Introduction: Up-cycled & Felted Sweater Slippers
This was a fun, gratifying and pretty quick project made from thrifted sweaters. This would make a great last-minute gift, as they went together in no time. They are slouchy, homely and hard to resist on a chilly day, and would be equally appreciated by both guys and girls.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
You will need a wool sweater (or two if you want your slippers multi-coloured), some wool yarn to attach the soles to the uppers, and a darning needle. I made a pattern for the foot with some newspaper.
I found a 100% wool sweater and washed & dried it several times to felt it. The fibres seized up and got worked together so tightly that it really changed the texture of the sweater completely. The other sweater was wool, but the percentage was unreadable (old sweater, old tag) and it did not felt at all. As you'll see, I used the thick and plushy felted sweater for the soles, and the other wool sweater for the uppers.
Step 2: Make Your Pattern
I had intended on giving these as a gift if they turned out, but didn't know the shoe size of the recipient. I traced about 3/4 of an inch around the outside of my foot. The slippers are a smidge too big, but not much, so if you are making yourself a pair, keep pretty close to your actual foot size. Having never made these before, I really didn't know how much wiggle room I'd need; turns out, not much.
Step 3: Make One for the Other Foot
I labelled them, although it was pretty obvious which was which.
Step 4: Cut Out Soles
To get the most flat and useable area out of my sweater, I sliced up the seam under the arm of each sleeve. I laid the sleeve out flat and cut two pieces of the sole out of one sleeve. I put them together and decided that each slipper would have two layers of this scrummy felted sweater as sole. Cut two for each foot.
Step 5: Match Up the Soles
I put the two pairs together and made sure they were the same size and trimmed any uneven areas.
Step 6: Get Your Other Sweater
There are likely a dozen or more ways you could do this. My original plan was decidedly more complicated. When I went to cut up the other sweater, I saw the perfectly good cuff of the sleeve and thought, 'how handy to be able to use that and avoid any hand or machine sewing, or any other monkey business'. Lo and behold, I had this super-awesome idea to cut the sleeve and simply sew the sleeve onto the sole.
I started by cutting the sleeve off at the shoulder. Then I put my foot in the cuff from the 'hand' end. I pulled it up to roughly where I'd want it, if the slippers had been for me; mid to low calf. I then sliced across the sleeve on the diagonal. The angle you slice it at will depend on your shoe size. This is not precise and it really doesn't have to be. When you pin your upper to your sole, you can stretch where you need to, to make it work.
Step 7: Start Pinning
I really hate pins and rarely pin if I can get away with it. This is not one of those times. Get out your pins and beginning at the heel, pin the seam of the sweater sleeve you cut off, to the middle of the heel on the sole. Try to match up the edges the best you can.
Then go to the toe and place one pin there, pinning the upper to the sole.
Work your way around the remainder of the slipper, stretching where you need to. The sweater I used had a bit of give, as it had not felted. If you end up using a felted sweater for this step, you may need to work it and stretch it out to persuade it to do what you want it to!
Step 8: Repeat With the Other Slipper
Get your second slipper to the same point. Mass production, people!
Step 9: Get Ready to 'blanket Stitch'
I used cotton yarn, as it was all I was able to procure in my small town. I'm not a knitter and don't have a stash, but if I was, I would have used real wool for this step. The cotton really dragged as I sewed, and I think the cotton and the wool of the slippers reacted to eachother like the hooks and loops of velcro.
So if at all possible, use wool yarn for this step. Pull off a very long piece (1 1/2-2 metres) to avoid having to knot part way through and beginning again with a new piece. It's a little unwieldy at first, but after a while you get a rhythm going and it's no biggie.
Begin by burying your knot in between the two layers of sole. Then bring your needle back to the sole, go up about 1/8" from the edge, through all three layers and come out the top, also 1/8" from the edge, but to your left 1/4" or so. Now, put your needle back through the sole and up through the three layers, but you want to 'catch' the loop of the yarn. This is really awfully hard to explain and even document by photo by myself. I've included a picture with more detail. (I know it's upside down! I stitch right to left, so this image is most helpful, in my opinion!)
You could also just whip-stitch them together, but it wouldn't look half as smart. But I don't want to sound like a snob or anything. Rather than dissuade you altogether from making them, whip-stitch would work fine! :)
Step 10: Continue Around the Slipper
Working carefully to be sure the stitch lengths are the same, all neat and tidy, continue around the slipper.
Step 11: Hide Your Knots
Once you have blanket-stitched your way around the slipper. slip the needle through to the inside and knot your yarn a few times as close to where the upper and sole meet as you can. Feeling a knot while lounging would be ultra-annoying, no?
Step 12: Try on Your Plush New Slips!
The soles are so soft and squishy, it's like walking on a cloud! They felt so cozy the minute I put them on. They may be a touch on the granola side, but they could be dolled up with some easy embroidered daisies. They could also be made non-slip with some puff paint on the soles.