Saturday, December 3, 2011

Birchbark Slippers Pattern & Tutorial

Doesn't everyone want a pair of slippers for Christmas? The Birchbark Slippers would make a wonderful gift for yourself or someone else. (I'm wearing mine right now.) They stitch up quickly and are very straightforward: just an easy rectangle of Tunisian Simple Stitch. One end is seamed to create the heel, and the other end is folded to form the toe. Adornments are up to you and are limited only by your imagination.

Because this pattern is customizable, the instructions may look a bit wordy. Don't let that put you off - this project is really very simple and quick. The hardest part is deciding how to embellish the slippers.

Since the slipper is made from a rectangle, you can use any stitch you like - you could even knit it. I chose Tunisian crochet because it yields a thick and sturdy crochet fabric - perfect for cozy slippers. (If Tunisian Simple Stitch is new to you, see my tutorial here.)

Stitches used: Tunisian Simple Stitch, single crochet, slip stitch

Adult slipper is made from a rectangle, 6" wide by 1" longer than the foot it's destined for.

Note: This slipper will stretch out with wear, especially in Tunisian stitch - some crocheters have had a better result with making their rectangle the same length as their foot. (Thanks to all the Ravelry project gals who included this info in their project notes!)

Children's slipper: I'd guess 5" wide for a child, and a bit smaller for a toddler. Trying the rectangle on the foot is the best method.

If you're making gift slippers and you don't know how long the recipient's foot is, try to find out her shoe size. Then click here for a handy shoe size conversion chart.

Yarn Requirements for Adult sizes:
About 100 yards of a Bulky (#5) yarn
(May also be made with 2 strands of a #4 yarn held together)
OR about 70 yards of Super Bulky (#6) yarn

Yarns I used:
Premier Serenity Chunky Weight (Bulky), Red Bayou, 1 skein with yarn left over
Patons Melody (Super Bulky), Rainbow Run, 1 skein with yarn left over

Size N & K for Bulky (#5) yarn
Size P & N for Super Bulky (#6) yarn

Bulky yarn, Size N hook - 18 stitches = approximately 6".
Super Bulky yarn, Size P hook - 14 stitches = approximately 6".

Note: Do a few test rows, then measure the width of your swatch. It should be 6" wide. Adjust number of chains if necessary to achieve gauge. (You may also adjust the width of your rectangle to fit very narrow or very wide feet. When your rectangle is about 3" long, try it on by pinching one end together and holding it up to your foot. It should cover the heel and come about halfway up the side of the foot.)

This pattern is so simple, no chart is needed. 
I've decided to combine the instructions with the photos
and write the whole thing in plain English.
The only abbreviation used will be Tss for Tunisian Simple Stitch.

Super Shorthand Pattern

Make a rectangle in Tunisian Simple Stitch (or stitch of your choice), measuring 6" wide (or a width that will cover the bottom of your foot and come about halfway up the sides), by length of foot, + 1" (or whatever amount is necessary for a snug slipper). On last row, shape heel by making decrease of 2 stitches (or 3 if your rectangle is an odd number of stitches wide) in center of row. Bind off, then follow edging and assembly instructions below.

Pattern Instructions with Photos

Numbers in parentheses refer to slipper made with Super Bulky yarn.

Base Row, Forward Pass: Use larger hook. Leaving a 12" tail, chain 18 (14 if using Super Bulky yarn). Working in the back bump of each chain, pick up 17 (13) loops. (See the Tunisian Simple Stitch Tutorial if you need a refresher on this part.)

Do not turn the work. This is the right side; keep it facing you at all times. The base row will become the toe of the slipper.

Return Pass: Yarn over, pull through 1 loop. *Yarn over, pull through 2 loops. Repeat from * until 1 loop left on hook.

All return passes will be made like this one.

Here's the rectangle with 1 row done,
and the loops for the second row
drawn up and sitting on the hook.

Regular Rows: Starting with second stitch, work Tss in each stitch across (Tunisian Simple Stitch - insert hook from right to left under vertical bar, yarn over, and draw up a loop). In last stitch, insert hook under vertical bar AND strand behind it. You should have 18 (14) stitches on the hook. Make return pass as above = 18 (14) stitches.

Adjust number of stitches as necessary to get proper width.

Continue making rows of Tss until rectangle is just under desired length (foot measurement + 1"). Decrease for heel as follows:

Final row (decrease): Tss in 2nd vertical bar from hook AND next 5 (3) stitches. You should have 7 (5) loops on your hook.

