These lovely warm slippers can be made in an evening if you are stitching by hand. If you have a sewing machine you could whip up a few more pairs!
I have made a padded leather sole for mine because we have freezing cold floors, but this embellishment can easily be left out.
• An old pure wool jumper that has felted (wash it in a hot wash and tumble dry), alternatively you could use thick synthetic fleece.
• Strong tissue paper but newspaper or kitchen roll would do.
• Some strong darning wool or thread in either a matching or contrasting colour to your jumper.
• Leather ( I used the sleeve of an old jacket)
• Padding material (I used insulation wool that we get as packaging in our meat box delivery from Riverford (www.riverford.co.uk), which is naughty as we are supposed to give it back.. perhaps they ought to sell it!)
• Extra strong thread
• Darning needle, pins
• Tape measure
• Sewing machine with size 16 needle
• Set square
Step 1: Making the pattern
Example (my measurements)
A = Height of arch 16cm
T = Arch to toe 13 1/2cm
H = Under ankle to arch 25cm
A/4 = ¼ height of arch 4cm
A/4 plus 3cm 7cm
Step 2: The sole pattern
1. Put your foot on the tissue paper (about a centimetre from the edge) and draw round it.
2. Take your foot off the paper and smooth the lines out, make the heel slightly wider and the toe end slightly flatter (see the red lines in the photo)
3. Cut it out leaving 1cm seam allowance all round. Use this shape to cut an identical one for the other foot
Step 3: The toe piece pattern
1. Locate the ‘arch’ of your foot (see photos and Tip). Mark this point with a pen.
2. Measure the distance from the ground, over the mark on the top of your foot to the ground on the other side. This is the height of your arch (Line A). It helps to draw this line on your foot.
3. Now measure from this line to the end of your longest toe. This is the ‘arch to toe’ (Line T) length.
4. On your paper, draw a line the length of your ‘height of arch (A)’ and mark it’s midpoint.
5. From the midpoint, draw another line at right angles to the first one, the length of arch to toe (T).
6. Fold the paper in half along the arch to toe (T) line and draw a smooth curve between the end of the lines (see photo) Cut out the shape with a 1cm seam allowance all round.
7. Use this shape to cut an identical one for the other foot.
Tip - Locating the arch: This is on the uppermost surface of your foot, about half way between your inward facing ankle bone and the joint at the beginning of your big toe (lift your big toe up and this joint is where the crease is).
Step 4: The heel piece pattern
1. Measure from the arch line on the inside of your foot, under the inner ankle bone, round your heel and just over the outer ankle bone to the arch line on the outer side of your foot. This is the under ankle to arch (H) length.
2. Draw a line this long on the paper and mark its midpoint.
3. At both ends of the under ankle to arch (H) line draw a short line at right angles which is ¼ of the height of the arch (A/4) (i.e. divide the measurement you took for height of arch when you made the toe piece and divide by 4 , e.g. if the height of the arch is 16cm, this will be 16/4 = 4cm)
4. From the midpoint of the under ankle to arch (H) line, draw another line at right angles which is the length of A/4 plus 3cm. e.g. 7cm in my case.
5. Fold the paper in half along this midway line and draw a very slightly curved line from the end of A/4 +3 line to the end of A/4. When you open it out you should not have a point at the fold line- this needs to be a gently curving line.
6. Leaving a seam allowance of 1cm all round, cut out the shape and an identical one for the other foot.
Step 5: Yay- your pattern!
Well done- that bit was hard work!
The circumference of the sole seam line should be the same as the curved sides of the toe and heel piece added together. You can test this using wool to measure the curves (obviously not slack like in this photo!
If you are nervous about your pattern or have very precious fabric, you may want to assemble the pattern to check that it works. Follow the ‘assembly’ step but just use a running stitch because it’s much quicker.
Step 6: Cutting out your fabric pieces
2. Lay out your tissue paper pieces on your fabric and cut them out. I managed to get them all out of two sleeves. (I made another type of slipper first from my jumper (see this instructable)
Leather sole option
Cut one of each sole piece from leather and one of each from padding.
• Remember to turn one of your sole pieces so that you have a right and left, not two lefts.
• If possible align the straight edge of the toe piece along a cuff or bottom hem as this will save you some sewing later. If you can do this you will not need the seam allowance on the straight edge because your seam is already finished so align the drawn line with the edge of the fabric you are using rather than the cut edge of your pattern.
