Today I'm finishing up one last pair of slippers. This project will be released as a free pattern, to promote Fun and Fantastical Slippers to Knit.
When I started this book, one of my first questions was "How can we make handknit slippers more durable?" In the process, I've discovered a few tricks to help slippers last longer, some more involved than others. This is one of my favorites, so I thought I'd share it today. I give you:
Adding Leather Soles to Handknit Slippers
Step 1: Trace around the finished slipper onto scrap paper. You can either use this tracing as is for a full sole, or you can make split soles, like I'm showing here. The advantage to split soles is that they require less leather, and they leave part of the slipper sole exposed. This is a good thing if you ever have to wash your slippers; they can be more easily dried and reshaped with less leather on the bottoms. To make split soles, draw a large oval over your tracing at the top (toe and ball of foot), and a smaller one at the bottom (heel). Cut out the ovals and trace each one onto the wrong side of some leather scraps, twice.
Step 2: To make the leather easier to manage, poke some holes all the way around each piece. A punch or awl work fine for this. If you have a sewing machine, though, here's a sexy trick: Install a leather needle, without any thread in the top or bobbin of the machine. Set the stitch length to the longest possible setting, and carefully "sew" all around the edge of each sole piece. Voila! Perfectly spaced stitching holes.
To sew the soles on, use a hand sewing leather needle and heavy waxed cotton thread. The tip of the leather needle is an extremely sharp, triangular harpoon of a thing, so don't pull it with your fingertips. Instead, push it from the eye end with a thimbled finger as far as you can, then pull it the rest of the way through with small pliers. Trust me: this is the best way to avoid hamburger-fingers.
Step 3: Now hold your leather piece against the bottom of the slipper (this one is felted, but you can attach leather soles to any kind of slipper). Leave about 6" of thread, without knotting, and start stitching around the oval.
A simple edge stitch (shown here) works fine, or if your stitching holes end up further inside the edge of the oval, a blanket stitch is good, too.
See the point of the leather needle? Not kidding about hamburger-fingers. Be careful!
Step 4: Now end with a surgeon's knot. 4a: Cross the thread ends as for a square knot. 4b (shown): Cross the thread ends twice and pull tight.
Bury the ends between the leather and the slipper bottom, then trim.
All done! To make your slippers super-dreamy, install a pair of squishy insoles from the drugstore. Just cut them to fit and slip them inside. I've been wearing a pair of slippers soled like this, both indoors and out, for over a year and they are holding up beautifully. They've been washed and reshaped two or three times too, with no trouble.
HA HA - I bet you thought you'd get to see the whole slipper, didn't you? Not today, my friends. I'm feelin' sneaky! But don't worry, it won't be long, and I promise you're gonna love them.