It was 1 am the morning of my daughter’s first day of kindergarten…for which slippers are required for each child (naturally!)…and there I was, squinting in tiredness, fingers dull with pain – sewing her slippers by hand, just me and the crickets and the lamp – feeling very much like the shoemakers elves indeed! As I inwardly cursed for attempting such a task (and the night before school no less), calculating the hours of my time spent and the fact that I could have bought a pair on etsy for $20, my thoughts turned towards my sweet little new kindergartner – skipping over to pop her slippers on during class and proudly telling her little friends ‘and my mumma MADE THEM’ (with wide and proud eyes, of course!). Yes, the whole making-it-myself-and-teaching-my-child-where-things-come-from fiasco had got the better of me again. But let me tell you – once those slippers were complete, I was pretty darn proud of myself! I mean – I made a pair of slippers! From scratch! I’ve never let such an idea even enter my head before, although having said that – as a child I distinctly remember a pair of homemade flip-flops in the dress up box that my dad had made from an old car tire and some pantyhose. So maybe shoemaking is just part of my DNA, my destiny? I’m not sure, my fingers are still sore from all the hand-stitching and causing me to just type any old thing. Anyway, the slippers were a success (as in, they didn’t fall apart after one day of use), and I even got an email from the teacher swooning over my brilliance! I guess she didn’t look closely at the shaggy bits and uneven stitches.
Anyway – now that I have you fully convinced that late night slipper-making is where it’s at, I’ll share with you my simple pattern and ‘winging-it’ way of crafting a pair for your own little darling (or yourself!) whether they require them for school or just styling it up around the house. If you’re really clever you might start a little factory line of slippers (remember child labor isn’t illegal if you’re paying in brownies) to make as gifts for the upcoming holiday season…smart thinking hey?
The pattern included is to fit approximately a child age 18 -24 months. It can easily be adapted for an older or younger child by enlarging/shrinking on a photocopy machine. Or, you can do what I did and trace around you child’s shoe to get the sole, and then cut out a horseshoe shape that is approx 1” longer and 1” wider than the sole piece.
*Pure wool felt (try looking online, or at a quilting store for 100% wool felt. Much better for your child than synthetic felt and will stay nicer looking too.)
*Jiffy grip (the non-slip fabric for the soles, available at fabric stores, or online).
Cut pattern out and pin pieces to felt/fabric/jiffy grip and cut. You will need 2 x pieces of the horseshoe in felt AND fabric, and 2 x pieces of the sole in felt, fabric and jiffy grip. Save yourself some time and fold your felt or fabric in half to pin the pattern on, this way you get both pieces cut at once – amazing!
Begin with the soles (because it’s the easier bit!). Sandwich the felt in between the fabric and jiffy grip. The jiffy grip faces down, felt goes on top, and then fabric on top of that with the pattern facing up. Pin together.
Either hand-stitch with the embroidery thread (an oversewing stitch – rustic is ok!), or use your sewing machine to secure these 3 pieces together. Go here for some basic handsewing instructions, including the oversewing stitch: http://www.alternative-windows.com/stitches.htm
Now for the top part. There are 2 ways you can do this – the first I did on the aqua felt slippers, I simply laid the cotton fabric against the felt and did the oversewing stitch to secure the two pieces together. The navy blue pair however, I laid the patterned fabric face down onto the felt, used my sewing machine to sew around the inside and out (leaving the 2 ends open), and then with a safety pin pushed the piece the right way out. Do whichever seems less confusing for you to get the cotton fabric lining the inside of the felt. Once the cotton is attached to the felt, sew the 2 ends together.
Time to put top and bottom together! Pin the front of the upper slipper piece to the sole piece. Pinching the top/bottom pieces together, begin from the back to stitch the two. Again I used the oversewing stitch. On the aqua pair, once I had been around one time, I went around again creating little criss-crosses for extra security and detail. Tie off loose thread with a small knot on the inside of the slipper.
To ensure a snug fit, sew a small piece of elastic or elastic lace to the inside of the slipper.
Embellish with buttons, fabric flowers or other detail! Place finished slippers on a gold velvet pillow, pat yourself on the back and get some well deserved rest!