Introduction: Suede Slipper Soles

I love having cozy crochet or knit slippers to wear around the house, especially during these cold Canadian winters. But when most of the floors in our house are not carpeted... wearing slippers can be a little slippery! I like to add suede or leather soles to the bottoms of my knit/crochet slippers. This not only makes them more durable and warm, but it makes me much less likely to slip around when walking on the smooth floors!

This instructable will walk you through the steps of adding slipper soles to any of your handmade slippers.

Step 1: Materials

These are the materials you will need to complete your project. I've included some links to the materials I used. A lot of my materials came from Tandy Leather as I enjoy doing leatherwork occasionally, but you can probably find something comparable at large craft stores.

Step 2: Making the Sole Template

  1. Place your slipper on top of a piece a paper. Depending on whether it is a knit or crochet slipper and how stretchy it is, you may need to do this step with your foot in the slipper. As these were very bulky, not too stretchy crochet slippers, I could get away with putting my foot in the slipper on the paper then carefully removing my foot before tracing. In the past though I have added soles to knit slippers with a lot of stretch to them. In this case, you would need to be wearing the slipper to stretch it to the proper size before you trace it (as the suede will not have stretch to it when it is added).
  2. Trace around the outside of the slipper with a pencil. When you have gone all the way around the slipper you can remove it from the paper and smooth up the outline of the slipper so it is nice and even.
  3. Now that I have the outline of the soles, I like to add two things to my template that are optional. I like to have the suede wrap up a bit over the toe end of the slipper, so I add a little bit at the top for that. I also make a separation between the top of the slipper and the bottom (with about 3/4 - 1 inch separation). Because the suede will not stretch, this give a little bit of stretching wiggle room to the slipper after the sole is attached. The separation should happen a little closer to the back of the slipper (not right in the middle) , the heel section will be smaller than the front section. I like to round the edges where I've created the separation.
  4. Once you have your template sketch finalized go over it with a marker or pen. If you have a lot of extra pencil lines this makes things less confusing when you start to cut it out. If you've created separation between top and bottom you will need to note that on the pieces. If you are making soles for several different slippers at the same time, you should note on the template which set it belongs to. (In this case, I was making a set of 3 slippers in small, medium and large for guest use. Size medium is shown in this instructable)
  5. Cut out your template pieces. You can hold them up to your slippers before you move on to the next step to make sure they are what you want. It's much easier (and cheaper!) to change it now before you start cutting into your leather or suede.

Step 3: Cutting the Soles

  1. The suede is slightly different on the two sides, a smoother side and a more textured side. I like to have the more textured side facing out for my soles. Pick which side you would like to have facing out of the slipper, you will trace your slipper template onto the other side so that your marks don't show when you are done.
  2. Trace all your pieces onto the suede. Write on them to note which pieces they are and what slipper they will belong to.
  3. Cut out your sole pieces. I used a cheap rotary cutter, but anything that is sharp enough to cut the suede will do (like heavy duty scissors, a sharp craft knife or a leather cutting knife)

Step 4: Punch the Holes

  1. Use a leather punch to make holes all the way around the edges of the soles. The leather punch set that I have has several different sizes. Since I was using a chunky yarn to sew the soles on I used a large punch size. If I were to be using a thinner yarn weight I would use a smaller punch size. The leather punch I used requires a poly board (cutting board), rubber mallet and the leather punch. There are also punches in this style - which wouldn't require the board or the mallet.

Step 5: Attaching the Suede Soles

  1. Use stitch markers or safety pins to get the soles in place on the bottom of the slippers. If they are stretch slippers you will need to wear them at this stage (or find a way to stuff them to the right size with newspaper). I start by attaching the bottom piece at the back middle of the heel. Then I attach it at both sides at the separation edge of the bottom. Depending on the slipper you are using you can try to line it up with the rows of the slipper to get a straight even edge. Next, I take the top piece and attach it to the middle of the toe end. My sole is made to slightly wrap around the toe end of the slipper. Then I attach the separation edge of the top, making sure that there is some space between the top and bottom to allow for some stretch. Lastly, I attach it in a few places along the sides of the slippers to keep everything in place while I sew it together. I pin both soles into place before I start sewing so I can make sure that they look the same.
  2. Using a yarn needle and yarn, sew the soles to the bottom of the slippers. I used the same yarn that I made the slippers with so that it blends in, but if you are looking for a contrast you could use a different colour of yarn. I sewed the pieces on in the same order that I attached them to the slipper with the pins (starting with the middle of the heel and the middle of the toe. If you are sewing soles onto stretchy slippers, make sure that you have added pins/markers in a lot of places so that you know how far you need to stretch the slippers when you are sewing the soles into place.

And you are done! Enjoy your more durable, less slippery slippers!

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