Alright, let’s fix them
Back in early August, The Boy got a pair of the spiffy Allbirds shoes (the ones made of wool!) to wear as slippers. He likes them and has worn them around the house for the last few months. However, come the end of December, it became clear there was a problem. The lining of the shoes had worn through over his big toes, and the outer layer of fabric was starting to get thin. If we didn’t do something, there would soon be a hole.
We didn’t really want to buy new ones (especially if they only last 5 months…), and they were in otherwise good shape, so I thought I’d see if I could fix them. (EDITED TO ADD: the patch didn’t hold, the shoes continued to fall apart, the company wasn’t helpful when I contacted them about their shoes falling apart after less than six months, I cannot recommend getting these shoes.)
Needle felting seemed like the best bet. I had the wool on hand (I also had some less colorful wool in the stash, but The Boy liked these…please don’t write to me and tell me I’m a monster for putting something colorful on a guy’s shoes — it will annoy me, and it won’t change the shoes). I bought a felting needle and some foam and started experimenting.
I started by cutting the foam down to fit in the shoe so I’d have a firm backing behind the fabric to stab into. Then I pulled off a tuft of the yellow wool, set it over the thin spot, and started stabbing.
It stuck just fine (which makes sense…wool sticks to wool). I kept building up the yellow, making it thickest where the hole was, and then added on some orange, again making it thickest where the existing fabric had worn thin. A little bit of purple finished it out.
When I pulled out the foam and put my hand in, I could totally feel where the wool and poked through and reinforced the whole area. I suspect it will continue to felt down and tighten up as they’re worn over the next few weeks. I’ll report back later in the year and let you know how its holding up.
I think this will solve the problem. The worn spot is much thicker and sturdier now, and it seems like the patch will hold. I won’t know for sure until they get some more wear on them, and I’m a little bugged that the shoes needed a repair after less than six months, but with any luck, this should make them last a lot longer!
UPDATE: Alas, the patch totally didn’t hold, at least not for long. There just isn’t enough room in those shoes for those toes, and it keeps wearing through. If Allbirds changes their shape, maybe they’d work. But until then, they’re not a good fit for these feet.