Tutorial – Fabric Covered Shoes

27 Dec

Hello! So I knocked up a quick ‘n’ dirty tutorial on how I covered the Christmas Dress shoes in case anyone else feels the need to fancify their shoes with fabric! This isn’t the most permanent method (I’m sure more sturdy glue would be needed) but it does do the trick if you need shoes to match an outfit *right now* and can’t find/afford a new pair! It certainly held up to a few hours of walking around on a dry summer night – wet weather might require the final step of waterproofing.

The original shoes! Cheap plastic.

What you will need:



- a pair of shoes to cover. I used cheap plastic wedges bought on sale, mostly because they offered a large expanse to cover rather than fiddly little areas.

- your covering fabric. Stiffer fabrics which don’t let the shoe colour show through work best. I used the same fabric as my dress.

- scrap fabric to make pattern pieces from. I used a light cotton that I could draw on in pencil.

- PVA glue, ie. Aquadhere

- spray glue in a can – I found mine at the $2 store

- a pencil

1. Prepare your shoes, ie. rip off straps if you don’t want them, remove trim, etc. I tore off the strap on mine.

2. Divide shoe into sections. Look at your shoe and divide it into sections; you will make a pattern piece for each. For example, with my wedges I divided them into toe cover, side of shoe and heel area/wedge, ie. three pattern pieces are needed.

3. Make pattern pieces. To do this, take your scrap fabric and cut a bit approximately the size of one section of your shoe (toe cover, heel, etc). Spray this piece of fabric with spray glue, and cover the area of the shoe you are dealing with, with the fabric. Make sure it is flat and not bubbled.

Glue scrap to shoe with spray glue

Using your pencil, trace the outline of the shoe section on the fabric; I add in a little bit of seam allowance as well, which you can trim away later.

Mark scrap with pencil

Cut out the pattern piece from the scrap fabric – voila! Pattern for one section of your shoe. Repeat this for the other sections.

Pattern pieces cut from scrap

4. Cut your covering fabric. Lay your scrap pieces on your ‘good’ fabric and cut around. Make sure to cut two of each (one for each shoe!).

I have cut notches into the seam allowance of the toe cover piece because this will fit over a strongly curved section, and the notches will help it fit smoothly.

5. Glue fabric to shoe. Again we are working in sections. I started with the toe. Cover the area you chose in a thin layer of PVA glue – it’s ok if it gets on other parts, it will dry clear.

Apply PVA to shoe

Lay your fabric on top of the section and smooth it down. Really stretch it over the section, make sure it is flat and covers all the shoe. Fold the seam allowance over the section and into the inside of the shoe – clip the seam allowance with scissors if you need to, to stop it wrinkling. Trim seam allowances where it falls into other sections of the shoe. Use lots of glue to hold the edges of the fabric down, it will dry clear anyway! I found the glue-soaked fabric was quite easy to mould to the shape of the shoe.

Apply fabric to shoe

6. Repeat for all sections of the shoe. There will be some messy bits where fabric pieces overlap, or on the heel or toe. That’s ok, we can cover those bits with trim later!

Birds-eye view of shoe, covering side of shoe

Here I am covering the side of the shoe. I have left a big seam allowance that I can fold into the shoe itself to create a smooth top edge.

7. Make sure everything is flat and glued down – no wrinkles or bubbles. Then wait for the glue to dry fully! I left mine overnight.

Ready to trim!

The insides are not too tidy – I was in a hurry! If you have more time you can easily put some pretty lining fabric in to make them nicer. Just remember, the thickness of the fabric will make the shoes a bit smaller – buy half a size up if you plan to do this!

8. Trim! This is the fun part. Glue ribbons, flowers, lace – whatever = to your covered shoe with the PVA. I used ribbon and some ruffle trim. Concentrate on areas that won’t bend much, so the embellishments don’t crack off when you walk. You could even sew them on with a thick needle for extra security if you are putting things like flowers on.

