Thursday, 16 July 2015

DIY Boot Covers

DIY boot covers

Recently I've been sewing cosplays for a future event, and realised, "Hey, if I take photos whilst I make this, I can post a tutorial!" Radical idea, huh? ;)

So after a long (long long long) break, you lovely readers of Unfortunately Oh are getting a new DIY! Thanks to everyone who stuck with the blog (and doubly thanks to everyone who followed me over to Doing A Thing, where I post about books, chocolate, cafes and...doing things!)

Without further ado, here it is: How To Make Boot Covers (or spats. Or even gaiters. I don't know. I'm going to keep calling them 'boot covers').

This is a great method for fancy dress or cosplay, to make existing footwear more appropriate to the costume. Plus, it doesn't damage your boots :) It's especially good if modifying cheap footwear isn't an option due to your shoe size or medical conditions that restrict the sorts of footwear you're able to wear.

how to make bootcovers

You'll need:

For the pattern:
  • Your boots/shoes
  • (If applicable) the trousers you'll wear the boots over
  • Cling film (plastic wrap!)
  • Sticky tape or packing tape
  • Marker pen
  • Scissors
  • A friend to help (optional)

For the boot covers:
  • Pattern (see above!)
  • Fabric
  • Zip for each cover*
  • Scissors
  • Matching thread
  • Elastic (approx 1/2" wide)
  • Dressmakers pen/pencil/chalk
  • Dressmaking pins
  • Sewing machine (or a needle for hand-sewing and lots of patience)

* Either open or closed-ended zips, dependent on how long you intend the boot covers to be. In the past I've used open-ended ones the length of the covers, but this time I used shorter ones as I was making over-the-knee covers and didn't think I'd find zips that long!
Edit: Seriously use long zips. Zips that let you unzip the cover entirely, if possible. It makes these so much easier to get on/off!

Note: This is a LONG tutorial, though it's relatively easy to make these. So I've put in headings:
You can click these to skip to the necessary section :)

Making the Pattern

boot covers tutorial

1. If you're wearing trousers under the boots, put them on, along with the boots you plan to recover (if the trousers are baggy, tuck them into your existing boots.
Then cover your boot and leg in cling film, up as far as where you want the top of the boot cover to be. Don't do this too tightly--you want to be comfortable!
Once you're cling-filmed up, wrap tape around to cover the cling film. Again, don't wrap too tightly, but make sure the cling film is covered.
*If you're making over the knee boot covers like I am here, a second pair of hands would be really helpful!

spats DIY

2. Using a marker pen, draw the seams and edges of the boot covers:
  • A&B: Front and back seams
  • C: A curve where the boot cover crosses the toe of your shoe/boot
  • D: A curve at the heel
  • E: Bottom edge: lines following the sole, to join up the two curves C and D
    (If this doesn't make sense, check out the next picture)
Once your lines are drawn, cut them, starting with the front seam (and being careful not to damage your boots!)

cosplay boot covers DIY

3. This is what you should end up with!
As you can see, I experimented a little with where I wanted the boot cover to cross the toe.
I've annotated the image to help make sense of where the seams/edges should be.
On the back seam (B), working from the bottom, mark where the zip will go (skip this if your zip runs the length of the boot covers)

And there you have your pattern!
Next step, the boot covers themselves...

Making the Boot Covers

how to make boot covers for cosplay

1. Draw out the pattern on the wrong side of the fabric and cut out.
Note that I widened the top part of the pattern beyond the knee, because my pattern ended up with a curve in it (seriously, if you're making OTK boot covers, get someone to help you make a pattern so it comes out straighter!)
Honestly, I could've done with making the top part a little wider, as I forgot to account for movement.
Add a big seam allowance--you can cut off excess, but you can't add on extra without making a mess!
As I'm using leather-look vinyl, I cut where the zip would go right at the seam line, to avoid having too thick a section of fabric.

cosplay bootcovers DIY

2. Pin and sew the back seam (B) from the top, to the point where the zip will be attached, and trim off excess seam allowance. Skip this step if your zip is going all the way up!

boot covers tutorial
Note: This kind of sewing machine foot is awesome for sewing vinyls! The tiny rollers feed the fabric through the machine, whereas an ordinary foot tends to stick and make the fabric wrinkle and buckle. I even used this - carefully - for sewing on the zips!

making boot covers

3. Pin the zip into place. Snip a curve into the seam at the top of the zip, to prevent the fabric ripping under stress (I made the mistake of not doing this the first time around...). Sew on the zip and trim off any ends protruding from the bottom edge of the boot cover (D)

boot covers DIY tutorial how to

4. Cut a piece of elastic that fits across the bottom of your boots, just in front of the heel. Attach the ends to the bottom edge (E).
If you're making boot covers that cover the entire boot (see examples at end of post), you'll need to attach a second length of elastic to go across the sole, beneath the toe of the boot (roughly where your big toe joint is).

easy boot covers DIY

5. Test the boot cover for size, and remark the front seam (A) if needed (I had to add some space at the top, to allow for movement--thank goodness for big seam allowances!)
Once satisfied, pin and stitch the seam (A).
Turn the right way in and try on to check sizing, adjusting if necessary. Once it fits comfortably, trim away excess seam allowance and make some little cuts in the curve of the front seam (this helps the fabric curve properly when the boot cover is the right way around).

DIY cosplay costume boot covers

6. Either hem the top of the boot covers (if you're using fabric that frays) or trim off the excess and add a row of stitching to give the appearance of being hemmed (I did this, as I used leather-look vinyl). You can do this on the other edges too--if the fabric is a match/near-match to your boots, it gives more of an authentic boot-like appearance. (I didn't do this, as I'm lazy).

7. Stitch/glue on any extra decoration to finish.

Putting Them On

If you've made boot covers that open completely at the back, this is simple and obvious!
But I made life difficult for myself by using zips I had to hand, which were a little short. If you're like me and too lazy to haul ass to the shops for longer zips / are too impatient to wait / don't want to spend more money / can't find longer zips, here's how I get into the over-the-knee boot covers I made:

spats for cosplay

1. Unzip boot and slip it inside the unzipped boot cover (do you see how ridiculously short that zip is?!)

DIY spats tutorial

2. Slip boot and boot cover on together, and pull the boot cover down enough that you have room to zip the boot up part way.

how to make spats

3. Pull the boot cover up your leg to give yourself room to zip the boot up the rest of the way. Loop the elastic over the bottom of the boot (not shown) and zip up the boot cover (also not shown--why didn't I take a picture of this?!)

To Remove: Do the above steps, in reverse :)

Other Examples

Here are a couple of shorter boot covers I've made for previous cosplays. I've shown them here alongside the boots I used. Sorry about the image quality, these are old pics.

boot covers for undertaker cosplay

First ever attempt at boot covers, using a velcro fastening at the back. I added the straps after making the first part seriously don't do this, add them as you go. It's really difficult to sew straps at the toes on a sewing machine when you have elastic getting in the way! It will also look messy if your zips only go part-way up the back of the boot cover, as mine do.

If you're adding straps, sew the front seam first, then check the sizing at the back seam (instead of the front), adjust if needed, sew on straps, add zip, and finally sew the back seam!
Basically, some modifications need alterations to the method I used here.

By the way, the buckles were cut from the back of a pad of lined paper, and coloured silver with marker pen :)

undertaker kuroshitsuji boot covers ciel in wonderland

Second attempt where I had learnt my lesson about velcro, attempted a curved-up toe, but forgot to change the foot on the machine and ended up with a wrinkly bumpy zip. Bah!

I attached the zip at the side on these ones :) As they opened completely, the buckles were easy to add at the end.

To make the curved-up toe, I redrew my pattern onto tissue paper and added the curve. It was an experiment, to be honest!
I sewed on a triangle of fabric underneath, long enough that the toe of the boots tucked into the space to hold it in. Not the greatest idea, as the fabric wore a little over the course of the day!

I'm sick of seeing this picture too.

And now I have these ones and you're probably sick of seeing this photo by now. I added some straps around the top of these, which I partly machine-stitched and partly hand-stitched on. The style I needed meant I couldn't sew them in with the back seam, otherwise I'd have done that!

So that's it, how to make boot covers. I hope this is helpful to you! Bear in mind that I've only figured this stuff out by trial and error, and there is always room for improvement. If you know an easier way of doing this, please let me know! :D


  1. Amazing tutorial, you just helped me solved my dilemma aha. I was just wondering what kind of fabric you used to cover up the boots

    1. Glad it helped! I used a cheap leather-look vinyl/PVC.

  2. So these stay on even without a strap or something securing under neath your boot/ shoe?

    1. I'm not sure, I haven't tried making them without a strap to secure beneath the shoe/boot!

    2. I might have misdef that step! That's why I was asking. Thanks for the great info! Once I'm ready to make mine I'll read a little better. :)

  3. These will stay on even without a strap or something to secure underneath your boot/ shoe?


Reading all your sweet comments makes me happy! :) I appreciate each and every one and try to reply to all that I can!

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