Sunday, January 15, 2017


Today's post is a tale of how I turned two subpar pairs of shoes into some slightly better but still less-than-stellar pairs of shoes!

In it, you will learn:
  • How to turn tall boots into booties
  • How to shorten an unnecessarily long zipper
  • How to make fabric boots fit tighter

How to turn tall boots into booties

Let's start with the pair you saw a month ago, in my "Refashioned" outfit.

They started out a pair of mid-calf boots that began peeling and flaking almost the first time I wore them. I tried to disguise some of the bare spots with a similar color of paint, but by two autumns, they were too ugly to wear.

However, since it was mostly the shaft of the boot that was damaged, and since ankle boots seem to be especially popular this winter, I thought I'd give them a second chance at life.

The shaft was constructed from a different piece of material as the upper of the boot, so I left the uppers intact and just cut off all but about an inch of the shaft.

There was a pleather outer layer and a fabric liner layer. I folded the outer layer down to get it out of the way, then cut off the inner layer (here seen sticking up) at that height.

I used my E6000 glue, and folded the outer layer over to the inside of the inner layer.
To get the fabric to lay flat, I had to cut a few notches in it at various points around the perimeter. 
I clamped it with binder clips while waiting for it to dry.

The finished product shows some imperfections (and boy, is the glued area itchy!) but I'll be happy enough to use these boots for at least one more season.

How to shorten an unnecessarily long zipper

Next up! My thigh-high brown fabric boots. I've had these for a couple years as well (since May of 2014, to be exact) but I've never been extremely happy with the fit.

I only have one clear picture of them in their pre-altered state, and in that one you can see that the zipper – somewhat inexplicably – goes almost up to the knee, despite the boots being made of a stretch fabric with plenty of room for the fattest of feet. If you know anything about zippers, you know that they tend to bunch and bulge, and the zipper on these boots made me look rather like I was walking around on a set of troll legs. 

For years, I put up with it because I was afraid of altering the boots in a way that would damage them, but finally this fall, I decided to take the plunge.

I used my seam ripper to remove the zipper from all but the bottom 6 inches. 
Then I carefully closed up the opening with my sewing machine. Sewing the inside of boots is really difficult, so this time I decided to take the easy way out and make a modified French seam. I just turned the raw edges to the inside, and then sewed over them on the outside. My seam is quite a bit uneven, but it still looks better than it did before!

Once I was certain I wouldn't need the zipper any more, I cut it off at the top of the ankle and hand-stitched the top of it closed.

The finished product
The zipper was repaired, but there was still a problem—the boots wouldn't stay up!

I'd previously sewn the inside of the back seam to create a narrower shaft (one reason I know it's difficult to sew the inside of boots!), but there was still a good bit of slack which I didn't necessarily want to lose (I might want to wear these boots over jeans which would require them to be a bit looser, and also the slouchy look helps disguise my unrefined sewing).

My solution: hidden rubber bands!

How to make fabric boots tighter

This is a reversible no-sew solution to a common problem!
Put a safety pin into one side of the boot (on the inside), pinning over one side of a rubber band. Then do the same thing on the other side.
Now there's a rubber band running right across the top of the boot shaft.

When you put the boot on, make sure the whole rubber band goes behind your leg,* taking up some of the slack and elasticizing the top of the boot. It makes the shaft fit tighter, and the rubber adds a little bit of friction to help keep it from sliding down! 

You can adjust the fit by moving the safety pins. Put them closer to the front of the boot to make it tighter, or move them closer to the back to make it looser.

Success! My boot is staying put!
This isn't a perfect solution; I still experience some sliding even after tightening the fit on both boots. But it does delay the process, forcing you to tug at your boots slightly less often!

*Before I figured out a better way, I used to poke my leg right through the middle of the rubber band, but as you can imagine, wrapping a standard rubber band around your thigh is not always comfortable and resulted in a lot of broken rubber bands. So I don't recommend that.

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of refashioning some old, worn boots and am now wishing I hadn't sent a box of them to Goodwill. Thanks for the inspiration :)