Ribbon trim glued along bottom edge. This hides ragged fabric edges!

Let your shoes dry, then wear with pride!

I hope this was helpful! Let me know how you go if you give it a try. Please ask if you have questions and I will try and help out – this is my first tutorial and I might have left something out!

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50 Responses to “Tutorial – Fabric Covered Shoes”

  1. Andi B. Goode December 27, 2009 at 5:41 pm #

    I’m saving this for when I have some shoes to cover. Definitely helpful!
    -Andi x

    • Karolyn Johnon-Loudermilk March 14, 2012 at 10:36 am #

      My mother use to cover her shoes as well as some friends, back in the day, but today I find myself learning from your tutorial, and this is going to be great and a lot of fun! I can’t wait to find me a old pair of wedges to cover. I GOT THIS! THANKS Karolyn John-Loudermilk@johnson-loudermilk@att.net

  2. Abi December 28, 2009 at 12:05 am #

    Thank you so much for posting this! It’s really helpful and much easier than I thought! I’m definitely saving this too!

  3. Nadja- En salig blandning December 28, 2009 at 12:28 am #

    Great post! I really love to have matching shoes and sometimes I find shoes with a nice 40´s look but in nasty plastic or so… This would mabey work good to make own leather shoes to?

    • whipstitchsewing December 28, 2009 at 10:02 am #

      Leather may be a little too thick, but let me know if it does work because that would be great!

      • patei June 17, 2010 at 8:57 am #

        they make fabric that looks like leather,tooled,suede and I am sure at a larger fabric store or on line they would have more. don’t know if it would work but in scouts many many years ago we did fake ‘leather buckskin’ look with muslin crumpled and dyed with tea or coffee. you want the creases so don’t use the perm press type.

  4. Stephanie December 28, 2009 at 2:17 am #

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  5. April December 28, 2009 at 6:35 am #

    Wow, how much fun is that!! Definitely makes me want to run out and grab some cheap shoes to play with. :) Thanks for the tutorial!

  6. Debi December 28, 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    Yay! Thanks for the tutorial. One of my goals for 2010 is a pair of covered shoes to match a vintage dress I will make. Thanks so much!

  7. Juliet December 29, 2009 at 12:18 am #

    Love it!!…thank you!!! Stashed in my box of tricks.

  8. Alyssa January 1, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    Just found you on Sew Retro this morning, and I am saving your blog to read later!
    This is a fantastic tutorial, I have seen others do it but never figured it out myself. You can bet I’ll be trying this out soon.

  9. Tracey January 4, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    I saw the photos on Kates mum’s phone of the dress and shoes – SO IMPRESSIVE!!!! Thanks for the tutorial :) Now just to find some shoes without a heel (too tall already) and size 10.5. Sheesh!

    • whipstitchsewing January 4, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

      They don’t have to be heels, I think! Would probably work with flats, but the wedge heel gives so much space for embellishment!

  10. atomic mum January 28, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    Just love this idea, have you seen the spray on gule? I use it to cover hat boxes, kids books, cabnets etc. It’s super long along lastting but you’ll have to water proof it afterwards for shoes.

    • whipstitchsewing January 28, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

      Oh that sounds excellent! Is it like aquadhere in spray form? I used spray glue to make the patterns but it wasn’t strong enough to hold to the shoe plastic.

      • atomic mum January 29, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

        I got the stuff from spotlight, but would you guess when I want the thing I can’t find it to give you the name. Maybe the plastic is too smooth, you could try a light sandpaper to rough it up a bit and get more grip.

        I am realy want to give this ago, I’m going to match my shoes to my dress for race day.

  11. Stacie@HobbitDoor March 13, 2010 at 5:07 am #

    This is great! I’ve seen shoes whose shape I loved at thrift stores but hated the color, etc. This would fix that! Thanks!

