How to cover shoes with fabric

Written by melissa j. bell
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Creating shoe covers out of fabric is an old trick used by professional and hobbyist costumiers. Many outlandish styles of shoes and boots needed for film, stage, Renaissance garb, cosplay and even Halloween costuming are too expensive to have custom-made. Rather than spending a great deal of money on shoes, costumiers often instead create a false top for a cheaper pair of shoes. These tops, or shoe covers, are designed to trick the eye, and can often be convincing if created from high-quality fabrics.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Muslin
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Fabric pencil
  • Fabric
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Zipper
  • Hot glue gun

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    Making the Pattern

  1. 1

    Take one of the shoes you are using as your costume shoe base and put it on. Cut a piece of muslin that is more than large enough to go around your foot, and will cover the shoe you are wearing as well as all the places you want your final product to cover. Cut the muslin in half along the length.

  2. 2

    Wrap the muslin around your foot so that the bottom edge meets the sole of the shoe, and the side edges meet directly at the back and front of the foot. Pin the side edges loosely together to create a back seam and a front seam.

  3. 3

    Smooth the fabric out over the shoe and your leg, and adjust the pins as necessary. Your back seam should be reasonably straight, while your front seam will curve over the front of the shoe. Mark the placement of the pins with a fabric pencil.

  4. 4

    Draw in the shape of the shoe top you would like to approximate, using the fabric pencil. Make sure that it rests exactly at the height you would like, then unpin the pieces of muslin and take off your shoe.

  5. 5

    Discard one of the muslin pieces, and cut the other piece along the lines you drew. This piece will be used as a pattern for the shoe covers.

    Sewing the Covers

  1. 1

    Lay the pattern piece over a double layer of your chosen fabric. Using the fabric pencil, draw around the outside of the pattern, adding 1/2 inch to the bottom, sides and top for seam allowances. Cut along these outside lines to get the fabric pieces for one shoe cover, then use them as pattern pieces to get another two shoe cover pieces.

  2. 2

    Take one pair of shoe cover pieces and lay one on top of the other, right sides together. Pin the front edge together, then stitch 1/2 inch away from that edge to create the front seam. Press and trim the seam allowances. Repeat this step on the back edge, but stitch only 2 inches up from the bottom, leaving most of the top open.

  3. 3

    Fold the top and bottom edges under 1/2 inch and press them flat. Stitch the folded edges down 1/2 inch away from the fold.

  4. 4

    Fold the rest of the back edges under 1/2 inch and press them flat. Pin the left side of the zipper to the left edge, and the right side of the zipper to the right edge. Stitch the zippers in place using the zipper foot attachment on your machine.

  5. 5

    Slide the shoe cover over the shoe, lining up the folded bottom edge with the sole of the shoe. Using a hot glue gun, glue the bottom of the shoe cover to the bottom edge of the shoe. Repeat Steps 2 through 5 for the other shoe cover.

Tips and warnings

  • Choose a pair of shoes that already have the sole and heel style you need.
  • The best fabric for a shoe cover depends upon the type of shoe you are trying to recreate. For modern-looking shoes, often a vinyl or PVC works best, while you may want to use faux-suede or leather to copy the look of medieval or fantasy shoes.

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