19 December 2010

Costuming: Boot Cover Tutorial *updated*

[Edit: Added more photos and further explanations! Hopefully this will make the tutorial clearer.]

Boot covers are exactly what they sound like - covers for your boots. They are a great option for a costume because they are easier to pack than full-size boots, easier to match to your costume than painting boots,  will typically last longer than costume boots, achieve a certain look, can save you money, and give new life to old shoes.
Here are some of the bootcovers I made this year:

Blue Beetle boots, covered over old "Superman" style red boots that were terribly scuffed up and creased all over.
Ice booties, covered over suede vintage pumps purchased at local thrift store for $2.
Terra thigh high boots, covered over women's clogs purchased at Target.

Keep reading to find out how to do it yourself:

Here they are in action:

(I also made booster gold's boot covers and all the costumes pictured here. Sorry, no photos for Terra yet.)

Here's an example of some of my first-ever boot covers, which only partially covered, and attached with velcro:



For right now, these drawings are a place holder. I've never taken a set of photos while working through a costume, but the next time I start a new project (soon) I will take pics at every step and update this.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Things you need:
- Shoes that fit you
- 4-way stretch fabric, about twice as much as you think you will need. I recommend Matte Milliskin from Spandex House. They have a huge selection of colors and you should be able to match your color. 4-way stretch is important to the nature of this project, 2-way may hinder you and no stretch at all is not covered here.
- Hot glue gun
- Sewing supplies/machine (straight pins, sharp scissors, etc)
- Zipper (choose appropriate length & color)
- Pattern paper, or just a large roll of plain paper.
- Marker or chalk pen or tailor's chalk.
- Microtex needle makes sewing lycra easier.
- Iron On Tear Away is also a great tool if your machine has a hard time with stretch fabrics. It is a paper-like stabilizer that holds your fabric perfectly in place, then tears right off. You can mark on it with a pen or pencil, just be careful with your iron temperature so you do not melt it. I love this stuff, it has so many uses! Its amazing for applique, too.

You need to start with a base shoe. Almost all of my bootcovers are glued to the shoe, so I buy shoes I don't care about "ruining", often at thrift stores. You can modify this method by adding another pattern piece for the bottom of the shoe, using a nonslip fabric, but currently this tutorial only covers the gluing method.
In this image, I have sketched the base shoes I used to Ice, Terra, and Blue Beetle. When purchasing the shoes, I considered:
- the shape of the toe
- the shape & height of the heel
- the closure of the shoe
- flexibility of the sole
You do not want anything that laces or that would show through! Smoothness is the goal.

In the next step, you make modifications you need to the base shoe. This can include cutting & painting.
In this photo, I painted the heel & sole of my Terra shoes white, then clear-coated them, in many many layers. This took several days of painting & fully drying.
You can actually do this AFTER the next step, as long as it gets done before the final steps of attaching.

Drape with the fabric you intend to use - all fabrics can stretch differently so just make this easy on yourself!
Here you can see 2 pieces of fabric (following the same grain) on either side of the leg wearing the shoe.
CAREFULLY pin the fabric in a tight sandwich around the shoe & leg. Stretch as you go, make sure nothing is wrinkling or puckering. This can take a bit of patience and re-pinning to get a smooth, even drape.
When you are satisfied, mark the line of the pins on both sides (also mark which side is inside and which is outside), then remove all the pins and take it off.

Here is fabric I've pre-prinned to prepare for draping.

Here is some draping in progress :)

If you intend to have multiple pieces, drape each piece & take some measurements. You may have to mark your base shoe to keep track of your lines.
For a toe piece, drape that first, then pin the side pieces to the toe piece. This can get tricky, just keep your markings clear and keep your drape smooth. Number your pieces & mark what is inside or outside.
For example, a toe piece can be marked "1: left" with "inside" and "outside" on each side.

Here I did a seperate heel cover. More on heel-covering here.

Take all the pieces you have draped and trace them over to pattern paper. Cut these rough traces out and lay them over each other so the back edges line up. Smooth out the front, back, and top lines so they are the same. Sorry my drawing is very rough, but you will want to use a ruler & a curve in this step. The only lines that should differ are the bottom lines, mark which one is the inside and outside of the shoe.
Now trace this adjusted shape into two different pieces: inside and outside.

