These FAQs accompany the general instructions for making Tacky Baby Shoes. Send your questions via Contact Us form. Although we may not have an answer, we’ll give it our best shot. To see shoes other readers have made, see the first and second baby shoe galleries.
Scaling the pattern
Instructions for scaling the pattern are included in the general instructions. If it is unclear how to scale the pattern after reading the instructions, we recommend a highly technical procedure known as “guessing”.
To do this:
- Figure out how long you need the sole to be.
- Print out the pattern and measure the length of the sole.
- Take the pattern to a copying machine.
- If the pattern for the sole is too short, make copies of the pattern at 105%, 110%, 115%, etc. until the sole is about the right length in one of them. (Remember: slightly too large is better than slightly too small!)
- If the pattern for the sole is too long, make copies of the pattern at 95%, 90%, etc. until the sole is about the right length in one of them.
- Save any printouts that are too big for future shoe-making efforts. Give any that are too small to your kids to color.
Where to find other patterns or instructions
Some of the sites below offer patterns for purchase; others may be downloaded for free. We have not tried any of these resources or products. We are providing the links for your convenience, but this should not be regarded as an endorsement. Please notify us of broken links or to suggest sites which offer other baby/toddler shoe patterns.
Make Them Yourself – Patterns for the entire family. Toddler and baby patterns include boots, sandals and a shoe similar to a Mary Jane. The proprietor of this site has posted a great deal of useful information on eHow, including these instructions for making soft-soled leather baby shoes.
Stardust Shoes – Includes a baby bootie pattern which is similar to the baby/toddler shoe pattern on this site.
Ohelene’s soft soled leather shoes – Includes a pattern, instructions and photos for making soft-soled leather shoes similar to the ones on this site.
PooPockets – Includes a baby bootie pattern which is similar to the baby/toddler shoe pattern on this site, but which is unlined and has simplified construction.
Bitty Booties – A simple and elegant bootie pattern. It looks as though it would be a good pattern for the novice bootie/shoe maker to start with.
Heart N Sole – Patterns for making “in the hoop” baby shoes using an embroidery machine. A wide variety of designs are available, including moccasins, ballet slippers, animal slippers to baby boots.
Martha Stewart – Instructions for making felt baby shoes as well as another style of baby bootie.
Alternatives to leather soles
There are many who, for various reasons, would prefer not to use leather in their children’s shoes. For children who aren’t yet walking, this isn’t an issue; the soles of their shoes don’t have to be skid-proof or particularly durable. Many readers have reported using corduroy and other heavyweight materials to sole crib shoes and slippers for their “crawlers”.
For walking children, though, one must proceed with caution. Not only must any material used be “grippy” enough to prevent sliding, but it needs to be both flexible and durable enough to withstand the occasional rock or worse. Happily, according to readers and other sources on the web, there are a variety of materials which can be substituted for leather. We haven’t personally tried any of these, but they sound worth experimenting with. If you try them, please let us know how well they work for you.
Toughtek – a polyester fabric with a Neoprene rubber coating. We first found about this in an eHow article by Misty Marquardt. It sounds promising; vendors describe it as “abrasion resistant, scuff proof, with superior grip characteristics”; some recommend it for use on slipper and moccasin soles.
Jiffy Grip – a rubbery substance with small dots on it. This was recommended by a reader who swears by it, and another who has gotten it off used gardening gloves. Its manufacturer recommends sewing it on the bottoms of children’s pajama feet; vendors mention using it on slipper bottoms. Not having seen it in person, it’s unclear how thick and durable it is, though.
Non-slip matting – A reader, Marie Walsh, says “The non-slip net-type matting which is sold to put under mats, computers, etc. to stop them moving can be easily cut and stitched onto baby shoes to give an excellent non-slip surface. We use it in the nursing home (age care) under the residents’ knitted slippers. It works just as well for children.”
Carpet stabilizer – A reader, Eve Theriault, says “I always use carpet stabilizer for my soles with a layer of polar fleece for cushioning also (regardless of the season).”
Plasti-Dip – a liquid plastic commonly used for coating tool handles; it’s available at most hardware stores. This was mentioned by Misty Marquadt in one of her eHow articles. Although it won’t form a sole by itself, a coating of it might add an extra margin of durability and grippiness to heavyweight fabrics. It probably isn’t safe to use around children who are still in their chewing stage, but it might be worth testing otherwise.
Recycled leather – Depending upon one’s reasons for not wanting to use leather, using leather recycled from other garments may or may not be an alternative. For those who are interested, there is yet another Misty Marquadt article on the topic of purchasing and preparing recycled leather for sewing.
How to waterproof the shoes
We found a variety of suggestions on other sites. We haven’t tried any of these techniques ourselves. If you try them, please let us know how they work out.
Misty Marquadt’s eHow article is one good place to start. Her techniques include:
- Making the outer sole from Toughtek, a polyester fabric with a rubber coating. (Toughtek is on the pricey side, but considering how many shoe soles one can make from a yard of fabric, it may actually be surprisingly economical.)
- Inserting a layer of PUL or drapery blackout lining between the sole and the lining.
- Coating the bottom in Plasti-dip, a synthetic rubber coating readily available in hardware stores. (Not recommended for children who are still in their chewing stage.)
Other sites recommend coating smooth grain leather with a waterproofing solution, such as Bee Natural Leathercare: Rain & Snow.