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Kirsten's Felt Slippers
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Designed by Myra Arnold
arnol005@maroon.tc.umn.edu
in St. Paul Minnesota

I made felted slippers for Kirsten that look a lot like the one in the catalogue. My 9 year old daughter and I made two pair, one for her and one for a friend in two hours one Saturday afternoon. She was able to work alongside me and do everything I did. Her pair turned out just as good as mine. It was a very satisfying experience. If you have questions you can e-mail me. I would be interested to hear from anyone who tries this about how it turned out.

Materials

Pattern

To make pattern place doll's foot on a sheet of paper and trace around. Draw another line 3/4" around the outside of the first line. Cut out on the outer line. Use paper pattern to cut out the cotton fabric.

Layer wool

Separate the 1 oz. of wool into 2 equal parts, 1/2 oz for each slipper. Lay one part aside. This is for the second slipper. Divide remaining 1/2 oz. into 2 equal parts. Set one part aside. Divide remaining 1/4 oz. into 4 equal parts.

Arrange your cutting board so that in sits inside your sink. I turn a plastic dish pan upside down inside the sink and place the cutting board on top of this. Now I can work at a comfortable height and all the extra water will run down into the sink.

Place your cloth pattern on the cutting board. Take one of the piles of wool that you divided into 4 parts and pinch off a fingerful and lay it across the cloth pattern. Keep pinching off SMALL fingerfulls and laying them down over the pattern so that the fibers all lie in the same direction, covering the pattern, until this bunch is all laid down. Now take up the next bunch of wool and lay these down so that the fibers are perpendicular to the first layer. Repeat with the remaining two bunches, laying each bunch down perpendicular to the layer below. Pull out the fabric piece from the bottom of the pile of wool and place it on top of the wool in the center.

Wetting the wool

Mix up 2 cups of HOT tap water with a squirt of dish detergent. Pree down on the fabric with your fingers, compressing the wool underneath. Pour hot soapy water onto the fabric and wool, but not trying to wet the surrounding wool. Gently massage the fabric and underlying wool, while pressing down. This motion will begin to felt the wool.

When you feel that the wool underneath the fabic is matted down, gather the surrounding wool up over the fabric, overlapping edges of wool at the center. Pull, ease, and smooth the wool to form an oval. Soak the whole thing with soapy water.

GENTLY massage the top of the wet wool bundle. Do not work around the outside edges yet.

Take the other pile of wool that is left for this slipper and make four layers as before. Place the wet, partially felted oval on top of this new pile, seam side down. Rewet center, press down and massage. Gather edges up and over, overlapping, wet and massage. Turn over and massage. Finally, begin to work the very edges of the bundle. Keep wetting with the soap solution. Make more solution as needed. As the wool felts, you can massage more and more vigorously. If some strands won't felt onto the the mass, you can cut these off.

Cutting the opening

When the whole thing seems to really hang together and the outside surface is well-felted, you can cut the slit for the opening. Just a little ways from one end of the oval, push scissors into batting until point touches fabric. Cut a slit big enough to slide two fingers inside. Felt the edges of the slit first to keep the hole from stretching. Then insert fingers, rub inside and outside of slipper vigorously, shaping as you go. Remove pattern.

Work the inside bottom of slipper where the fabric was, to felt it. Work on heel, felting and shaping it with upward movements of your hand to elevate heel. Continue to rub slipper inside and out, rubbing in a circular motion.

Shrinking the slipper

When the whole sipper is well-felted, it will still be too big. Don't be alarmed! Rinse the slipper in COLD WATER. Flatten and fold the slipper and rub the two surfaces together bruskly. Flatten and fold the other way and rub. Pour on HOT water, fold and rub both ways. Keep on alternating cold and hot water and keep on rubbing the folded fabric agaist itself. Try on the sipper often to check for fit. Remember that shrinking cannot be reversed! If you can't get it small enough turn the whole thing inside out. Usually this makes it small enough. When it fits, rinse it out well, squeeze out and shape. Set out to air dry.

Make the other slipper.

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