Espadrille shoes are the epitome of classic summer footwear, but did you know they’re just as easy to make as they are to wear? This fabulous summer project is growing in popularity thanks to A Happy Stitch founder Melissa Quaal and the espadrille kits you can find in her Etsy shop. With the help of Melissa, find out all the tricks you need to know for picking out a Spoonflower design for your first (or next!) pair of espadrilles.
Melissa: I am, of course, in love with making espadrilles! It’s why I started selling The Espadrilles Kit which includes everything you need to create your own pair! So, it will come as no surprise that I was over-the-moon excited to discover all the fabulous ways that espadrilles can be made with lovely Spoonflower fabric. I love the faces behind Spoonflower and the low-waste manner in which they manufacture fabric so it’s a match made in heaven. I’m looking forward to sharing with you all the ins and outs of using Spoonflower fabric to make shoes. After you’ve picked out your designs, be sure to check out my blog for more information on how to make your own pair of espadrilles!
1. Choosing the Right Fabric Type
Espadrille shoes are made up of two different fabrics. The outside fabric for the shoe is a heavier weight canvas or cotton-linen and the lining fabric is lighter weight fabric like a quilting cotton. Spoonflower offers such a spectacular variety of fabrics but I’ve narrowed down THE BEST options for the shoes.
For the outside of the shoe I recommend Spoonflower’s Lightweight Cotton Twill. Lightweight Cotton Twill is wonderfully thick and the threads are held together tightly. Normally, with a standard canvas or cotton-linen blend you need to use a medium-weight interfacing on the outside fabric to give it enough structure. The Lightweight Cotton Twill is structured enough that it doesn’t require interfacing. Additionally, the fabric is printed wide enough that all you need for one pair of shoes is a fat quarter (29” x 18”). With my testing, I’ve discovered that the Dogwood Denim™ and Eco-Canvas are just a bit too thick for this project.
For the lining of the shoe I recommend one fat quarter of Organic Cotton Sateen. Similar to Lightweight Cotton Twill, it’s very wide (27” x 18”) so you only need one fat quarter. Plus, it’s organic and soft but still structured. You could also give Petal Signature Cotton™ a try but because a fat quarter of this fabric is only 21” wide, you’ll need to order one full yard.
Melissa’s Top Tip: Want to make two pairs of espadrilles? Fill Spoonflower’s Horizontal Fill-a-Yard® template on Lightweight Cotton Twill and Organic Cotton Sateen with two unique designs on one yard each to have enough fabric for two pairs.
2. Choosing the Right Scale of Design
Making espadrilles is a small-scale project which means you don’t have a ton of surface area to show off your chosen design. As a result, I recommend choosing a small-scale or medium-scale design on your fabric. To be more specific, the primary focus of the shoe is usually the front toe and depending on your shoe size, the toe displays an area sized between 9” x 7” to 8” x 7.5”. It’s not a lot of area so my recommendation is to have the primary focus of the repeat in your chosen design be no bigger than 2”.
Melissa’s Top Tip: Did you know you can contact a Spoonflower designer to request a scale change of an existing design? To send a message, select the Contact button on the designer’s main Spoonflower shop page.
The heel requires a rectangle of fabric that’s about 5” x 13”. Since it’s a longer more narrow piece, the ‘design canvas’ for the shoe is pretty small. In my curated collection I’ve highlighted prints that I think will look good for the lining fabric and outside of the shoe because they show off small and or medium-scale design. If you aren’t interested in those designs, use them as a guide for understanding the scale and size of your chosen print.
Melissa’s Top Tip: Drawn to more oversized designs? Just pay close attention to how big a design is so that you can be sure your shoe will show it off. Don’t forget, when in doubt, sample swatch it out!
3. Pay Attention to Directionality
As is the case with any fabric, you need to be aware of the direction of the print if the design has a specific direction. Some things, like the ubiquitous polka dot, don’t have a direction. Many of our favorite prints do have an up and down-side. When you choose your print, think about which way you want it to appear on the shoes and make sure the direction of the print works for your vision. This is particularly important for the espadrille shoes because the toe portion runs wider while the heel is low and narrow. If you are using stripes, for example, they often end up running across the top of the toes but along the length of the heel and are therefore, in different directions. It’s a super cute look but just be sure it’s what you’ve envisioned.
4. There’s a Design for That!
The other option Spoonflower opens up is the ability to create a super specialized shoe. Create fabric with your company’s logo and wear them to a trade show. Or, create special pair of cat shoes for your favorite cat loving friend. Talk about happy birthday! Imagine wedding shoes embroidered with the name of the couple. Belong to a weekly trivia team? I can already picture a pair of espadrilles with the winning trivia question on them. Anything is possible. If you don’t want to create your own design there is sure to be fabric in the Spoonflower Marketplace that fits your niche. I had a customer who even made a pair of shoes for her gynecologist with uterus fabric from Spoonflower.
Spoonflower offers such a crazy variety of design options. If you keep in mind design scale and fabric type, you only need a fat quarter and can choose from endless options. Plus, you can mix and match with the lining and outside. I really recommend trying something unexpected! What about florals paired with stripes? Or a carefree whimsical design with something geometric in nature? Perhaps you need shoes that speak to your love of the French language and leopards. Try this leopard and language pairing from holli_zollinger shown below.
Play around with scale and have a tiny abstract design inside the shoe with a larger (but not too big) scale of print on the outside.
Are you making a pair of espadrilles this summer? Be sure to tag @spoonflower and @ahappystitch in your photos so we can see your custom shoes. And don’t forget, by ordering a yard of the Organic Cotton Sateen and Lightweight Cotton Twill, you’ll be one step closer to finding your solemate!
About the Guest Author
Melissa Quaal is a business owner, sewing instructor, and creator of The Espadrilles Kit. Her work has been featured in BUST and Mollie Makes magazines. In addition to making her own shoes, she also makes her own clothes. For the last five years she has avoided buying any new clothes in an effort to counter the waste and conformity of fast fashion with the radically simple idea of a mindful wardrobe. The project has brought attention to the ecological damage and human cost of the fashion industry since 2015. She sells her complete DIY kits for making espadrilles on Etsy and teaches sewing around the country. Visit her website at A HAPPY STITCH.