Both soft and flexible, handmade baby shoes are ready to keep little feet protected! Using just two fat quarters of fabric, baby shoes make a great stash busting project, or you can mix-and-match designs with Fill-a-Yard™ to make multiple pairs from one yard.
But before you get started, let’s talk fabric and designs. With over 20 fabrics and 750,000 designs to choose from at Spoonflower, the options for tiny toes are endless. When choosing a fabric, stick to lightweight woven fabrics like Organic Cotton Sateen (the fabric we used for this tutorial!), Cotton Poplin or Lightweight Cotton Twill. Thicker fabrics are more difficult to work with, especially when you’re working with multiple layers. For a pair of shoes with a little stretch, Modern Jersey or Organic Cotton Knit will do the trick.
When you’re choosing the design for your shoes, scale is key! At the largest size, a finished baby shoe is only 5″ long x 2.5″ wide, so you’ll want to choose a design with smaller design elements. To help narrow your results when searching the Marketplace, try adding ditsy to your search terms. A ditsy print is small in scale, and the design motifs are usually scattered or random rather than being ordered in a definable pattern like rows or stripes.
We also recommend previewing designs on a swatch instead of a fat quarter or yard. To adjust your preview, select the swatch option in the Choose-a-Size drop-down menu once you’ve selected your design. This will give you a better idea of what parts of the design will fit within your shoe pattern pieces.
Now that you’ve got the basics covered, let’s get started!
*All seam allowances are ¼” unless otherwise noted
Step 1. Cut out your pattern pieces.
Select your paper pattern page from the PDF based on the final shoe size you’ll be making. Then print out the page and cut out the pattern pieces. When printing your pattern, make sure to select Actual Size on your printing options. To double check that the pattern printed at the correct scale, make sure the test square measures 2”x2”.
Next, lay out your pattern pieces on the fabric and cut out your pattern pieces. We suggest making a mark at the center of the top and bottom of the toe and sole with a washable fabric marker. When you’re done cutting, you should have the following pieces:
Cut two pieces of elastic for each pair of shoes using the guide below:
Step 2. Trim the batting – optional.
If using the optional batting, trim your sole pieces an additional ¼” from the edge so they’re slightly smaller than your outer fabric sole pieces.
Step 3. Attach the interfacing
Iron on the fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the outer pieces for the toe, heel and sole following the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’re adding the optional fusible batting to the sole for extra cushion, iron it in place on the wrong side of the sole. The batting should be sandwiched between the outer sole fabric and interfacing.
Step 4. Create the heel
Pin the right sides together of the outer heel and lining heel, and sew the longest edge (labeled A on your pattern). Press the seam open and trim about 1/8” off each side of the seam.
Fold the heel in half (wrong sides should be together now) and press the seam. Repeat the above steps for the second heel.
Step 5. Create the Elastic Casing
Sew a ⅜”seam from the folded edge to create a casing for the elastic.
Step 6. Insert the elastic
Attach a safety pin to one edge of the elastic. Insert the safety pin and elastic into one open end of the casing. Once all of the elastic is inside, secure the unpinned end of the elastic with a small stitch to hold in place. Push the elastic through the rest of the casing and once you have reached the edge, secure the other side with a small stitch. The elastic for the heel should now be secure! Repeat the above steps on the second heel.
Step 7: Create the Toe
Lay the finished heel piece on top of the main toe piece (finished elastic edge should face towards the center of the toe piece). Now it’s time to create a baby shoe sandwich: place the toe lining piece right sides together on top of the heel piece.
Here’s what your baby shoe sandwich should look like:
To stitch the heel and toe pieces together, we’re going to break it into two steps:
Part 1: Starting from the far left side, stitch to the center of the toe piece, making sure to catch both toe piece layers and the heel piece.
Part 2: Remove the fabric from your machine and create a second toe/heel sandwich (are you hungry yet?) for the other end of the heel. Stitch in place. These stitches should meet up with the stitches you made in part 1.
Turn the top of the shoe right side out. Delicately press the top of the toe piece and heel if necessary. We recommend using a press cloth during this step! Repeat the above steps to create the second shoe top.
Step 8: Attach the Sole
Place the sole fabric that you want to be on the bottom of the shoe right side down on top of the shoe top. Next, place the lining sole fabric right side up underneath the completed shoe top (be sure to line up any center lines during this process).
Pin in between center lines and leave a 1” opening on one side. For thicker fabrics like Lightweight Cotton Twill, we recommend leaving a 1 ½” opening.
Pro tip: It’s best to leave this gap towards the front of the toe or the back of the heel–avoid the side seam, if you can.
Sew all the way around with a ¼” seam, and then trim only the sewn edges to ⅛”. Repeat for the second shoe.
Step 9. Finish the Baby Shoe
Turn the shoe right side out–you may need a corner pusher to complete this process.
Fold in the lining fabric and the outer fabric at the unfinished opening and pin.
Hand stitch the opening closed.
Press any wrinkles and all finished seams. Repeat on the second shoe to complete your pair of adorable, baby shoes!