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DIY sweater boots
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Cool recycling project (that I would never attempt)

Sweater Boots

Sweater Boots

As far as Iím concerned, thereís nothing the DIY movement canít do. It seems to be able to turn anything into anything, kinda like if MacGyver really got into sewing. Well, one of the DIYers favorite upcycling materials is a bulky old sweater, and today through the magic of craftiness, itís going to be transformed into a pair of super cute sweater boots! Ha. Bet MacGyver never pulled that one off... (Note: not that Iím dissing MacGyver. In any way.)

So, to make our fantastic sweater boots, youíll need:

  • Cheap pair of flat shoes (used for the base)

  • An old sweater with big bulky sleeves

  • A hot glue gun

  • Cutaway stabilizer

  • Water-soluble stabilizer

  • Embroidery design

  • Buttons for embellishment

  • Needle and thread

  • Scissors

To start, cut the sleeves off right where they meet up with the sweater. You should have two long tubes. Put the rest of the sweater aside for now.

Before we start gluing anything, we need to shape our knit into a ďbootĒ-like shape, which youíll mock up on your own foot.

Take a sleeve and turn it inside out. Slide it onto your leg so the cuff of the sleeve is up your calf and the open wider end is down by your foot. Keep the seam of the sleeve on the back side of your leg, so it lines up with your heel.

Slip on your flat shoes and stretch the open end of the sleeve around the edges of the shoe.

As you can see, just stretching the sleeve over the shoe creates feet that just look like giant triangles. We need nice shaped boots. Keeping the sweater knit pulled over the toe, pinch the excess back towards your ankle so it forms to the shape of your foot. Pin this excess in place. Youíll find youíll have to pull the most excess from the back, heel and bottom of your foot to get it to form a nice shape.

Once you have your shape pinned in place, cut off the excess left behind. (Stretch your shape over your shoe again before you cut to make sure it can still fit!)

I found there was a lot of excess down by my heel in order to get it to shape nicely, so I cut off some of the knit there too. Itíll help me know where the edge of the knit should be on the shoe when we glue it later.

Repeat this again on your other boot, so you have two pinned and shaped boot forms.

Remove the shoe and carefully slide off the boot shape without disturbing the pins. You should have two wonky boot-like shapes all pinned up the side. Take your boot shapes under your sewing machine and sew a seam down the newly trimmed edge. Be sure to make your seam wide enough to catch both sides of your stretchy knit.

Keep your shape inside out, and place your shoe inside the form, heel inside the knit. The back seam should be on the same side as the heel, as shown. Shuffle the knit around a bit so itís stretched evenly around your shoe.

Itís time to heat up that glue gun and go to town! Run a line of glue just above your rubber heel, and glue down the edge of the knit. Start back at the heel to make sure the seam is centered, and then work your way around the shoe. Iíd recommend taking in a little excess around the sides of your shoe - itíll help with the nice formed shape.

Although these wonít be winter-worthy boots, the hot glue is a surprisingly sturdy way of attaching the knit. Once itís dry, your knit wonít come off easily.

This is my shoe with the knit glued all the way around the shoe. If you like, you can snip off the excess knit above the glue line before we flip it right side out.

Carefully turn your boot right side out again. These cheap, bendable shoes are best for this, because you can kinda fold it in half to better get it right side out.

Slip on your little booties to test the fit. Wonderful! I now have cute little sweater boots formed just for my feet! But wait, weíre not done yet. Right now, the top of the boot is just the ugly old cuff of the sweater. I have better plans...

Grab that sweater again, and snip off about 6-10 inches of the bottom. Weíre going to use this part to make cuffs for our boots. Once youíve cut this piece off the bottom, snip it in two.

Weíre going to use the finished bottom edge of the sweater as the bottom of our cuff. Take one of your snipped pieces and wrap it around your boot. Itís up to you how tall you want your boot to be, and how long you want the cuff to be. You can have a tall boot and a short cuff, or a short boot with a long slouchy cuff. I opted for the middle ground.

Mark your cuff with pins, and trim it to the size you want. You need the top to match the width of your boot, but I flared out the bottom a bit. I also trimmed the height of my boot a bit. Do this for both cuffs.

Before we sew our cuff together, weíre going to add a bit of embroidery! Iím going to add a small fleur de lis to the middle of my cuff that will face outwards.

Now, to embroider on stretchy, chunky knit takes a few special steps. Youíll need a layer of cutaway stabilizer under your knit, then the knit fabric, and then a layer of water-soluble stabilizer on top. The top layer of stabilizer will keep the stitches from sinking into the knit. Also, be extra careful not to stretch your knit too much when you hoop it, otherwise itíll bunch up again after itís embroidered and unhooped.

I embroidered both my cuffs with some pretty fleur accents, and then unhooped them. To remove the top stabilizer, donít soak it, but gently tear it away. You may need a little tweezers to get all the little pieces out. Trim the excess cut-away stabilizer on the back too.

Now we can stitch them into cuffs. Fold your fabric right sides together (so the embroidery is facing in) and sew a seam up the side on both pieces.

To attach the cuff, we want to sew it to the top so it can fold over and display its pretty embroidery. Turn your cuff right side out, with the embroidery visible to the world, and tuck it inside your boot, with the embroidery facing the side where you want it to be on the outside of the boot. Line up the top of the cuff with the top of the boot and pin it in place all the way around, making sure the back seams are together.

Once itís all pinned in place, sew a seam to secure the two together.

Flip your cuff right side out. Now you have a pretty sweater boot with a pretty cuff! It looks kinda slouchy and weird just sittiní on my desk, but just wait Ďtil you get them onÖ

As one last little touch, Iím going to sew a button to my cuff to keep the two layers from shifting too much, and just Ďcause it looks cute.

Slip on your slouchy sweater boots, and tromp around your home in style! Theyíre super cute with a pair of jeans, leggings, or a skirt.

Simple embroidery adds a dash of color and charm to your comfy boots, and lets you personalize them to your own styles or whims.

Even MacGyver might not believe you made these yourself from a pair of cheap shoes and an old sweater! Simple, cheap, and oh so hip, especially when you make and personalize them yourself. Have fun flaunting your new cute boots!

What? You want more boot tutes? Happy Together did the sweater-into-boots thing twice, as a mother-daughter pair. leethal on Craftster went classy with argyle sweater-boots, and cool and summery with knitted mary janes. Tutu Maker went dark and gothy with over-the-knee boots made of ... duct tape, of course. The possibilities are endless.

-- Edited by D on Wednesday 29th of September 2010 09:00:12 AM



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they turned out really cute! definitely an interesting project -- thanks for sharing, Su!

"Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess." ~ Edna Woolman Chase


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Very cute! Way beyond my capabilities, of course. Folding paper is pretty much beyond my reach too though.


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