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How to Make Mini Leather Boots or Shoes

Mini veg tanned leather boots created with scrap pieces of leather.

Mini veg tanned leather boots created with scrap pieces of leather.

Working With Vegetable Tanned Leather

I love working with veg-tanned leather. It feels warm, gentle, and silky to the touch. The main ingredients used in the tanning process are extracted from trees and plants. Its trademark guarantees that there is an absence of toxic substances, making it safe for people and the environment. It is well-tolerated by individuals who are sensitive to allergies, and the finished products wear well over time. Best of all, it can be wet formed to create all sorts of practical things just like the little shoes made here.

Finding the bits and pieces for working with leather can be problematical at times. For this reason, I have given several links to items and their sizes needed below.

Things You Will Need:

  • A Tiny Boot Template (Instructions for this are given below)
  • A Small Pair of Resin or Wooden Shoe Lasts
  • Fieblings Leather Dye This is the industry standard for dyeing leather. It is easy to use, quick to dry and can be found in a wide variety of colors.
  • Heavy Duty Adhesive Spray Glue for attaching the boots to the leather soles
  • Veg Tanned Leather (Scrap pieces) with a thickness of approximately 2 mm or 5 oz. leather. Thicker pieces should be used for the bottom sole and heel. Veg Tanned leather can be wet formed, dyed or waxed after it has been molded, making it the perfect choice for these little boots.
  • Waxed Thread around the boot. Choose a color which either compliments or matches the boots.
  • A Rotary Leather Punch for making holes in the leather. A standard 1.5 mm leather punch and a mallet can be used instead.
  • Shoe Laces (In matching or contrasting colors)
  • Leather Burnishing Tool (Wooden) for neatening the rough edges of the trimmed leather.
  • 3m Masking tape for helping to create the boot template.
  • Leather knife or Craft Scissors
  • A board or piece of soft wood, small tacks or nails
  • A few elastic bands if required
  • White paper for creating the template
  • A colored pencil or felt tip pen
These are mini shoe lasts with 3m masking tape.

These are mini shoe lasts with 3m masking tape.

1. Shoe Lasts

  • These tiny lasts can be difficult and expensive to find. You can substitute a small pair of plastic shoes which have been stuffed tightly with wet paper.
  • Make yo 1. shoe lasts your own lasts with polystyrene spray, which you have sprayed into a pre-loved pair of shoes.
  • Children's and adults' shoe lasts can be found on Etsy and eBay.
This is a piece of board on which I screwed on the shoe lasts.

This is a piece of board on which I screwed on the shoe lasts.

2. Drill Holes

  • Drill two small holes in a scrap piece of board as shown.
  • Drill two narrow holes in both of the shoe lasts.
  • Take care not to split the wood.
  • Insert two screws from the underside of the board so that the screws extend to just above the top of the board.
  • Screw in the lasts.
  • You may want to skip this step and devise your own method for keeping the lasts in one place as you mold the leather.
  • Alternatively, you can use a piece of wood which easily accepts tacks or nails which mine did not, then you can tack the leather pieces to the board.
The shoe lasts are screwed to a piece of board, making this project easier to manage.

The shoe lasts are screwed to a piece of board, making this project easier to manage.

3. Make the Boot Template

Cover one half of one of the shoe lasts with masking tape as shown.

Here is a shoe last covered with masking tape.

Here is a shoe last covered with masking tape.

4. Trace the Outline

Trace the outline of the shoe last as shown.

I've outlined the boot/shoe tongue.

I've outlined the boot/shoe tongue.

5. Gently Remove the Masking Tape

  • Cut around the tracing.
  • Extend the tongue area to about an inch or two above the shoe last.
Remove the masking tape from the shoe last.

Remove the masking tape from the shoe last.

6. Cut Slits in the Toe Area

  • In order to be able to lay the pattern down flat, you will need to cut slits in the toe area.
  • Put the pattern piece down onto the folded edge of a piece of paper and flatten the pieces.
  • Cut out as shown below.
  • The seam allowance should be made wide enough to accommodate the punch holes for the seams with a little over.
  • The seams can be trimmed once the lower sole has been glued to the boot.
This is the template without the extended tongue. Add a couple of inches to form the tongue.

This is the template without the extended tongue. Add a couple of inches to form the tongue.

7. Check the Template Before Cutting out the Leather Pieces

  • Check the template against the shoe last to check for accuracy.
  • There should be sufficient space left at the sides to allow for the stitch holes with a little to spare.
Here is the completed boot template covering the shoe last.

Here is the completed boot template covering the shoe last.

Use either a leather punch or a rotary punch to cut even holes around the top of the boot.

Use either a leather punch or a rotary punch to cut even holes around the top of the boot.

8. An Alternate Method!

  • You may wish to wet form the boots before you punch the holes!
  • I initially made the boots without punching any stitch holes as I devised a rough template for this tutorial using leather.
  • I punched the holes in the upper shoe and the upper sole at the same time so that they matched perfectly.
Scrap pieces of wet leather molded to the shoe lasts.  Attach elastic bands and leave overnight to dry.

Scrap pieces of wet leather molded to the shoe lasts. Attach elastic bands and leave overnight to dry.

9. Make the Back and Sides of the Boots

  • As shown, I wrapped a piece of wet leather around the back of the shoe last and then cut it to length.
  • Don't cut the side and back piece too short.
  • The leather can be trimmed later if it is left long.
Estimate the size of the leather back and sides.

Estimate the size of the leather back and sides.

