This is a simple way to modify boots for Sailor Moon, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, or any other character with shaped/color contrast boot tops. The boots I’m making are for a Sailor Pluto costume (shown at right); they have pointed tops and a band of white trim around the top.
- tall boots
- vinyl/leather/other material in contrasting color
- glue that will stick to your vinyl
- ~2″ Velcro
First, choose boots that are comfortable and suitable for the character. I tend to buy most of my cosplay footwear at discount or thrift stores (yes, you can clean and disinfect used shoes! Just make sure they’re in good condition and the soles/heels aren’t damaged). The boots I’m using for this tutorial have soft vinyl uppers, and cost around $6 at a local thrift store.
To determine the shape of your boot top and how much you’ll need to cut it, fold the top of the boot over to make the appropriate shape on your leg and mark the fold line with chalk, fabric pencil or tape. If your boots are too stiff to fold (such as riding boots), wrap a piece of paper around your leg and trace your desired shape on it to make a pattern. You can also use the paper method for patterning more complex shapes that can’t be folded easily.
Also note that depending on the type of boots you have, your top line pattern may look very different. For the simple Sailor Pluto design I’m using (high point in front of leg, low V in back of leg), this is what the shape of the open, flattened vinyl would look like for a boot with a zipper on the inside of the calf (left) or in the back (right):
Obviously boots with no zipper or designs with more complex shapes will have different patterns. When in doubt, cut a mockup from paper and wrap it around the boot on your leg to determine exactly where to cut.
Once you have your pattern, you’ll need to cut down to the lowest point. For boots that have a V-shape in back, like Pluto’s, this will be straight down the back of the boot (I cut right along the seam). If your pattern has multiple low points, you’ll need to cut a line down to the center of each to produce clean folds.
Next, fold the edge to the inside, following the fold line you marked earlier, and pin it in place. (If you don’t want pin holes in your material, you can use binder clips or paper clips to hold it.)
If your boot has a zipper, fold the zipper over along with the boot top. You’ll trim it later. You can shorten the zipper by looping thread around the teeth or using a metal zipper stop to block the slider.
If possible, try on your boot again (without stabbing yourself on the pins) and make sure that it looks correct. Then it’s time to sew down the fold (or, if your sewing machine can’t handle the boot material, you can use glue). My vinyl is thin, so I’m machine-sewing it. If you’re going to add contrast trim, keep your stitch line close enough to the edge that the trim will cover it. (My trim is 1″ wide but will hang half over the edge, so I’m sewing about 3/8″ from the edge here.)
Before you trim the seam allowance, try the boot on to make sure there are no puckers or problems you need to fix, At this point the top shape should look exactly as you want it, minus the contrast trim:
If you’re happy with it, flip the boot open and trim the seam allowance so there’s no excess vinyl rubbing against your leg on the inside.
Now you’ll make the trim piece for the top edge. Open your boot as much as possible and trace the top line. Mine looks like this:
Use that as a guideline to create the contrast trim. Remember that the trim piece needs to be slightly longer than the circumference of the boot, because it has to wrap around the outside and account for the thickness of the material.
I’m using a thick white vinyl for my trim, so I trace the top line of my boot on the reverse side, then use a ruler to make a 1″ wide strip based on that shape. I also add a couple inches to the end for overlap, as I’ll want to hide the zipper tab. (The way I’m doing this trim piece, it will only cover the outside. If you want a piece that wraps completely over the top edge of your boot, you can add seam allowance to the top of your pattern, cut two pieces, stitch them right sides together, flip right-side-out, and slip the finished piece down over the top of the boot before attaching.)
Before you attach anything, test your trim piece on the boot and make sure everything lines up properly. Try this with the boot on your leg, as well, and make sure it wraps comfortably around the outside without stretching or puckering the material.
Now you’re ready to begin attaching. There are two options for this: You can glue the trim on, or you can sew it. I opted to glue, since I didn’t want any stitching showing on the outside of the boot. (Make sure you test your glue beforehand and make sure it actually sticks to your material! Some vinyls and fabrics are notoriously hard to glue.)
If gluing: Start by lining up the trim on the boot and glue a single point of contact at the front center, exactly where the top point is (it’s the easiest to line up). Use a binder or paper clip to hold it in place until it sets. Then do the same thing at the center back, at the bottom of the V. It’s fine if the trim doesn’t lie flat on the table when you glue these two points, because you’ll be gluing on a curve around your leg, and you want the material properly distributed around the curve.
Important: Do not glue the remaining trim with the boot flat on the table! It won’t stretch around your leg if you do. First put the boot on, and work around your leg with the glue so you’re gluing on the curve. Binder or paper clips are a great way to secure the trim piece so it can’t shift while it’s drying.
If sewing: Do the exact same thing, only pin or clip the vinyl in place instead of gluing it at each point, then put the boot on and pin/clip the trim piece on the curve. The tricky part is maintaining that curve as you take the boot off and sew it, so make sure your pins/clips don’t shift when you remove the boot! As you sew the trim piece, try to keep the material evenly distributed so you don’t end up with puckers.
I left an overlap at the end of my trim piece, because I want to hide the zipper tab on the inside of the calf. I attach a piece of Velcro to the overlap and the piece just behind the zipper so that after I zip the boot, I can press the white flap over it and make it look like a continuous strip of trim. (You can glue or sew the Velcro, depending on your trim material.)
Once you’ve finished, try everything on and admire your newly-repurposed boots!