boiling Water and Then Cold Water
Remove the template and pop the Booties into a bowl of boiling hot water. Leave for a few seconds and then rinse under cold water. Repeat this twice to shock the fibers. It will encourage them to shrink back further.
Shocking the Fibers
Cutting the Cuff
- Using sharp scissors cut along the crease of each Bootie. Each cut should be approximately 3.5cm. Turn both of the booties inside, out and sprinkle with some hot soapy water. If there are any wrinkles, massage them gently with your fingers. You can now decide which side you want to use for the right side to your Booties.
Cutting into the Bootie to Make the Cuff
Decorating the Booties
The cut edge should be rolled between your thumb and forefinger with soapy warm water to help give a nice finish. Stuff some bubble wrap into the Booties and allow them to dry.
You may wish to cut further up into the Bootie to create a pair of lace up boots without the cuff. Use an Awl to punch six holes for the laces or use a cord to complete your Booties. Little pompoms and small beads can be attached to the laces.
Have you tried doing Wet Felting?
Is this Project something you would like to try?
© 2013 Sally Gulbrandsen