I’ve been wanting to make some slippers for a while, something for the summer. So here we are, finally got around to it AND managed to get my antique Furrier’s sewing machine (I believe they’re what are called ‘cup seamers’) going properly WOOP!
They’re about 99.9% leather (taking the thread into account haha) and made up of three pieces. Probably you could make them with only two, but you wouldn’t be able to shape them so easily I suspect.
- If you want to have a go at making a pair, grab a piece of card (or the leather you’re going to use for the sole/innersole) and draw around your foot, extending the ‘point’ out about and inch (or however much you like, depending on how much of a point you want). Cut this sole shape.
- Now what you want to do is put the sole under your foot and wrap a plastic bag (or cling wrap) around your foot with the sole positioned how you want it, and wrap it in parcel tape, not too tight, just so it’s comfortable. Pay especial attention to the point at the toe, because how you have it curved at this stage should more or less be how it will be in the finished shoe. Also, you don’t need the tape to be thick, it just needs to hold it’s shape.
- Once you’ve wrapped your whole foot, you need to work out where you want to split it into panels. As you can see in the picture, I decided on just two top pieces with no back. So I drew this in a seam down the center, from the highest part of my foot (which is slightly toward the inside) to the tip of the point. I also sketch in the diagonal lines where I was going to cut the back section away. Don’t worry too much about the line between the sole and the upper as you can draw this in easier once you get your foot out.
- I then cut down the back and carefully remove my foot. Try not to move the sole shape if you can.
- Now your foot is out you can look over it properly and true out any wavy pits in the lines you’ve drawn, and maybe more symmetrical so lines on the outside more closely mirror those on the inside. Now draw around the where the sole and upper meet, you should be able to feel the sole shape through the plastic, so you’re just tracing this line.
- It’s a good idea to make some little marks across the seem lines so that when you cut it apart you know where they match up, especially when you’re sewing it.
- Then it’s just cut along the lines, cut out the pieces in whatever you want to make/test it in and sew it up! Just like that ;p
- So obviously sewing it up is a little bit more tricky, but as shoes go, it’s a very simple pattern, and in my case it went together very easily.
- Remember to notch your pieces to make sewing it up easier. But don’t make them too deep since in leather your seam allowances are usually fairly minimal, I usually allow about at most 5 or 6mm.
- Leather is usually easier to work with if it’s wet, it softens it and makes it easier for the needle to pass through. HOWEVER! Soft leathers sometimes go stiff when they dry, so test a bit first.
- You can shrink leather by wetting it and heating the area you want to shrink (I use a clothes iron). It’s best if you have some kind of form though, and in most cases it seems easier to stitch it first. Obviously don’t burn yourself 😛
- If you’ve got access to some latex or similar liquid rubber product you can paint it on the bottom which will help protect the sole and the stitching as well as providing better grip. Otherwise you can stick rubber sheet on the bottom, which will also give you a bit more thickness and rigidity.