DIY Day: From Lace-up to Slip-on Toddler Shoes

Last week Taylor bought himself some new clothing, including a gross shirt that looked like the uniform of the workers for some dystopic future totalitarian regime. After some gentle encouragement from me (“I JUST DON’T LIKE IT! TAKE IT BACK!”), he exchanged it for these AWESOME space shoes for Gwen.
I was dubious about the laces, and the first time I put the shoes on her she immediately untied them. I tried double-knotting them but it was impractical- when I tried untying them she squirmed so much they ended up in a horrible tangled knot that was almost impossible to undo. I knew if the shoes were such a hassle all the time she’d never wear them, so to solve the problem I replaced the laces with elastic to make them into super easy slip-ons. Here’s how:

supplies & equipment:

• 1 pair of lace-up shoes with laces removed
• 1/4″ braided elastic in the colour of your choice
• thread to match the elastic
• needle
• scissors

click image for full size

1. With the shoe facing you, thread the elastic through the bottom righthand eyelet, leaving only a short length (approximate 3/4″) within the shoe.

2. Line up this short length with the elastic on the outside of the shoe. Sew vertically through both layers of elastic. You’ll probably want to go over the seam a couple times to make sure it is secure. Knot the thread & trim excess thread and elastic.

3. Thread the elastic up the shoes in an alternating horizontal/vertical pattern, as pictured in the diagram:
-horizontal from bottom right to bottom left
-vertical from bottom left to center left
-horizontal from center left to center right
-vertical from center right to top right
-horizontal from top right to top left
For shoes with more eyelets simply continue the alternating horizontal/vertical lacing until you reach the top of the shoe. You want the horizontal lacings to be on the outside and the vertical laces to be on the inside. Pull the elastic through the eyelets tight enough that it lays flat and holds the two sides of the shoe in place, but not so tight that it is stretched out and causes the two sides to pull together or overlap.

4. When you reach the top of the shoe, line up the two thicknesses of elastic (on the inside & outside of the shoe, as in step two) and sew vertically up & down through both layers of elastic. Knot the thread & trim excess thread and elastic.

Repeat steps 1-4 for the second shoe.

Gwen wore these out for walks & to play on Sunday and they were a huge success- easy to get on and off, but stayed on her feet while we were out and she had zero interest in playing with the elastic. When they had the laces she just sat and pulled at them, so this made a big difference. You can try out different lacing techniques with the elastic to get different looks; I like this simple, clean style with the colourful galaxy-print shoes. This technique is also suitable for shoes with both even and odd numbers of eyelets. I used black elastic since the shoes came with black laces but you could use any colour to match, contrast or compliment your little one’s shoes.


5 Replies to “DIY Day: From Lace-up to Slip-on Toddler Shoes”

  1. Great idea… Is it just me or do your drawings look like a post natal woman being sewn up after an episiotomy? Jokes. Too cute.

  2. Aw…the baby looks really cute with the shoes and all. Wish combat boots come in kid sizes too, I can dress my little man just like this but with an edge.

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