As usual, we're researching the odd and the obscure and this item is almost entirely lost to history. This time, I've decided to have a go at recreating the Civil War hospital slipper. This is one of several variants you can find in original sources. Like most historic patterns some of the instructions can be quite vague or omitted altogether. Mrs. 1st Sgt and I spent quite a bit of time debating the heel construction. Either way, this one came out looking and working like a slipper. The pattern I used doesn't have a sole like we would imagine a modern slipper having. Though, another pattern from the Sanitary Commission did call for a pasteboard insert in between the layers of material. If you think about it, these just needed to keep a soldier's feet warm and be durable enough to walk a hospital floor. However, carpet slippers in general were common back then and were well known for their durability.
For construction, I used some scrap old-timey looking upholstery fabric and "lead colored" cotton flannel like the pattern called for. I couldn't say the upholstery fabric is correct, but this is just a proof of concept project at this time. I am working on tracking down some authentic carpet for future pairs. I used the original pattern to cut out the upholstery and then I traced that pattern onto some newspaper and added a 3/4 hem allowance for the flannel lining. I used that pattern to cut the flannel. The rest was like the instructions. I placed the outer material on top of the lining, rolled the hem and used a whip or felling stitch to secure it. For the toe, I used a ladder stitch. The pattern says these can be made in a hour but decoding the pattern for the first time took quite a bit more time than that as we were unable to find any images of surviving examples. These are simple to make once you get the hang of it. I'm still not 100% that I sewed the heel according to the instructions, but it looks the part and holds the form well. I just have to make the other one. I do plan on making copies of all the patterns I can find and I'll be sure to share them with you as I go.
The Pattern I Used from the Library of Congress