Introduction: Arctic Booties

Picture of Arctic Booties

Water resistant fur lined baby booties made from recycled materials.

Materials used in this project:
Vinyl (From an old inflatable bed)
Fur (From an old fox ruff)
Industrial Strength Thread
Hemp Twine
Brass Grommets

Tools:
Knife
Scissors
Small and Large Needles
Grommet Tool
Hammer

Step 1: Assemble Materials

Picture of Assemble Materials

I went to my local thrift store knowing that I wanted to make some baby booties. On the outset I wasn't sure what materials I would use. However, I wanted to find a pair of materials that fit these one that was durable and waterproof and another that was soft and warm. I chose the inflatable bed because I knew the material would be durable and waterproof. I chose fur because it is soft and warm. Although one may debate the merits of killing animals for their fur, I have no qualms about recycling discarded fur garments.

I cut out the patterned section of the inflatable bed.

The ruff was essentially a lined fur tube. Therefore, I cut off one end and inverted the tube, carefully snipping out the interior stitches as I proceeded. I then removed stitches on the two sides of the tube therefore creating two strips of fur.

Step 2: Make Insoles

Picture of Make Insoles

I adapted a pattern from a Make magazine article. I made several mock ups out of old paper bags and decided that I would make the sole and tongue out of one piece and the sides of the boot out of another.

Using the very tip of an extremely sharp knife I was able to cut the leather without cutting off the fur.
I used a double needle stitch to attach the two pieces of leather. For this stitch two needles pass either direction through the same holes. An exaggerated demonstration of this action can be seen in the third image.

Additionally, I began the stitching from the center of each piece of fabric to insure proper alignment.

Step 3: Make Outsoles

Picture of Make Outsoles

I used the same pattern to cut the shapes out of the vinyl. However, I made the pattern about a quarter of an inch wider in most dimensions.
Although I substituted materials I utilized a traditional Alaskan waterproof stitch. This stitch is used to sew bags and boots using seal hide, grass and sinew. The general concept is that the grass swells when it becomes moist, however the sinew does not. The swelling draws the two pieces of material tightly together and surface tension prevents additional moisture penetration.
I used a combination of vinyl, hemp twine and industrial strength synthetic thread. Having made hemp jewelry I know that the fiber swells when it is wet. Additionally, most synthetics do not swell when they are wet. Therefore I assumed the same principle would work.
The thread makes a standard running stitch while the hemp is laced between the fabric and the thread. The hemp also prevents the thread from ripping through the fabric. The hemp effectively spreads the load of the thread over a wider area. Tradition emphasizes the correct amount of tension on each stitch to maximize this effect so I attempted to make a consistent taut seam.
After stitching the entire outer sole I added grommets to allow for lacing. This involves punching a hole, setting the grommet and a good thunk with a hammer. Note: Grommets can be a little finicky it is best to test a few on scrap before using them on a finished piece.
I tested how waterproof the resulting booties were. I filled the out sole with water and although it dripped some, but as you can see in the picture it held water.

Step 4: Finnish & Test

Picture of Finnish & Test

Once both shoe components were finished I put in the fur liners and laced them up. It is convenient to have removable liners so they may be dried out separately.

Comments

thepelton (author)2009-09-02

Neat! You could get the fur from a rabbit skin, or synthetic fur, and for a baby under a year they wouldn't require much material. They could be kept after the child outgrows them to embarras him with when he was a teenager.

canida (author)2009-09-02

Those look awesomely warm and fuzzy.

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Bio: Perhaps I am the heretical harbinger of the New Archaic, perhaps I just like wood.
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