Introduction: How to Make Warm Boots for Little Cold Feet

These directions and patterns will show you how to make warm boots for little cold feet from all reused materials. If you purchase an old wool coat at a thrift shop (think of how many pairs of boots you can make from one coat), along with an XX-large polar-fleece pullover to use for lining - then use mountain bike tire inner tube for soling - these boots are practically free. So, make a bunch, and donate some to other children with cold feet.

I sell shoemaking kits and books with simple shoemaking directions and patterns on my website: www.simpleshoemaking.com

Boots like these are common all over the world. They are relatively easy to make because the bottom edge of the upper part of the boot is the same distance around as is the edge of the sole - no gathering or easing is needed. And, the bellows aspect allows plenty of space to maneuver those little toes all the way into where they belong. Make it wider if your child needs extra space - or narrower if she or he doesn't need it.

I've tried to give these shoes for Solomon, my grandson, a contemporary look with a toggle closure, but they could be embroidered and the seams bound with patterned cloth tape, and they would look like a pair from one of Jan Brett's Scandinavian-influenced children's books.

If you have a serger, the seams of this boot were made for it. However, I'm making these totally by hand so someone without machinery can see how it's done.

A cool thing about this pattern is that you can also use it to make little shoes, note the "shoe" toplines on the patterns. Directions can be found in step 9.

This pattern is for a size 4 boot; it can be enlarged and/or decreased on a photocopy machine, perhaps 8% or so larger or smaller - beyond that it gets distorted.

This boot and shoe can be made of leather. The stitch holes on the pattern at the toe of the body, and the stitch holes where the body and tongue are stitched together, need to be punched out before stitching. If you would like stitching along the topline, the holes need to be punched out there too. For a felt boot or shoe, these holes do not need to be punched out, as a sturdy needle and thread will pass through the felt.

Materials

-a wool coat from a thrift store or a wool blanket that has been washed in the hottest water with a little detergent, then dried in the dryer, until it is well-felted

-warm and comfortable lining; use polar fleece, flannel, soft felted sweater, etc.

mountain bicycle tire inner tubes, bike shops may give them away

-thread - for hand-stitching the uppers, use buttonhole thread, embroidery floss, waxed linen or any sturdy thread. For attaching the upper to the sole, ideally use artificial sinew, available at craft and leather stores. However, any heavy nylon/polyester thread would work. You want something that won't rot when exposed to the elements.

-some sort of cinch cord - I used paracord, but a felted roving cord tied in the front could be beautiful, or a shoelace or leather thong could be used. You could make a flap that pulls the boot together and secure it with velcro. Or, lace these boots up! Just as the shoes have one pair of holes for the tie to pass through, you can add maybe four pairs of holes up the boot and pull a paracord or other lace through.

I purchased the paracord from www.theparacordstore.com

- two cord locks

-white glue thinned with a little water, fabric glue, or spray adhesive (Dritz has one with no fluorocarbons) for adhering layers together.

-silver gel pen, chalk, permanent marker

-1/4" masking tape (or wider tape cut into strips)

Tools

-scissors and chalk, preferably tailor's, and/or a rotary cutter with a mat

sharp hand sewing needles with big eyes, and/or a sewing machine or serger

If you have a sturdy sharp, big-eyed needle, you may not need to punch holes in the inner tube before stitching, although you do need to mark stitch locations with a gel pen or silver permanent marker. However, do have a pair of pliers handy to help pull the thread through. If you'd like to pre-punch holes, use a 00 spring punch or drive punch, from www.tandyleather.com or from Michael's craft store - or, make stitch holes with a hammer and a nail, with the end of a log underneath.

-pliers to pull the needle through thick spots

Step 1: Cut Out Shoe Parts

I'll call the big upper piece the "body" and the smaller upper piece the "tongue".

Cut out the body pattern and tongue pattern, and punch out the stitching holes in the sole pattern and the stitching holes along the bottom edge of the body pattern.The holes along the toplines and the seam where the body and tongue are stitched together are only needed if you are making a boot out of leather.

