Tutorial: Cosplay Shoe Covers Using Fabric

how to make boot covers

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Cosplay shoe covers are your secret weapon for bringing your favorite characters to life without breaking the bank on footwear. Instead of hunting down the perfect boots to match your costume, you can create a custom cover that slips over shoes you already own. Whether you’re portraying a superhero, a fantasy warrior, or a futuristic traveler, shoe covers are your customizable solution that can transform even the most ordinary pair of shoes into specialty costume footwear.

Constructing shoe covers might seem intimidating, but with the right materials and a bit of creativity, you’ll find it’s an approachable project. You’ll have the freedom to choose from a variety of materials such as stretchable fabrics for sleek, form-fitting covers.

Learning how to make these versatile costume pieces can be fun and practical. Tutorials and patterns for making cosplay shoe covers can guide you through the process, ensuring that your covers not only look great but also fit comfortably over your shoes. With practice, you’ll refine your technique and maybe even help fellow cosplayers walk a mile in their character’s shoes—quite literally.

The easiest type of shoe cover to make is a basic fabric cover. This tutorial will be making a simple over-the-knee boot cover, but you can make any number of adjustments to the design that you need for your character’s shoes.

Supplies you need:

  • The shoes you plan on wearing under the covers
  • Paper and pen (and tape if you only have printer paper)
  • Plastic wrap and duct tape
  • Fabric and thread (stretch fabric is easier to work with, but pleather will look more realistic)
  • Elastic (about 1 inch thick)
  • Shoe grip (optional for if you plan on covering the bottom of your shoe with fabric)
  • Sewing machine (optional, you can hand sew too)
making a boot pattern
Make a boot pattern for stretch fabric by tracing your leg and the bottom of your shoe. Don’t forget to add a seam allowance.

1. Create your boot pattern

The first step is to create the pattern you’re going to use for your boot cover. In general, there are two ways to go about this, tracing your leg or wrapping your leg in plastic wrap and duct tape. 

Either way, you will need to wear the same shoe you intend to wear underneath your boot cover. It’s best if you use a shoe that is simple and doesn’t have too many buckles or embellishments that will make bumps in the fabric. If you want your final shoe to have a heel, your base shoe will need to have one too. But remember to keep comfort in mind, since you’ll probably be wearing this for many hours around a convention.

If you’re using a stretch fabric, you can take the easy route and trace your leg. 

  1. Use a large piece of paper (or tape printer paper together) so that you can lay your leg on the paper. Make sure it’s as tall as you intend the boot to go (in my case, over the knee).
  2. Trace your leg (or have someone do it for you). Lay your leg on its side, so that you can get the shape of the shoe, and try to keep your leg straight.
  3. Clean up the lines. Straighten out the lines to create a cleaner pattern look. If you’re a little unsure, make the pattern a little bigger than you think you need, since you can always make it smaller later.
  4. Trace the bottom of your shoe. Then make lines for the toe and the heel. These pieces will slip over the ends of your shoe to help hold it in place. If you are wearing a shoe with a heel, you’ll want to create a pattern piece for the entire bottom of the shoe, leaving a hole for the heel.
  5. Add a seam allowance. Add ¼ inch to ½ inch seam allowance around each of the pattern pieces.
  6. Cut out your pattern pieces. You’ll need to cut two of the leg pieces for each shoe, and one set of shoe pieces for each side.

If you’re using a fabric that does not have any stretch to it, you’ll need to create a more exact pattern to work with:

  1. Wrap your leg and base shoe in plastic wrap.
  2. Place strips of duct tape over the plastic wrap. Avoid making it too tight, or the shoe will be too small.
  3. Draw a front and back seam on your leg. Label the two pieces as the inside and outside of the boot cover.
  4. Cut off the plastic wrap and duct tape at the seams. 
  5. Trace it onto paper and add a seam allowance. Clean up the lines when you trace them, then add ¼ inch to ½ inch seam allowance.
  6. Trace the bottom of your shoe. Then make lines for the toe and the heel. These pieces will slip over the ends of your shoe to help hold it in place. If you are wearing a shoe with a heel, you’ll want to create a pattern piece for the entire bottom of the shoe, leaving a hole for the heel.
  7. Cut out your pattern pieces. You’ll need one of each for each shoe, but make sure you flip the pattern over for the opposite foot (so you don’t end up with two left shoes!)

2. Cut out the fabric pieces

Pin your pattern pieces to the fabric and cut them out. It’s best to work with one boot first so that you can correct any mistakes on the first boot before moving on to the second. If you are using a pleather or non-stretch fabric, cut out the pieces for the bottom of your shoe in a different, stretchy fabric.

zig-zag stitch
Use a zig-zag stitch to hand sew a stretch fabric.

3. Sew the first boot

First, sew the two sides of the boot together up the front and back seams. Then sew on the pieces for the bottom of the shoe.

For any areas using a stretch fabric, make sure to use a wide zig-zag stitch. A normal straight stitch is likely to break as soon as you start pulling on it, but the zig-zag can stretch along with the fabric.

On a machine, you can simply switch to the zig-zag stitch, but hand stitching is a little less straightforward. I like to sew the toe and heel pieces by hand since they are small and difficult to maneuver in the sewing machine. This is how I do the zig-zag stitch:

  1. Make a diagonal stitch up toward the edge of the fabric.
  2. Make a tiny backstitch.
  3. Make a diagonal stitch down, away from the edge of the fabric.
  4. Make a tiny backstitch.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4
sewing elastic to the bottom of the cover
Sew an elastic strip to the bottom of the boot cover.

4. Add the elastic

Cut a strip of elastic that is the width of the middle of your shoe. Sew it to the center of your boot covers. This elastic will hold the cover in place while you are walking around.

If you created a fabric cover for the entire bottom of your shoe, you will also have to add a shoe grip to the covers. Fabric will slip and slide while you walk. It’s dangerous to walk around a convention without any kind of grip on the bottom of fabric shoes, so just glue little grips on the ball of your foot using hot glue.

putting on the boot cover
Flip the boot cover over top of your shoe and secure it with the heel and toe pieces.

5. Try on the boot and make adjustments

After it’s sewn, turn it right side out and try on the boot. At this point, you may find that you need to adjust the height of the boot, make it a little tighter, or otherwise adjust the fit around your leg. Overall, it should be tight enough to stay up, but not so tight that it’s cutting off circulation.

I make these boots so that I can put on the boot cover like a sock or stocking. Then I will put my shoe on underneath and flip the elastic toe and heel pieces over the edge of my shoe. This makes it a lot easier to take my shoes on and off during the day at a convention.

After you’re happy with the fit, repeat the process for the second boot.

Emily Joice

My name is Emily, and I have been cosplaying since my very first convention in 2008. Over the years, I've experimented with all different kinds of cosplay costumes, especially loving the process of creating props and styling wigs. I also delved into cosplay photography, and love exploring how to optimize costumes so they look excellent in photos. Most of the photos you find on this site were taken by me over my years at anime conventions.

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