With dance competition season right around the corner, it's time to make sure we have everything we need to make costume changes smooth and easy. We learned last year that tap shoes can eat tights if they are left unattended in the dance bag. So this year, tap and clogging shoes will get their very own covers to protect tights and other costume pieces in the dance bag. To achieve this goal, we have decided to make soft shoe boxes for each pair of shoes. This has the added benefit of the shoes not rubbing against and scratching each other as well.
Instead of making a flat bag, my daughter wanted something with more shape to it, so the shoes fit more easily down inside. We have decided to make a soft shoe box so that the shoes fit easily down inside and are easily and quickly accessible. After all, time is always critical on competition day. After some trial and error, I have come up with a rectangular box-shaped bag that fits each shoe. So to fit a pair of shoes, you will need to make 2 of these. These fit my daughter's ladies size 6 1/2 and 7 1/2 tap shoes.
To make these bags, I used the following items:
4 pieces of 9"x12" felt (or any fabric you want to use; I made a second pair out of leftover velveteen fabric scraps)
chalk to mark fabric
Step 1: Cut Out the Pieces
First cut your pieces.
Take two sheets of felt and cut each in half along the long side so that each piece is about 4 1/2 inches wide. If you are cutting a piece of fabric, the pieces will be 4 1/2" x 12". These will become the top and bottom of the box. You will need 4 strips that are 4 1/2" x 12" to make 2 shoe boxes.
Take another sheet of felt and cut it into 4 strips along the long side so that each strip will be about 2 1/4 inches wide. You will have 4 strips that measure 2 1/2" x 12". These will become the sides of the boxes.
Out of the last sheet of felt, cut the top flaps (optional) and the bottoms of the boxes. For the top flaps, you will need to cut 2 pieces that are 4" x 9". For the bottoms of the boxes, you will need to cut 2 pieces that are 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" rectangles.
Now that all the pieces are cut, it's time to pin it together. We laid all the pieces out to determine which side was softest on each piece. The soft side will face the shoes so it will be on the inside of the box.
Step 2: Put the Sides Together
Since we want our seams on the inside of our box and the soft sides of our felt on the inside of our box, we put our rough sides together. The rough sides will be considered the right sides since they will become the outside of the box.
First, lay out your 12" strips beside each other. They should alternate in size so that they will make a rectangle when they are sewn together, 2 1/2" beside 4 1/2" beside 2 1/2" beside the last 4 1/2" strip. The long sides should be next to each other.
Take one of the 4 1/2" x 12" pieces and match it up along the long side with one of the 2 1/4" x 12" pieces. Line up the edges and pin them together.
Using a straight stitch, stitch down the edge of the felt pieces to sew them together. I am using the guide on my presser foot to keep the hem about 3/8" from the edge of the fabric.
On the opposite long side of the 2 1/2" strip of fabric on the strips you have just sewn, line up and pin the long edge of the second 4 1/2" strip. Pin the edges together then stitch down the edge.
Match up the long edge of the last 2 1/2" strip with the long edge of either 4 1/2" strip. Pin the edges together and stitch them together. Now you have a larger rectangle made up of 4 strips.
Step 3: Attach the Bottom
Now that your sides are together, it's time to sew the bottom and actually turn it into a box.
With the box sides laying flat on your work surface, line up one of the narrow (2 1/2") sides of the 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangle with the 2 1/2" section of the strip that is on the outside edge of your box sides. Pin the short edge of the bottom strip to the edge of the narrow strip on the sides. Sew them together.
Once that edge is sewn together, turn the bottom piece so that the long side is lined up with the end of the adjoining 4 1/2" strip. Pin the edges together and sew them. This can be done on your work surface or without removing the fabric from the machine.
If you want to do this without removing the fabric from the machine, after you have sewn the 2 1/2" edge, lift the presser foot. Carefully rotate the pieces so that the edges of the 4 1/2" strips are lined up. Lower the presser foot and continue sewing. When you reach the end of the 4 1/2" strip, lift the presser foot again and rotate so that you can sew the remaining 2 1/2" side.
Now the bottom should be sewn to all 4 sides of the box and your box should have one 12" side that is still unsewn.
Carefully pin the last side seam together. Starting at the bottom, sew up the remaining side of the box.
Step 4: Add the Top
Now your box is sewn together. Turn the box right side out (so the soft side is facing in) Make sure your shoe fits inside your box. Repeat with the remaining pieces so that you have a box for both of your shoes.
Once our boxes were finished, we decided we wanted to make a top flap to help keep the shoe inside while traveling. This is where the 4" x 9" strip comes in. If you decide you want a flap to cover the top, turn the box inside out again. Carefully match up one of the 4" sides of the strip with one of the 4" sides of the box. Pin the edges together and sew the seam with a straight stitch.
Step 5: Finishing the Boxes
Now that you have 2 shoe boxes for your pair of shoes, the boxes can be embellished any way you want. If you want it to have a button on the flap, you can add a button. Or you could use velcro to fasten the top flap to the side of the box.
These bags were made to fit our size 6 1/2 and 7 1/2 tap shoes. I made another set of bags out of velveteen that I had left over from another project and it did not stretch as much so the shoes fit more tightly in the bag. If you are using fabric that doesn't have as much stretch to it, you may want to increase the size of the pieces. For those shoe boxes I'm going to make an outside bag to go around them because I wanted the soft fabric against the shoes and I want to hide all the seams. These box bags are easy to customize and make for any purpose, not just shoes. They would make great little gift bags too.
For the velveteen shoe boxes, I didn't make a top flap for them. Instead I sewed a simple drawstring bag to slide them down into. I cut a piece of felt that was wide enough to go around the shoe boxes and stitched up each side. To create the channel for the drawstring, I folded over the top edge of the felt about an inch and sewed a straight stitch along the folded edge.
To keep the soft shoe boxes together neatly inside the bag, I sewed the top edge of one side of each shoe box together. The boxes stand neatly in the bigger drawstring bag. Now they stay contained and safe and cannot eat tights. :)