Linen Slippers

Posted on May 4, 2023

A pair of espadrille-like slippers in white fabric.

I hate going out to buy shoes. Even more so I hate buying home shoes, which is what I spend most of my life in, also because no matter what I buy they seem to disintegrate after a season or so. So, obviously, I’ve been on a quest to make my own.

As a side note, going barefoot (with socks) would only move the wear issue to the socks, so it’s not really a solution, and going bare barefoot on ceramic floors is not going to happen, kaythanksbye.

For the winter I’m trying to make knit and felted slippers; I’ve had partial success, and they should be pretty easy to mend (I’ve just had to do the first mend, with darning and needle felting, and it seems to have worked nicely).

For the summer, I’ve been thinking of something sewn, and with the warm season approaching (and the winter slippers needing urgent repairs) I decided it was time to work on them.

I already had a shaped (left/right) pattern for a sole from my hiking sandals attempts (a topic for another post), so I started by drafting a front upper, and then I started to have espadrille feeling and decided that a heel guard was needed.

As for fabric, looking around in the most easily accessible part of the Stash I’ve found the nice heavyweight linen I’m using for my Augusta Stays, of which I still have a lot and which looked almost perfect except for one small detail: it’s very white.

I briefly thought about dyeing, but I wanted to start sewing NOW to test the pattern, so, yeah, maybe it will happen one day, or maybe I’ll have patchy dust-grey slippers. If I’ll ever have a place where I can do woad dyeing a blue pair will happen, however.

Contrary to the typical espadrillas I decided to have a full lining, and some padding between the lining and the sole, using cotton padding leftovers from my ironing board.

To add some structure I also decided to add a few rows of cording (and thus make the uppers in two layers of fabric), to help prevent everything from collapsing flat.

As for the sole, that’s something that is still causing me woes: I do have some rubber sole sheets (see “hiking sandals” above), but I suspect that they require glueing, which I’m not sure would work well with the natural fabric uppers and will probably make repairs harder to do.

In the past I tried to make some crocheted rope soles and they were a big failure: they felt really nice on the foot, but they also self-destroyed in a matter of weeks, which is not really the kind of sole I’m looking for.

the slippers with the braided soles on top.

Now I have some ~ 3 mm twine that feels much harsher on the hands while working it (and would probably feel harsher on the feet, but that’s what the lining and padding are for), so I hope it may be a bit more resistant, and I tried to make a braided rope sole.

Of course, I have published the pattern and instructions for the slippers as well as those for the braided rope sole as #FreeSoftWear.

Now what is left is trying everything under daily use, and I hope I will have updates on this at the end of the season, rather than soon :D