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Twinkletoes First Shoes + Giveaway

How to Make a Pair of “First Walker” Shoes

By Sharon Raymond of

How many pairs of shoes does a child grow out of before he or she is fully-grown? I don’t know the number, but I do believe if we were making some of those shoes, the cost of raising a child would plummet (a slight exaggeration) and our children’s feet would be healthier.  And, if we use recycled materials to make them, our children’s shoes would have a smaller “footprint” on the earth.

Here’s a pattern and directions for making simple children’s shoes in a “first walker” size. The pattern can be reduced or enlarged on a photocopy machine by about 8 percentage points without becoming too distorted to be usable.

I think these shoes make great baby shower gifts. There will, no doubt, come a time when these “first walkers” will fit perfectly.

Consider checking the sizing of this pattern by making a “mock-up” from inexpensive felt to try on your child before cutting into your actual shoemaking material.

Pattern and Materials:

Pattern: twinkletoes shoe pattern by Sharon Raymond

Uppers: Make the upper parts of the shoe from thrift-shop leather goods, leather or fabric upholstery remnants, hand-made felt or felted wool coats, recycled denim or canvas.

Soles: To make children’s footwear as flexible as bare feet, there are a couple of materials I use. For those who want their children’s shoes to be made of all natural materials, natural rubber soling is available on my etsy shop. A child wearing shoes with natural rubber soles can feel the topography of the earth, yet will be protected. This soling must be stitched with a stitching awl as described below, as holes pre-punched in it seal right up.

Another option, readily available and thin enough to provide that barefoot feel, but in no way “natural”, is the grey hall-runner available at home building centers. It has rubberized material on the backside that can serve as soling. If you put a few layers of fabric or felt, or a single layer of leather over the fuzzy side-up, the texture won’t be noticeable underfoot.

A third option is to cut them from thrift store leather goods. If you use leather, I suggest that you use two layers, with the “fuzzy” sides facing out. The fuzzy side on the bottom provides traction and the one on the top absorbs perspiration. This is the option I have used on the sample pair of shoes shown here. If you prefer rubber bottom soles, cut them from bicycle inner tubes.

Thread: I use heavy-duty waxed braided cord from Tandy Leather. Four-ply waxed Irish linen or stitching-awl thread can also be used. It’s best to use a synthetic thread when stitching the upper to the sole, as organic materials deteriorate when in contact with the ground.

Elastic: For this size shoe, I use six inches of  3/8″ elastic for running through the channels. To get the elastic through the channels, make a little tool from a piece of plastic milk carton, about 5″ long and 3/8″ wide. Cut a little slit at one end. Use like a sewing needle or bodkin to pull the elastics through the channels.

To make colored elastic, I use permanent markers to “dye” the elastic in the area where it is exposed, between the toe piece and the heel piece.


The tools for making these shoes are simple – a decent pair of scissors, a “scratch” awl from the hardware store for punching stitching holes, a couple of layers of corrugated cardboard to place below your upper material when punching holes with the awl, a glue stick, a marker appropriate for your material, permanent markers for “dyeing” the elastic and a couple of tapestry needles for stitching leather shoes, or sharp needles for stitching fiber shoes.

If you want to make proper round stitching holes in leather, the 00 round-hole drive punch from Tandy Leather, # 3777-33, is the tool for you. You will need a plastic cutting board to place under the leather piece while punching, and a rubber mallet or other non-metal hammer for pounding on the punch.  The little “spring punch”, # 3236-00, from the same source, can punch holes nicely if they aren’t more than 1/2″ or so from the edge.

A stitching awl (Tandy Leather # 1216-00) can be used for stitching the upper to the sole. A video showing its use can be seen at

left to right: spring punch, stitching awl, 00 drive punch, scratch awl, rubber mallet.