  12. Sherri Ann March 23, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    Seriously cool!!!

  13. Nellie May 6, 2010 at 9:12 am #

    Oh my god, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I have a pair of really nice heels, the only problem is they’re snake-skin like (blah) so i wanted to cover them with something…Do you think the snake skin pattern on the leather would be a problem? they’re just not perfectly smooth, will this show under the fabric, what do you think?

    • whipstitchsewing May 6, 2010 at 9:22 am #

      No I think it would work just fine, but like you said the fabric will show the bumps of the snakeskin underneath! If the snakeskin is really smooth, I would maybe sandpaper it a bit first to roughen it up a little. That way the glue will ‘grip’ better. If your new fabric has quite a busy pattern, I don’t think the snakeskin will be that visible at all. Good luck!

  14. Nellie May 7, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    Oh thank you so much for your reply! I just finished them, now they’re drying:) Didn’t sand them, the surface wasn’t smooth to begin with, but I did choose a very thick fabric and it looks really good, no bumps or snake skin peeping under! your post was very inspiring and helpful, thank you!

  15. E.Kaye June 19, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    This tutorial is wonderfully put together. Some I read and still wonder “how did they do that?” I just finished covering some shoes following your instructions and they turned out absolutely fantabulous!!!

    • whipstitchsewing July 19, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

      That’s great! I’m glad to hear it’s working for people!

  16. Mandy July 17, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    Thank you so much for your tutorial! This is the best one that I have seen – the photos are great. I am getting married on a beach and wanted a pair of wedges that werent your typical boring “wedding” shoes, which has proved very hard to find…… I saw a designer pair of shoes that were covered in Japanese fabric that I loved but they were over $200.

    Am going to go out and get a pair of cheap shoes now to play with and will make my wedding shoes after that. Am so excited! Thank you very much.

    • whipstitchsewing July 19, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

      Japanese fabric would be beautiful on shoes. Good luck with your project!

  17. evangeline August 3, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    your dshoe covering technique is so unique, i used it to cover two pair of shoes for my grandaughter to match her dresses i made for her – it worked so well that i am going to cover my own shoes that i thought to toss out,. thanks.

    • whipstitchsewing August 3, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

      Thank you for your kind comment! It really is a useful way of making matching shoes for handmade dresses – and we all need more of those!

  18. Breah September 22, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    I’m getting married in December and I’m having the hardest time finding shoes that I want! I decided I want to make them but I’m not craft savvy at all! This is such a perfect, easy tutorial. Thank you! I want to wear ballet flats, how do you think I would section that without showing that they are separate pieces of fabric?

    • whipstitchsewing September 22, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

      Hi there! Ballet flats should be pretty easy… I would imagine you could even cover them in one piece, the only join being at the heel where you could cover the seam with a ribbon or some such. I have actually made my own fabric ballet flats on occasion, and they really only need one pattern piece since the left and right of the shoe are fairly symmetrical. What you end up with is a vaguely ‘U’ shaped pattern, where the base of the ‘U’ is your toe section – if that makes sense! Wish I could draw pictures in the comments haha.

      This tutorial on craftster.org is a good start – http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=35344.0

      Good luck with it!

      • Breah September 29, 2010 at 10:46 am #

        No that’s perfect! Totally makes sense! Thanks a ton!

  19. Annelie van der Walt September 30, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

    can you please let me know where i can get or do n course to learn more about covering shoes, want to start from home to get extra income

    • whipstitchsewing October 1, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

      I’m not sure what the equivalent is in your country, but I would check your local adult college or education centre and see what short courses they run – often there are fashion/sewing related ones that might help. I know some even run specialist shoe-making courses. Good luck!

