Monday, January 23, 2012

Little Leathers for Little Feet

It has long been a dream of mine to make my own leather baby shoes. They're much better for little ones learning to walk, and they're just so adorable! I've tried the fabric kind, and while I like them, they just don't have the same look. And since store-bought versions can easily cost $18-30 a pair (and up!), purchasing them seemed less than feasible.

So, the simple solution is to make them myself, right? Right. But I've been on the lookout for cheap leather for some time, and it has consistently eluded me. I know you can buy leather scraps at a decent price, but I was nervous about taking the risk when I wasn't even sure if it would work.

And then, it happened.

A really-really-ugly long brown leather skirt showed up at our local thrift shop. I spent a whole dollar on it -- and I can only hope I didn't look too greedy as I snatched it up! Shortly after, my mother-in-law passed along an orange leather jacket that someone had passed along to her. It was in great shape -- but it was a necessary sacrifice.

I started with a pattern I had used for newborn fabric shoes (Simplicity 2457), but I only used that as a basic reference since I need to enlarge the pattern and adjust it for leather (not to mention different construction methods). It took a few tries, but I finally ended up with a pair of leather baby shoes that fit Little Man just right.

I don't remember where I found the giraffe template, but I drew the lion myself.

The Nitty Gritty

Now, I did encounter a few slight problems while making these. First off, I decided to hand-sew the lion and giraffe onto the shoe tops. With a regular needle. Those of you who have tried that before are doubtless laughing wryly at my inexperienced optimism.

After a few days of that, I though I had permanently worn off the tips of my right-hand middle and index fingers! Leather is *not* easy to sew. And I was even using light-weight garment leather.

I also had a rather large scare -- after completing my shoe tops and attaching them to the soles, I realized that the shoes would be too small! They might fit Little Man for a short time, but I wanted something in the 12-18 months range. Fortunately, I was able to tweak the pattern and use the same shoe tops without having to adjust or re-do them. So I guess I should be sure on the sizing before I try hand-embroidering leather next time!

And the biggest thing I learned: to put these together, you simply must -- MUST! -- buy leather needles for your sewing machine. Regular needles skip horribly, and you really want as few holes in your leather as possible. Leather needles actually have a cutting tip (fingers beware), so they can't be used on woven fabrics. Once I bought leather needles, the shoes went together in a breeze. I do love that leather doesn't ravel, which makes it easy to work with.

I've barely put a dent in that skirt leather, and I still have a good bit from the jacket, too. At this rate I should have plenty of room for creative license!


  1. Your creativity never ceases to amaze me, Shannon! The little shoes are so adorable and must look even cuter on your little man. :)

  2. Wow, those are great! Nice work!

    I want a pair for my baby if you are feeling ambitious and want a little extra cash :)

    Kristin Shoemaker

  3. Your little shoes for little man are adorable. I have to agree, your creativity never ceases to amaze me.
    Glad to see that you are all doing well.
    Mrs. Hope

  4. Those are so cute! You are so inventive! I love looking at your creations.

  5. These are beautiful, Shannon! I want a pair...

  6. Mumsy Georgette1/26/2012 5:12 AM

    Oh I am so proud of you! They are the cutest little shoes for our handsome little grandson-what a blessing that he has a Mum that is so gifted by God. Gratefulness is overflowing in my heart as I remember your first stitches made on a train to Scotland.

  7. Those are so sweet looking! I love them! Where did you get the pattern for these?

  8. Thank you all for your sweet words!

    Kristin, if you are interested in a pair you can contact me through my e-mail: maidenoftheking @ (no spaces). So far I only have them sized for 12-18 months.

    Jane Ellen -- I know! they seem so comfy that I want a pair, too! :-)

    Lexie, as I mentioned in my post, I used Simplicity 2457 as a reference, but I changed it significantly. It was kind of trial and error! :-)


  9. so cute! I loved the leather shoes on my little ones fat feet and way back when would buy them for $8 a pair in buying wholesale groups. (before they no longer allowed it) Even with that great deal- your's is by far cheaper and just as professional looking.


  10. Great work Shannon, I can't wait for the little model to show them off.



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