• If you are not using leather+ padding as a sole, you may want to cut two pieces for each sole to give you more padding/ insulation
I used the shiny side of the leather as the outside surface and the suede on the inside. They are a little slippery on wooden floors so you may want to try suede side out.
Step 7: Assembly: the upper
1. Hem the straight edge of the toe piece (line A) by folding the seam allowance to the right (top) side of the fabric and stitching by hand (overedge stitch/ running stitch or back stitch) using the darning wool or you could use a machine. I did not need to do this as I used the cuff so the seam was already finished. (See next step for how to do the stitches).
2. With right/top sides up, align the short seam line of the heel piece (A/4) with the straight edge seamline (A) of the toe piece so that the toe piece overlaps the heel piece and the straight sides form an L and the curved seams are aligned.
3. Starting at the bottom (the curved side) secure the thread by stiching over the edge a couple of times then backstitch the two pieces together (see the next step for how to backstitch) or machine stitch them together.
4. Turn the pieces over and overcast/oversew the flap of heel piece to the toe piece (wrong side)
5. Curve the other end of the heel piece round to meet the other end of the toe piece (seam A) and repeat.
6. Hem the straight side of the heel piece in a similar way to the toe piece (you could easily do this before you attach the two bits together instead)
7. Hooray- you’ve finished the upper… It’s looking more shoe like now.
• Mark the midpoint of both your pieces with a pin (I’ve used a red one in the photos). This will simplify things later when you come to attach the sole.
Step 8: Tip: How to backstitch and overedge stitch
• Basically, with the right side up, bring the needle up through the fabric one stitch length ahead of where you want to start(A). Next push your needle down at the start point (B)(i.e. back a stitch) and then bring it back up one stitch ahead of where your thread currently comes out of the fabric(C). Pull the thread tight and you should have done your first stitch.
• Put your needle in exactly where your first stitch began (A) and come up one stitch ahead (D) of where your thread currently comes out which should now be C. Pull tight and keep going!
Overedge stitch- This is a way of securing a free edge of fabric that can be quite invisible. I have adapted this stitch to use it to secure the hem too.
• Secure the thread by stitching a couple of times in the same place, then bring the needle up through the hem about half way between the fold and the edge.
• Push the needle through the fabric just below the free edge at an angle so that you come back through slightly further to the left halfway between the fold and the free edge again.
• Continue all the way to the end and secure the thread by stitching two or three times over the same stitch.
Step 9: Assembling the sole
Leather/ padding options.
For the sole you can keep it really simple by just using one or two layers of woollen fabric. I wanted more cushioning so I added some padding and some leather.
If you are using a single layer of wool you can leave this section out
1. Make a sandwich of sole pieces remembering to have a right and left, not two of one side
2. Hand stitch (backstitch) together around the seamline. If you are using leather this will be MUCH easier by machine.
Step 10: Putting the Sole and Upper together
1. With the sole piece sole down mark the midpoint of the heel and the toe end with pins. Place the upper (right side out) on the sole, aligning the midpoint of the heel piece and toe piece to the sole first and then pinning all the other edges.
2. Blanket stitch together the edges (see tip in next step). I just blanket stitched the two fabric edges together, and left out the leather, as I thought the leather may protect the stitches from wear a little bit.
Wear with glee!
Step 11: Tip: How to blanket stitch
It is similar to overedge/ oversew/ overcast stitch except that you push the needle through the loop you create before you pull it tight. It is easiest worked from left to right and uses LOTS of thread.
• Secure your thread as before and squashing both layers of fabric between thumb and forefinger, bring the needle up in the gap between the layers. (so it comes out at the top of your seam)
• With your thumb hold the thread down and push the needle through from the back about 1/2cm to the right and about 1 cm in from the edge (or as close as the sole seam will allow) so that the needle comes through a loop you have just created. If the needle doesn’t go through the loop this will end up as an overcast stitch.
• As you lift your thumb up to release the thread, and pull the stitch tight it you can see the loop you have made. If you forgot to go through the loop you can always pop your needle through at this stage.
• Pull tight and your thread should then cause your loop to right angle over it creating the ‘bar’ over the space between the two pieces of fabric and your thread is in the right place for the next stitch.
• Continue round and finish by securing threads as before.