Ready to decrease

Tss 2 together (insert hook under next 2 stitches; draw up loop - decrease made).

Insert hook under 2 bars at once

Yarn over, pull through

Make 1 more decrease (Tss 2 together), then Tss to end of row.

2 decreases made

Make return pass = 16 (12) stitches.

Note: If you changed the number of stitches in the rectangle,
adjust as necessary to place your decreases in the center of the final row.
(If your rectangle is an odd number of stitches wide, make 3 decreases instead of 2.)

Bind off final row. (Forgot how to bind off? Instructions are in the tutorial. Click here.)

Binding off

Change to size K hook for bulky yarn, or size N hook for super bulky yarn.

Change to regular size hook, and get ready
to crochet down the side of the slipper.

Border: Chain 1. With right side still facing you, turn rectangle and work down the side. Single crochet 1 in each edge stitch until there are 3 stitches/rows left.

Single crochet edging has been added to 1 side.
Stop when there are 3 stitches left.

Look at the opposite edge of the rectangle and find the 3rd row edge stitch. Overlap first side of rectangle (the one with the border) over the opposite side, aligning the 3rd row edge stitches. This will form the pointy toe. The corners of the rectangle now look like flaps - one on the inside and and one on the outside of the slipper.

Make next single crochet through both 3rd row edge stitches at once to connect the two sides. (The starting tail of yarn will be on the outside of the slipper.)

Note: You can join the front edges at any stitch you like - I pinned the tip of my slipper together and tried it on, and the 3rd rows seemed like a good joining place. Feel free to join the edges higher up, or even at different  rows on either side, to get the best fit.

Insert hook in next edge stitch, AND 3rd edge stitch of opposite side.
Single crochet both stitches together.

A reminder: When making the border on the second slipper,
remember to place the OPPOSITE side of the rectangle on top,
so toe flaps will be mirrored when slippers are worn.
(Starting tail of yarn will be on the inside flap of second slipper.)

Now single crochet up the other side of the slipper, 1 in each edge stitch, until you reach the end. The right side of the work is still facing you.

Stitching continues up the other side. 

Last single crochet. Ready to cut yarn and sew heel together

Cut yarn, leaving a 12" tail. Pull yarn up through last stitch. Thread yarn on darning needle and whipstitch heel ends together from the outside.

Hold the edges together for whipstitching.
Stitch the very top stitches together first.

Stitch through the back loops of the stitches until you reach
the bottom of the heel.

Hide yarn end in slipper and trim excess. Admire the neat heel with its little ridge of stitches and the zigzagging seam between.

At toe end, using the long tail of yarn, sew the flap edge down with a shallow running stitch until you reach the tip.

Shallow running stitches

Pass needle through fabric and down through the very tip of the toe...

...then bring the yarn around a stitch and back up through the tip to gently hold it closed. Do not pull too tightly. Keep your hand down inside the slipper to ensure that you don't accidentally sew through the space reserved for your toes.

Pass yarn back into slipper fabric to hide end, secure, and trim. And you're done!

Embellish as desired, and enjoy your new Birchbark Slippers. (Here I am, relaxing in mine. Notice the stylish socks and leggings.)

What the Wisconsin Blogger is Wearing This Winter.

Or make a pair for someone else, and share the enjoyment.

This pair is a gift for a dear friend.

You may do whatever you like with the slippers you make from this pattern, but you may not sell the pattern. If you have any questions, feel free to use the comment space below, or contact me in Ravelry.

Happy crocheting!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


  1. Perfect, simple, classic! Thanks for sharing!

  2. The Goatmother is in love with the buttons on the first pair! They are a very nice color combinations as well!

  3. What an intriguing design, thanks for sharing!
    will try this pattern out soon. :)

  4. what a sweet pair of slippers- can't wait to try this design... thank you, Sue, for sharing this wonderful tutorial.

  5. Very Classy and Very Happy slippers. I will have to attempt the Tunisian stitch. I am a lefty, so it may take me a while.
    Thanks for such a generous tutorial.

    1. Hi Ellen,
      Just wanted you to know that I am a lefty too ad seem to be getting on ok (nearly finished my first one) Good luck :)

  6. Very impressive, they look lovely. They'd be suitable for summer wear for me, our house is very draughty so in winter I wear sheepskin slippers which come up past my ankles otherwise I have very cold feet and start to complain a lot.
    By the way, I hardly ever call them "slippers" - "baffies" is the word we use in our house, and it seems more apt for my chunky footwear than "slippers" which suggests something far more elegant and refined.

