Costuming Tips - Boot Tutorial
What follows is a step-by-step explanation of how I went about converting a pair of hard-soled slippers into soft boots. I wish I knew where to find Jen, the Videl cosplayer I met at ACen 03 who gave me the tip on doing boots this way, because it worked great! Please feel free to use this method to create boots for yourself, though be warned that some of the shortcuts and methods I used may not work for you depending on what kind of slippers you intend to convert. Make modifications where necessary!
I started with a trip to Goodwill, for a pair of house slippers with hard plastic soles. The key was finding a pair that fit me, it didn't matter what they looked like because they would be torn apart to make the boots. I must say I was rather proud of how hideous the fluffy pink things were, it made their death that much more satisfying.
The first step was to separate the sole from the slipper, carefully so as not to rip any holes in the sole. I pried back the edge of the slipper to find the threads and just ripped them up one by one, discovering as I did that the inner part of the slipper, a softer terry lining against batting material, was not actually sewn to the sole. It was only connected at the top hem of the slipper. So, I saved the inner part to stuff back into my boots after I had made the outer part. Very good idea!!
Rather than try to play with measurements and fittings, I figured that since I already knew the slippers fit, I should just use the slipper covering itself as a pattern for the boots' lower part. I pulled out the seam to find that it didn't have a seam up the back, but was made of one piece. I wanted a seam up the back in case I needed to make adjustments, so I marked the center back and added a half-inch seam allowance when cutting the pieces out. The slippers had a bit of shape, so I marked which side was the inside and which was the outside before cutting.
The boots would be made of blue felt, which I bought by the yard at Hobby Lobby for the best price. I only needed one yard, and still have lots left over for future fun. I laid the slipper pieces down, and cut about an eighth of an inch around them (to leave plenty of seam allowance) with a half-inch seam at the top and the back. I pinned and stitched the inside to the outside, along the back and the top, and clipped the seam allowance along the curves of the top to make it lie better.
I measured on myself to determine whereabouts the boot should come to, knowing that to be accurate, it should hit about mid-calf on me, not too close to my knee. I measured the opening of the lower part of the boot, 12.5 inches, and then approximated the opening of the top of the boot around my calf at 18 inches - there needed to be room for pants. The easiest way to handle the difference and make the top part of the boot was to cut a rectangle about 19 inches long and 10 inches high, fold it in half and sew it along the back, curving the seam from the top to the bottom to accommodate the measurements. This made for a sort of tube curved in at the bottom, where it would match the lower part of the boot.
The next step was to attach the two parts of the boot together. I had turned the bottom part of the boot right-side out, but left the top inside-out so I could slip it over the bottom and match the edges, right side to right side. Old trick I learned doing sleeves. I ran a half-inch seam around the opening, connecting the two pieces into one boot.
I had plenty of extra fabric at the top of the boot to fold over and decide exactly where I wanted the hem. I tried it on my leg, and even pinned it to the slipper lining and put that over my foot to judge approximately where the top hem should be. I ended up folding over something like two inches, but I only ran a half-inch hem and cut off the excess felt.
The trim had to be put on the boot before anything else was done. Goku's boots have a stripe of red running up the front from the toe to the top, up the back seam, and around the top. I used regular single-fold bias tape, in scarlet, double-stitched along the boot's seams. Stitching down bias tape is never a picnic, especially on curves, but it came out very smooth and nice-looking. It also serves to hide the seams.
Next, I had to sew the plastic sole back onto the boot. It wasn't very hard, just tedious and awkward. I had to hand-stitch it, because there was no way I was going to fit it under my machine. I used my biggest needle just in case, but the plastic was actually very easy to stick a pin or needle through. I had given myself a half inch to work with, in case the fabric turned out just a bit bigger or smaller than the sole, but on both feet it surprisingly fit very closely. I turned the boot inside out so the right side could be stitched against the "right" side of the lip of the sole, so that when I turned the boot back to its right side, the stitch was hidden inside. No thread shows at all. I did one boot first and left the other slipper intact so I could see how it was done in the first place, and just did my boot the same way.
The last thing to do was stuff the inner sole of the slipper back down into the boot and stitch it into place. I didn't mess around with fancy hems, I just pinned the top edge of the inner lining to the felt boot right at the seam where the lower and upper parts are joined, and ran a stitch right on top of it (the "stitch in the ditch" method). Voila! The finishing touch was a length of gold cord, which I happened to have lying around (but I believe can be gotten at Hancock Fabrics for a few cents), tied around the boot at the ankle.
For complete accuracy, I may eventually paint the sole red to match the trim, but it's not necessary. This method can be adapted very easily to making soft saiyan-style boots. The method can also be altered so as not to have a seam at the ankle, but that would take some trial and error, so only attempt this if you're patient! When looking for slippers to convert, go with the kind as pictured below - Isotoner and Dearfoams are some of the brands you might find. And guys, don't be afraid to try on women's slippers - it doesn't matter in the end because all you're using is the sole, not the outside.
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