General ramblings

The Great Slipper Make. Finally….

October 23, 2012

If any of you have been following on Facebook or Twitter , you will know I have been banging on endlessly about making some slippers for some time now. I have even created a Slippers board on Pinterest, and run a poll on Facebook to help me decide which ones to make…

I never imagined myself to be the sort of person who would end up making their own slippers (after all, I’m so hip and cutting edge…) but here I am, sat proudly wearing my very own pair of homemade slippers. How life changes…

So, of the various options I found trawling Pinterest and Instructables (both awesome sites for inspiration and tutorials on just about anything you may ever want to make or mend), I went with these beauties for me from Homemade Holiday Gifts

primarily because they looked the easiest, and promised they could be done in an evening! And I think they look pretty cool too.

The tutorial I followed is in the link above, and is great, but I thought I would cobble together my own version, in a slightly more noddy like format.

Supplies needed:

  • a wool jumper-has to be at least 80% wool, and keep an eye out for a handwash only symbol on the label. You will be (intentionally) shrinking it, so the last thing you want is something that has been treated to make it safe to machine wash)
  • some A4 paper and a pen
  • a ruler/tape measure
  • a marker pen
  • some scissors
  • a big needle
  • some wool-ideally in colour that match /complement your jumper
  • patches of suede or similar if you want to ‘non-slip’ the bottom-mine were from a charity shop suede skirt that I picked up for less than £5, and that will hopefully provide enough patches for all of our slippers

I had previously scoured the charity shops/car boots for suitable supplies. You may be surprised at how hard it is to find 100% wool jumpers. I was. Most jumpers nowadays are made for modern day living and machine washing, and consequently not suitable. Make sure you check out the men’s section, as there are often some nice big woolly jumpers there. Alternatively, if you have inadvertently shrunk a cherished jumper in the wash, then this is as ideal project to re-love it.

First, you need to felt your jumpers. This essentially means shrinking them. My understanding is that this is so that all the wool sticks together and won’t unravel when you cut it. Put your jumper into the washing machine on a hot wash. It helps if you put a pair of jeans or 2 in with it, as this bashes it about a bit more, and makes it felt better. I think I did 2 jumpers at the same time, with a pair of jeans, at 60C, with a normal speed spin etc. Then I laid them out flat to dry.

Then you need to make your pattern pieces. This sounds quite hardcore, but basically involves drawing around your own feet. Even I can manage this…

For the sole pieces:

Draw around your foot!

Then draw a kind of oval shape around your foot template going about 1cm wider around the sides and just a couple of mm above and below-hopefully the picture below will explain this better than I can

Does this make it any clearer??!

For the upper pieces:

Draw around your foot again on a new piece of paper. Then draw a smooth curved line about 0.5-1cm above your toes-when you get to your little toe and your big toe continue the curve around and then draw a straight line vertically down to the bottom of the paper.

You then need to cut out a rectangle (this is where your foot will ’emerge’ from the slipper)-mark about 3-3.5cm in from the edge of your straight lines at the bottom on either side. Then about 2/3 of the way up your foot shape, mark about 2.5cm in on wither side, and then join these points up to make a rectangle-again the picture below should help:

Now you are ready to cut out your fabric pieces!

Place your sole pattern piece on the wrong side of your felted jumper, draw around it with a marker pen, then flip the pattern piece over and repeat (to get a left and a right sole piece with the ‘pretty’ bit of your jumper showing on the outside)

Then place your upper pattern piece on the right side of you jumper and repeat the steps above so that you have a right and a left upper piece, with the nice pattern of your jumper (if it is patterned) showing on the upper side.

I wanted grippy bits in my sole pieces, as I was worried about skating around our tiled kitchen floor, and thought it would be a bit more hard wearing, so I cut 2 pieces out of suede skirt that were about 1cm smaller all around than my sole pattern piece.

I only thought of this after I had made my slippers, so I sewed these pieces on after they were made, but it would have been easier to do this BEFORE sewing the slipper together, which is why I am telling you now!

