How to do it: Slipper Soles

Have you ever worn felted slippers? If you haven’t, you’re missing out. Felted slippers are the bomb. I’ve made a bunch of pairs and I wear them all the time: In the winter because it’s cold, and in the summer because the AC makes it cold. I had to make a new pair for myself recently because my old ones had developed their own bad case of air conditioning.

Make your own slipper soles!

I know you can buy ready made slipper soles, but I had trouble finding the right size for my slippers. There are also many different ideas and tutorials on how to make the slipper bottoms slip-free (in Ravelry forums, just search “slipper soles”).

But I thought it would be fun to do a tutorial here on the old blog. A change of pace for me, and a bit of a treat for you. If you are a visual learner like I am, just scroll through the pictures — you’ll get the idea. Now, let’s get started!

How To Make Your Very Own, Custom Fitted, Slipper Soles

What you’ll need:

  1. A pair of newly felted, dry slippers.
  2. Paper for making a template.
  3. Scissors.
  4. Marking pen. I used an extra-fine tip Sharpie.
  5. One sheet of suede. I got mine at the craft store for $5.99.
  6. Leather punch, size 5/64″. I got this at the craft store, too, as part of the Mini Punch Set. It was $8.99, and I’m already scheming to use it for more projects.
  7. Tape measure or ruler (but “eyeballing it” works for this project).
  8. Block of scrap wood.
  9. Hammer or heavy mallet.
  10. Sharp sewing needle.
  11. Embroidery thread in a color to match your slipper.  **UDATE 1/30/08: My embroidery thread is not wearing well, and one of the heel pieces has come off.  I am going to try using leather thread, if I can find that at the craft store, and I’ll let you know how it goes.**

Here’s some of the supplies ready to go.

Make your own slipper soles!

The first thing you need to do is make a template. Trace around the bottom of your slipper onto your template paper. For the toe piece, draw the template piece about 1/2″ in from the edge that you traced and long enough to cover the ball of your foot, curving the corners. Do the same for the heel piece. Cut out your templates, and lay them on your slipper to make sure they reach just to the edges, but not over the edge. Here’s my templates on my old slipper, checking to see that the problem areas will be covered.

Make your own slipper soles!

Next, use your marker to trace around your templates onto the wrong side of the suede.

Make your own slipper soles!

Make your own slipper soles!

Then cut them out.

Make your own slipper soles!

With your marker, on the wrong side of the suede, mark where you will punch the holes. My dots are 1/8″ from the edge, and 3/8″ apart. I did not measure the marks until after I made them; it’s really easy just to eyeball this part.

Make your own slipper soles!

I keep talking about the wrong side of the suede, and in the picture above you can clearly see the difference. The piece on the right is the smooth, even, front side of the suede. The one with the marks on the left is uneven and more rough to the touch.

Alrighty. Now on to the fun part, in which you get to hammer really loudly and aggressively! I did this step outside for some reason, but I suppose you could do it anywhere suitable for hammering. First, practice with the punch set on a scrap of the suede.

Make your own slipper soles!

Once you get the hang of it, you’re ready to start punching the holes. Place the puncher directly over the first dot, and hammer it through the suede.

Make your own slipper soles!

At first it took me seven or eight hammers to make the hole. After a few holes, though, I got into a good rhythm and the job went faster than I expected.

Make your own slipper soles!

With your holes punched, you’re ready to sew them on your slippers. Using embriodery thread (all 6 strands) and a sharp needle, sew through all the holes around each piece.

Make your own slipper soles!

In that picture it looks like the needle goes into the fabric below the hole, but it doesn’t. Put the needle into the fabric next to the hole you just pulled it through, and bring it out through the next hole. Because the fabric (the felted wool) is thick it takes a little muscle to make sure the thread goes into the fabric, not just into some fuzzies. (If anyone can tell me the name of this type of stitch, I’ll add it. What can I say? I’m self-taught.)

That’s the job! You’re done!

Make your own slipper soles!

Phew, that was fun. Since this is my first tutorial please let me know if something isn’t clear. I’ll let you know how these babies hold up to my rigorous wear.

59 thoughts on “How to do it: Slipper Soles

  1. That’s a super great tutorial! I just chucked a pair o’ Fuzzy Feet because of the “air conditioning”. Wish I had known about this! But I guess I can knit myself a new pair of Fuzzy Feet. Thanks for working so hard on this.

  2. Nice! Can I ask a question? Or two? Why wouldn’t one cover the entire bottom of the slipper? Also, I have held on to an old leather coat just for this purpose, but I see I need suede. Argh. Any suggestions about what to do with this leather coat that I was planning to cut up for slipper soles someday?

    • Suede is the underside of leather, or a split-thickness of leather. If you look at the underside of the leather, you’ll see suede! btw, you could use the leather side too, it just wouldn’t be as ‘non-slip’ as the suede side would be. :)

  3. I have used a hole puncher (small one) in the past for punching leather. Like the idea of making two smaller patches instead of a whole sole. Suede is the “backside” of leather so you can use pieces of leather that were leftover from other project or are part of something scratched and worn you wish to recycle.

  4. the tutorial is great and maybe i should make some slippers as the girl living under me is complaining about how much noise my shoes make. the look great. and great for kids too i suspect.

  5. Oh yeah! You can do this to socks for sock slippers, the trick is to stuff them the same size as the feet while sewing on the suede. Recommend not stuffing them with the actual feet, as this might sting a little. And Jen, no reason not to do the whole foot, but it uses bigger pieces of suede, and has less flexibility for walking. Ballet shoes usually have split soles like this.