  7. I am in love with these! The other day I almost bought myself a Tunisian hook as I can't find the one I had.

  8. Why do they remind me of Aladdin? Again, I am in love. I want to make some right now.

  9. Brilliant! If only I could crochet, she wails once again.

    1. I've already knit my rectangles in seed stitch with LB Wool Ease Thick and Quick and just found a good contrast color to do the single crochet around edges (I can't crochet an object but I can do this & so can you! I promise!) I made mine very thick so that lovely pointed toe wouldn't collapse.

  10. I love these slippers!! Will be giving them to my sister and niece for xmas. Thanks so much for sharing!! I just know they will love them.

  11. These are so stylish! The Tunisian stitches should help them hold up for many long winters, too. What an incredible eye you have for design!

  12. This are awesome! I should probably try crochet one of this days.


  13. meravigliose, mi piacerebbe farle anche a me.

  14. I would make them immediately if I wouldn´t have such a lot of Ufo-socks.
    They are so cute!
    Thanks for sharing!

  15. What lovley slipper tutorial. Thanks for sharing

  16. Charming is the only word! I have to make a pair. Thank you so much for sharing the pattern and the tutorial. Now... if I could just figure out how to make them into outdoor shoes, lol.

  17. I will knit a rectangle and make a pair since I don't crochet. They are just too cute! Thank you for the pattern.

  18. I have marked these for my next project. I have a couple skeins of mismatched WOOL 4-ply from a thrift store, which should work great and last forever. Thanks for making it simple. I am away from my stashes right now, so I have no buttons, but I will try some crocheted flowers.

  19. you are just fantastic

  20. I just started a pair of these. Thank you for sharing this pattern.

  21. Thanks all! I really appreciate the kind feedback.

  22. They are beautiful!

  23. Thank you for the wonderful pattern. The charity I crochet for will love these slippers.

    I will not share the pattern, but will share your URL.

    Thanks again.

  24. Do you think it would work to make them wrong-side out? I think I would like the bumpier side out and smoother side in.

    1. Sure - you can do whatever you like. But if you do, your hook will end up on the "wrong" corner to start the border. To fix this, you might want to make the slipper one row shorter than you normally would, bind off your Tunisian stitches, then chain 1, turn, and single crochet one row back the other way. This will put your hook at the other corner - then you can just go around the corner and make your single crochet border, and the bumpy side will be facing out. (I hope that all makes sense.)

    2. I decided I would just wear them inside out. :) but I can't seem to get the length/width right, too short and wide, too long and even wider...I'll keep adjusting.

  25. Ooh, just found you through Ravelry. Thank you loads for this lovely pattern, can't wait to get stuck in!
    thanks again

    1. Thanks Lorna! Hope you enjoy the slippers - be sure to post a pic on Ravelry when you finish them.

  26. These are amazing! I've never tried Tunisian crochet...

  27. Love it
    But I think it's too dificult for me. I've got lost at the first row.
    I've saved the page and now i'm gonna ask my teacher (my grandmother) if she knows it and if she can teach me. :)
    Maria Fernanda

  28. Love that I can make this even without digging out my Tunisian crochet hooks! I just happen tto have a big batch of vanna's Colors Bulky which sells for $2 a 101 yd ball at Ac Moore! Slippers for everyone!!!
    You're a doll-thanks!

    1. You're welcome, Mrs. B. Thanks so much for commenting.

      P.S. My slippers stretched out after wearing - so you may want to make them snug. :)

  29. Adorable slippers and so fast! A great stash-buster too. Thanks so much for sharing!

  30. Thanks for sharing with us... I will try just with crochet... because I don´t no tunisian crochet... And will be number 9... tksss...

  31. Hi Sue - I'm Sue too. Had to start straight away! Never done tunisian crochet before but I am getting the hang of it. They are very stylish for hand made slippers. They remind me of Aladdin too.

    1. Good luck! They really go very quickly, I think. And thanks.


    1. Dear Laura,

      Procurar um botão perto do topo da página,no lado direito. Ele diz: "Translate". Clique no botão e escolha a opção "Português". Boa sorte!

  33. These are so adorable! I bet they are very warm. Would they be as warm as sheepskin slippers? Great pictures and tutorial!

