Felt Slippers Free Tutorial - Felting Fridays
I'm super excited to get this tutorial out to you! I have been wanting to find the *right* slippers for the kids, but my kids are picky. Now, before you click away thinking this is a kids' DIY tutorial and not relevant, you CAN size these in an adult as well! They need to have soft soles, as these children are otherwise barefoot happy and the intention here is to keep their feet warm - however they refuse to wear socks because they're slippery. While there are slipper socks, they're kinda pricey and they're socks. So I'd need a different pair for each day, unless I can convince them to wear socks under their socks. They need to be both warm in the winter but not too warm so they can wear them in those in-between seasons when it's not cold enough but too cold for bare feet. Wool is adaptable to ALL weather! Most importantly, they need to stay ON. Don't know about you but most slippers are far too loose to stand up to kids racing around the house. Basically, I wanted something like the soft-soled PediPeds - which is what my son is currently wearing as slippers - or Robeez, but in a bigger size (which they do not offer). These are styled like the soft-soled Robeez (which stay on thanks to the elastic), but the good news is that you can even size these up all the way to adult if you want to. Making a pattern to fit is not difficult at all. As of writing this post, I already have two wool batting "sheets" ready to felt in my daughter's chosen colors, and I'll likely be making additional slippers for myself and my husband afterwards.
I'll add that I have not as of yet added the anti-skid stuff to the bottom. There are a number of ways you can do this. Puffy paint is what I've used in the past, however the kids have a habit of picking it off, so I'm going to be trying a few other things. One idea is to glue on (or stitch on) rubber shelf liners cut to match the sole. Another is to paint on dots of Plasti Dip on the bottoms, which I think would work better. I've also heard of using silicone sealant, but that stuff takes forever to cure so they'd probably have to sit around for a few weeks to make sure you don't have permanently silicone-sealed your flooring. Plenty of options out there, so feel free to use whatever suits your purposes!
So first things first, you're going to want to prepare at least several sheets of felt. Not prefelt. You want to make sure this is quite fulled/felted so it doesn't fall apart. If you already have some prefelt sheets, make sure you felt them further before using them for slippers. For my son's size 5.5/6 toddler slippers, I ended up using one and a half 9x10ish sheets of felt. They don't even have to match, you can use one color for the front, a different one for the sole, different for the sides/heel. In fact, if you have a bunch of coordinating pieces, I'm sure you could even make a patchwork sheet to cut down and use for the slippers which would look pretty cute! You'll also need some thin elastic. The elastic I used was about a 1/4" wide, which was perfect. Any narrower and it might end up cutting into your foot, plus it's hard to sew closed.
While your felt sheets are drying, time to figure out your pattern. Regular printer paper is more than sufficient, or any ol' scrap you have laying about that you can wrap around your foot or a child's shoe to get it sized. You'll need three pieces: the sole, the front-top part and the part that wraps around the heel. I traced my son's current slippers (the baby shoe on the very left is what I used to figure out the design) and sized it up so they fit him after he grows out of these. For the front-top part I had it come up to right about where the arch of your foot meets your leg, plus made it longer (to match the length added to the sole) and added an inch on either side. If you're making a patter for yourself, just wrap the paper around the arch of your foot and mark where it meets the floor. The heel part you want to wrap around from the ball of your feet meet the arch, then around the back of your heel, and back around to where the ball of your feet start on the outside of the foot. The front and sides are going to overlap. Take into account how high you want it to sit above your heel, and add another 1/2" height for the casing for the elastic.
Cut out the pattern pieces and you can check to see if they fit. Your shoe will look like this when it's done (p.s. washi tape is great for this purpose, as it's easy to remove without ripping up the paper. Masking tape is equally effective). If it looks like a shoe and it fits like a shoe...
Take the template apart again and line it up on your felt sheets to make sure you have enough felt to make two pairs. Also, don't forget to flip the sole over so you get a right foot and left foot. Very important. In fact, maybe make an extra sheet in the beginning just in case. If you don't end up using it for this project, I'm positive you'll find use for it in another one. You can never have too many felt sheets.
You'll also want to cut your elastic to be a bit longer than the heel part. You'll be trimming it again after pulling it taught and sewing, but you'll have a rough time trying to hold it in place while sewing it closed (let alone digging it out of the casing) if it's too short.
In case you were wondering if we'd be putting our needle felting skills to use here... we are!!! You know what's better than using pins to hold things in place to stitch later? Tacking it with a felting needle. Fold the edge over the elastic and tack it closed with enough extra on the edge so your stitches have something to hold onto. Don't depend on the needlefelting alone to hold it closed. It won't. But it will hold it in place long enough for you to stitch it.
You can also tack the other pieces together with the felting needle prior to stitching. This will help you position it exactly where you want it. For the stitching part, I used a running stitch on the casing and a whip stitch to attach the sides to the sole. Since these are slippers that will only be used indoors, I chose to use embroidery floss; however I did coat it with wax (that round plastic thing in the picture) to keep it from fraying much and hopefully add a bit of durability.
Before you add the front-top part, you'll want to pull the two ends of the elastic taught and sew them together. Trim and scoot the seam into the casing so it doesn't end up rubbing against the foot later.
Use your felting needle to tack the front-top piece to the shoe. Don't worry about the edges lining up, since they won't line up perfectly. Just try to give it a natural drape over the top and have the front meet up. Before you get to stitching them together, trim any excess and smooth out the edges of the sole/top to get them to line up nicely. Finish it off with a whip stitch all the way around.
And there you have it! Shoe number one is done. I did do a test fit first before getting the other one done... because the last thing you want to do is mess up on two shoes... Actually I tend to stay away from making clothing items due to this reason, but this was so simple to throw together I managed to get it to work on the first try.
And there you have it, simple, hand-made slippers that are warm (yet can be worn in warmer months), soft, stay put, feel like you're walking around in bare feet and in the colors of your choice. I do suggest if you're planning on embellishing them, do so prior to stitching the pieces together. Happy felting!