Make the soles: If your material is sturdy and sueded on both sides, you might only need one layer for soling. If your soling is different, cut out the leather or fiber topsole, then use a glue stick to adhere it to the bottom sole material. When the glue has dried, cut out the bottom sole to match the topsole. Mark the stitching holes onto the topsole with silver pen or permanent marker.

Cut out the upper pieces: Draw around the toe piece and the heel piece onto your upper material, then cut the pieces out. Be sure to flip the patterns over when drawing the second shoe.

Punch out the stitching holes: Punch out the stitching holes on the patterns and transfer them to your shoe pieces. Also, mark the center of the heel and the toe, and the location where the heel piece meets the toe piece, indicated on the patterns by a spiral. On fabric or felt, use whatever mark-maker that is suitable for your material, to mark the location where stitches should go through the fiber.

For leather, I like to use a silver gel pen to mark the location of stitching holes, it usually comes off with soap and water applied with a cloth.  After marking, punch out the holes. To accomplish this, either place your shoe part on a few pieces of cardboard and punch down with an awl, or use the 00 punch as described above.

Make the channels for the elastic to pass through: if you are using leather, punch out the stitching holes along the two lines shown on the patterns. If you are using felt or fabric, you have made stitching marks. You can turn the channel either to the inside or the outside. Use the “simultaneous running stitch” to stitch the channel.

For the simultaneous running stitch, cut a piece of thread about four times the length of the distance you are going to stitch, and put a needle on each end of the thread.

For stitching fiber shoes, attach a sharp needle to each end of the thread. Stitch into the first mark on one end of the heel piece, then down through the corresponding mark on the sole. Bring that thread back up in the second mark in both sole and heel piece, and tug on your threads so they are the same length. Pass the second needle down into that second mark, while holding the thread that is already there to the side, to protect that first stitch from being split.

Give a good tug on both threads after each stitch to create a nicely-seated seam.

Keep repeating this process.

Hiding knots: Each time you stitch, at the end you have two loose threads. To tie the threads in a hidden knot, put each needle through only one layer of your shoe material so the threads meet inside the area stitched. Tie a tight square knot, then run the ends of the threads under a few stitches before cutting them off.

When working with leather, you will have punched stitching holes. Proceed as described above, and for the neatest appearance, develop a pattern of which thread goes into the hole first (from the top or bottom) and whether the second thread goes to the right or left side of the first. Consistency is the key – and that’s why your work won’t look as neat if you make a running stitch with one thread all along the seam, then fill in the gaps with the other thread; you’re missing that tug on both threads after each step that makes the threads grab each other and settle in.

Embellish: Embellish the shoes if you like – embroider, applique, reverse applique, stamp, paint.  Since I made shoes from leather, I punched holes along the decorative lines on my pattern, about 3/16″ apart. I then transferred the marks to my toe piece, punched them out, then stitched with 4-ply waxed Irish linen.  It’s fun to add a little touch of embellishment to the heel piece also.

 Run elastic through the channels: Use the plastic bodkin to pull the elastic through the channel so it emerges at the other end. Put one end of the elastic through the slit, then pull it all the way through with your plastic strip.  Once the elastic is through both channels, check for twisting, then overlap the two ends about 3/8″ and stitch them together. After stitching, pull on the elastic until the stitching is hidden inside a channel.

Stitch toe-piece and heel-piece to the sole: Now that the uppers and soles are complete, stitch the shoes together. I usually start stitching on the inside of the shoe, where the heel piece meets the toe piece. Cut a length of non-degradable thread about four times the distance around the shoe, which is about 12 inches x 4 = 48″.

For fiber or leather soles, use the “simultaneous running stitch” described above to stitch the shoes together, unless you are using a natural rubber sole. As described above, a stitching awl is needed to stitch a natural rubber sole to the shoe.

In the toe area, the distance between stitching holes or marks is greater on the toe piece than on the corresponding holes on the sole; this causes the toe area to “pop-up” and not press down on the child’s toes. I usually wet leather when stitching in this area so it’s moldable, and do my best to gather the leather so it doesn’t overlap on itself.