Find a good place on the felted coat for placing the three patterns. Use a rotary cutter or scissors to cut out the felt pieces. Use chalk to outline the patterns if you're using scissors. The patterns for the upper pieces of the shoe are symmetrical, so you don't need to flip them over when cutting out pieces for the second shoe. However, the soles are different, so you do need to flip the sole pattern over when making the second shoe.

Step 2: Adhere the Lining to the Felt Pieces

Apply glue or spray adhesive to the back side of all the felt pieces, then adhere the pieces including the soles to the lining material. You can use other glues to temporarily hold the outer and lining together, such as a watered-down coat of white glue. Let it dry before using. Cut out the lining material to match the felt pieces.

Step 3: Make a Heel Support Piece, a Cinch Cord, and a Toggle

Decide how you are going to cinch the boot, as you might need to stitch some extra pieces on to it. This would be the best time to do so. You can see one option on the Latvian boot - an embroidered tape is stitched to the boot, with a loop formed at each end. A short shoelace goes through the loops, and ties in the front.

On Solomon's shoes, I have added a piece of felt at the heel to give extra heel support. To make a support like this, cut out the "heel support" pattern and use it to cut out a felt piece. The photo of the paper model shows how to stitch, then tuck the flap at the top inside. Stitching at the top and at the bottom of the heel support provides a channel for positioning the cinching cord, which seems to be essential. This piece could be as wide as you like, and it might be nice in a contrasting color.

I made a little paracord knot to use as a "cord lock" but found it wasn't locking in place as I had hoped. There's nothing like a little grandson crawling around in a prototype boot to show you that your brilliant idea is burnt toast. Fortunately I had a couple of little metal cord locks that I had purchased from Ohio Travel Bag, so his boots are staying on his feet now.

Step 4: Stitch the Body Together at the Toe and Stitch Body and Tongue Together

Start stitching just the body of the boot together at the toe. Use a running stitch in one direction, then fill in the spaces by stitching in the other direction. Or, if you plan to stitch the rest of the boot together with a different stitch such as the buttonhole stitch, you might want to use it on this seam also.

If you are hand-stitching, stitch first from the toe to the top of the boot on one side, then start at the toe again to stitch the other side. It's very important that you center the tongue when you begin stitching. Basting ahead of stitching is a good idea, so the top edge of the boot is lined up.

If you are using a sewing machine (straight or zig-zag stitch) or serger, baste the two pieces together first, then stitch from the top of the seam on one side to the top of the other side.

You can use a running stitch as described above, a two-needle running stitch that is described in the next step, or a buttonhole stitch. Cut your thread to be about four times the length of the seam you are stitching.

Step 5: Anchor Your Thread and Use the 2-needle Running Stitch or a Machine to Stitch the Tongue to the Body

It is easier to stitch if your needles are anchored to the thread they are on. To anchor a needle, slide it on to thread. Puncture the thread with the tip of the needle about 1/2" from the end of the thread, as shown in the first photo. Pull the needle through the puncture, and you have an anchored needle, as shown in the second photo.

To make the two-needle running stitch, cut your thread and put a needle at each end of it.

http://simpleshoemaking.com/wp/video-how-to-do-the...
is a video on my website that shows how to make the two-needle running stitch.

Pass one needle through the first stitch hole at the toe, then even out the lengths of both threads. To make a stitch, bring one thread down through the next stitch hole, then bring the other thread up through that same hole, as shown in the illustration.

Create a rhythm so you're always repeating the same pattern - it could be that you always first bring the thread from the inside through the hole first, then the thread from the outside. And, always bring that second thread either over or under the first thread - your stitches will look much neater. Be sure to give a little tug on both threads after each stitch.

If you are using one thread to stitch the tongue to the body, make a knot in the middle of it, put a needle on one end of it and stitch into the toe seam. The knot will be hidden in the seam, then use each piece of thread to stitch one side of the body to the tongue.