Before tracing off to your final pieces, you may need to split off your pattern piece into different colors or shapes. Do this, then trace onto different pieces of pattern paper so you can add seam allowance to each piece (1/2" works for me). Keep everything organized by numbering and adding information. Draw yourself a guide for assembling & color coding. Note where your zipper will be.

When cutting out your pattern pieces from your fabric, it is very important to keep track of every piece. I use chalk and write on the reverse side (or use tape): 1 left inside, 1 left outside, 1 right inside, 1 right outside, 2 left inside, 2 left outside, 2 right inside, 2 right outside, etc etc etc.
Because the pieces will all look similar, this saves me seam-ripping and confusion later.

You can use Iron On Tear Away at this point to aid in assembly, as well as a Microtex needle.
USE A STRETCH STITCH. This is important!! Chainstitch, small zigzag, perl merrow, overlock, whatever as long as it stretches!

Depending on your fabric, you may find it appropriate to topstitch on either side of the seams. I do this with vinyl because it helps with the seam allowance bulk and adds a professional finish, but rarely use it on lycra. However, if you want to topstitch, use a chainstitch or another stretch stitch or else there will be problems.

After assembling the panels, you can put in an invisible zipper or a regular zipper.
Now, you should have a left and right bootcover that look like strange sock-like things :) and are ready for the final step!

Sewn bootcovers with zippers, ready to be attached.

Additionally: my Ice boots have foam sheets in the cuffs. I did this by draping the cuff, cutting two pieces, sewing them into a pocket for the foam (pocket slightly smaller so it smoothly stretches over the foam), then sewing the foam into the cuff, and finally attaching the whole thing to the top of the bootcover and topstiching down the seam allowance.

- do it like in the picture, with the bootcover inside out.
- or, pull the bootcover inside out and fold in the seam allowance, then glue it to the shoe.
I use both methods for different projects, based on the materials. Try it out and see what works better for you! Additionally, you could sew on a sole-shaped piece here for bootcovers that pull over shoes instead of attaching them.

First method:
Warning: this method can be nerve wracking.
Flip your bootcover inside out and stretch it over the base of the shoe. Match the front seam with the center front and the back seam with the center back point of the shoe. Go slowly and glue between the bootcover and the seam of where the shoe meets its sole. I use hot glue because it dries quickly and has some amount of precision, and I don't really recommend any glue that doesn't dry quickly. Just try to be neat with it and patient.
When you are done gluing the pieces together and flip it inside out, your seam allowance will be inside the cover and the seam of the shoe will be hidden. However, the flipping step is just as difficult as gluing.. this is where its crucial that your fabric and seams are stretchy and your shoe's sole is flexible. Go slowly and try to stabilize the glued areas with your hands, while stretching areas of fabric as far as they go.

Other way to do it:
Turn bootcovers so they are right-side out. Fold in the seam allowance and glue them to the shoes. Glue the center-back point and the center-front points first, then work through the middle, about an inch at a time, pressing down as you go along. I find this to be trickier because sometimes you mess up the seam allowance and can't clip it, but it saves you the struggle of turning the bootcover right-side out later.
So do whatever works best for you.

Wipe your forehead sweat off and admire your finished work!!

We did it.

Hope this is helpful, please spread it around if you think so!
If not, please ask any questions & tell me how I can improve this.

>>PART 2<<
For additional methods, such as no center seam & modifying heel shape.


  1. That is AWESOME. I wondered how you'd gotten such cool looking Terra boots when you showed me the pics at NYCC. Thanks

  2. These look great. Wonderful job!!!

  3. This tutorial rocks so hard thanks Jewels!

  4. thanks for the tutorial!!!

    but i was wondering, how are you gonna make these? i have plans of cosplaying someone with boots similar to these. how are u gonna make boot with laces on it? if its not too much to ask, sorry for the bother.

  5. V


  6. @Mau Generally you wouldn't do a lace-up bootcover with stretch fabric. Personally I would paint a lace-up boot to match, rather than trying to make it, since it requires stiffer materials. Krylon Fusion is a good spraypaint for synthetic shoes (ie not real leather).

  7. @mf(x) : oh, i get it. so, you're going to paint the laces, somehow similar to the boots you're gonna cosplay?

  8. @Mau No, just paint the shoes & replace the laces.

