Saturday, November 14, 2015

Handmade Espadrilles

Move over cobblers and elves in the night! 

Ever since I was little bitty, I have enjoyed making gifts for friends and family. I've painted pictures, made jewelry, sewed clothes, and I even made personalized placemats for several friends in high school (which sounds odd now that I write about it--but it seemed perfectly normal as a 16 year old!).

  Once I used a leather jacket from Goodwill to make some moccasins for a family gift exchange.  I think the cousin that ended up with them still wears them around the house! 

With the coming holidays fast approaching, I have been planning what gifts I will be making this year. I was inspired by Lindsey over at Sew To Grow, who recently made her own espadrilles.  I had made shoes once before, but never any with an actual hard sole.  I began looking into what it takes, and was surprised at just how quick and easy making espadrilles is!!

I will share tips I learned in making my first pair (yes, I already have others in the works to give as gifts!).  These tips will save you time and money as you make your own pair!

First, I ordered some ESPADRILLES SOLES from Amazon. You can also order straight from Dritz, the company that makes them. I have Amazon Prime, so they came in a couple days.  These are made of rubber and jute, and are quite well-made. They come in adult women's sizes to 10 (may fit a size 10.5), children's, and toddler sizes!

FABRIC: I had some leftover decorator fabric that was perfect for making these. You want a heavier weight canvas-like fabric for the exterior. I used a broadcloth for the liner fabric (from a dress shirt my youngest son has outgrown). Another decorator fabric, medium-weight cotton, or other woven fabric would be fine for the lining. Just remember that it will be up against your skin, so it should be fairly soft.  This is a great project to use up scraps on! If you do need to buy fabric, you won't need much--1/4 yard should be plenty. 

STABILIZER FABRIC: Dritz sells some of their own, but I just used medium-weight fusible interfacing, and it worked great. 

PINS: Dritz also sells these. Regular sewing pins worked great for me. 

YARN: I used embroidery thread. The directions suggested using this wax they sell to help the yarn smoothly glide. I used chapstick for this. I pinched some chapstick between my fingers and ran them along the thread before I started stitching. 

NEEDLE: The directions recommend a special curved needle. This is also unnecessary. I used a medium-gage embroidery needle. I began with a large one, but found it was harder to pull through. 

NEEDLE GRIP:  Dritz sells a "Needle Puller" set that contains these little rubber tips for your thumb and forefinger to help you grip the needle to pull it through the jute and rubber sole. I used some garden gloves I have that have a grippy coating. They worked beautifully!


The soles come with a pattern and good instructions. I don't have much to amend here. Cut out your pieces, iron on the interfacing, and sew the liner to the outside fabric according to the pattern instructions. 

Steps 10 and 11 in the instructions has you draw a line on the liner-side of the fabric and pin the heel piece along the lines you drew. Then in Step 12 it says, "Topstitch edge of toe."  I would add a couple steps before Step 12, and re-word Step 12 for clarity...

So after Step 11, follow these instructions: 
Once you have pinned the short ends of the heel to the marked lines on the liner side, turn them over to right sides up. With right sides up, add pins along the same places you just pinned. Remove the pins you put in on the liner-side. 
Topstitch across the flat edge of the toe piece. Add a second topstitch 1/4" away from first for reinforcement. 
Now you are ready for Step 13. :)

The pattern instructions have you mark the shoes as left or right using the pattern as a guide. I held my pattern up to my shoe fabric pieces at this point and they were completely identical--I couldn't tell left from right. I marked them anyway, but it never made a difference. They became Right and Left as I pinned them to their soles. But they could have gone on either sole.  

I did pin the center back of each fabric to the center back of the soles to begin the pinning process as it said to in the instructions. 

The pinning went smoothly. The fabric fit beautifully onto the soles. I was getting kinda giddy with excitement at this point in the process. 

Blanket stitching is explained very well in the instructions, complete with drawings. I won't try to improve on these.  I will reiterate that you DO NOT need special yarn, a special needle, special wax, or special grippy tips for your fingers. I used embroidery thread, a straight embroidery needle, chapstick, and gardening gloves. This saved me big $$. 

The final tip I have that you may or may not need is ELASTIC.  I added a 1.5" piece of 1/2" wide elastic to the inside heels of each of my shoes. I hand stitched each side of the elastic 2-inches apart on the inside top of the back of the shoes, so the smaller (1.5 inch) length of elastic will stretch to grip my skinny achilles. This solved the problem of keeping my heels down as I walk. This may not be an issue for you; but if it is, here is a solution!!

I LOVE my new shoes! They are cute and comfy, but even more exciting--they are HANDMADE by ME! 

Participating in these link-ups.


  1. How clever are you!! These look great and so comfy too :-)

    Thanks for linking up to Marvelous Monday on Smart Party Planning.

  2. awesome! these came out great! love the fabric pattern you chose :)

    stop by and chat with me ♥

  3. WOW you are the COOLEST! They look fantastic. :) Thanks for sharing at Friday Frivolity!! Pinning and tweeting... I hope you will join us again this weekend! :)

  4. I'm really impressed. I wish I could sew! I helped my mom sew a sundress for me in junior high and I had such grand expectations of how it would look on me. It was a simple pattern to begin with so I was already destined for disappointment but I looked terrible in it. It took us so long too! I fear that has scared me with sewing projects. Although I love making pillows out of old blouses. :D Thanks for being an inspiration to us not sew savvy with a needle types! Haha.