If you are concerned that stitching through the soling might result in these stitches wearing out sooner than you’d like, remember that the part of the foot that touches the ground is the part you can see when walking barefoot in wet sand. However, if your child does wear through stitches, you have the skills to re-stitch!

When you’ve stitched all around the shoe, hide your knot as described above. Spray water inside the toe piece of a leather shoe, and stuff it hard with fabric or paper bag scraps. Let it dry for a few hours until it keeps a nice, rounded shape.


For twenty five years, Sharon Raymond has had a passion for making simple footwear. She first learned shoemaking when living in England in the early 1990s; since then she has written seven books about shoe making, and taught the craft of shoemaking to hundreds of students. She delights in learning, then sharing, how to make simple footwear, often inspired by ancient and far-away cultures.

Sharon disseminates her joy of shoemaking from her home studio in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts.

You can read more about Sharon’s work on her website:



Sharon will send out a PDF of her book, How to Make Simple Shoes for Children with Your Own Two Hands! to five lucky winners! Enter a comment on this post by Sunday March 24th,  Midnight PST for a chance to win.


March 21st, 2013: A note from Sharon:

“Beautify the earth, sister!”   Now that’s a comment in response to the “First Walkers” tutorial that brightened my day! Along with the other 100 and more – I’ve never experienced such an audience!

In gratitude, I will send a pdf of How to Make Simple Shoes for Children to anyone who makes a pair of these shoes and sends me a photo at by Thursday, Midnight, March 28. I’d love to post a gallery of them on my Simple Shoemaking facebook page.

Plus, I’d like to learn how the pattern works when made in a variety of materials, from fiber to felt to leather; what types of embellishments you create; tips that you would like to share with others, and how the pattern might be improved.

Please feel free to email questions that come up along the way, and have fun “beautifying the earth!”   Sharon


Posted by Living Crafts on Mar 10, 2013 06:31 PM | 115 Comments

Books: Room for the Baby

Room for the Baby by Michelle Edwards

(Random House) Michelle Edwards does it again, with her new story for kids who are awaiting a new baby in the house!

In her story, the mom has a lot of items that she’s kept to recycle and reuse — some day.  Sounds familiar?!  Now, a baby is on the way, and the big brother-to-be is helping mom and dad make room for new baby, and not only they find room for the baby, but also a lot of everyday discarded items that they can recycle into useful items for her.

Filled with practical uses of the new and used supplies you have held onto “for future use,” this story is sure to appeal to your children who experience the love of crafts in their household, and awaiting their new sibling’s arrival.

Following is a quote from the publisher’s website: “Inspired by her creativity, the neighbors get involved, and soon everyone is stitching and knitting something. As the months go by and the family celebrates the Jewish holidays from Passover to Hanukkah, big brother helps his mom get ready, too. But things move slowly and he continues to worry: will there ever be room for the baby?”

Michelle Edwards has been a columnist for our Evolving through Crafts column, and also her book Knitter’s Home Companion has gotten rave reviews on our blog.  To read the review click here.



Random House is giving away a copy of Room for the Baby to a lucky winner!  Enter a comment on this post by Sunday, February 17, Midnight PST for a chance to win a copy of this book.  You must reside in U.S. to win a copy.

Posted by Living Crafts on Feb 4, 2013 10:34 PM | 42 Comments

Big Soft Spheres by Susan Wasinger

Perfect for your budding superstar, these soft and squishy playthings are lovely to kick and roll and throw and catch and even just hug.

This tutorial is an exerpt from Susan Wasinger’s beautiful book:  Sewn by Hand.

Here is the tutorial:


scraps or fat quarters of light-weight
cotton prints (each ball requires
6 different prints)
heavy-duty thread
fabric scraps for stuffing
eco-friendly fill (see note under Fabrics)
bell or rattle (optional)


standard sewing basket
paper for template
washing machine/dryer
stiff brush (optional)


For the spheres: Since this will be used by a child, organic fabrics would be an excellent choice here. You really only need a few inches of each print, so raid your stash for suitable scraps.