You then need a BIG needle, with a big eye hole, and some matching or contrasting wool.

Due to my lack of foresight, I neglected to place anything alongside the needle to give you any idea of scale, but this really is a big needle!

Blanket stitch around the edge of the suede piece. If you never blanket stitched before, or even heard of the term blanket stitching, there is a You Tube video here (by Gulf Coast Cottage) which I think shows you far better than I could try and explain it!    I didn’t tie a knot in the end of my wool as I thought this might be uncomfortable to walk on, I just did a ‘normal’ stitch at the beginning and went over it about 3 times.

It is quite tough to go through all the layers at once with your needle, so if you are struggling, pull your needle all the way through the suede bit before trying to go into the wooly bit (does that make sense?)

Once you have done this for both soles and have 2 lined sole bits, basically pin the 2 left foot bits together (place your pins parallel to the join, not perpendicular), wrong sides together. On one of mine for some reason, I needed to stretch it slightly to get the side bits to meet at the back. So place a couple of pins at the toes and then see if your bits will meet at the back. If they won’t, then don’t panic, just stretch the wool slightly as you are pinning around and the 2 side bits should meet just fine. If on the other hand, you have too much fabric at the back after pinning, then you can simply cut a bit off each side so that they can be pinned without any overlap.

Repeat for the right foot.

You should end up with something like this, and then you can try it on for good measure:

On this one, I had a slight overlap at the back, as you can see. I simply trimmed the overlapping bits, and pinned it again

Then you need to blanket stitch the two bits together. I am probably just being a bit dim, but I get very confused by blanket stitching, and have ended up with one slipper done with the parallel bits of the stitches on the upper piece (which is what we are aiming for I think) and one with them on the sole-DOH. They are both perfectly functional, but would not stand up to inspection by the W.I.

At the beginning,I just did 2 or stitches on top of each other, but you could tie a knot, and then when you start just sew one stitch through only the top layer and then your knot would be buried in between the two layers of fabric (genius-wish I had thought of this earlier…)

If you are clever than me, you can probably work out a way to incorporate the stitching up of the back piece into the rest of your sewing up, but I couldn’t, so I blanket stitched the sole and the upper piece together all the way around, and then returned to the back piece and did 2-3  x shaped stitches up the back:

Apologies for the slightly blurry photo-hopefully you get the idea

Then you need to make trim bit for around the top of your slippers. Measure around the opening of your slippers. From the wastiaband bit of your jumper (the ribby bit a the bottom) OR from the buttony bit if you are using a cardi, cut 2 strips that are  about 2-3cm shorter than you just measured, and about 3-4cm wide. (If you are a more exact sewer than me, then you should have 2 slippers that are identical in size. I do not. So I measured both of them seperately and cut the trim pieces appropriately)  Then pin the trim piece to your upper piece right sides together, and sew together with matching wool, using a back stitch (You Tube video here from Expert Village). You have to really stretch out the trim piece as you are sewing to make it fit around and this then ensures that your foot hole is nice and snug and your slipper stays on. Then you just basically fold the trim bit upwards, et voila!

I didn’t have enough waistband to do both slippers, so did the second one with just a normal strip of jumper. This didn’t work as well and is a bit floppy, possibly it needs the finished edge of the bottom bit of jumper to get it to hold it’s shape better. If you too don’t have enough wasitband, then maybe try the neck bit?

You can embellish your trim bit with buttons if you like, or just be lazy like me and leave it plain.

Then pop them on, and admire!!

Can you see my ‘floppy’ trim on the right slipper, and my rustic sewing, and my lack of matching thread…?? Other than that, they’re ok. Not the prettiest, and nowhere near as lovely as those in the original tutorial, but not bad for a first attempt and perfectly functional, and very toastyl!

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9 Comments

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  • Reply antoinette . (@divasupermum) April 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    brilliant, just love this

    • Reply Jen April 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Thanks 🙂

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