Create Your Own Cosplay Boot Covers and Shoes (using 2 methods)

how to make boot covers

Most of the time, if you want accurate shoes for your cosplay, you’ll need to make them yourself. Since most of us don’t have the knowledge or tools to create shoes from scratch, we rely on making shoe covers for our cosplay footwear. 

Cosplay shoe covers can be made using fabric or EVA foam. Stretch fabric shoe covers work best for over-the-knee boots, while pleather can be used for basic adjustments to an existing boot. EVA foam boot covers are more versatile and can even be worn over sneakers.

There are countless methods for creating boot covers for your cosplay. For some, you glue (or otherwise attach) the cover to the base shoe. However, I prefer to make covers that are completely detachable. Since I expect to wear these shoes for hours at a time at conventions, I like to make boot covers that can be worn over top of a comfortable pair of walking shoes.

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Method 1: Fabric shoe covers

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.

Method 2: EVA foam boots

Creating an EVA foam shoe is a little more difficult, but it can be worn over just about any shoe. This method cannot be used for any boots that go over the knee, since the foam wouldn’t be flexible enough to bend your knees and sit down comfortably.

Supplies you will need:

boot pattern pieces
Take a photo of all the labeled pieces before you cut them off of the boot, this way you’ll remember how to put it back together.

1. Create your pattern

Create a pattern similar to the way you would with fabric. I like to use a boot that I have as a base to build on, but you can use your leg the same way you did in method 1.

  1. Wrap your shoe in plastic wrap.
  2. Place strips of duct tape over the plastic wrap. Avoid making it too tight, or the completed shoe will be too small.
  3. Draw seams on the duct tape. You’ll want every piece to be flat when you cut it out of the EVA foam, so you’ll need to break the shoe up into many different pieces. Label each piece so that you can easily reassemble the shoe. 
  4. Add small ticks along the seams (registration lines). You’ll use these to make sure you’re lining up the pieces correctly when gluing them together.
  5. Take a picture of the shoe. With all the little pieces, you might get confused when assembling it later. Take a picture of all sides so you can reference it when gluing your shoe together.
  6. Cut off the plastic wrap and duct tape at the seams. 
  7. Trace your pattern pieces onto paper. Clean up the lines when you trace them and don’t forget about the registration lines.
cutting out the boot pieces
Trace your pieces and cut them out of EVA foam. Don’t forget to label them and include the registration marks so you can line them up later.

2. Cut out your pattern pieces

Now it’s time to trace all of your pattern pieces onto the sheet of EVA foam. Don’t forget to add the registration marks so that you can line up the pieces correctly when you are assembling your shoe.

So that you can easily take the shoe on and off, you’ll want to add an extra flap on one side so you can use velcro. Cut two pieces of the inner side of the shoe, since this will be the most discreet location for the overlapping, velcroed pieces.

When cutting, make sure to keep your razor sharp. The cleaner the cuts, the easier it will be to put everything together, and the less work you’ll have to do sanding seams. Run your razor across a knife sharpener every few minutes to make sure it maintains its edge.

glueing the boot together
When you glue your boot pieces together, make sure to line up the registration marks.

3. Glue your boot together

Glue your shoe together piece by piece:

  1. Apply contact cement to both pieces. Let it dry for 5-10 minutes until it’s slightly tacky. You can use superglue as well, but I don’t recommend using hot glue since it will melt in the next step.
  2. Put the first two pieces together starting at one edge.
  3. As you push the two pieces together, make sure the registration ticks line up correctly. You can stretch the EVA foam slightly to ensure they are in alignment.
  4. Continue the process with all the pieces until all the pieces have been attached.
  5. Let the glue dry overnight before moving onto the next step.

When you get to the inner side of the shoe (where you will be using velcro), attach one flap to the front of the shoe and one flap to the back, but do not glue the shoe completely closed. 

heat forming the EVA foam
To heat shape the EVA foam, first heat it up with a heatgun, then use a shoe as a prop to hold the boot cover against until it cools.

4. Heat form the boot to the correct shape

Time to get the heatgun out. For this step, you will want to wear work gloves to avoid burning your hands and use a boot to hold the EVA foam against as it cools. This will help you form your boot cover into the correct shape. 

Wave the heatgun about six inches away from the foam to heat up the EVA foam plastic. Then wrap your cover around your boot prop and hold it in place until the shoe cover cools off. You may have to re-heat the EVA foam a few times while you mold the shoe into the correct shape.

Always heat EVA foam in a well-ventilated area and wear a mask. The plastic lets off mildly toxic fumes that you want to avoid breathing. It’s also best to stay away from pets.

Dremel sanding the EVA boot
Use a Dremel to so sand down the seams and make them smoother.

5. Sand and repair the seams and edges

After you’re happy with the shape of your shoe cover, it’s time to clean it up a little. The goal here will be to fill in any holes and smooth out any sharp seams on the shoe cover to make it appear more natural.

First, inspect your seams. Sometimes you’ll get little holes here and there because the plastic EVA foam shrinks when you heat it up. Fill in the holes using Kwik Seal, then wait for it to dry.

After your holes are filled in you want to sand everything to look nice and smooth. You can do this by hand by using sandpaper, but I find it’s much easier to use a sanding rotary tool. My tool of choice is a Dremel Lite since this makes it really fast to go over seams and get rid of any bumps. 

When sanding EVA foam, always use a mask and eye protection and stay in a well-ventilated area. The dust from sanding is toxic when inhaled (and there is a lot of dust), and it can also easily get into your eyes if you’re not wearing goggles. Keep pets in a separate area of your home while going through this step.

glue on elastic
Use hot glue to attach an elastic strip to the bottom of your boot cover.

7. Add velcro and elastic attachments

Before you’re finished, you have to add ways to attach the shoe cover to you. We will be adding velcro to the side of the boot cover and elastic along the bottom.

  1. Measure the velcro and glue it on the inside of the extra flaps you created.
  2. Use elastic that’s about one inch thick. Measure out the amount you need for the bottom of the boot cover. Then glue it to both sides, in the middle of the shoe. 

6. Prime and paint the boot

It’s always best to use a primer on EVA foam before painting. This will keep the paint from bleeding into the foam, so you won’t have to apply as many layers.

At this point, you can also add decorations, embellishments, wear and tear, or anything else that your character’s shoe requires. You can even glue fabric onto the boot to make it have a leather-like appearance.

Trying on the boot cover
Try on your boot cover to make sure it fits properly.

8. Try on your shoe cover

Strap your boot on overtop of your shoe and start walking around in it. Slip the elastic underneath your shoe and then close the velcro on the side. It should be flat on the ground and not causing you to stumble while you walk around. 

If all is good, then go ahead and build the second shoe! Make sure to flip the pattern pieces over when tracing them so that you don’t end up with two left shoes. You’ll put them together mirroring the first shoe.

Emily Joice

My name is Emily, and I have been Cosplaying Since my very first convention in 2008. Over the years I've learned a lot of new skills that have helped me become better and making cosplay and looking good for the camera.

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