Perhaps you’re attending a Renaissance Faire, cosplaying classic Boy Wonder, or simply trying to hide the raw edges of the boots you’re cutting up to modify for your costume. Here’s a very simple tutorial for adding turnback cuffs or contrast lining to boots (demonstrated using the shoes I made for my Black Fox costume, at right).
- boots to modify
- fabric (whatever you’re using for lining)
- sewing machine or hand-sewing utensils
- (optional) interfacing or stiffening material
1) Choose Your Boots
Your boots should fit you comfortably and be the right base style for your costume. It’s easy to alter the boot uppers, but changing the soles, heels or fit is more difficult.
The costume I’m making these boots for is pseudo-medieval and constructed entirely of suedecloth, so I chose suede 1980s-style slouch boots to match the pointed-toe ankle boots that Hollywood believes everyone wore in the middle ages. (The heels are not ideal, but I was in a hurry and these were in my size.) ^_^
Because I’m inherently cheap, most of my costume footwear comes from thrift stores. (If you aren’t buying new, you can use a disinfectant spray or a hot-water wash to sanitize most shoes). Keep in mind that used shoes often have worn-out supports, soles and heels, so they may require inserts or minor repairs. This pair cost me around $6 and needed one rubber heel tip replaced, which adds another 75 cents — still a fairly cheap pair of shoes!
2) Cut The Boots
Determine how tall your finished boots need to be and, if necessary, trim them to the right height. If they have foldback cuffs, you’ll need to cut a straight line down the front (or wherever the foldback point is) to make the flaps to fold back. If you aren’t sure how big to make your cuffs and don’t want to risk cutting too far, you can test the size by taping a piece of paper around the boot and cutting/folding it instead of the boot upper. When you’re happy with the paper version, mark the boot and cut it to match.
Side note: If your boots are slouch style, they probably have a strip of tape or cloth between the lining and outer fabric that holds the wrinkles in place. You will need to tear or cut this strip away in order to make the outer fabric lie smooth.
3) Cut Lining
Cut a rectangle that is big enough to wrap entirely around the outside of your boot upper (I recommend slightly larger, to be safe). You will want to finish at least one long edge. I’ve serged this one; you could also fold it under and stitch it to make a hem, or use anti-fray fluid or glue to keep it from unraveling (depending on your material). This edge will be inside your boot and shouldn’t be visible when you’re finished (which is why I didn’t bother rethreading the serger with matching thread, as you can see below).
If your rectangle isn’t perfectly square, or is too big, that’s fine; you’ll be trimming the excess.
Optional: If you want your boot uppers/cuffs to have more rigidity or stand out from your legs, add interfacing at this point. Cut a piece the same size as your lining rectangle and position it against the back side of the lining for assembly.
4) Pin Lining
Wrap the lining around the outside of the boot upper, wrong side facing out (this puts your right sides, lining and outer boot fabric, facing each other. If you are using interfacing, it will be the outermost layer at this point). Pin along the outer edge.
5) Sew Together
Stitch along the outer edge of your boot, through all layers of material. This seam will determine the final shape of the upper edge of your boot/cuffs, so if you have corners or shaped pieces, try to be as precise as possible.
If your boots are vinyl, leather or other thick material and you do not have a heavy-duty sewing machine, stitch very slowly or hand-crank the wheel to keep from damaging your machine.
6) Trim Seams
Trim along the line you’ve just stitched, leaving just enough material to hold the seam. Trim the corners diagonally to make it easier to flip them right-side-out.
When finished, you should have the lining stitched all the way around the outer edge of the boot upper, with cleanly-trimmed edges and a finished hem at the bottom:
7) Flip Lining
Pull the lining up over the stitching, so it’s right-side-out, and tuck it down inside the boot. If you have corners on your cuffs, poke them out from the inside. With some materials, you may need to press the edges to make them crisp. Depending on the fit of your boots, you may want to stitch or glue the bottom edge of the lining inside the boot to keep it from riding up or shifting.
Put on the boots, fold back the cuffs as desired, and you’re finished!