For the stuffing: This is a great project to try eco-friendly fillings like those made of organic cotton, kapok, and bamboo.

Spheres in two sizes, 6 inches or 8 inches in diameter

Since these soft toys will be getting a lot of love and squeezing and maybe even a nibble or two, the stitching must be nice and tight to keep the stuffing safely on the inside. Use a small backstitch that has virtually no gaps to make it secure. For even more security, do a double row.

Portability factor: { pretty high }
Small pieces, very few notions, sew them anywhere, but leave the stuffing for home.

Prewash all the fabric for this project–very important! Cut out six of the pattern templates in the size you choose (click the image below to open an enlarged size and print the template for use).


The balls are most fun if each section of is a different fabric, so raid your deep stash! Try to position the template at a 45° angle to the grain of your fabric; this will give the best fray. Save all the cuttings and scraps (more on that later).

Wet each cut piece and rub it vigorously between the palms of your hands to rough up the edges as much as possible. Repeat the process until you see the edges start to fray. Once you have roughed up the edges on all the pieces, throw them in the dryer with something rough (like towels or jeans). This will help the edges really “bloom,” creating the soft, fuzzy fray that makes these balls so lovable. Continue the entire fraying process until you are happy with the amount of fray. You can see why it was so important to pre-wash your pieces–otherwise they might all have shrunk to different sizes through all this wetting and drying. Lightly iron your sections so they lay flat, but not so much that you squash the fuzzy edge.

Lay out your sections in a pleasing sequence, alternating dark and light, tone or pattern until you are happy with the effect. Remember that the pieces at the far left and far right will ultimately be adjacent to one another when the sphere is complete.

Lay the first two sections on top of the other with wrong sides facing. Pin then sew along one edge from point to point about ¼ inch or less from the edge, using a backstitch and heavyweight thread. Start and stop about ¼ inch from each point to leave room for the point of the adjacent piece. Knot your thread at the end of the stitching, but no need to cut it as you can use this same thread when sewing on the next piece.

Pin on the next piece to this first group, lining up the points, wrong sides together. Sew as before. Continue until you have attached all six pieces. Leave open the last seam for stuffing.

To give the ball a little more heft than just plain stuffing can provide, bundle some of the fabric scraps and maybe a jingle ball in a small square of scrap cotton.

Squeeze it together into a small ball, then tie off the top with a few stitches and a knotted thread. Wrap stuffing (I used bamboo fiber stuffing) around this bundle and stuff it inside your fabric sphere. Keep adding stuffing until the ball is round and firm. Make sure to work stuffing all around your bundle to keep it in the center of the ball. It is hard to over-stuff these spheres.

Pull the final two edges together and pin. You will need to compress the stuffing a bit to finish this seam, but it will spring back nicely. { photo 4 } Sew the final seam closed. Knot and bury the thread deep inside the ball. If necessary, you can tidy up the apexes of your sphere, where all six points meet, and close it off completely with a few little stitches.

Featured Stitches

Posted by Living Crafts on Jul 13, 2012 09:26 AM | 52 Comments

Baby Booties – Knitting for Little Feet

These adorable booties are just the thing for winter! With the holidays coming soon this would be a great gift for you to knit for a baby in your family.  This pattern is one of 40 booties, socks, and slippers for babies and kids, in the Knitting for Little Feet book by Trafalgar Square Books.  As you turn the pages of this book, you’ll keep changing your favorite until the end.  Full review in the upcoming Fall 2011 issue of Living Crafts.

