Introduction: Felt Costume Shoes With Heavy Sole

I've always felt that costumes aren't complete without the right footwear. However, it's sometimes a nightmare to find shoes - especially when shoes are such a seasonal thing. I have a planned costume that will require green shoes, and I don't want to try to find (and pay for) men's size 12 green shoes for wearing once or twice. A goal was to have shoes that I could wear down the street without worrying about street debris slicing open my feet.

For these shoes I used the following materials:

  • Green Acrylic Felt
  • Green Thread
  • Old uncomfortable pair of Slippers (that's what we call 'em in Hawaii - aka flip-flops). These things were supposed to be foot-massaging, but the little nubs felt more like I was walking on gravel.
  • Thick Sample Leather - I can't remember how I ended up with this - either a friend gave it to me or I got it at a zero-landfill event.
  • UGlu Tape (I had never used this stuff before).
  • Chalk paper

Tools:

  • Sewing Machine
  • Seam Ripper (not necessary if you do it right the first time) ;)
  • Scissors.
  • Needle
  • Rotary Cutter (Scissors would do) and mat
  • Marking Chalk
  • Pins
  • Tracing Wheel

Step 1: Step 1: Cut Leather Inners

Trace the slippers and cut out the leather.

This piece is what the feet will touch instead of the original slippers.

Step 2: Step 2: Tear Apart Painful Slippers

I just pulled the plastic bits really hard. Cutting would probably have been easier on the hands.

Step 3: Step 3: Drape the Felt and Trim

Stand on the leather for the matching foot.

Drape the felt over and tuck in under the leather. Don't make too snug (mine is a little too snug, but I think the felt will stretch). After tucking under the leather, pin it all the way through the felt-leather-slipper (not pictured)

Step 4: Step 4: Remove Slipper

Carefully remove the slipper, but don't let the felt come loose from the pins. Re-pin securely. We won't need the slipper again until the last step.

Step 5: Step 5: Mark Felt

Using the marking chalk, mark where the felt connects to the leather - both inside and out - be careful not to lose pin locations when lifting the pins for marking. Re-pin as you go if necessary.

Step 6: Step 6: Remove Pins and Copy

Remove the pins and then use the felt to make a copy with the rotary tool (or just carefully cut with scissors). Smooth the edges if you like.

Step 7: Step 7: Duplicate Marks

Using chalk tracing paper and the tracing wheel, duplicate the marks.

Step 8: Step 8: Re-pin Felt to Leather

Sorry, time to re-do what you just undid. But you marked clearly, right? Should be a breeze.

Step 9: Step 9: Sewing the Felt

Sew the felt to the leather.

I used the dotted-line zig-zag. If I were using a heavier duty felt and leather, I might have used a straight stitch.

Be careful to make sure the needle goes through the leather and felt. It very easily slides out, since the felt stretches, and the pins don't do a great job of preventing slippage. I had to redo a few stretches. I couldn't sew without my seam ripper!

Also make sure you don't fold the felt over itself.

Step 10: Step 10: Cut and Fit Heel

Cut a rectangle of felt wide enough to tuck under the leather and to go over your heel. I suggest giving yourself an extra inch just in case you lose some length in the last step. This rectangle should be long enough to wrap all the way around from the middle of your inside arch to the same position on the outside.

Keep in mind that the leather won't stay flat unless you hold/pin it down, so take care that you don't short yourself on the length.

Pin it in place at the ends, and then all the way around on the sole.

Pinch the heel and pin it so the heel is cupped nicely.

Mark the heel pin with the chalk.

Step 11: Step 11: Mark Ankle

While the heel part is on your foot, mark a curve under your outer ankle bone so you don't chafe against the felt.

Remove the heel pin, and slide off the shoe.

Mark where the heel meets the leather.

Step 12: Step 12: Duplicate Heel

Remove the pins.

Using the rotary cutter or scissors, duplicate the ankle piece.

Use the chalk wheel to duplicate the marks.

Step 13: Step 12: Stitch the Heel

I cut the heel at the marks (V shape) and stitched it up with a narrow zigzag.

I put the raw edges to the outside so the seam wouldn't chafe.

If you plan to wear socks/hose/tights with the shoes, you might want to put the raw edges to the inside. It will look better. I plan to embellish the shoes at a later time, so I'm not as worried about the edges. I'm more concerned with fit and comfort.

Step 14: Step 14: Re-pin Heel and Stitch

Re-pin the heel to the leather and stitch - again, I used a dotted-line zig-zag. Try to use as narrow of a zig-zag as you dare, and stay as close to the outside of the the leather as possible.

Step 15: Step 15: Trim Excess

Trim the excess felt as close as you dare without cutting into stitching.

Step 16: Step 16: Glue the Slippers

I used UGlu Tape as an experiment - I don't recall using it before. It seems to have worked. But I wonder at long-term adhesion. I was going to use E6000, but my tube was mysteriously missing from its home. Has anyone used E6000 for something that needs to be slightly flexible like shoes?

I accidentally taped the wrong side, so the nubby "gravel massage" bits now became the bottoms. I think they offer about the same tread, so I didn't lose tears. I don't think the neighbors heard my frustrated muttering...

I just taped around the edge. I probably should have taped down the middle as well, but I ran out of tape.

I trimmed the edges with scissors and a mat knife. Neither really work great for UGlu, since it is so sticky stretchy -- I think I'd prefer an energy beam knife...

I peeled off the backing and pressed all over to make sure it made a good seal.

Step 17: Step 17: Sew Sides and Model!

Try on the shoes and pin the sides to fit snugly against the front.

Remove them and just stitch (by hand).

Try them on again and model them for your friends!

You now have a pair of shoes that could be embellished or otherwise modified to be wizard shoes, elf shoes, witches shoes, house shoes (you don't need the heavy sole for that), or whatever your costume/cosplay heart desires!

Lessons Learned

  • If I were wearing these as a final shoe, I would probably line them and use narrower stitching.
  • UGlue works in a pinch, but I'll need to see how permanent it is for something that has so much movement like a shoe.
  • I lost too much length when gluing the heel, thus my recommendation to give yourself extra (you can trim after the fact).
  • The shoes might benefit from a bit of elastic connecting the front/heel or just around the heel.
  • If I were making house shoes, I would probably sew on a leather sole (a duplicate of the inner one) so the felt wouldn't wear on the floor.
  • The shoes were quite tight after gluing flat. Thus my recommendation to not be too snug when wrapping the felt.
  • I may add cut-outs for breath-ability.
  • I find the shoes actually to be comfortable. Not something I really expected (though anything would have been an improvement over the original slippers!).

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Bio: Software consultant by day, artist by whenever I get time. I mostly do papercraft, costumes, and sculptural pieces. I'm interested in working some electronics ... More »
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