Introduction: Better Shoe Covers From Old Plastic Bags for Cycling in the Rain

About: just a guy with ideas

The idea of these rain protective shoe covers came because other shoe covers I used...

  1. didn't cover my shoes entirely, so when I cycled through a of puddle, water still got in
  2. were much too baggy (actually just a plastic sack with some velcro) to be easy to walk in or to not hit my frame when cycling and then tend to fall off
  3. both were a pain in the ass to get on and off

This will take you 1 afternoon or 1 day depending on how handy you are and how perfect you want the result to be.

What you will need is

  1. 18 old plastic shopping bags. I used 18 but it will depend a bit if you can get multiple patterns out of 1 bag and how thick the bag is that you're using.
  2. An Iron (without steam function)
  3. baking sheets (to prevent sticking)
  4. Cardboard or some similar heat resistant, relatively stiff surface to iron on. Your ironing board will be too narrow probably.
  5. Needle and thread, or a sowing machine. Whatever you're most handy with.
  6. Scissors.
  7. Piece of rope or shoe laces
  8. A3/A2 papers and some scotch tape

Step 1: Step 1: Fusing the Plastic Bags

Select the bags

Go through your cabinets and look for similar plastic bags: the ones you always get at your local supermarket because you forget to bring one.

I tried fusing bags in multiple layers and found that 3 bags (so actually 6 layers, because we're fusing the bag shut) of these LDPE shopping bags worked best. You want a result that is thick so it will not tear but can still be flexed a little so you can get it into a 3d shape.

Although they might look and feel similar, I found that the different supermarket bags actually have different weights/thicknesses (and maybe even a different compound of LDPE) so the result will vary.

Iron the bags

Put the bags in between two baking sheets so the plastic will not stick when it melts.

Put the iron on max power and don't use the steam function.

When ironing the bags, try to watch out for melting. When the plastic gets too hot, the bag will start to contract from the edges inwards.

It doesn't matter if the bags are not completely fused everywhere. You're stil; going to cut out the patterns and then stitch them together, so keep that in mind.

Step 2: Step 2: Making Patterns for Your Shoes

I like to wear Clarks desert boots so the patterns I made were based on that shoe so the shoe protector would fit around it. But I can also fit in with my Vans. Maybe you can take inspiration from your pair of shoes.

In this case you can make due with 3 cutouts: the sole, the back and the front.

I used A3 paper to make the patterns. I used the entire paper width to make these patterns you if you are larger then a size EUR 43 / US 10 you will probably need A2 papers to make your patterns. (and bigger shopping bags also)

The patterns in the picture resemble the pieces of suede that the desert boot is made of. You should make these and then test them by taping them together and see if they will cover your shoes.

You need to keep an inch or less (2-2,5cm) of extra space around the edges of your pattern. You're going to sow these edges together and your original shoe needs to fit inside this cover.

Step 3: Step 3: Stitching the Patterns to Make a Shoe Cover

I did these by hand because I didn't have a sowing machine within reach. If you're experienced with a sowing machine you will maybe get better results. Don't worry about the sowing machine not being able to handle the plastic. LDPE is quite soft, even if it's 3 layers of shopping bags, so you don't need a leather machine.

If you're not experienced with a sowing machine and also not experienced with sowing (I know most men aren't) check out this instructable and figure out how to do stitches. Practice a bit on some pieces of fused plastic first.

I stitched the patterns together in a basic stitch, as shown in the picture, and afterwards turned the shoe cover inside out so as to have the stitches on the inside. Use your boots as the example of where to make the stitches and you will have a shoe cover that you can step in easily wearing your shoes.

What is nice about the pattern of this desert boot is that the back folds over the front of the shoe thereby shielding it from water coming down. I finished off the shoe cover with a piece of rope but you can also use (old) shoe laces.

Show me your shoe covers when they're done and let me know if they work well!