  34. Thanks so much, all the girls are getting these for Christmas!

  35. Hey there! These are just what I am looking for! I was hoping to make some and felt them, or should I make my rectangle, felt it, then construct? and how much larger do you think I should make them to allow for shrinkage? Thanks for sharing! If I do the felted ones, I will share my results! :)

    1. I'm so sorry, I didn't see your comment until now! I really don't know how to answer your questions - there's no way to predict how much things will shrink when felted. But I'd very much like to see the results if this idea works out for you. Thanks for commenting. :)

  36. I've never used Tunisian stitch in a pattern; I'm not really crazy about it. But these are great, I love the way you styled them. I think I might have to make them!

    1. You can use any stitch you like, you know - just make a rectangle and go from there. Many people on Ravelry have found that this pattern works best if you make the rectangle only as long as your foot (not longer, as I advised). This helps keep the slipper from falling off when it gets a little stretched out.

      Good luck, and by all means try it with a stitch you do like! :)

  37. I love these slippers! Where can we find the yarn that you used,I love the colors. Thank you for sharing these.

    1. I got the yarn at JoAnn Fabrics, last year (2011). I think it's probably still available.

      Thanks for commenting. :)

  38. I am attempting these slippers right now! The patters in very classy. I think I am going to use a cro-hook in the future simply for the ease of keeping the stitches on my hook. Thank you!

    1. You're welcome! A cro-hook would be great - I was just using what I had available. :)

  39. These are absolutely gorgeous!! Thanks so much for sharing them. I linked back to the pattern this morning on my blog:

  40. These are the most brilliant slipper pattern I have viewed and I've looked at many. I would like to try knitting them, as you said that it was possible to do so.

    Thank you so much for sharing this timeless slipper!

  41. I am attempting these slippers right now! The patters in very classy. I think I am going to use a cro-hook in the future simply for the ease of keeping the stitches on my hook. Thank you!

  42. Such an easy and fun project! Your directions are very clear and the pictures are great!

    Thank you!

  43. Oh My God !
    I can't believe you got both of this done in less than a hour. This is the first time i have tried this pattern, and i'm going to suggest to all .

    Barker Marine

    Men Shoes UK

  44. Hello: Do you have how to do this as knitted pair of slippers? I don't know how to crochet. Thank you. Jean

    1. Sure - just knit a rectangle, using any stitch you like, and following the directions above (under "Size") for dimensions. I would choose a stable stitch and use firm tension to prevent stretching. On your last row, decrease a few stitches to help the heel round up slightly.

      For the border - you would have to use your best judgement. You could try a simple knitted border after the rectangle is done, or you could work the border as you go - perhaps a couple of seed stitches or garter stitches at the beginning and end of each row?

      Your cast-on edge will be the toe, so use a cast-on that gives a nice tidy edge. :)

    2. I did tight seed stitch. Bought a contrasting color today to do the simple crochet border (I'm not a crocheter either but I can do this. ) I love this. Oh, and I'm going to make a Pom Pom out of contrast to put on toes.

  45. Oh I love love love HAPPINESS, and I LOVEEEEEEEE THESE SLIPPERS.....your instructions are great and easy for beginners to follow!!! I will be making a few pairs for my girls!!!! DEB:) :)

  46. These are beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your patterns. I have lots of brown wool, so may try a pair with that and a pretty wine-colored variegate for contrast for thickness. I will have to look you up on Ravelry too.

    =) Gayle

  47. I told my daughter in law is make her slippers and we had a laugh but I think she'll be pleasantly surprised with these ;)

  48. This is just a precious pattern. Thank you for sharing it.

  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

  50. wiredNovember 29, 2016 at 7:40 AM
    I'm so glad to find this before Christmas! A classic simple and elegant solution for chilled toes in Florida. Any suggestions on how to round the toes for a mens pattern? I have added this as a plan for extra gift for all of the family on my list. This is one example of tunisian density being perfect for the item.
    TY sooo much. Lovely website terrific patterns! BTW link to shoe measurements is awesome!


    1. Hi Robin - I don't know how you could round the toes, as the toes of these slippers are formed by the base of the rectangle, which folds easily into a point but not so easily into other shapes! You might want to try a more standard crochet slipper pattern that starts with a magic ring and works in the round for the toe area - check out this post from Moogly for ideas:

      Good luck and thanks for commenting!


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