Tutorial: Sturdy Boot and Shoe Covers for Costumes (EVA foam)

how to make boot covers

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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.

If this is your first time using EVA foam, I recommend checking out this article that gives you an introduction to the material. Once you understand how EVA foam works, you can make just about anything, but there is a little bit of a learning curve.

How to make EVA foam boots

Creating an EVA foam shoe is more difficult than just using fabric, however you’ll get a more sturdy final shoe to wear with your costume. EVA boot covers can also be worn over just about any type of shoe, even sneakers (so you can stay comfortable walking around a convention).

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 or 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 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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