There has been some "buzz" about my chair "footies" online since the AOE On-Line Conference & being one of the 25 Clever Classroom Tips For Elementary Teachers featured on BUZZFEED. Some of it good....and some...not so good. I believe you need to find what works for YOU in YOUR ART ROOM! I don't have all the answers...I just put my thoughts & such online. Take what you like...leave what you don't.
First...if you aren't sure what I'm talking about....look at this instructional link from my blog
Here is the article from BuzzFeed. They kind of messed up the title...but that was not my doing. I'm still honored to be on this list!!!
ADDRESSING THOSE THAT THINK CHAIR FOOTIES ARE STUPID
Like I said above...."Take what you like...leave what you don't!" HOWEVER...some of the issues you were listing I may have some answers for you!
THEY FALL OFF: Well...this does happen from time to time. However, it is usually because the rubber bands were not twisted around enough times. It has to be pretty tight!!! Sometimes the rubber band will also have snapped...and you might not realize it till the footie comes off. If you go with the thin rubber bands...they might break on you!! Go up in thickness..and this should reduce the issue.
THEY SHRED/FALL APART: I've had this happen many times over the years. What I've realized is...not all felt is created equal. Look at the image below.
If you can see through it like this...it is extremely thin. I will say that this seems to be more predominant in the lighter colors. As you can see...I did find a yellow that was much thicker and should hold up fairly well! When you buy the pre-cut pieces at a store...you should really look at what you are getting! In the same stack...of the same color....there can be huge variation. There is also the option of buying felt from the bolt at a local craft/fabric store(please use a coupon...they are good for 1 cut usually when it comes to fabric). For some reason...bolt felt seems to be thicker?!?! Though..I would check it before buying. You never know...there could be variation in it as well!!
My first year of teaching...I tried this with cotton fabric. NOT GOOD! ha ha It worked for awhile, but did not hold up. I then tried the felt...and it worked...FOR ME. There are teachers that love the tennis balls!! I just think you need to find something that works for you!
Hopefully if you are going to give this a try in your room....you'll have read this before purchasing your felt!