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. I did some research about leather soles added to knitted/felted slippers and found that the thread would wear quickly (as did the original soles of the slippers). While researching the leather soles (pre-cut soles are quite expensive) I found that leather soles sold in the craft stores are the complete bottom of the foot plus a narrow strip that is sewn to the sole edges turning up to be sewn on to the outside edge of the slipper instead of the bottom. Is that sentence clear? This design ensures that the thread is not walked on. This does change the look of the slipper (more like a mukluk or moccasin). I also have a (crazy looking) “leather strips embroidered together into a jacket” type thingy standing by to become the soles of my slippers! Please let me know what you did to remedy the worn out embroidery thread :)

  2. That’s a great project! And a very clear tutorial! thanks! For anyone else looking for slipper soles joestoes.co.uk sell a range of pre cut soles in leather, rubber and thick felt with a latex grip, with all the punch holes ready made. They are made in England and they ship to the USA. They also sell a strong pure linen cord thread. More slipper ideas on this pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/whyowhyowhy/joes-toes-slippers-kits-and-craft/

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