Saturday, February 06, 2010

Let me Point(er) you in the right direction!

Hi Hi!

I just logged onto your blog for the first time. Wow! what great information and photographs. Thanks for taking the time to record this stuff. I like it way better than looking at books....

Anyway, about my question: Do you have something in your archives about making a shoe last? I see you used duck tape, but I can't picture how you get that off someone’s leg?

I understand if this information is confidential...

Thank you,


Welcome Leaha!  And thanks for the kind words.

Just to remind everyone my shoe lasts look like this:


And I was remiss in my earlier post – I should have credited Sally Pointer with teaching me how to make these.

Sally loves all things manyevil medieval – you really should brew a good cup of tea before sitting down to explore her site – you’ll be there for a while, there is much there to drool look over.

The shoe last tutorial itself is right here.  To Sally’s excellent instructions I would add these notes gleaned from making my own lasts and 12 pairs with Class 7 at the Nelson Waldorf School earlier this winter. (pictures of the kids’ completed slippers coming just as soon as they complete them)

Use a really thin knee high sock and as few layers of tape as you can get away with so that you don’t accidentally add a half a size to your last. 

I found that when I stuffed them the bottoms wanted to bow out which would have made slippers too narrow for my already hopelessly narrow feet! So I suggest you stand on cardboard and draw around each foot. Cut those out just inside the marked line so that when you stand on them you can’t see them.  Just don’t reduce them by too much so the finished lasts will still be your size.

Cut pieces of duck duct tape to apply to the bottom of these templates that overhang them by several inches.  Stand on the templates and fold the tape up onto your sock.  They will end up encased in the last and the cardboard will keep the bottom of the last flat making stuffing them much easier.  Alternatively you could pull the sock over the template and your foot and save an awkward moment in the taping.  (wish that had occurred to me before!)

Use a sock that is taller than the planned last.  Fold the top down over your first layer of tape but try not stretch it too much.  With your next layer of tape go over that extra layer of sock.  This stops the sock from pulling away from the tape and collapsing when you cut it off your foot.  The less the sock is stretched the less it will curl when you are cutting into it.

I used a pair of cast scissors to cut the lasts off.  Regular scissors will work too just be careful.  I cut down the inside of my calf, behind my ankle bone and all the way to the sole plate. Then I removed my foot as carefully as possible. For some of the kids with wider feet cutting down the outside of their calf worked better.  And for some we had to make a second small cut at the heel. Once your foot is out just tape over whatever cuts you had to make.

I’ve heard that Pixie and Moss stuff their lasts with popcorn so that they can open the top of the last after the boot is tightly felted and collapse it to remove it.  I haven’t tried that yet but it sounds like a good idea.  My whale slippers are actually slightly too large, perhaps because I took the lasts out while the booties were wet so they stretched a bit.  Make sure you visit their Etsy site to see the fabulous boots and needlefelted sculptures they make.

I don’t use a washer in the making of my slippers so I can’t speak to that but for hand felted slippers you can’t beat a good last.  Well……………….actually you can………….which is part of the point really.

Blessings & Good Cheer


whose son, Hair One, once declared that he was studying the Manyevil Period when knights were gallant and maidens fair.

Oh and all puns intended albeit not necessarily very good


Abigail Thomas said...

thank you for sharing!

martine said...

thanks for that, I had a slipper failure recently and have been planning another try, this will really help
much love martine

Helen + ilana = Hi said...

Abigail - You are most welcome.

Martine - Send me photos of your recalcitrant slippers -- we'll figure first what went wrong and second how to fix it! Remember my burnt slippers -- repeat after me, I believe!

Heather Woollove said...

Thank you SO much for this post! I tried making lasts a few months ago, but I purposely made them oversized and I didn't realize that I could do some of the (tiring) felting in the washing machine, if I had made the proper- sized lasts. Check out my attempt here, if you want:
I plan to make some new ones today, thanks to you!! Hugs-

flying fish said...

Coolness! I Think I must make a last or two last, clear instructions on how to make them firm on the bottom!


I have always used the lasts to shape when drying rather than the felting. So make them flat with a
plastic or bubble wrap inside. I have a flat felting machine but you can also use a sander to get them started and then finish in the washing machine. But the last is needed to stretch out and shape them. So I like this idea of using the socks to make the last. But am wondering what to put inside to make them firmer like the wooden lasts.