10. Shape

  • Mold the shape using the shoe lasts.
  • Fold the seams areas as shown.
  • Leave the pieces overnight and allow them to dry.
  • Once dry, they can be dyed or left natural to be waxed and polished later.
how-to-make-mini-leather-boots-shoes

11. Punch Holes Around the Boot

Punch evenly-spaced holes around the top of the front and back pieces and attach to the upper soles as shown.

12. Method 1 (continued)

Punch evenly spaced holes around the toe area as shown.

Punch holes.

Punch holes.

13. Wet the Leather

Soak for a few minutes in water.

Wet the leather.

Wet the leather.

14. Shape the Leather

  • Wet the pieces in water as shown so that it becomes soft and malleable.
  • Press the toe pieces against the shoe lasts until it takes on the shape of the lasts.
  • Attach a few elastic bands around the shoe lasts to hold them firmly in place.
  • if the wood is soft enough it will be possible to use small tacks or nails to keep the leather in place.
  • Leave the pieces to dry, preferably overnight.
Trim the top edge once you have established how long the side should be.

Trim the top edge once you have established how long the side should be.

15. Make the Back and Sides

  • Cut across the corners of the back and front to create the lace-up area as is shown.
  • Punch even holes in the leather as is shown.
Punch stitch holes in the back piece of the boot.

Punch stitch holes in the back piece of the boot.

Soak the back and side pieces in water.

Soak the back and side pieces in water.

17. Fold the Seams

  • Fold the seams as shown.
  • This should be done whilst the leather is still damp.
Hair pins hold the pieces together.

Hair pins hold the pieces together.

18. Punch 3 Small Holes

  • Use an awl or punch to make three stitch holes as shown.
  • The back and sides and front can now be sewn together using three saddle stitches.
  • Punch holes for the eyelets.
  • Hammer in the eyelets, or do this later if you intend to dye the leather.
Insert the eyelets or rivets using the small punch usually supplied with the eyelets.

Insert the eyelets or rivets using the small punch usually supplied with the eyelets.

Cut the leather and punch holes around the previously traced lines around the shoe last.

Cut the leather and punch holes around the previously traced lines around the shoe last.

19. Make the Upper Soles

  • Cut out the upper soles using 5 oz. or (2 mm) leather.
  • Trace around the shoe lasts as is shown.
  • Add a border and cut out the upper sole.
  • Punch holes around the marked lines as shown.
  • The allowance can now be folded to create the seamline.
  • Sew on the top of the boot with wax thread.
  • Use a two-needle saddle stitch.
  • Please watch the video below to see how this is done.
Join the front to the back and then sew this onto the upper sole. As can be seen here, the upper sole was not cut until the sewing was completed.

Join the front to the back and then sew this onto the upper sole. As can be seen here, the upper sole was not cut until the sewing was completed.

20. Attach the Boot to the Sole

  • Attach the front piece to the back piece using the three stitch holes.
  • Sew the joined pieces to the upper sole.

21. Trim the Excess Leather

  • Neaten the edges of the boot using a pair of craft scissors as shown.
  • Use a sharp-bladed leather cutter or craft scissors.
how-to-make-mini-leather-boots-shoes
how-to-make-mini-leather-boots-shoes
The dyed and shaped boot is ready to have the eyelets added.

The dyed and shaped boot is ready to have the eyelets added.

22. The Lower Sole

  • Trace the outline using the shoe lasts onto a piece of thick leather.
  • Cut them out or/spray the glue straight onto a thick piece of leather, raw skin side up with the shiny side down and press the two pieces firmly together.
  • Trim to fit the upper section of the boot.
how-to-make-mini-leather-boots-shoes

23. Glue the Soles

  • Glue the soles on as is shown.
  • Spray 151 heavy-duty adhesive spray glue direct onto the prepared leather pieces.
  • Press both sides together until they are firmly fixed.
  • Trim to neaten all sides.
  • Use a leather craft knife or craft scissors.
  • Attach a heel if desired, if not, use them just as they are.
  • Let the glue dry.
  • Thread the laces.
  • Your little boots are now complete
  • I hope you enjoyed this short tutorial. Remember that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to being creative.
how-to-make-mini-leather-boots-shoes
A leather heel can be added if desired.

A leather heel can be added if desired.

Here are the finished leather boots.

Here are the finished leather boots.

© 2020 Sally Gulbrandsen

Comments

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 30, 2020:

You are very welcome Heidi, thanks for the feedback. It is appreciated. You keep well and stay safe.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 30, 2020:

What a cool keepsake this would be! So very cute. Thanks for sharing your talent with us and keep well!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 30, 2020:

Hi Devika. your feedback is much appreciated as always. Thank you so much! You stay safe too.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 30, 2020:

Hi Sally this is amazing! I am impressed at your creativity and the step by step informative idea in making these mini boots. Take care and keep safe.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 30, 2020:

Thanks Billy, they really are very cute. Glad you liked them.

Happy Monday and stay safe.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 30, 2020:

Those really are adorable, Sally! Well done my friend. I am in awe of your talents, as always.

Happy Monday! Be safe!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 29, 2020:

Pictures speak a thousand words especially when there are so many different ways to approach a project like this. I can only hope that I achieved my objective, which is to encourage others to test their own creativity.

Nell Rose from England on March 29, 2020:

That is absolutely fascinating and so intricate! Brilliant! I would never have the patience to make something so clever as this. I love the detail, and the photos really show how it is done. Wonderful!