Mary Jane Slippers | Purl Soho

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

Designed by Purl Soho designer, Whitney Van Nes.

Share your progress and connect with the community by tagging your pics with #PurlSoho, #PurlSohoBusyHands, and #PurlSohoMaryJaneSlippers. We can’t wait to see what you make!


Mary Jane Slippers | Purl Soho
  • 1 skein each in two contrasting colors of Lorna’s Laces Superwash Shepherd Worsted yarn. I used Firefly for the main color and Pink Blossom for the contrast color.
  • US 6 (4 mm), 16-inch circular needles
  • US 5 (3.75 mm) double-pointed needles
  • stitch markers
  • Tapestry needle
Mary Jane Slippers | Purl Soho

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!


20 stitches = 4 inches in garter stitch


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


Make 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. We used a basic Long Tail Cast On.

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:

Mary Jane Slippers | Purl Soho

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.

Mary Jane Slippers | Purl Soho

Make 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.

Mary Jane Slippers | Purl Soho

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.

Mary Jane Slippers | Purl Soho

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.

Mary Jane Slippers | Purl Soho

Attach the I-Cord

With the contrast yarn, use the provisional cast-on technique (see our provisional cast-on tutorial) to cast 4 stitches 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.

Mary Jane Slippers | Purl Soho

Knit 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.

Mary Jane Slippers | Purl Soho
Mary Jane Slippers | Purl Soho

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.

Mary Jane Slippers | Purl Soho

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!

Mary Jane Slippers | Purl Soho