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« Molly's Sketchbook: Embroidered Covered Buttons | Main | Whit's Knits: Giacomo's Baby Hat »

Whit's Knits: Mary Jane Slippers


When I was seven I relished any chance I could get to wear my black patent leather Mary Jane's. No event was too insignificant! Now I like to shuffle around my apartment in these knit slippers reminiscent of the classic style. 

Some historical perspective: Mary Jane was sister to Buster Brown, star of the early 20th century comic, Buster Brown. The Brown Shoe Company licensed the names and characters of the strip and made Mary Jane Shoes what they are today. Cute and sassy!

Enjoy! --Whitney


I kept these slippers pretty simple, but they'd also be really cute modified for a button or decorated with a knit flower. I hope you have as much fun knitting these as I did designing them!


5 stitches = 1 inch in garter stitch

Finished Size

Fits medium size woman's foot (shoe size 7-9)

Making the Sole

Note: If you slip the first stitch of every row, it will be a little bit easier to pick up stitches later.

Cast on 8 stitches

Row 1: Knit

Increase Row: Slip 1, kfb, knit to last 2 stitches, kfb, knit 1 (10 st).

Knit 2 rows.

Repeat the last 3 rows 2 more times (14 stitches)

Knit until piece measures 2 inches from cast on edge (or, if you prefer to count rows: Knit 11 rows).

Knit an Increase Row (16 stitches).

Knit until piece measures one more inch (11 rows).

Repeat the last 12 rows 3 more times (piece will measure 6-inches and there will be 22 stitches).

At this point the sole should look something like this: 


Knit 3 rows.

Decrease Row: Slip 1, k2tog, k to last 3 stitches, ssk, knit 1 (20 stitches).

Knit 1 row. 

Repeat the last 2 rows 8 more times (4 stitches).

Bind off.


Making the Upper

Starting at the center of the heel (with either side facing you), pick up 42 stitches to the center of the toe (pick up 1 stitch for every stitch around the heel and toe, and 3 stitches for every 4 up the sides).

Pick up 42 stitches down the other side to the center back of the heel and place a marker (pm). (84 stitches on needle).  Work the following rows in the round.


Purl 1 round. (The first couple of rounds are a little tight and awkward, but it gets easier.)

Knit 1 round.

Purl 1 round.

Repeat the last 2 rounds.

Next round: Knit 32, pm (use a different color than the end-of-the-round marker), k2tog, k 16, ssk, pm (use the same color as the marker just placed), knit 32.
Purl 1 round.

Next round: Knit to marker, k2tog, knit to 2 stitches before marker, ssk, knit to end of round.

Repeat last 2 rounds until there are 6 stitches between the 2 same color markers (5 times) (70 stitches total remaining).

Bind off loosely.


Attaching the I-Cord

With the contrast yarn, use the provisional cast-on technique (see our provisional cast-on tutorial) to cast 4 stithces onto one US size 5 double pointed needle.

Starting at the center of the heel, knit an attached I-cord around the edge of the slipper. Pick up 1 st for every bound off stitch. For instructions on knitting an attached I-cord, see our tutorial. Finish the two live ends of the Attached I-cord by refering to our Kitchener Stitch Tutorial.


Knitting the Strap

Try the slipper on to see where you would like to have the strap. I placed mine 3 inches from the center of the heel. 

With a US size 5 double pointed needle, pick up 5 stitches inside the slipper, on the left side, right below the attached I-cord.


Slipping the first stitch of every row, knit in garter stitch until there are 16 1/2 ridges (ie for 33 rows) or until it is the length that fits your foot, bearing in mind that garter stitch really stretches.

The last row you knit should leave the yarn at the heel end of the slipper. Cut an 8 inch tail and thread it through a tapestry needle.

Straight across from where the strap began, thread the yarn up through a purl bump.


Then thread the yarn through the first stitch of the knitting needle as if to purl and remove the stitch from the needle.

Repeat these 2 steps until no stitches remain.

Weave in all the ends. And make another!


