Introduction: SEW Your Own BALLET FLATS
When people compliment me on my clothing, I love to tell them, "Thanks! I made everything except the shoes!" This got me to thinking... hey, why CAN'T I also make my shoes? I discovered that ballet flats are a surprisingly simple thing to sew! With minimal sewing skills and the right materials you can make yourself adorable shoes that are customizable and just as good as anything store-bought.
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You will need:
- (recommended) Pattern from: http://www.livingdiystyle.com/product/women-s-ball...
- approximately 14x16" of outer fabric
- approximately 14x30" of lining fabric
- approximately 14x10" of soling material (Toughtek or other)
- approximately 14x8" of EVA foam or other shoe inserts (Dr Scholl's, etc)
- half a yard of Pellon Thermolam Fusible Fleece
- coordinating thread
- sewing clips (Pins will poke holes in soles/leather. Use binder clips if you do not have sewing clips!)
- (optional) Odicoat Water-resistant Fabric Gel
- (optional) shoe clips, ribbon, rhinestones, other embellishments
A 3/8th inch seam allowance is used unless otherwise specified.
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Step 1: Pattern
You can draft your own pattern for free by using your feet for measurements but I prefer to use a tried-and-true pattern, especially if you're making shoes for someone else a different size than you. I've used the pattern here with great suggest and highly recommend the purchase!
*Note* The measurements here are a general guideline and have only been tested for my feet (size 8). Make a practice pair first or skip the work and buy the pattern listed above!
- Draw a line from your heel to your toes, and add 2 inches to the top.
- Draw a line across at the widest point of your foot and add 2 inches to the sides.
- Measure how tall you want the heel of your shoe to go up the back of your foot, add 3/4" for seam allowances, and draw that length line diagonally out from the center point of your long line.
- Connect all the dots with a gentle curve.
- Draw your inner curve about 3 inches away from the outer curve.
Draw an oval about 3 inches out all around your foot.
Trace close to your foot, adding just a little bit to the toe and pointing it out at the big toe if so desired.
Step 2: Pieces
- Two uppers out of outer fabric. I prefer canvas or a heavyweight fabric, but you can use pretty much ANY kind of fabric here.
- If you're using something thin like a silk or quilting cotton, a layer of Pellon SF101 interfacing is nice to add stability.
- For quilting cottons, Odicoat is a easy way to make your fabric water and UV resistant! It paints on like glue and gives your fabric the apperance of oilcloth.
- I also really like Glitter Marine vinyl as an outer fabric! (I got mine online at Mikri World!)
Step 3: Construction of Uppers
- Fuse thermolam to the backside of all upper pieces, centering it as best you can.
- Put a outer upper and a lining upper right sides together and sew along just the inner curve. Cut with pinking shears or make small snips around the curve.
- Open the two pieces and line up the outer and lining of the heel right sides together. Sew down this line.
- Fold back the pieces to bring wrong sides together and topstitch around the opening of the shoe 1/8"-1/4" away from the edge.
- (Optional) Sew two lines of topstitching down either side of the heel seam. This can look nice in a heavy or contrasting thread!
You have two options at this point. Your shoe can be fully lined or have a raw edge on the inside. The raw edge will be hidden by your foam insert so it makes little difference what you choose!
Step 4: Raw Edge Soles
This is my preferred method, as it is slightly less work and I will be covering up the raw edges with my insert.
- Trace your stitch guide onto the backside of your sole.
- Line up and clip the raw edges of your finished upper to the sole with the outside fabric facing the right side of the sole. Try as best you can to distribute evenly around so there are no puckers!
- Sew along the stitch guide you drew earlier. Use pinking shears or cut notches all the way around the seam.
- Turn right side out and ta-dah! You're done!
Step 5: Fulled Lined Soles
This is nice if you want no raw edges showing or don’t like the feel of exposed seams. It looks very professional!
- Trace your stitch guide onto the backside of the sole. Use your stitch guide to cut a piece of lightweight interfacing (SF101) and fuse to the backside of your sole lining.
- Line up and clip the right side of the outer to the right side of the sole, and the right side of the lining to the right side of the sole lining.
- Stitch all around the sole on the line you drew and and pink or clip around. Stitch around the lining using your interfacing as a guide but LEAVE A ~3" HOLE for turning on the inner straight edge. Pink or clip all around EXCEPT by the turning hole.
- Make sure you use the correct pieces here! You don't want to sew a left foot lining into a right foot sole! The lining and sole should match up WRONG SIDES TOGETHER and when clipped it will look like you have opposites on each side.
- Turn right sides out through the hole and push lining into the shoe. Put your insert through the hole and into the sole and then handsew the opening shut.
Step 6: Inserts
You can either buy shoe inserts or make your own with some EVA foam! I have 1/4" thick foam (also known as "6 iron"), but Joann's sells a 5mm thickness which works well. (Use a good coupon and it's cheap!) Trace your stitch guide on the foam, cut it out and insert into your shoe. I often find that the bulk at the seams make the inside of the shoe a little smaller than the stitch guide you sewed, so if the foam is too big you can trim it down to fit nicely.
EVA foam can also be heat molded if you wanted to attempt to mold it to the sole of your foot for arch support (but I've never tried this/don't know how!) and you can cut a piece of lining fabric and sew or use craft glue (or Odicoat if you used it!) to make the top the same color as the lining. I prefer to sew a big zig-zag all the way around, as glue might come loose over time!
Step 7: Optional Finishes
You can buy shoe clips at any craft store which are made to clip embellishments onto shoes! Glue a bow, some fake gemstones, or other object to a clip and change things up! 3" bows are a good size for this shoe.
The pattern I linked to has options for ties, a toe strap, ankle cuff, etc. The Zelda shoes pictured used the toe strap option D with a 3D printed button (thanks to my husband!).
If you want to turn these flats into heels, you can buy heeled shoe soles online. Use your outer fabric as the sole (instead of soling material/Toughtek) and then contact cement the heel to the shoe. I would suggest changing your stitch guide to match the shape of the heeled sole so they line up nicely together.
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