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Demonstrations>Accessories:Eastern European>Felt Slippers

These slippers are constructed from a flat piece of felt, rather than being formed over the foot as in the boot demo. Period? Probably not but very cool!

Making the Felt Piece -

I prepared my craft table to do a little felting, put some felting solution in a pan and turned on the stove and opened up the bag of wool. I laid my wool bats out, first a layer of black ones and then a layer of white ones until I had a wild felt poodle pile eleven layers high. Then I poured on the felting solution and made an enormous piece of felt. To make it thick and hard, I flopped it onto my kitchen floor and stomped on it for over an hour. It was the loveliest and thickest piece of felt I've ever made... it was beautiful. If you haven't checked out my demo on making felt boots, click here. It describes the basics of making felt. Once the piece was as felted as I could get it, I threw it in the dryer to speed up the fulling process and pulled out some paper to construct a slipper pattern.

Making the Slipper Pattern -

I love pointed toed shoes. I really love curved, pointed toed shoes such as can be seen in many of the period miniatures from Central Asia and the Mediterrainean areas. Realistically, those shoes were probably all made of leather and embellished accordingly. However, after discovering felt and working with it, I've also discovered that many of the characteristics of felt are quite similar to leather. And, since leather is somewhat expensive, felt seemed like a great alternative to make a pair of slippers.

Once I figured out the pattern - it took several tries and a couple of mock-ups, I was ready to cut my felt. Back to the dryer I went to discover that the felt piece had shrunk and dried very nicely. The piece was actually big enough to cut out a pair of slippers for myself and for my son. More on my son's shoes in a later demo...

Sewing the Slippers Together -

I first started with the vamps. Since it was cut in two mirror image pieces to facilitate that lovely curved and pointed toe, I stitched the pieces together at this center seam. At this point in time, I also quilted the pieces and added the embroidery so that I wouldn't have to struggle with it once it was attached to the sole. Once this was done, I attached the vamps to the sole.

The sole is made from a piece of felt and a piece of leather, which is placed on the bottom to protect the felt from the ground. I didn't use any special equipment to sew all of this together, just a really sharp needle. Once the vamps were attached to the soles, I cut out the backs and sewed them to the rest of the slippers.

At this point, I quilted the backs of the shoes for extra stiffness.


Embellishment -

Suprisingly, the quilting added a lot of visual interest to the suface of the slippers. The embroidery, done with a lovely shade of yellow, set off well against the black felt. But I felt that there needed to be something more... so, I drug out my lucet and made some bright red lucet cord. Once I had enough, I laid the cord along all the seams and attached it. Decadent but very worth it...

Final Thoughts -

These slippers are probably not period. It is possible that some slippers in period could have been made this way. After all, the materials are period, the sewing techniques are period and the embellishment is period... but... I have yet to find any real hard evidence. There are one or two tantalizing pictures of felt slippers from ancient times; one pair even has slightly curved toes and a center seam down the vamp. But realistically, these slippers would probably have been made from a soft leather.

They do look cool though...

Sewing the vamp to the sole.
Sewing the back to the sole and vamp.
Ready for lucet cord!  
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