It’s late October, the evenings are drawing in and I’ve had the wood burner on – I feel the need for a pair of cosy slippers. For the last few years I have been wearing an old pair of sheepskin moccasins that I made for my late husband – they are far too big but I slopped around in them anyway for sentimental reasons. Now they have worn through at the toes and I think the time has come to let go. The soles are are made of sturdy moose hide (I was living in Canada at the time) and are still good, perhaps they can be salvaged as the starting point for a new pair.
A browse on my favourite ideas site, Pinterest revealed a myriad of brilliant handmade, upcycled, recycled, refashioned imaginative ideas for making slippers. I never fail to be amazed by the creativity floating around out there. I love the idea of needle felted ones, and the ones made out of old sweaters looked lovely and warm. I have a gorgeous heavy cableknit Aran sweater with a stain on the front that I can’t get rid of, I’ll use that to make the upper part of the slippers, perhaps with some needle felted decorations added.
Step one is to stick it in the washing machine on a super hot super long wash to shrink and mat the fibres together as much as possible. I could also have boiled it in a large pot on the stove but this wouldn’t have had the added felting effect of tossing it around in the washing machine – I don’t have a tumble dryer but this would also have increased the shrinking and felting of the wool. I’m not sure which method uses more energy and water – the washing machine I would guess.
While that’s going on I’ll make a pattern for the soles of my slippers by drawing around my foot on a piece of card. Cut it out, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance all around. Cut the soles from the moccasins, not forgetting to make left and right feet. You could simplify the pattern so it didn’t matter, but I want these to have a nice snug, well fitting feel.
To be honest the sheepskin and moosehide are both pretty tatty, but never mind, they’ll hang in there for a couple of years! New sheepskin would make a lovely sole.
Now, the pattern for the upper will take a bit of trial and error. I want a sort of low bootie that crosses over at the front. In the end, after a failure to work it out mathematically I just draped a piece of newspaper over my foot.
I managed to cut the pieces for the uppers out of the sleeves of the sweater, leaving the body for another project.
Sewing the uppers to the sole was tough – I had a good sharp sailmakers needle but I really needed a palm as well; ended up having to use pliers to pull the needle through the two layers of leather in the soles.
They’re very rustic, but quite fun and very warm. Just need a little decoration.