DIY spa slippers

When I told my brother about this week’s project, the first thing he said was, “You know you can buy those, right?” Halfway into the project, I started to wish I did. My old shower slippers fell apart recently. I examined the shreds and decided that I could make my own—only better. I bought a thrift-store bath towel for $1, grabbed an old pair of flip-flops, and went to work. So glad I stuck with it. They feel like heaven on my feet.

UPDATE 10/2011: Good news! These slippers are machine washable and dryable. I just pulled mine out of the dryer, and they’re clean, fluffy—and a little damp. They’ll need to air dry overnight.

How to make spa slippers out of a towel and flip-flops

Fair warning: Before attempting this project, please see step #21 below.*

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Supplies

  • old flip-flops, thongs, zoris, sandals (whatever you call them)
  • old cotton terry cloth towel
  • 1/4 yard polyester batting
  • 1/4 yard faux leather
  • coordinating thread

Tools

  • sewing machine
  • fabric scissors
  • kitchen shears
  • upholstery straight pins
  • water-soluble fabric marker
  • pencil
  • tape measure
  • needle

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1. Cut off the thong part of the flip-flop. My kitchen shears were the only scissors I had that were strong enough. With a pencil, trace each sandal onto the back of the faux leather, which will be the sole of the slipper.

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2. Measure 5/8-inch around the outside and mark with dots. Connect the dots. This is the seam allowance.

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3. Cut out the faux leather along the outer line.

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4. Trace the leather cutout onto towel with fabric marker. Cut them out.

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5. Do the same thing with the batting.

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6. Measure around the outside edge to determine the length of the side pieces.

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7. Measure the height of the thickest point of the sandal to determine the width of the side pieces.

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8. For the side pieces, cut two strips of towel. They should be about two inches longer than the circumference of the sandal and 1-1/4 inches wider than the height of the sandal (height + 5/8-inch seam + 5/8-inch seam). I also cut the same size strips in the batting, but ended up not using them because of thickness problems. You’ll see.

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9. This is where some guesswork comes in. For the top pieces, draw around the outside of the leather pattern, flaring out a bit toward the heel, which will accommodate your foot. Then draw another line 5/8 inch outside of that line (for the seam) and cut out.

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10. Cut four top pieces. You can use the same pattern for all of them because the towel is reversible.

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11. Cut out two pieces of batting the same size.

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12. Trim off about 5/8 inch from the bottom so they’ll fit inside better.

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13. All the pieces you need are now cut. (I discarded the thin strips of batting in this photo.)

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14. Sew the bottom edges of the top pieces (5/8-inch seam allowance). Turn right side out and insert batting.

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15. Sew the top edges together with the batting inside (1/2-inch seam allowance).

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16. Sew the footbed pieces to the batting (1/2-inch seam allowance).

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17. Starting at the heel, sew the thin strips of towel to the outside edge of the faux leather sole (1/2-inch seam allowance).

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18. Make sure you start with the short edge folded back in the correct direction, then overlap the other short edge at the end. Hand sew the two ends together. I used a whip stitch.

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19. Snip out triangles from the seam of the sole. This will help it bend correctly when it’s turned right-side-out.

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20. The layers were too thick for straight pins, so I used large binder clips to attach the top piece to the foot bed. Place the sole upside down on top of the other two pieces.

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21. Sew all three pieces (top, foot bed, and leather sole) together in one seam (1/2-inch seam allowance)—leaving the heel open large enough to insert the flip-flop.

* My sewing machine was unable to handle the bulk of the fabric for this last seam, so I took them to European Cobblery, and Jessica sewed them on her heavy-duty machine. It cost me $28 (with a 20% off coupon).

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22. Turn right side out and insert the flip-flop.

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23. Hand sew the heel portion closed. You can use a hidden stitch or whip stitch. The whip stitch is easier in this case, and it’s nearly invisible against the terry cloth anyway.