April 20, 2020

Keep Outside Out Of Home! Washable Japanese Slipper Tutorial

Written by Kumiko Toya

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that the COVID -19 virus can potentially be spread by shoes. It is said that leaving shoes in space away from the living area is good practice, particularly when you have family members at risk of infection. 

I grew up in Japan where taking off your shoes before entering a house is a habitual practice. Japanese houses are designed to have a designated entryway just inside the door that we call genkan. The genkan acts as a boundary between the inside and the outside. At the genkan, we take off our shoes, store them in the built-in shoe cabinet or leave them there if you are a guest, and put on indoor slippers to proceed into the house.

genkan-1A genkan of a Japanese house

My father told me an interesting story. He was sent to a small town in NY for a job training program in the 1960s. During the one year stay, he rented a spare room of a house from a lady, Mrs. Seler. My father was very surprised knowing for the first time that they should keep their shoes on in the house. Though being a little baffled by the habit, he obeyed the house rule and only took off his shoes in his room.

Years past and when my father visited Mrs. Seler after 30 years, he was once again surprised that there were slippers aligned in a row in the entrance hall for her house guests. When asked, Mrs. Seler explained that she incorporated the habit after having several Japanese boarders, learnt that to take off the shoes actually suited for her to keep the clean house. 

There are so many advantages in taking off shoes and wearing slippers! This week, we are sharing tutorial on how to make comfortable, soft, and most importantly, washable slippers. 



How To Make Washable Soft Cozy Slippers 

đŸ’¡ Use fabric that can be easily washed at home.
1 Outside fabric   12" x 18" ( 30 cm x 45 cm )  
2 Sole fabric  11" x 12" ( 28 cm x 30 cm ) Choose durable fabric. I prefer denim. 
3 Lining fabric   18" x 20" ( 45 cm x 50 cm )
4 Batting fabric   18" x 20" ( 45 cm x 50 cm ) I upcycled a pair of sweat pants. 

slipper pattern photo 1

slipper pattern photo 2

1. Download and print out the pattern PDF in 100% scale.

đŸ’¡The pattern fits women’s size US 7 - US 9. ( JPN 23.5 cm - 25.5 cm, Europe 37.5 - 40 )
You can make them shorter or longer by cutting or adding a bit out of the middle of the sole. If you cut out an inch, then also cut out an inch on the length of the side piece. 

cutout 1cutout22.  Cut out pattern pieces.

step1_23.  Place outer and batting pieces together wrong sides facing each other. Sew all the way around near the edges.

step 2-14.  Fold the outside piece in half, face-to-face. Sew the back edge using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Fold and sew the lining piece in the same way.

step35.  Insert the outside pieces into the lining piece so the right sides are together. Sew the top slipper openings together using a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

step46 . Turn right side out. Then sew all the way around near the bottom edge.

step57.  Place the sole piece and the batting piece together, wrong sides facing each other. Sew all the way around near the edge.

step8_98.  Sandwich the main piece between the lining piece and the sole piece. The lining piece is on top of the main piece, the right side of the lining piece faces down.  The sole piece is under the main piece, the right side of the sole piece faces up .  

step9.   Pin together. The pinned piece looks like the pictures above. The left is the image from the top, The right is the image from the bottom.

step8_410.  Sew around the edge using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Leave a 3-inch opening on the side.  Because the piece has many layers, sew slowly to avoid breaking your needle!

step9_311.  The sewn piece looks like the pictures above. The left is the image from the top, The right is the image from the bottom.

step1012.  Turn right side out.

step11-113.   Close the opening on the outside using whip stitch. 

step12-114.   Then close the opening on the inside using whip stitch.

shoe1115.   Finished!

shoe4I love the soft, cozy fit! I can’t live without these slippers.

shoe6-1Wash them as often as needed.


In order to hold the germs at bay, it is best to leave your shoes at the door and change into a clean pair of slippers in the house. If you find yourself at home more often than usual, home sewing is a good way to keep your hands and mind busy during this stressful time. Make these slippers for yourself and for your loved ones!


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