Make This:

DIY Shoes – Part 3 – Making A Test Fit

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In this part of the project you’ll make a test shoe to check that your pattern fits the way you want it to!


This series includes:

Part 1 – Intro & Supplies
Part 2 – Making a Pattern
Part 3 – Making a Test Shoe
Part 4 – Making an Insole
Part 5 – Gluing an Upper to an Insole
Part 6 – Making a Shoe Sole
Part 7 – Making a Minimalist Style Upper



muslin, osnaberg, or another inexpensive fabric, enough to cut two of the upper (pre-shrink with the iron)
cardstock – acid free isn’t important here so I used a cereal box
basic sewing supplies including a sewing machine if you’d like
glue – E-6000 is my first choice
iron – press everything well so that the test is accurate



If you cut up a right shoe, make a right shoe. If you cut up a left shoe, make a left shoe. When you’re done you want to be able to put the manufactured shoe on one foot and the one you made on the other, then compare the fit!


Before you start to cut, make sure your pattern piece has a 1/2 inch seam (gluing) allowance on the bottom edge, and a 1/4 inch seam allowance at the top and heel edges.

Cut out three of your upper. Two should be on-grain and one should be on the bias. I cut two of muslin on-grain and one from the darker osnaberg on the bias, mostly for photographic contrast. Trace the alignment marks for the sole onto the two on-grain pieces.


Stack them together – two on-grain then one bias.

Sew them at the top edge with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. You may want to sew over it a second time. Trim the allowance down to 1/8 inch in the curve near the toe, this will help it lay flatter when turned.

Flip one layer of on-bias over. Press. For real, with an iron. Make sure the piece is flat so that your test is accurate.

Open up the upper and align at the back seam. Sew at 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Flip that layer back down and align. Press as necessary. Baste all layers together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance along the lower edge.

Trace and cut an insole from cardstock. Add the 1/2 inch line and all alignment marks.

Glue the upper to the insole, working in sections between alignment marks. Make sure that your fabric edge matches the 1/2 inch line and take care to keep the alignment marks really aligned. That’s all you have to make sure the fabric fullness is in the right place. For this shoe I pleated the fabric into place, I later switched to gathering the fabric into place (as explained in future parts of this series.) You’ll probably want to try it both ways to determine what works best for you.


Let it dry COMPLETELY before putting it on. I know it’s tempting, but you can mess things up enough that you have to start over. Don’t walk in the shoe without using extreme caution – cardstock can be slippery.


Put the new shoe on one foot and the manufactured shoe on the other.  Compare the fit, and consider any adjustments you want to make.  I changed the edge of the upper to cover more of my foot (mostly for a larger canvas to show off cool fabrics or other decoration), and added a tiny bit more ease to the big toe area.  If you want to make changes to the fit make a new pattern and make a new test shoe.  Repeat this until you love the fit.


Part 1 – Intro & Supplies
Part 2 – Making a Pattern


Part 4 – Making an Insole