As promised, I’ve put together a tutorial on making the Shiraz Slippers from Knitting Everyday Finery.
Let it be said that the slippers are perfectly fine without suede soles or any of the other touches I’ve put on them in this post. My only advice would be to felt them more than once so that they’re really firm. They’ll stay on your feet better that way. You can wash them again and again, with or without the soles, and each time they’ll come out firm and snug. They take quite a beating. While I was writing my book last winter, I wore them every day around the house, so they’ve been washed several times and each time I’m amazed at how great they look afterwards.
If you’re fainthearted about making the soles, I’ve made a bunch and I’m selling them. Each set includes linen thread. You can buy them here, but if you’re outside NZ it’s best to email me for a less expensive shipping charge.
The soles make the slippers more comfortable, and sturdier. I also added an insole to mine, which I didn’t include in the book version. You can skip the insole, but the addition of a lovely fabric lining gives them a touch of luxury. Besides, you can put to good use those little bits of fabric you can’t bear to part with.
I made these for my friend Ingrid who fell in love with mine and offered to pay me to make some for her (she doesn’t knit), but since she went to the trouble of hand printing a lovely curtain to disguise the untidy shelves in my workspace, I decided to make the slippers for her birthday. Love the barter system!
So, to begin.
You ‘ll need:
• yarn and needles listed on page 79 of Knitting Everyday Finery
• 22 x 22 cm piece of suede, and same size of lining fabric and iron-on interfacing if desired [I found my suede in the scrap bin at a shop that makes custom leather jackets]
• 3 metres of linen thread
• 24 cm length of ribbon
• sewing thread to match lining fabric and ribbon
• hole puncher
Now, the making:
1. The actual knitting takes a very short time. You can comfortably finish a slipper in an evening.
2. Felting: To save water, I’ve taken to putting my slippers in with other things that can tolerate a hot wash [cleaning rags and dog blankets spring to mind]. I find that they need to be felted a few times. Once they’re felted to your satisfaction, give the toes a little stretch and pinch to accentuate the point. It tends to round out a little during the felting.
3. You could can attach the suede pads at this point. Scroll down to #8 to see that process, or hang around here for the fun part, which is to choose a lovely fabric for the insoles. This is the moment when my wanton fabric hoarding is completely justified.Which to choose? My slippers are dark green (Cascade 220 #2446 bronzed green heather).
4. Turn your slippers inside out and make a template for your insoles by drawing around the sole with tracing paper. Cut the fabric with 1.5 cm to spare around the edge. Also cut matching pieces of iron-on interfacing.
5. Iron the interfacing to the WS of the fabric. I stitched the interfacing and fabric together, just a few rows of machine stitching, in a grid pattern. After you do this, iron them again.
6. Sew a loose basting stitch around the edge of the insoles. This will help to turn the edge.
7. They’re now ready to sew into place. Pin the insoles to the base of the slipper, then hand sew around the edge.
8. Turn your slippers right side out. Now they’re ready for the suede soles.
Trace around the template in the book, then cut our your paper template. Draw around the template on the wrong side of the suede to mark where you’ll cut the leather.
9. Using the smallest size puncher, make your holes 5 mm apart and 5 mm from the edge of the suede.
10. Pin the patches to the underside of the slippers. Sew them in place using blanket stitch. I used wool to stitch my first pair, but I wore them so much, the stitching wore through in places, so now I use linen thread which is much stronger.
11. Last touch (if desired): some ribbon trim for the heels. You’ll need two 12-cm lengths of ribbon. Folding each piece over 1 cm where it meets the sole, pin it in place up the heel, and make a 3 cm turn at the top, with the resulting loop protruding 1 cm above the heel. Sew in place with a matching thread. Voilà! You have a beautiful pair of slippers!