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How to Make Quick and Easy Shoe Insoles

Use your favorite fabrics to add a splash of fun to your favorite pair of shoes

... and what's great about it? You don't need to worry about seam allowance!

I've always loved canvas shoes. I wore my last pair of Toms until the canvas literally had holes in it. So I purchased an identical replacement for the shoes, and the first time I wore them, they caused blisters. They seemed to be a little too big, even if they were the same size as my old pair. The only solution I could think of to make them fit more snug on my feet was to add a second set of insoles. However, the insoles I thought of were the gel ones, and, while very comfortable, they were not pretty to look at. So I thought...what if I made my own? I could use my favorite fabric, and add a splash of color to my shoes. My insoles are on top of the original ones in the shoes, but they can be used to replace what is already in there.

I made these insoles in the late evening, and it only took me about 30 minutes. I didn't follow a pattern, I simply improvised. I am sharing what I did, and hopefully inspire you to make your own. You do not have to use the same materials, nor the same techniques. Since I made them with scraps, you might have other alternatives available.

So, here we go!

Materials I used (all scraps):

(I am not stating quantity, because it depends on your shoe size, you will need to assume seam allowance, so slightly bigger than your shoe)

  • Old insoles (original ones from your shoes). I used them to trace the pattern

  • Quilting fabric for the top and bottom of the insoles (I used Art Gallery Fabric for the top, I like how smooth it is, and plain cotton for the bottom), but you can use anything you wish, as long as it's not too rigid. You will need enough for the top and the bottom (so a total of 4 insoles, 2 pieces of fabric for each one). If you are using two different fabrics, make sure that they match

  • Flexible foam - I used By Annie's Soft and Stable

  • Fusible fleece or batting - depending how soft you want them, you might want more than one layer of this

  • Pellon Peltex Ultra Firm - or any stiff interfacing. I used this for structure so they don't "bunch up" while I'm walking. You will want something stiff but also flexible, as we will be turning the insoles inside out.

  • Fabric glue - I used 505 Spray Adhesive. This is just to keep all the layers in place temporarily, just a bit.

  • Notions: sewing machine, matching thread (I used 50wt polyester), sewing machine needle (I used size 90/14), sewing machine zipper foot (to sew on the edge), iron, scissors, pinking shears (optional), marking pen (for tracing - I used a regular pen because the lines were inside the insole and my fabrics were dark, it wouldn't show through the fabric), sewing pins or clips.

Cut and Assembly

  • Fuse the fusible fleece to the top fabric. If you are using batting, you can use glue to adhere it to the fabric, or you can quilt them together. If you want them softer, you can add another layer of fleece or batting.

  • Use the old insoles and trace them exactly on the flexible foam, Peltex, and the fusible fleece side of the fabric you just fused (I didn't do this in the pictures, but I highly recommend it, as you will use this line to sew on). Make sure you trace them in opposite directions, so you don't end up with two right/left feet. Also, be mindful how you trace them if you have directional fabric, so the final design is in the direction you want. Do not trace on the fabric that will be on the bottom of the insole.

  • Cut on the drawn line the flexible foam and Peltex only. Do not cut the fusible fleece/fabric. I recommend cutting the Peltex slightly (by a hair) smaller than the foam. Do not cut any of the quilting fabric.

  • Place the bottom fabric (the one without fusible fleece) right side up on the working surface.

  • Place the top fabric (the one with fusible fleece), right side down on top of the bottom fabric. This way both top and bottom fabrics of your insoles will be right sides together.

  • Pin together the two fabrics, place the pins outside of the drawn insole, about 1/2" - 1" away from the line. (Little secret... I did not use pins, I hardly ever do, I hurt myself too often).

  • Spray a small amount of 505 on on both sides of the flexible foam (or the glue of your choice). Place the foam insoles on top of the fusible fleece, inside the outline you just drew.

  • Place the Peltex on top of the flexible foam.

  • You should now have a sandwich consisting of: bottom fabric, top fabric with fusible fleece, foam, and Peltex. The "sandwich" should relatively stay together because you used glue.

  • Sew using a 2.5mm stitch length as close as possible to the foam layer, which means you will be sewing on the line you drew on the fusible fleece. I used a zipper foot on my sewing machine to get as close to the foam as possible. Leave a gap on the outboard edge of the insole - you will turn everything right side out through this gap. Make sure you backstitch in the beginning and the end of the stitch so that it doesn't unravel when you turn it right side out.

  • Use pinking shears to trim the excess fabric, about 1/4"-3/8" away from the stitch. If you do not have pinking shears, trim with regular scissors, and cut little notches in the seam allowance, without cutting through the stitches. This will help your insoles be flat all around.

  • Slowly turn the insoles right side out, and press them as flat as you can.

  • Press the fabrics in the opening towards the inside of the insole, and clip them in that position. The gap will be sewn shut in the next step.

  • Stitch all around the insoles using 1/8" seam allowance, with a 3mm stitch length. Sew slowly over the gap you left, as this stitch will close that gap.

Trim your threads, give them a final press, and enjoy!

If you decide to make them, tag me on social media, I am excited to see your work!


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