I had hoped to share a toddler shoe tutorial with you. Alas, most of my efforts since this post, where I decided that I would sew a pair of soft-bottomed shoes, have been a learning experience in things that can go wrong. I won't say that I failed, just that I tried many things that didn't work. So, instead of showing you how to make toddler shoes, I will show you how not to make toddler shoes. I will also tell you how I would do it if I weren't so burned out from the whole process.
To make my first effort at shoes more likely to end in success, I started with the simple (and free) baby booties pattern from DIY mommy. The pattern goes up to 12 months, and a quick measure of Goen's feet revealed that they were already longer than the sole piece included in the pattern. I figured I could increase the pattern pieces proportionally and have a usable pattern. I added 1/2" to the sides of the heel piece and at the widest points of the toe piece and then sewed the uppers you see in the picture. By all appearances, this is a successful pair of shoes, but I slipped them onto Goen's feet to size them only to discover that they were still too short.
For my second attempt, I traced new pattern pieces that again increased the size proportionally. I cut the fabric, sewed the uppers, and slipped them on Goen's feet. Not only were they too small, but the fabric that went over the top of the foot was baggy. To try to fix the problem for the next pattern redo, I pinned to see how much I would need to get rid of and from where. This revealed that I would have to get rid of all the increase I had just added. Looking back on this design, I realized that none of these pattern alterations were making the shoe longer, which is what I needed. What I should have done is leave the curve of the toe piece alone and, instead, extended it from front to back (not side to side as I had done).
Before I made this last realization, I tried changing the pattern a different way. This time I left the toe piece alone and extended the heel piece (making it both taller and wider) in order to force the shoe to be a bigger size. It worked, sort of, but the toe piece did not cover enough of his foot to keep it on well. Of course, I did not notice this fact until after I sewed on a sole piece. I had bought split hide veg tanned leather on Amazon and discovered that this type of leather is not pliable enough to mold to a foot. It was easy to cut and sew, but so stiff that turning the shoe right side out was difficult. The stiffness also made it a tripping hazard.
It was time to try a different pattern entirely. I checked out Anna Maria Horner's book Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby. One of the patterns is for baby booties. Although they are more complicated than I prefer, I decided to give them a try since the pattern included Goen's current size. Here is a picture of the finished booties. But, alas, they are too big. Can you believe it? After all the problems with the others being too small, I go and make these too big. In my defense, I used the right size pattern, but Goen's feet are at the smaller end of the size range. At least he will be able to wear them eventually, though. I couldn't bring myself to make a smaller shoe in this pattern (it took three hours of concentrated time), especially since he would not be able to wear them for long.
So, I went to Etsy and found a pair of nubuck leather moccasins from Starry Knight Design. The shop owner, Melanie Knight, has many adorable booties. There are plain colors, bright colors, and stitched-on designs. The elastic goes all the way around the ankle from the front, so they are easy to get on and off. Best of all, the leather bottoms don't slip and slide like socks (which was all he had previously). They have enough grip for him to run around on many different surfaces, but not so much that they stick (which rubber has a tendency to do) and make him trip. And the price? I'll just say that this frugal mama went ahead with her purchase.
Hi. My name is Carley. I love to sew, craft, and create. As a Jane-of all-crafts so to speak, I enjoy sewing, writing, cooking, drawing, photographing. But the constant thread (if you'll excuse the pun) throughout my weeks is needle arts.