Last week I shared a tutorial for soft sole baby shoes, which may well end up being the first in a whole series of baby or toddler shoe DIY patterns. I’m thoroughly loving being able to put Bubs in shoes that I made specially for her and need to maximise on it while she’s still small enough for soft soles. Today’s shoes are very similar to the first pairs, in fact it uses the exact same pattern, but they’re made from velvet. Yes, VELVET! I am not normally a velvet wearer myself, but, oh my goodness, it looks so cute as tiny little shoes!
So why the need for a whole separate tutorial if it uses the same pattern? The interfacing steps are slightly different, as velvet is quite soft and needs to be firmed up a bit. My velvet was also stretchy as the stretch velvet colours were MUCH nicer. This meant it needed to be interfaced to make it non-stretch. It was getting way too confusing with all the different variations in one post, so now you get to pick.
If you want to make shoes from a firm cotton (or other firm fabric) then you should follow the steps in my last tutorial.
If you want to make shoes from a softer fabric, or a fabric with stretch, then you should follow the steps in this tutorial.
Soft sole shoes are great for babies and toddlers while they are learning to walk. It allows their feet to bend without the restriction that many stiff soles would cause. Suede is my sole of choice, but if you can’t find it, normal leather (with one suede and one smooth side) can work just as well.
Leather Soft Sole Toddler Shoes – Using soft outer fabric
What you need:
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 25cm wide strip will be enough to make a few pairs.
Soft Sole Toddler Shoe Pattern – Download Here– See cutting details in Step 1 below, as some extra pieces are needed
Suede for sole*
Outer fabric of choice (I used velvet (For stiff/firm outer fabrics follow this tutorial))
Cotton lining (use a strong cotton fabric such as twill or a strong flannel)
Strong Fabric Interfacing (extra needed if using a thin cotton lining. You can skip this interfacing if using a thicker cotton lining like the recommended firmer twill)
Thin Round Elastic (or 6/8 cord elastic)
Cotton, Sewing Machine, Needles, Scissors, Safety Pin
*If you can’t find suede and need to use standard top grain leather (one smooth side, one suede side) you’ll also need some extra double sided interfacing – See Step 3
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 and each fabric will behave slightly differently when sewn up.
If you’re using top grain leather rather than suede, follow the *’s.
1. Cut roughly 25cm x 30cm (sufficient for 2 back strips and 2 front pieces) from the outer fabric and interfacing. Iron the interfacing to the underside of your fabric (for me, the underside of my velvet).
Note: In the pictures below I used double sided interfacing and fused an extra layer of lining to the fabric, rather than just using a thicker interfacing. A thicker fabric interfacing works just fine though.
2. Cut out pieces from fabric pattern available here:
Suede: 2x soles*
Plain lining: 2x front piece, 2x back strip
Interfaced outer fabric: 2x front piece, 2x back strip
*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.)
3. (*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 roughly cut 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 and make sure you have some waste paper covering all excess double interfacing.
Trim the lining to match the sole.
4. Sew the outer fabric pieces to a corresponding loose lining piece, right sides together. (I.e. Place a velvet outer fabric piece on a loose lining piece, with the velvet side facing in.) Sew a narrow seam down the straighter edge of the front pieces and the straight edge of the back strips.
5. 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.
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 that no longer lines up with the velvet.
8. Topstitch along the sewn edge of the back strip, and topstitch 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 that no longer lines up with the velvet.
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 outside of the shoe 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 the other way.
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.
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.