  20. marsha April 28, 2011 at 2:59 am #

    I was looking for someone to cover me a pair of shoes, when I came across your lesson to DIY. Well I am going to try it myself. It looked doable, but I am all thumbs and not crafty at all. I will first do it on a pair of give aways. I really need a good Expensive look for a big party, in a couple of months. Recently divorced, I am the poor girlfriend everybody will be checking out. Thank you so much. I bought a used dress, than took it to my dressmaker to have the buttons changed ( got buttons from $6 thrift store blouse) and alterations and had the collar removed and sleeves half chopped off. I WILL make a good impression.

  21. Yeasha June 2, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    The shoes are great. I covered a pair of pumps and they turned out really nice. Now I want to do sandals but I am concerned about the inside toe area and around the edges. Have you covered sandals?

  22. Jennifer August 4, 2011 at 5:53 am #

    How would you recommend waterproofing?

    • whipstitchsewing August 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

      Definitely waterproofing spray! Cobblers and camping stores, even the supermarket, generally carry this. I use a brand called ‘Waproo water-proofer’ and it is great for keeping the rain off, maybe not tramping in puddles though! Just remember to spray outside and let it dry before going out in rain. Good luck!

  23. phoebehaikarate October 21, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    OHMIGOSH! You don’t know how helpful this entry is! :D I’m making a cosplay for a convention next year, and I had no idea how to change the shoes! THIS WAS SOOO HELPFUL! I’m subscribing! And if you could help me a little, how would I got about the shoes I’m making, apart from covering them with fabric (I’ll give you the link) http://www.kp165.com/soniceplayer/polka-3.JPG Someone made boot covers for it

    This is the original: http://www.kp165.com/soniceplayer/polka-3.JPG

    • whipstitchsewing October 27, 2011 at 9:38 am #

      This would not be hard at all! When you are making the pattern pieces for your shoes, make another pattern piece for the leg part. You could even use newspaper or something like that – it is a very basic shape! I think it will end up being a large rectangle with straps on the front. Put the paper on your leg and play around until you are happy with the general shape!

  24. Cara October 27, 2011 at 3:49 am #

    Hey! I’m not very crafty, so forgive the basic question. My wedding colors are purple and silver, and I’ve purchased silver shoes and purple lace – and I’m planning on fully covering the shoes with the lace. I am planning on using your tutorial to do so! When you spray the glue onto the scrap fabric, are you glueing the fabric to the shoe? Do you then just rip it off? Or are you doing something else? Thanks so much!!

    • whipstitchsewing October 27, 2011 at 9:36 am #

      Hi there! Lace will look gorgeous I think! Yes, you are correct- you are only using the scrap fabric to make pattern pieces, which you will then cut from your lace. So glue the scrap onto your shoes, mark where the ‘seam’ lines should go, and rip it off again before tidying up the pattern piece. Remember to leave a seam allowance to turn under/tuck under! Good luck!

  25. Kate December 9, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

    Hi,

    Thanks for the great tutorial…just one question, I’ve bought a pair of shoes I really liked the shape of and had planned to spray them to match a costume, now that I’ve got them home I realise I like them too much to spray them in a colour I am unlikely to wear again. Do you think it is possible to cover them in fabric temporarily without marking the original (synthetic) fabric, I was thinking double sided tape? Any ideas?

    Thanks!

    • whipstitchsewing December 11, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

      I think it would depend on what your new shoes are made of to begin with! If they have a fluffy, fabric covering, it might be a bit hard to get the new covering to stick and be removed without residue. If they are plasticky or vinyl, like the shoes I used in this tutorial, you should be able to cover them with normal glue and then remove the glue residue afterwards with something like turps or nailpolish remover. I have a feeling that double sided tape will leave edges of fabric that might pull away… worth a shot though! Let me know how you go!

  26. emma April 6, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    where can you buy fabric from to recover shoes with please??

    • whipstitchsewing April 6, 2012 at 11:25 am #

      Anywhere that sells fabric for clothes, furnishing, etc! I found this fabric at Ikea. You can find fabric online as well, it can be of any sort that seems strong enough to handle a bit of glue… good luck!

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