Author Archives: Penny Cameron

About Penny Cameron

I am a seamstress by trade; over the last half century (yikes!) I made or repaired just about anything that can be put together with a sewing machine. Everything from ultralight aircraft wings to wedding dresses, from the utilitarian to textile art. Lately my imagination has been captured by the idea of giving a new purpose to all those lovely handmade textiles languishing in bottom drawers everywhere. The stuff that we hang onto for sentimental reasons but never actually use. So from using the crocheted trim on a stained tablecloth to lengthen a skirt made from an old pair of jeans, to making a romantic cushion for your bed from lace doilies I am bringing these forgotten treasures out to be enjoyed again. This blog will be about finding the raw materials and the stories behind them, the design and discovery of a new life for them and the process of turning the idea into an online business that will enable me to work from anywhere - my ultimate dream.

It’s getting chilly, let’s make a pair of slippers


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.


Seen better days………..

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.


Time for a new lease on life

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.

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I managed to cut the pieces for the uppers out of the sleeves of the sweater, leaving the body for another project.

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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.

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They’re very rustic, but quite fun and very warm. Just need a little decoration.




Why am I doing this?


In order to fulfill my dream of living in a wild and remote place, I need to find a way to make a living there. A seamstress by trade, I make things for people – but if those people are a long way away I need to find a way of reaching them, and the obvious answer in this day and age is to do it online. The physical making of goods I can do anywhere, as long as I have electricity to run a sewing machine and provide good light on dark winter days. To find people to buy my offerings I will be reaching out through broadband – displaying them in my Etsy shop, talking about them here and on my Facebook page and generally trying to share my passion for making new things out of old things with the world.

I will be sharing my ideas and trying to find out what people like and don’t like. Sharing the trials and tribulations of the design process, the disasters as well as the successes, offering tips and support to other makers, upcyclers, recyclers and refashioners of forgotten and discarded textiles.