Old Jeans Moccasin Slippers
I had a lovely pair of black denim jeans, nice thick fabric, beautifully soft, and then I accidentally sprayed them with bleach whilst I was cleaning the bathroom. It seemed such a waste just to throw them away, so I pondered what I could do with them. After examining them more closely I realized that the bleach was only from the knees down and as I needed a pair of summer shorts it seemed an obvious decision to make.
I then had a reasonable amount of soft washed black denim, not enough to make a large item from but certainly enough to do something with. I recently read an article in the newspaper about how to make a pair of mule type slippers from denim offcuts. I don't particularly like mules but thought the idea had merit, especially as wide-fitting cotton slippers are so hard to find! I remembered a sewing project I completed when I was a child, it was a pair of moccasin slipper socks, and thought that a combination of the two ideas could work.
Firstly I needed to make two pattern pieces, one for the sole and the other for the top of the slipper. To do this I traced around my foot onto a piece of cardboard (the inside of an old cereal box is perfect) - make sure you are standing when you trace around your foot as the shape of your foot will differ when it has your body weight pressing down on it. Then draw around the outline smoothing it out to make the shape of the sole.
Cut the shape out, and turn it over. Make sure that your other foot fits inside the cardboard shape you have just cut out. This is the lower pattern piece for the soles of your slippers. Now trace around the shape onto another piece of cardboard, and cut it out again. Stand on the cardboard and mark it at the point where the knuckle of your big toe meets inside your foot, then mark on the other side of the cardboard the equivalent place for the knuckle of your little toe. Draw a straight line across the cardboard joining the two marks together. Cut across this line, this toe piece is the upper pattern piece for your slippers.
You will now need to measure the circumference of the sole of your slipper (that is the distance all the way around it). I find that the easiest way to do this is using a scrap piece of ribbon and placing it around the outside edge of the pattern piece, the ribbon will need to overlap by about 2 inches (5 cm). It needs to be a bit generous (as shown in the picture below) because you will be gathering and stitching seams into the fabric strips that you will be cutting to this length. This is effectively your pattern piece for the sides of the slippers.
You will now have three 'pattern pieces', two from cardboard and one length of ribbon (or whatever you used. A piece of string?)
You will then need to use the pattern pieces as a template and draw around them onto the fabric you are using. I used triangular tailors chalk as it brushes off easily and shows up nicely on the dark coloured denim. The sole will need to be cut out four times in total, twice as the right foot and then twice (with the pattern piece flipped over) as the left foot. As I'm not too worried about the looks on the bottom of the slipper I used the section of fabric that had the bleach stains on for the underneath of the sole.
When you mark out the top sections of the slippers you need to make sure you have enough room for two pieces joined together. Draw around the top pattern piece once and then flip the pattern piece over so that the straight edges are touching and draw around it again. Repeat this on another section of fabric so you have two the same.
The next stage is to cut the edge strips for the slippers. Measure a complete strip, if possible, approximately 2 inches (5 cm) wide by the length of your piece of ribbon (or string). If you can't make a complete strip then join two shorter strips together with a simple seam.
There are a few additional pieces that you will need to cut which add the body to the slippers. These are two sole pieces (one right and one left) to be cut from both stiff iron on interfacing and fleece (I had large enough offcuts available, but you could use wadding if you wanted), and a left and right top piece to be cut from fleece (or wadding) - the top piece is just a singular piece for each foot not doubled up like the denim pieces.
Arrange the sole pieces for each foot in the order denim sole (with right side downwards), iron-on interfacing (adhesive side downwards), fleece padding and on the top the other piece of denim (right side upperwards). You should have two piles the same, except one left foot shaped and one right foot shaped. Iron the interfacing on to the bottom pieces of denim.
For the top section, lay the piece of fleece on the wrong side of the denim and fold the denim over, forming a fleece sandwich.
Stitch around the open edges of the sole and top sections, ensuring that all the fabric layers are held together with the stitches.
The next section that has to be completed is the seam on the fabric strips that form the sides, front and back of the slippers. If a plain seam was used it would be rough against the heel, so I used an enclosed stitched down seam, similar to the sort that are used on jeans, only wider!
The first step is to join the two edges of you fabric strip right sides together and stitch a quarter inch (half cm) wide seam and press it flat.
With the seam face-up, fold one side of the fabric strip underneath and press it flat. Then fold the other fabric strip over the top and press that flat too. (if viewed from the edge, the fabric layers would form a letter Z shapewise)
Stitch along both folded edges through all layers of fabric (you should have two rows of stitches). Repeat on the other strip of fabric.
These strips will create the edge of your slippers.
You will now need to figure out which side of your sole pieces is the bottom of the slipper. You may be able to tell from looking at the layers of fabric along the edge and spot which piece has the interfacing attached, or you may be able to tell from touch (the firmer side will be the side with the interfacing attached). Place the slipper sole with the firmer bottom (I wish!) facing up towards you. Place the corresponding toe piece on the sole and mark either side with chalk.
Do the same with the other sole piece whilst you have your chalk handy!
You will now be using the side strip and the sole. Place the heel seam at the back of the heel on the sole and carefully 'measure' around the edge of the slipper sole with the fabric strip. When you reach the chalk mark on the sole, make a corresponding mark on the fabric strip. Working in the other direction from the heel seam, match the fabric strip up to the other chalk mark and make another corresponding mark on the fabric strip.
Fold over a quarter ince (half cm) of the top edge of the fabric strip in between the chalk marks and incorporating the heel seam. Pin, baste and then stitch in place. With the sole facing firmer side uppermost, line up the heel seam on the fabric strip with the centre of the heel on the sole. Make sure that the fabric strip is right side down and that the raw edges are lined up together. Pin, baste and stitch the edge strip to the sole of the slipper all along to two edges and heel section, but not where the curve of the toe is. Leave this bit open, as shown in the image below.
Take a constrasting colour thread and tack a loose running stitch along the unstitched edge on the slipper. Gather up the loose fabric until it is the right length to fit around the toe of the slipper. Pin, baste and stitch it into position.
Line up the folded edge of the slipper top with the point on the edge strip where the folded stitched edge ends. Now pin, baste and stitch both sides of the top of the slipper to the edge strip. Leave the toe section open again. As you did previously, use a running stitch to gather up the loose edge of the fabric strip until it is the right length to stitch to the slipper top. Pin, baste and stitch the toe section of the edge strip to the top of the slipper.
You should now have a completed inside out slipper, looking similar to the picture below. Perform the same steps again to create the other slipper.
Turn the slippers the right way out. They will look something like this.
You can use ribbons, beads, sequins, buttons, ribbon roses - whatever you like to decorate them. I used some ribbon offcuts, a couple of beads from a broken bangle and some sead beads and sequins from one of those little bags of spares that came with a garment I bought forever ago!
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