If you are hand-stitching, stitch first from the toe to the top of the boot on one side, then start at the toe again to stitch the other side. Of course it's very important that you center the tongue when you begin stitching. Basting ahead of stitching is a good idea, so the top edge of the boot is lined up.

If you are using a sewing machine (straight or zig-zag stitch) or serger, baste the two pieces together first, then stitch from the top of the seam on one side to the top of the other side.

Step 6: Attach Inner Tube to the Soles and Punch Holes in Them - or Not.

Adhere the back of the felt/lining sole pieces to the top of the inner tube. After it is dry, cut the inner tube to match the felt layer.

Copy the placement of stitch holes on the inner tube sole with a silver gel pen, then test to see if you can puncture the inner tube with your needle without pre-punching holes. If you find you need to pre-punch holes, punch them out with a 00 hand punch, shown in the first photo, or the drive punch, shown in the second photo. It's not necessary that holes get punched in the felt or lining, your sharp needle will be able to pass through them.

Step 7: Stitch the Uppers to the Soles

To prepare to stitch the upper pieces to the sole, if your felt is lighter-colored, you can mark stitch-hole locations with a permanent marker at the bottom edge. If the color is darker, place a strip of masking tape about 1/4" from the bottom edge of both upper pieces, and copy placement of stitch holes onto it using a permanent marker. You will stitch just below the tape.

To stitch the upper pieces to the sole, use the whip-stitch, see photo. Cut a thread about seven times the length of the sole and place an anchored (if possible) needle on it.

Begin stitching in the stitch hole marked on the sole pattern with a star. Pass the needle through the topsole (in the photo, note the hole where the end of the red thread is seen - that's the one the needle first goes in to.) Wrap the thread around in that hole again and pull it snug. When you are finished stitching you will tie this end of the thread with the other end.

TUCK THE UPPER INSIDE THE SOLE WITH EACH STITCH,! THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT EFFORT NEEDED TO MAKE A NEAT-LOOKING BOOT! In the photo, you see my hands rolling the upper to the inside of the sole before making another stitch. ROLL, ROLL, ROLL!

Next pass the needle through the outside of the upper at the stitch marked with a star on the body pattern. Continue by passing the needle through the next stitch hole on the topsole. I am right-handed and usually stitch counter-clockwise. At the heel, pull the stitches very tight so the sole is gathered. Pull to make gathering stitches when you arrive at the toe area also. Pull hard and continue pulling hard after each stitch.

Step 8: Finish Stitching the Uppers to the Soles

To end stitching, undo the thread completely from the first stitch hole in the sole, then tie the two ends of the thread together with a double square knot. To make this knot, bring the left thread over the right once, then twice, and pull on both ends to "seat" the stitch. To complete the knot, bring the right thread over the left once, then twice, and pull both ends firmly.

Run both ends of the thread through a few stitch holes, then clip them off.

Fold down the cuff - or not - and the warm little boot is complete!

Step 9: How to Make a Shoe

To make the shoe, cut the body and tongue patterns along the "shoe" lines. The shoe will need a tie of some sort, as shown in the photo, and it may need a dart at the heel. After you have made the shoe, try it on the wearer and see if there's a gap at the heel. If there is, cut a slit half-way down the heel, overlap the two edges, and stitch the overlap closed.

There's a way to make a dart in the shoe topline, and avoid the gap at the heel. Find the center of the topline on both the inside and outside of the shoe pattern. Draw a mark about 1/4" from this center mark in either direction. Cut a slit down from it until about 1/2" from the bottom edge.

On both sides of the pattern, slide one side of the slit over to the mark, and tape it in place. The topline is now shortened.

Step 10: Pattern for Size 4 Boot and Shoe

Comments

author
mrsmerwin (author)2017-02-14

your instructions are so clear I know I will have no trouble following them. Thanks

author
Uncle Kudzu (author)2017-01-24

What cool little shoes! And such a detailed instructable. Good Stuff!

author
tomatoskins (author)2017-01-23

Great looking boots!