I never thought I’d be a “shoe mom”. But then Bubs started walking and suddenly I wanted to get her a wardrobe full of cute shoes. Instead of breaking the bank, I started researching making some myself. And then Zana put their scrap packs on sale. Sold! Add in some leather scraps, some pattern trial and error and finally out came the most adorable little leather soft sole toddler shoes. They’d obviously be perfect for a little baby too, although they don’t really need shoes until they start walking.
As with most things DIY, I love the fact that now that the pattern is in place, I can play around with all sorts of fabric and styles!
Soft sole shoes are perfect for babies who are just learning to walk. The thin soft soles bend easily with each step. This makes it a good alternative to bare feet when they need a little extra warmth or protection underfoot. Suede works perfectly for these soles. It allows the feet to “breathe”, is comfortably soft against the skin and provides some grip on the floor below.
Leather Soft Sole Toddler Shoes
Use the pattern as a guide for how much of each fabric you need. This is a great project for using up little scraps of fabric. If buying fabric, a 20cm wide strip will be enough to make a few pairs.
What you need:
Pattern – Download Here
Suede for sole*
Firm cotton fabric (Soft fabric version (eg velvet) tutorial coming next week)
Cotton lining (thinner options – winter sheeting / flannel; firmer options – twill)
Fabric Interfacing (needed if using a thin cotton lining – See Step 3. You can skip the interfacing if using a thicker cotton lining like a firmer twill)
Cotton, Sewing Machine, Needles, Scissors, Safety Pin
*If you can find suede and need to use standard top grain leather (one smooth side, one suede side) you’ll also need some double sided interfacing – See Step 2
What to do:
I’d highly recommend making a dummy shoe first to check the sizing. You want about a finger width of room in front of the toes. If it is too small, adjust the size of the sole slightly. Small changes can make a big difference. DO NOT use your prime piece of leather on your first ever shoe. I have made the pattern to fit our 12-18 month needs. The 6-12 and 18-24 month sizes have not yet been tested on actual baby feet. They are based on my trial and error and research from other patterns available.
There are so many fabric options available. Each fabric will behave slightly differently when sewn up. I’ll be sharing a tutorial next week for my velvet version. The steps are slightly different and it was getting mighty confusing trying to include all the variations in one post.
If you’re using top grain leather rather than suede, follow the *’s.
1. Cut fabric from pattern
Suede: 2x soles*
Outer fabric: 2x front piece, 2x back strip
Lining: 2x front piece, 2x back strip
Interfacing: 2x front piece, 2x back strip (for thinner cotton linings)
*Or 2x soles from top grain leather, 2x lining pieces bigger than the sole (see Step 2) and 2x double sided interfacing pieces, also bigger than the sole. (Note: If using top grain leather, you may need to widen the pattern for the sole by a few millimeters down the length of each side. It is stiffer than suede so does not bend as well around the corner of the shoe.)
This is all the cut pieces for a firm outer fabric, thin lining that needs interfacing and a top grain leather sole that needs double sided interfacing and lining:
2. (*Skip this step if using pure suede for the sole) The double interfacing is used to line the sole. The suede side of the leather will become the bottom of the sole, while the smooth side of the leather will be lined and become the inside of the shoe. Double interfacing has paper on one side to protect it when ironed. Place the non-paper side of the interfacing on the sole lining piece. Iron over the paper side to melt it onto the lining. Remove the paper and place the leather sole onto the piece of lining (SMOOTH SIDE DOWN ON THE INTERFACING). Iron over the lining to adhere them together. Do not iron directly on the leather.
Trim the lining to match the sole.
3. For thin linings, iron a piece of normal fabric interfacing to the underside of each lining piece for the back strip and front piece. This acts to firm up the lining a bit.
4. Sew the outer fabric pieces to a corresponding lining piece, right sides together. (I.e. Place a patterned outer fabric piece on a lining piece, with the pattern facing in and the lining side of the lining facing in. The interfacing will be on the outside.) Sew a narrow seam down the straighter edge of the front pieces and the straight edge of the back strips.
5. (Step added after photo were taken) Open up the sewn back strip and lining. Fold over the short straight edge of the back strip, towards the back of the fabric. Sew a narrow hem. Repeat on both edges. This will reinforce where the elastic pulls.
Example from next week’s velvet tutorial version:
6. Fold front pieces and back strip, right sides facing out. Fold the edge so that the pretty outer fabric bends slightly over onto the lining side. Press it in place with an iron.
7. Topstitch along the sewn edge of the front piece. Trim off the excess lining.
8. Topstitch along the sewn edge of the back strip, and sew again about 1,5cm down from the first top stitch. This creates the casing for the elastic. The casing needs to be broad enough for your safety pin to get through. Trim off excess lining.
9. Sew the front piece to the sole, right sides together (I.e. The side of the suede you want to be on the bottom, must be facing up and the pretty outer fabric, must be facing down). Line up the midpoints (as seen on the pattern) and sew from the centre out. This means you’ll sew out from the midpoint in one direction and then again from the midpoints in the other direction.
(Seriously, it’s better if you do this. I ended up unpicking so so many times because it ended up not centred. This is probably the trickiest part of the whole shoe.
10. Sew the back strip onto the sole, again right sides together. Start at the midpoint, sew out and then again from the midpoint out.
If you are left with any large raw edges around the sole, you can trim these down. I’d recommend first turning the shoe right way out and trying it on your toddler before trimming down the sole though. Once it’s trimmed you can’t unpick and make it bigger if it doesn’t fit.
11. Using a safety pin, thread the elastic through the casing. Remember your back strip will have a sewn edge, not a raw edge as mine has here.
12. Sew or tie the ends of elastic together to create a SLIGHT pull. This should be just enough to keep the shoe on. If it’s too tight it may be uncomfortable.
13. Fold the whole shoe the right way out and admire your cute little soft sole toddler shoes!
I’d love to see your Pure Sweet Joy DIYs. Show me on Instagram using #puresweetjoyblog or email me at deborah [at] puresweetjoy [dot] co.za. Like what you see here? Follow along on Facebook or Bloglovin and subscribe to the newsletter for exclusive access to the latest news and freebies.