Felt Moccasins – Finally!

I mentioned back in July that I was trying to learn how to make felt. Now it’s September, and I finally have one pair of moccasins that I actually like. (Next week I’ll start working on those hats again…)

Felt Moccasins
Felt Moccasins

If I can manage to make a few more slippers and hats that I like, I might even start a new blog – since this, of course, is supposed to be a blog about paper mache.  By the way – I want to thank all the guest authors who’ve been sharing their wonderful creations with us lately while I struggled to learn my new craft. We’ve had some fabulous guest posts lately, don’t you think?

There are a lot of reasons why it’s taking me so long to get the hang of this felting business. This process is a lot harder than it looks, especially when you’re learning from books. The biggest reason, though, is that I can’t seem to stick to the instructions – I always figure there’s an easier way to do just about anything, so I meander off, experimenting with this and that. Of course, most of my experiments don’t work, but that doesn’t seem to stop me.

I was trying to find a method that takes less physical labor (not that I’m lazy, or anything…), by letting me use the washing machine for fulling. That’s the wet part of wet felting, and when I do it by hand I end up with water all over the floor and my arms get tired. I also tend to get bored with the process long before the felt is really done. So I experimented, trying to find something that works as well but is easier for me. I think I have at least part of the process figured out (and I have a big pile of rejects, from all the experiments that didn’t work). Of course, any true felter would probably be appalled by my method, but that doesn’t worry me too much.

For these slippers, I started out with a traditional center seam moccasin pattern. The wool is needle-felted on both sides of cotton muslin, with white wool on one side and the other side is a mixture of naturally dark wool (thanks, Becky!) and alpaca (thanks, Mary!). Then I dyed the pieces, added the spots and blue trim, sewed them together, and fulled. The blue trim is yarn made from silk sari material. I love the colors, but the yarn breaks easily, so I wrapped it in blue wool and hand-rolled it to felt the wool, trapping the pieces of silk inside. There’s a fairly stiff core inside the silk yarn, and I like the way it helps to hold the upper part of the slippers at a jaunty angle – these moccasins are intended for an adventurous 4 year old boy.

I have several more pairs already dyed and ready for me to finish – and then I start on hats, again. Wish me luck!

16 thoughts on “Felt Moccasins – Finally!

  1. Do you have a pattren you can share for the moccasin itself or a reference you used to make pattren…..I would love to try these in another medium…..thanks

    • I used this simple one-seam moccasin pattern. I cut it out of wool batting, but made the pattern large enough so it could shrink when the moccasins were felted. I used a felting needle to weld the seams together before felting, and also used the needle to add the designs. If you use something other than wool you obviously wouldn’t have to do that.

    • Thanks, but I gave up on the felting. It was incredibly expensive, because I only liked about one thing out of five. It just isn’t my craft. Oh well – now I’m on to learning how to sculpt the human face, something I’ve always been too chicken to do. And I’m having a lot more fun with it than I did with the felting.

  2. Jonni, I love the mocs. I made my first pair using a tutorial site from an Fiber Artist named Patricia Sparks: http://members.peak.org/~spark/spark.html
    I fulled them on my feet in the bathtub to get a perfect fit. It was cold and uncomfortable. I thought I would make more, but that hasn’t happened. They are a lot of work! I finished them with needle felted flowers for decoration.

    I have found a tutorial link to a site that instructs on how to make a shoe last that can be used to fell the the boots. They are almost like paper mache of your feet: http://www.sallypointer.com/shoelast.htm
    Some felt artists use a hand held sander to vibrate the wool during the felting process. It reallys speeds up, but it is dangerous to use a electrical tool when wet felting. They uses baggies to keep the machine dry, but I still think it is scary.
    I am sticking with needle felting. The only liquid is my blood when I stab myself!LOL!
    -Bonnie

    • Great links, Bonnie. Thanks for sharing. And I agree about the sander. I thought about using one, but I’m a real chicken when it comes to electricity. That’s why I’m inside at the computer right now, in fact (thunderstorm on the way 😉 )

      I’ll check out those lasts. I made a pair for my grandson’s mocs, out of the sole of a pair of flip-flops, a sock, stuffed with plastic bags, and covered with duct tape. There’s got to be an easier way. But mine did work just fine in the washing machine.

  3. jonni, great mocassins. wow! very impressive.

    I thought of you today when I seen all the wonderful new halloween masks on etsy…i thought to myself, gosh I wish Jonni would hold a Halloween Mask Party on her blog…where we could all make masks and upload pictures for you to share with your visitors. (however, I know how busy we can all get with other projects and knowing Halloween is just around the corner, maybe we just don’t have enough time this year anyway.) But it did sound like fun and I thought it would bring a smile to your face knowing we were thinking about you.

    • Ooh! An online mask party. That sounds fun – maybe we could even do another little free downloadable paper mache ebook, since the last one was so much fun. How do you envision the party actually being organized?

  4. Jonni,

    Your felt mocassins are wonderful!! Just wondering, though, are you still going to do paper mache? I really enjoy reading about your paper mache adventures, from planning stage to finished piece. I love the spirit of experimentation and trial and error in that medium that you are so willing to share with the world via your blog.

    Thank you,
    Lisa

    • Hi Lisa. I do hope to continue making paper mache sculptures. However, like most of us, my sculpting time has to fit in around other projects, like my garden and this new craft I’m learning. Summers don’t seem to leave much time for fun stuff. However, a Halloween witch keeps intruding on my thoughts, and it would be great fun to make one and put it out in front of the house next month. We’ll see.

  5. The slippers are beautiful and look like they’ll hold up to the wear and tear of a four year old. If you decide to start another blog I’m sure you’ll have plenty of followers. It seems like more and more people have gotten into felting.

  6. BEEEE-U-TEEEEEE-FUL!!! I am really appreciating the fact that there is so much thought and work that goes into something like this!
    And I love that you are experimenting for yourself to find a better way! Kinda like, let’s get to the fun part already! lol! That’s where ingenious ideas come from! Good luck and I just know you will find the perfect original technique created by you! Kinda like Jonni’s paper mache recipe! You go!! : )

  7. Hi,
    Just read your posting about making slippers…those are beautiful by the way! I used to make felted boxes and balls in the washing machine. Don’t know if you have tried this method, but you might find it helpful if you can incorporate it into your slippers.
    You will need a form…I was making boxes so I just used a piece of 2×4 or tennis ball, whatever appealed to me as a shape. For slippers, you would need a form shaped more like a foot…carved wood, maybe carved styroform that you waterproofed. I think it would need to be fairly stiff and should be light enough to float around when agitated in the machine..
    Then wrap your wool around the form thickly enough that it will not have thin spots after it felts down. You can use yarn to lightly tie it in place and for decoration. Then slip a length of nylon stocking over it and tie the ends to make a tight covering.
    You can throw this into the washing machine with hot water and maybe a little soap and run it through a cycle or two. Let it dry, check to see if it has felted as much as you want it to. You may wand to add more wool to areas for thickness or decoration and repeat the washing. When it looks right, remove the form.
    With trial and error you should be able to get any shape you desire. And then you can needle felt other parts to the basic shape: ie collars, tongues, decorative details.
    Good Luck,
    Patti

  8. Jonni, I’ve read the Irish women left their feltwork at the sea side and because of the salt water the fulling process was speeded up. I didn’t experimented with it yet but I thought it was intriguing.

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