  9. AMANDA conner wants some terra boots!!

  10. Out of curiosity, since my costume's shoes just look like one long thigh-high panty-hose, what if a cheap flat shoe was used instead of a heeled shoe? Would the rules of this tutorial still apply?

  11. Yes, it definately works! I have done some boots (non-stretch method) using just $1 mesh sandals from Chinatown as the base, and it worked no problem. Ballet-style plain flats would be your best bet, anything without embellishments or laces makes a perfectly fine base shoe.

  12. What material did you use for the blue boots? Matte Milliskin as well? Great tutorial, thanks for your help

  13. what material did you use for the red boots? also what type of shoes did you use for the thigh high boots? im cosplaying as black rock shooter,if you look her up the shoes you used for the thigh high boots are asolutely perfect, also what material would you recomend for these boots, i need them too stay up on my leg. thanks shannen, you can contact me on shannen.rebecca@hotmail.com

  14. Hi!
    I used this tutorial for making the boots for my Sango cosplay. The boots turned out great! So many cosplayers neglect the shoes on a costume, but they really completed the outfit, and I even won an award. :D Second place in Best Craft! Probably partly thanks to the boots! ;)

  15. Hey,
    I needed to know if this method would still work if using a non-stretch material. The reason I ask is the boots I'm working on actually go over the pants and they're loose pants. Since stretch material would show the bunching on the pants that won't work so I wanted to see if a non-stretch would still work with this method just using the second way of attaching.

  16. If your using shot high heels and making long boots out of it how do you make it stay up on your leg?

  17. Loved this tutorial. Can I get more info on thigh high boots? Briezy32@gmail.com

  18. thank you! also the ones you made look amazing <3

  19. Hi, what is the first draping used for? I thought you're supposed to use the fabric you want to use to make the boot covers?

    I'm trying to make these boots http://www.zerochan.net/878867#full ; http://images.wikia.com/vocaloid/images/5/50/IAreference.jpg

    Would you be able to help me out on making these boots please?

    My email is s.s.cho31@gmail.com

    thank you! I really love your boots, they're so pretty!

  20. What kind of paint did you use to paint te bottom of the black and white boots?
    Is it regular paint like you would use to paint the walls of a house?

    If anyone has the answer, please email me at crystalmarie031@gmail.com


  21. I know this an old post. Thanks for keeping it up it has helped me so much. Thanks again. great pics.

  22. sorry i know you probably got this question a lot, but my question is basically the same as the Anonymous, i am also cosplaying black rock shooter and would love to know what material you used for the boots, and what base you used :) my email is Cahetrick@cox.net. If you cant reply that's fine!

  23. *O*
    this is very helpful!!! i will use this technique on my next cosplay and would totally link this blog for credits!!!

    thanks you soooo much for sharing!!!! ^____^

  24. Thank you Thank you Thank you!! You've given me at least an idea of what I'm about to do. I have a tight time limit and need to finish a Superman costume asap for a party. Thanks again :)

  25. your tutorial is awesome, but im not sure how to go about making covers for the boot style im doing ( im cosplaying as sherwood forest ashe from league of legend... model page: http://www.lolking.net/models/?champion=22&skin=2)would you be able to help me out by explaining how to do this? email is littleonna@gmail.com

  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  27. Hey I know your post is old but maybe you'll read this by chance :S

    I wonder what the fabric is called which you used for the red shiny shoes *-*
    Is it stretchable as well like notmal...nonvarnishlike Spandex or isn't it.

    I am SO unbelievably curious because I need this kind of shiny shoes for a current cosplay. <3

  28. hello do you cover changing the shape of the boot the bottoms? thanks

  29. Hi! Greaf tutorial. I was wondering if four-way stretch vinyl would work as well. Thanks!

  30. A video would be appreciated :D

  31. oh this is awesome! I'm planning a "Madam Raz" costume for the next convention and the boots were... well not something you can buy. the top and the pants are a sinch, and I can make the hat/wig thing easy. But I was stuck on the boots.

    Thank you for this!

  32. Hi... I have a question.... what is the name of the fabric you used to make those black and white boots? Thanks.

  33. this is the BEST, are you sure hot glue will stay put?

  34. Amazing tutorial! I've linked it here:https://www.facebook.com/CostumeCon36/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf