Saturday, March 8, 2014

Doll DIY: SHOES! Part 1 Making Your Template

I'm back and recovered from my vacation! It's amazing how much work there is to do after you get back from a trip. Anyway, before we finish up my Bratzillaz collection we're going to take a small detour. And here is why:

I'm sure everyone remembers this dress!

It's the Carpatina Tudor Dress that I did a review of here for those who missed that! I'm also sure everyone remembers how frustrated I was about the lack of shoes. So before I left for vacation I decided to try and make my own. And after a lot of research and a lot of trial and error this is what I came up with:

Not too bad if I do say so myself!

Jade says but wait!! She got new shoes too!
Yup, that's right. I've been bitten by the shoe bug.

Here is a better picture of the two pairs I originally made for you all:
I am honestly pretty pleased with myself LOL!

While I was doing research however I noticed that there really wasn't a tutorial on how to do this. Not for larger dolls anyway. I saw a bunch of tutorials on how to make shoes for human feet and two videos on how to make them for BJD dolls and I'm going to share the best one I could find with you here in just a second.

Maybe it was because I was specifically looking for how to do flats? I'm not sure why I couldn't find anything else but because I couldn't I decided to do a tutorial for you today.  It is going to be in three parts because, while making the shoes it surprisingly easy, the instructions are a bit long winded and I wanted to make sure there were plenty of pictures. That being said, if I am unclear or confusing at any point please tell me and I will do my best to clarify. Now on with Part One: Making Your Pattern!

For this part you are going to need:
  1. Card stock or some sort of stiff paper (I used a postcard and later on a bit of brown paper bag)
  2. Pencil
  3. Tissue paper
  4. Tape
  5. Fine tipped marker or pen
  6. Scissors  
  7. A doll/doll foot
Also before we get down to it I want to show you this picture I got from the wikipedia article on shoes:
For the purposes of this 3 part tutorial, we are only going to be talking about the insole, the outsole, and the upper. Today we are just dealing with the insole and the upper.
Kohanna has graciously agreed to be our helper! First up is creating the template for the insole of your shoe.
Step 1: Get your pencil, doll/doll foot, and card stock.

Step 2: Place the foot flat on top of your card stock and trace around it.

You should get something like this:

Step 3: Draw the insole/shape of your shoe. At this point they are the same thing.
Note: Here I traced around the original foot outline with black marker so you can see Step 3 a little better.
Carefully draw what you want the general shape of your insole to be around the outline of your doll's foot. I went with a rounded toe* but you could do a pointed toe* just as easily. Your imagination is the limit here!

*edited because I'm a moron and typed two instead of toe. omg me!

Step 4: Once you are satisfied with the shape of your shoe carefully cut it out.
Now as you can see in this video (which also does a pretty good job of showing you what we will be doing but has no real instructions.) you can use this as the actual insole of your shoe. I prefer to keep this as a template and use craft foam for my insoles but we will get to that in Part 2! Really it's up to you though.

Next we're going to work on creating a template for the upper of the shoe.
Step 1: Get a marker, tape, your tissue paper and your doll/doll foot.

Step 2: Wrap the foot tightly in several layers of tissue paper.
You will need to tape each layer to get it to stay but be careful not to stick the tape to your doll. It will make it difficult to remove later.

Here is the Kohanna's foot wrapped in about three layers. Just add layers until you're satisfied that everything is covered.

Step 3: Cover the tissue paper in tape. (optional)
You don't have to do this step, but I find that drawing on the tape is easier than straight onto the tissue and I'm always a little nervous that my pen is going to leak through and stain my doll's foot. Plus I find that the tape is stiffer and makes transferring the template to paper easier.

Step 4: Draw your upper on the tissue paper/tape.
I start by putting a dot were the middle of the top edge of the upper will be. You don't want it to show the toes so use the doll's other foot as a reference to how high that dot should be. Then you just draw around the top of the foot. I did a straight edge but you could do a scalloped edge or anything your heart desires.

Step 5: Draw around the bottom edge of the foot.
In the end you'll get something that looks like this.
For the purposes of this tutorial we'll call the line closest to the doll's body the top line and the line around the bottom of the doll's foot the bottom line. Now it is time to get this off your doll's foot so:

Step 6: Cut down the back of the tissue paper template and remove from the doll's foot.
This part can be tricky and be careful not to scratch your doll's leg or foot. I didn't do a great job of that and will have to buff out the small marks I made on poor Kohanna.
Once you have a slit to the bottom line, the template should slide right off and you'll have something that looks like the above picture.

Step 7: Cut around the top and bottom lines.

Step 8: Trace the template onto a second piece of card stock or paper.

Your doll's foot isn't round and so the toe of the tissue template will be a bit square in shape. You will need to round out the edges and make any adjustments.

Then take your insole template and place it on top of new upper template. Do they match fairly well?
If not make any further adjustments and when you are satisfied:

Step 9: Cut out your new template.

Step 10: Check for symmetry.
Fold your new upper template in half. Are there any edges that don't quite match up? If so, trim until both sides reasonably match up. Remember this is a hand made item and it's not going to be perfect!

And finally Step 11: Check your templates one last time.
Do they still match pretty well? If so you're done and can discard the tissue paper template at this point.! If not get another piece of card stock or paper and go back to Step 8.

You should have a two piece final template now!
Note that I have written R on both pieces. I used Kohanna's right foot to make this so these two pieces will make the right shoe. But what about the left shoe? Well we can just flip these over and it will make the left shoe.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. This is my first tutorial so again, please let me know if you guys need anything clarified and I will do my best. Part 2 will be up in a couple of days and will be about fabric choices, cutting out your fabric and decorating your shoe! Part 3 will be up a couple of days after that and cover shoe construction. I'm sorry I had to break it up but this would have been way too long otherwise! Till next time!


  1. Replies
    1. It should be up in a couple of days if not sooner! I'm working on it a bit tonight!

  2. This makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the step-by-step approach! This definitely seems like something I could actually do. And I already have a bit of an obsession with doll shoes...!

    1. Oh I'm so glad it makes sense! I promise it's pretty easy and fun and very addictive LOL

  3. I love the shoes you made for Matilda. They are beautiful and look perfect with her dress. Are the uppers made of felt?

    1. Thank you! They are made of felt! I was trying to match the brown part of her sleeves.

  4. I've been wondering how to make doll shoes for a while! Thank you for taking the time to write up this tutorial.

    1. It's pretty easy! I hope you have good luck!

  5. Thanks so much for such a clear tutorial. It's just what I needed. Have you tried using aluminium foil instead of the tissue and tape? It's a lot easier!