Reader Comments (23)

Cute, Cute, Cute... As soon as I get this half to project dun... I am going to start making several pair....
January 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrenee
What a great colour choice! Very good tutorial, love the pictures!
January 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGuro
They're super cute. I love the color combo.
January 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
They look lovely- can't wait to try them, I have knitted some before from another pattern but these look a much better fit- thanks for sharing!
January 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
the slippers look awesome. i m a left handed knitter i have to reverse the pattern ? and how do i do it?
July 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commenternafeesa
Oh my goodness. I love these. Love the color combo too!
July 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDeb J
I love this pattern! I especially love how easy you've made it for even the newest of knitters to follow. Those giant photos are clearer than I can see my own knitting ... without a magnifier, that is. This pattern is destined to be used by a small local group to knit slippers for a women's shelter, as well as for ourselves, of course. However, after much tinkering (cut, paste, re-position, and finally putting it into Word in a two column, 10 row table) I did get it pared down from the 15 pages my printer wanted to print it on to a mere 10. The photos are still full size; I only had to downsize the font on the text that goes with the first part of the Making of the Sole in order to keep it all on one page. This way, I will save paper, and have fewer pages to lug across town to the meetings. I haven't yet looked at any of your other patterns, but I'm willing to bet they all could be made to eat less paper when printed out. Would it be asking too much of you, with your much higher computer skills, to aim to save paper and your reader's time by making the printable version more compact for us?
Thank you very much.
December 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJessica-Jean
Would you be interested in making a pair of these for a one year old? How much would you charge? Thanks
January 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather M
do you have an easy adjustment for a larger size - to fit a women's 10-11 & also for girls sizes? i have long feet & these would make fun gifts for my neices!
March 5, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterapryl
hi i just wanted to know is this pattern for the mary jane slippers for beginner, intermediate, or advanced knitters. because i am a beginner and i want to knit those slippers. and my second question was how do you adjust this pattern to fit a womans feet a size 4,5, or 6.
September 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpassion
Hi Passion,
This pattern would probably qualify as an intermediate pattern because of the shaping, the attached i-cord and also the use of kitchener stitch in finishing. You can adjust the pattern size by adjusting the length of the sole of the slipper, and then pick up less stitches around the sole when you make the foot. If you're a beginner, it may be best for you to knit at least one slipper as written so that you can get the idea of the pattern before you jump in to customizing it.
Hope this helps!
September 6, 2009 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Just wondering if anyone has made these minus the strap??
October 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpeggy pennie
To Peggy Pennie: I have knitted these a few times and once I chose to go strapless on these. I just knitted an extra row or two (after picking up stitches). It works just fine without the strap this way. : )
March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBethany
Would anyone be able to post the finished measurements for these slippers? I just started them, and I'm afraid they are turning out too big.
September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue
HI Sue,

The length of the sole should measure about 8 1/2 inches when you finish it. Also, double check your gauge; that will really let you know if you're on the right track!

Thanks for your question and good luck!
September 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpurlbee
Can these be made to a real shoe...
June 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteraisha
Hi Aisha,

Do you mean you'd like to add a rubber sole to the bottom of these? I suppose if you have a source for soles and they have holes along the edges, there's no reason you couldn't sew them on. I'm not sure how long the shoes would last, but it sounds like a fun experiment!

Thanks for asking and good luck!

June 26, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I would love to make these mary jane slippers for my greatgranddaughters (ages 1 and 3) Please post instructions for that or how i should go about changing the size. Thanking you in advance.
July 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlorraine weiss
Hi Lorraine,

Unfortunately, we don't have the resources to customize patterns, especially ones that are complicated to alter (like this one!). Aside from rewriting the pattern yourself, you could try following it as it's written but use a much thinner yarn. You may get close to the size you want!

Thank you so much for your question and good luck!

July 31, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hello, all went well first, I knitted the sole with DPN needles, picked up my 84 stitches to a 60cm circular needle and then it all became impossible when I started my 1st round: am I dong something wrong? the stitches are not sliding and I found it impossible to Purl my 1st round ( I have never used circular needles before.) the circular needle the wrong type or wrong size ?
October 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterclaudie
Hi Claudie,

I'm not surprised you're having trouble! A 60cm (24 inch) circular needle is too long for the number of stitches you have on the needle. I used a 16-inch circular needle because that is short enough to allow the stitches to reach around in a circle.

I hope this helps. It sounds like you're off to a good start! Please let us know if you hit any more snags!

October 23, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I love the look of these slippers and would definitely like to make them! I'm not very familiar with f picking up stitches, though, do you have a recommended tutorial for that? Also, is there a specific casting on technique you need for doing so?
Thanks for all your great patterns!
February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKiki
Hi Kiki,

We almost always use a Long Tail Cast On, which will serve you just fine for this pattern. Here is our tutorial:

And for picking up stitches, we don't have our own tutorial (yet!), but Knitty has a good one!

Thanks for your questions and good luck with your Mary Janes!

February 26, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

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