Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Making wool shoes with Sister Scholastica

Photo by Jeri Foster
The Barony next door had an arts and sciences night last month and I got to make some fun slippers. Viscountess Leah de Spencer OL. OP. KSCA, came as her "twin sister" Sister Scholastica and taught a class on wool slippers as worn by those in Medieval cloisters.

We have documentary evidence that monks did wear felt slippers, but due to both the way that such utilitarian items are worn through and the way wool felt becomes compost, there are no surviving artifacts. So, how to make these is a big conjecture. Ours were made as a basic turnshoe using "boiled wool" (a felted wool army blanket) and purchased wool insoles cut to size. She purchased the insoles at a local surplus store, but they seem to be available at outdoor supply stores. I would probably felt my own if I were to do another pair, just because I have a closet full of alpaca fiber, but purchasing them made it a fast project.

Well, it would have been a fast project. I decided to embroider the toes of the upper, so I spent most of my evening doing chainstitch. But my pair are almost done. I just need to sit down and finish them. I should do that some time today-- before I lose something.

Photo by Jeri Foster

The green polkadot wrapping paper was for patterning.  We measured our foot across the toes, at the instep, and at the highest part of the arch, traced the foot and then added the required inches around, then drew a keyhole in the center for the foot to fit in to make a simple pattern. With the wrapping paper, you can try it on a bit and fuss with it until you get the desired fit. I haven't done this style before. It has a seam at the back of the heel and I'm not sure I like that, but it certainly is simple to pattern. Then some people drew pointy toes or other shapes for custom features on their patterns.

I'll have to take some pictures of both this style of pattern piece, and my preferred two piece style that I use for basic slippers and post them tomorrow. There are also quite a few tutorials floating around for basic turnshoes with a side seam if you do a quick search.

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