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Saturday, October 26, 2013

DIY Pirate Boots

I really needed a pair of  boots to finish my costume for a Disney Cruise later this year.  With Halloween later this month, I figured I'd get extra use out of the costume if I got it made now.  My costume consists of  a skirted bottom from an old bathing suit, textured nylons, a striped shirt and a fantastic pirate hat I found in Disneyland Paris last summer.  The shoes were the missing piece of the puzzle.  I found a few  directions for making shoe covers to make it look like you were wearing pirate boots, but none of the directions were really clear.  With a bit of trial and error, I ended up with a pretty cool set of "boots".   Hopefully, these directions will be more helpful than what I found.

You will need:
large sheet of paper (I used freezer paper) for a pattern
a yard of black felt or pleather - (pleather is a vinyl used for clothing, not the heavier stuff used for upolstery or cushions)
matching thread
black elastic  - 2 pieces of narrow elastic about 6 inches long (I have a size 5 shoe so you may want to add a bit to that estimate) and 2 pieces wide elastic (3/4 to and inch wide) enough to go around your leg at whatever height your boots will reach.  (My boots go over my knee, so I needed 2 pieces - 16 inches long)
leather needle for sewing machine if using pleather
plastic foot for sewing on vinyl if using pleather
black shoes or boots
4 pinch clothespins or clips  (you don't want to use pins to secure pleather since it could leave holes)

I had the perfect pair of black slip-on shoes in my closet.  They even have a silver buckle on the side.

While wearing one shoe, I put a sheet of freezer paper on the floor, rested my leg on the paper, and traced around my leg.  Where the shoe and foot met.  I  and made a rough sketch of where I wanted the fabric to overlap the shoe.  I added two inches on either side of the traced leg and ended up with a pattern that looked like this.

I opted to cut out my first design on felt just to see if the fit was what I aiming at and to see if I would be satisfied with felt rather than usng a fabric that looked more like leather.  It was OK, but not as impressive as I was hoping.

Initially my pattern was only an inch wide on each side, and that resulted it not enough "give" to get it on and off.  Since I only used 1/4 seam allowance, there was no room for expanding my design so I had to recut my pattern and my felt. 

 My second felt cutout, with a 2 inch additon on each side, was much better.  Truth be told, I cut the felt a little generous around the pattern.   If you want to add some detailing on the center front seam, you may want to even add an extra 1/4 inch on the front of the boot so you can sew a deeper seam than 1/4 inch.  To add detail, sew the front seam first.  Lay the two pieces open, right sides up, and add the top stitching, on each side of the seam.   Put the right sides back together and  sew the back seam.

Turn the shoe cover right side out and try on with the shoe for fit and to see how much to trim away where the cover and the shoe meet.  I purposely left a lot of fabric near the shoe when I made my pattern since I was unsure of where I wanted it to hit.  You can cut fabric away, but you can't add it if you don't give yourself some adjustment room.  My aim was to make the fabric overlapp at the heel about 1/2 inch, and then lay flat across the top of my arch.  You want it to over-lap, but not so much that it hits the floor.

When your shoe cover fits the way you want, place the boot cover, wrong side out on top of another piece of freezer paper.  Draw a trapazoid  (rectangle with a shorter top than bottom).  The top of the trapazoid will be the same width as the top of the shoe cover, but the sides will flair out about 1 1/2 inches on each side.  It will be about 5 inches tall and will look like this.

If you want your cuff lined to give it some body, you will need to cut a total of 4 cuffs (2 for each boot)

With right sides together, stitch two of the trapazoids together along the sides.  Do the same for two more to make the lining.   With right sides together, sew the cuff and the lining together at the bottom of the trapazoid.  Turn the cuff so that the wrong sides are together.

Make sure the open edges of the cuff are even.
Place the cuff inside the shoe cover.
Using clip clothes pins, secure the raw edges of the cuff to the top raw edge of the shoe cover.
Match the seams on the shoe cover to the seams of the cuff.
Sew all layers together.

Turn the cuff to the outside of the boot.

Take one of the shorter pieces of elastic and make a strap that goes under your shoe and attaches to the shoe cover on the inside and outside of the shoe cover.  This will  hold the shoe cover in place.  Sew or glue the elastic to each side.

Use one of the larger pieces of elastic to make a loop to go around your leg.  It needs to be tight enough to hold up the boot, but not so tight that you cut off the circulation in your leg. I only had white on hand when I was working on the boot covers, but replaced the white elastic with black just because I wanted to make sure that it really didn't show.  The cuff hides it well, but I wanted to make sure it was pretty much invisible.

Match the raw edges of the elastic, and sew across.  You could overlap the elastic and sew the ends, but by making a seam, you can easily sew another seam across the elastic if you find the loop is too loose.  When you put the elastic on, just keep the "seam" on the inside of the circle.

Now slip on the boot cover, put on your shoe and pull the elastic loop over the boot and up to the top of the seam where the cuff is attached.  Fold over the cuff to hide the elastic.

If everything fits as you planned, then remove the boot cover, and sew a strip of narrow elastic onto the boot cover so that it runs under the shoe.

To put on the shoe and boot cover, slip on the boot cover, slide the shoe onto your foot, and pull the narrow elastic under the shoe.  Now add the wide elastic under the cuff.


  1. this is awesome!! I am making mine tonight. thank you for the easy follow directions

  2. I'm glad you liked it. I hope your boots turn out just the way you hope.