For Wammy

Wammy, who commented on the previous post about the felted baby shoes , asked a good question about using sweaters as construction materials.

I will admit right up front that I am no expert at all in this area. I saw it done somewhere on the web, I thought about it for a long time, I went to my favorite thrift store and found some wool sweaters, purchased them and then they sat around for quite awhile waiting for inspiration to strike.

You must use wool sweaters for felt. Wool is a springy fiber which hooks and intertwines together when wet and heated. So, a knitted wool item, after being wet, heated and agitated, becomes a felted wool item. Because the fibers are interlocked with each other after the felting process, they no longer unravel.

The very pleasant thing about purchasing wool sweaters from a thrift store, is that they are usually cheap because the owner has inadvertently, at least partially, pre-felted the sweaters for you. The poor sweaters are usually hanging askew, looking a bit sad and shrunken. Bad for the fashionista; good for the crafty mamma.

I threw the sweaters in the laundry with other like-colored clothes and ran them through a long hot cycle. Then into the dryer to dry them on hot. Voila, they came out as teeny tiny sweater-shaped pieces of felt. :-)

When making up the shoes, I found that the striped felt I used for the toe-piece of the shoes was not probably as densely felted as it could have been. I went ahead and made them anyway, because I know by now that if I get the bug to do something, I better go ahead and do it or I'll never get back to it.

The pattern for the shoes calls for lining pieces -- the small little thin bits that line the shoelace area and the heel. I wanted those lining pieces to be sturdy, soft, and unable to ravel. So I used a felt square from my kids' stash -- yes, that ubiquitous synthetic craft felt-- as material for the lining.

Once the sweaters are felted and you have a suitable lining, the rest of the make-up is just like sewing anything else. I opted to sew the little shoes by hand, because they were fiddly.

Baby is still wearing the shoes, and I have found that not re-felting the stripey sweater has caused wear in the toe area because of his crawling. But they are still awfully cute.

I hope that helps, Wammy! Thanks for commenting.
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