DIY Sweater Slippers 1 library book + 2 thrifted sweaters = Repurposed handmade goodness

My daughter is a rock star.

This (sorta) Old Life: grace headshot

Well, not really. But you might think so if you were to visit our nearby library’s Pajama Time.

We arrived early for her weekly volunteer gig one night recently, and you’d almost think Selena Gomez was in the building (if Selena was named Grace).

“Oh, look, it’s Grace!”

“Grace! Grace! Hi Grace!”

“Want to see my book, Grace?”

She was swarmed by a gaggle of jammie-clad pre-schoolers who think she’s as exciting as she once thought Selena was.

I love this little library, which I’d never have discovered if Grace weren’t looking for volunteering opportunities last summer. I mean, it’s in strip mall, and I’m a bit of a book/library/bookstore snob. I can barely stand going to strip malls for bad chain-restaurant food and sporting goods and office supplies. The holiest place I’ve ever been is the rare book room in Suzzalo library, so the idea of putting a library in a strip mall was nearly sacrilegious to me.

This (sorta) Old Life: library

But I’ve come to love this little strip mall library. It is cozy and colorful and always full of people and computers and beautiful books. And, for a strip mall library, it’s got some surprisingly cool style going on inside the doors. (Lesson learned:  Don’t judge a library by its cover.)

This (sorta) Old Life: library style

I love that Grace’s story time job gets me there once a week. Because she’s only there for an hour, I just browse the shelves until she’s done, which is how I discovered this lovely book:

This (sorta) Old Life: Sewing Green cover

(Spoiler alert!  If you are my mom, you need to click away right now. There are no more pictures of Grace, but there are pictures of your Christmas present.)

I love beautiful craft books almost as much as I love libraries, but I don’t own many.They are expensive, and the chances of me actually doing enough of the projects in them to justify their cost are minimal. Which is why I was so excited that this was a library book when I flipped through it and landed on this page:

This (sorta) Old Life: Sewing Green sweater slippers

I immediately got all excited about a great idea for yet another series I will likely start and abandon–projects inspired by library books–and then I remembered that I was talking to me, the queen of getting excited about projects I never start (much less complete).

But the greatest thing happened after I checked this book out:  I actually made the slippers! 

It was easy and fun and economical and it’s going to be my mom’s Christmas present!

This (sorta) Old Life: DIY sweater slippers

(Feel free to Pin this image!)

While I love this project (and the book), and most people could understand the directions without a visual step-by-step, the book doesn’t include one. I thought I’d make one for those of you who are as mechanical-reasoning-challenged as me. :-)

Step 1: Photocopy the pattern included in the book.

The patterns need to be copied at 200%. I was able to do this right at the library. (Have I said how much I love libraries? Might be the best thing ever invented by an American.) Then you cut out the pattern pieces, following the lines for the size you want.

This (sorta) Old Life: sweater slipper patterns pieces

3 easy pieces that come in multiple sizes. I used the sizing guide included in the book, and my size 8 feet fit perfectly in the medium-size slippers.

Step 2: Find wool sweaters and felt them.

This can actually be trickier than it seems. One reason I jumped on this project is that I already had some felted sweaters and they were in complimentary colors. I used those for the practice pair you’ll see in this post, but then I needed a new sweater to use for my mom’s slippers. It was surprisingly hard to find an attractive all-wool sweater at the thrift store.

It’s important to find sweaters that are 100% wool if you want them to be truly felted. (I recommend this great felting tutorial if you don’t know how to felt wool.) Felting is the process that will keep the sweater “fabric” from unraveling after you cut it.

The sweater I used for the sole and cuff of my practice pair is 100% wool. The sweater I used for the uppers was not. I think this is OK. The wool/nylon sweater felted enough that my cut edges aren’t going to fray, and the upper sweater wasn’t as thick as the sweater I used for the sole, which made sewing easier. The upper pieces are also very soft and pliable, which makes for a super-comfy slipper.

Once you’ve got your felted wool, you cut out the pieces:

This (sorta) Old Life:  Sweater slipper pieces

These are the pieces for one slipper. The cuff piece (on the left) needs to be cut from the ribbing at the bottom of the sweater.

Step 3:  Pin the uppers with wrong sides facing together, and sew a 1/4″ seam down the heel and from the front of the ankle to the toes. Do not sew the part that will attach to the sole.

This (sorta) Old Life:  Sweater slipper uppers

Seam that runs from the ankle down to the heel of the slipper. Yes, I was too lazy to change the thread, so the color of the thread does not blend in. I regretted this, but only a little. Note the open side along the bottom; this is where the sole will attach.

Step 4: Pin the uppers to the sole and sew them together.

This (sorta) Old Life:  Sweater slipper uppers pinned to sole

This (sorta) Old Life:  Sweater slipper uppers pinned to sole

Sewing the sole was the trickiest part for me. It was really thick and difficult to move through the machine, especially at the top of the toe where the seam from the uppers had to be turned under.

Step 4: Put the right sides of the cuff together and stitch the open ends together. This will form a loop.

Step 5: Sew the loop of cuff to the slipper upper. You turn the slipper inside out and place the cuff over the top of the slipper. The right side of the cuff should be against the wrong side of the upper.

This (sorta) Old Life: DIY sweater slippers attaching cuff

This (sorta) Old Life: DIY sweater slippers attaching cuff

Step 6: Use a blanket stitch to bind the seams with yarn.

I used Vanna’s Choice, the Lion brand yarn with Vanna White’s face on the label. There were lots of colors available at two different local craft stores. (The yarn was the only think I had to buy for this project.) Before this project, I never knew that Vanna White had her own yarn or that she is “America’s favorite crocheter.”

This (sorta) Old Life:  How to sew a blanket stitch

Step 7: Enjoy your warm, comfy slippers! 

This (sorta) Old Life: DIY sweater slippers

Seriously, these were really easy and inexpensive. Do they look great? I’m not sure. Grace the rock star thinks they look a little too Dr. Suessian–especially because one of my slippers has a slighty pointed toe.

This (sorta) Old Life: DIY sweater slippers

But I love wearing them and I know my mom will love getting her own pair. (Hers will be made with a different sweater. Just in case she didn’t click away, I’m not showing it here!) We give each other socks for Christmas every year, the kind of extravagant socks we’d never buy for ourselves. (The first time it was an accident, and it’s since become a tradition.)

My usual source is a wonderful local store with amazing socks (Sock Dreams), but I’m looking forward to giving something handmade.

This (sorta) Old Life: DIY sweater slippers

Once upon a time, all my gifts to family were handmade. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been able to do that.

This (sorta) Old Life:  Handmade apron

I made the top apron for my Grandma the Christmas of 1978. She’s kept it and used it all these years, but this summer it came home with me. She wanted to make sure that I’d have it

This is probably the only present I’ll make with my own hands this year, but I’d like to do more next year. Having re-discovered my love of small crafty projects (when switching up our clock face this fall), one of my new year’s resolutions is to do more projects like this one.

Maybe I’ll get that projects-from-craft-books series up and running, too. Counting this one as post #1.

This (sorta) Old Life:  Sweater slippers

Got any great craft books to recommend? Making any of your own gifts this year? Think the slippers are too Suessian? Would love to hear from you. Your comments make my day.

(Sharing at Your Green Resource, hosted by a half-dozen lovely bloggers. Two I follow regularly are Megan and Emily. Hope you’ll check them out.)

 Follow our RSS feed

 Subscribe by mail

 Like us on Facebook

 Follow us on Twitter

 Follow us on Pinterest

 Follow us on Hometalk