1Let’s begin by talking about materials. It’s important that you use a no-fray material, such as leather or vinyl. If you choose leather, make sure you use a heavy-duty leather needle in your sewing machine. You can also use fleece, but they will look more like slippers than sneakers.
2When selecting vinyl, make sure you choose flannel-backed vinyl for the main shoe portion. These shoes are unlined, which makes for easy sewing, but you want the inside of the shoe to be comfortable even if baby isn’t wearing socks. You can select regular vinyl for the contrast color.
3It’s best to use 100% polyester thread when sewing with vinyl.
4For the best fit, measure baby’s foot:
- Small: 4-inch sole
- Medium: 4.5-inch sole
- Large: 5-inch sole
1Begin by printing the pattern pieces. (Be sure you’ve selected “no scaling” on your print settings.) Cut out the pieces. You will need the Sole, Toe, Heel, Contrast Band, and Tongue for the Baby Sneaks.
2Now use the pattern to cut the pieces from your material according to the instructions. It’s best to avoid pinning when working with leather and vinyl, as the pinholes will show. The pieces are small enough that you can hold them in place while cutting.
3Cut the two vertical snips in the toe piece as shown on the pattern. You’ll be threading the elastic through these later.
4Set your sewing machine to a longer stitch length– I recommend using a scrap of the material you’re using to play around with stitch length and tension until you’re happy with it.
5Now cut a piece of 1/2 inch elastic to 10 inches in length. This will become your “shoelaces” on the tongue piece. (If you’d rather, you can substitute ribbon in place of elastic; it doesn’t need to stretch.) Fold the end of the elastic under a quarter inch to prevent fraying.
6With the raw side of the elastic against the wrong side of the vinyl, sew in place by the upper right edge (you’re sewing the elastic to the BACK of the tongue piece). Continue topstitching along the curve of the tongue piece, 1/8 inch away from the edge.
7Now make the other side match by sewing along the curve with a 1/8 inch seam. (Be sure to keep the elastic out of the way of your stitches.)
8Next we’ll set the eyelets. You can buy these at any fabric store. They cost about $3 for a set of 25, with the setting tool included. Use a small hole punch, or just make tiny snips with your scissors to create the holes for setting. Set the pair in the middle first, then add a pair above, and another pair below, following the instructions on the eyelet package.
9Now we’ll lace the tongue piece. I’m lacing these straight across. Pull the elastic up through the top eyelet on the right. Go down through the one on the left, then up through the middle one below it. Cross over to the right, go down, then back up through the one beneath it, and over to the bottom left.
10Then tack the elastic in place with a few stitches along the bottom. Sew with a 1/8 inch seam. (These stitches will be encased in a seam later, so you don’t need to sew all the way across the bottom.)
11Now we’ll sew the tongue piece on top of the toe piece. (Both pieces should have the vinyl facing up. Be aware of the slits on the toe piece: you do not want to accidentally sew on those.) Lay the tongue piece in the center of the toe piece. Sew across the top edge of the toe with a 1/8 inch seam, securing the tongue piece as you go.
12Sew the sides of the tongue piece to the toe, directly on top of your previous stitches. You can leave the bottom edge, as that will be encased in a seam in a moment.
13Set the toe piece aside, and we’ll make the heel piece. Lay the contrast band on top of the heel piece, across the narrowest part. Sew the band along the top edge with a 1/8 inch seam, and along the band’s bottom edge with a 1/8 inch seam. This will create a casing for the elastic. Trim the ends of the contrast band to follow the curve of the heel piece.
14Now that all of our pieces are assembled, we can form the shoe. Lay a sole down, vinyl-side up. Lay the toe piece down on top of the sole, face down. (Vinyl should be against vinyl.) Line up the middle of the toe piece with the top center of the sole.
15Begin sewing in the center. Use a 1/4 inch seam. Once you have the center tacked down with a few stitches, manipulate the right side of the toe piece to line up with the edge of the sole. If you have the option to keep your needle down while sewing, it’s helpful to do that while lifting the foot occasionally to turn the fabric. The trick to making a perfectly formed shoe is to follow the curve of the sole. Sew until you reach the end of the toe piece.
16Now we need to sew the left side in place. To do this, line up the left edge with the curve of the sole. Start sewing from the bottom of the toe piece, and work your way around to the center of the toe where your previous stitches began.
17Next comes the heel. The contrast band should be at top. We’re going to sew this on the same way we did the toe. Match up the middle of the heel piece with the bottom center of the sole piece. Sew a few stitches in the center, then manipulate the fabric so that it lines up with the curve of the sole. Sew until you reach the end of the band. (The band will overlap the toe piece.)
18Now we’ll sew the other side, beginning at the front and working our way back to the center of the heel. You can flatten the toe piece out of the way if necessary. Line up the edge of the heel with the curve of the sole.
19Cut 10 inches of elastic. (This is more than we actually need, but having a little extra makes it easier to manipulate.) Use a safety pin or bodkin to thread the elastic through the two slits on the inside of the toe piece, then through the contrast band casing.
20Remove the safety pin, and pull the two ends of the elastic to tighten. Pull it tight enough so that the casing begins to pucker a bit.
21Switch to a zig-zag stitch on your machine. Pinch the elastic together, and sew close together close to the shoe. Then trim off the excess elastic. Rotate the elastic a bit, tucking the sewn part into the heel casing.
22Turn the shoe right side out, gently poking out the seams from the inside. It’s helpful to roll the seams between your fingers to make them crisper.
23All done! Baby will look adorable in his or her new sneaks. Don’t forget to try the included bonus version of Baby Tuxedo Shoes!
Looking for more sweet shoes? Check out my tutorial for sewing Baby SnUgg Boots!
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