  6. You’re so clever! I’m going to have to star this in Google Reader so I don’t forget it when I finally get around to making clogs for myself (instead of everyone else).

    Okay, I just realized that the above sentence made it clear that I am only planning to put soles on my own clogs, and didn’t bother doing it with gifted ones. Oh well. Let them put soles on their own clogs!

  7. You are a genius. I just made 2 pairs of these guys, and didn’t really want to pay Fiber Trends $36 + $10 shipping for some stupid suede soles. Plus, I’ve had a request for more from my family, so this way I can sole my slippers on the cheap!

  8. wow how great I have not seen anything like this for years .I had seen hand made shoes and slippers in the 70’s , and made then too. I had all but forgotten the methods. My deepest thanks for these reminding instructions. They are about the best I have ever seen., by the way you are very syraight forward and dierect in them thanks agaIn and keep up your creative spirit.

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  10. I have just worn out my first pair of felted slippers (gutted!) They now look very similar to your purple ones so to find your web page is a excellent as the next pair I make will last twice as long.

    I love the shape of your green slippers, would you be able to let me know where I can find the pattern?

  11. I make slippers out of fabric and after walking thru the Jiffy grip soles several times I changed to using denim for soles. I then “decorate” with puff paint to give it gripablility, but the leather makes a nice sole, just never thought of it! Thanks for the idea!

  12. This is brilliant – jsut what I wanted – I have just just made a new pair of felted slippers – I have previously knitted and felted slippers and now I have hand felted some but my old ones have worn through quite quickly and I am definately going to use your idea for soles – Thanks – have the green slippers in the picture been knitted first or are they hand felted – they look lovely and chunky !

  13. Great Tutorial. Now lets see if I do the clogs and remember where this tut is !

    Also, I have these elbow patches for sweaters in my craft closet that have the holes already punched in. I may be able to use them. So, folks look for elbow patches. Think thrift stores.

    I believe your stitches are one of the following:
    buttohole/blanket stitch, big applique stitch or just a plain overcasting stitch.

  14. What a great idea! I just got a pattern for Felt Clogs. I can’t wait to knit those. I am going to sew this sole on them when I’ve finished them. I’ll cover the whole sole. A much cheaper way of avoiding holes. Love your website. Thank you.

  15. Great tutorial! I LOVE crafts that use unusual objects where the genius just looks at & solves the problem differently. But you didn’t tell us how the leather laces worked out :-(
    Again, great tutorial, very clear. Now I’m off to the thrift store for an abused leather jacket to cut up!

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  17. I have knitted maybe 25 pairs of the felted slippers or clogs shown in your tutorial. Now I find I have lost the pattern. Can any one help me. I have goat and rabbit furs that were tanned for us years ago, and I’m wondering if I could use pieces of them to repair all the slippers that have holes worn in them. I have knitted additional soles, felted them and sewed them on, which works fine, but there is a limit to how many soles you can have on a pair of slippers, right?

    • The pattern I use is on Knitty.com – just knit a giant pair of socks, felt them and turn down the cuff. Now they’ll last way longer with leather soles!

  18. Thanks for the tutorial! Also just read your sock darning tutorial – probably use it much sooner than this one since I don’t own any slippers of this sort. Wanted to say that you write excellent tutorials – clear and concise with great pictures.

    By the way, it’s called a whip stitch.

  19. Great Idea ??? 1. Have you tried to glue the suede on the slippers? If so could you use 1/2 inch circle punch to place little 1/2 inch dots at the toe and heeel?

    Thanks

    • I have tried glue the leather peices on the bottom of the felted clogs and found that it does not stay on. Now I have glue stuck to the bottom that looks gross. I am going to buy a punch and do it the right way, and use this tutorial. I bought a bag of scrap leather at Michael’s that was pretty cheap.

      Thank you very much!

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  21. I have a special pair of store bought Christmas slippers with soles that are cracking and crumbing everywhere. I just love them and am very sad the soles are falling apart. Then the bright idea that maybe I, as in I myself, could replace the soles. Through Google I found your tutorial and think I can do the same thing with mine.

    When I was 3 I slipped in some leather soled slippers and broke my arm. Now I am 60 and am concerned about the grip. More suggestions please to make the soles less slick. Thanks

  22. Ages after the original article, but since I didn’t see anything addressing this: waxing thread will help it to wear longer; I’ve used (for other leatherwork projects) waxed nylon or waxed buttonhole-weight cotton and gotten fairly good results with it. You can prep your own easily enough with a block of beeswax, just rubbing it into the thread. (Thread Heaven’s an easier option, though I don’t think it holds up quite as well.)

  23. You might try nylon upholstery thread next time if you can’t find leather thread. Thanks for the tutorial! I’m making my nieces fleece slippers, and this solves the slipperiness of fleece issue for me!

  24. Thank you!!!
    I am doing a knitted slippers , and I must knit two soles for each foot and then sew them together according to the pattern, but still its not hard enough to walk with,

    and this is what I need {hugs}

  25. Loved the tutorial, I would much rather see tutorials like this or on video..I’m not a good pattern reader. I make crocheted slippers and I would like to wear them everywhere, I think this may help the bottom of them. Thanks

  26. These are great, I was just thinking about making some felt slippers myself and was wondering how to do the soles, would this work if i covered the whole of the bottom?

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