All My Clothes Are Green

Level of Difficulty



12 months (approx)

(see page 127 for size measurements)


Yarn: Regia 4-ply (75% wool/25% polyamide, 50 g, 230 yds / 210 m) pine (327) = color 1 for the sole and Chinese lantern (1111) = color 3 for instep

Regia 4-ply, small amounts fern (1092) = color 2

Needles: set of 5 dpn or 48 in / 120 cm Magic loop circular U.S. size 1.5 / 2.5 mm


30 sts and 42 rnds in stockinette = 4 x 4 in /
10 x 10 cm.

Adjust needle size to obtain correct gauge.

Stitch Patterns


Worked back and forth: Knit on RS and purl
on WS.

In the round: Knit all rounds.

Garter Stitch

Garter Stitch worked back and forth:
Knit all rows.

Garter Stitch in the round: Alternately
knit 1 rnd and purl 1 rnd.



Color 1: work back and forth in garter st from the toe to the heel.

CO 4 sts with provisional cast on (see page 117).

Rows 1-9: On every other row, M1 after the first and before the last st of row = 14 sts.

Rows 10-29: Knit.

Row 30: Dec 1 st each at beg and end of row = 12 sts rem.

Rows 31-39: Knit.

Row 40: Dec 1 st each at beg and end of row = 10 sts rem.

Rows 41-59: Knit.

Row 60: Dec 1 st each at beg and end of row = 8 sts rem.

Row 61: Knit.

Row 62: Dec 1 st each at beg and end of row = 6 sts rem.

Row 63: K3 to center of heel. Pick up and knit sts around the sole for a total of 72 sts.

Mark the center of heel and tip of toe. If working on a circular ndl, at the center of toe, pull out a ndl cable-loop so that you can continue knitting in the round in two separate sections. (Magic Loop method)

Side of Foot

Work in the round, beg at center back. Knit 1 rnd with color 1 = continue with the existing color.

Purl 1 rnd with color 1, knit 4 rnds with color 2, knit 1 rnd with color 3. These rounds begin and end at center of toe.


Now work short rows in stockinette st. Mark
center toe and heel, and on either side of each marker should be 24 sts, 48 total.

The 12 sts to the right and to the left of the heel marker (24 sts) are put on hold. The instep will be worked on the rem 24 sts (12 on either side of the toe marker). Beg at center of toe, k3; turn, yo, (see page 76).  For this yarnover, wrap the yarn around the cable after the turn, at the beginning of the row. At the end of the row, this loop will always be knit together with the next stitch and
1 stitch will be increased (an increase of 2 sts in every row). On the RS, slip the yarnover, knit the next st and pass slipped st over. Continue with short row shaping until there are 16 sts on
working needle (8 sts on either side of the center of toe).

Now from the existing 16 sts, work 15 sts, k3tog (16th st + yarnover + 1 st from holder).

On RS, work as follows: Sl 1 rem st + yarnover together, k 1 st from holder and pass over
slipped sts.

Now work to place marked between the heel
and instep. Beg working in the round again and, on every rnd, join the last st on holder with the first instep st and the last instep st with the next st on holder until 48 sts rem. Work 4 rnds in
stockinette over these 48 sts to begin leg and then continue in k2/p2 ribbing until leg is desired length.

Make the other shoe the same way.


Knit Little Feet

We have a copy of Knitting for Little Feet to give to one lucky Living Crafts visitor. Just leave a comment to this post to be entered to win! Deadline to enter is Sunday, October 9, 2011 at midnight Pacific Time. We will announce the winner on Wednesday. Good luck!


We Have a Winner!

Patty Manders Submitted on 2011/10/07 at 1:25 pm

Can’t think of anything finer than warm little feet in hand knit little socks! Got to keep my fingers crossed that this book might just be in my future:)

Congratulations Patty!


Posted by Living Crafts on Oct 5, 2011 09:31 AM | 300 Comments

Knitted Baby Hat

Pattern by Fiona Duthie -Photos by Nicole Spring

Remember our Living Crafts Knitted Child’s Hat from last year?

Well, the cool weather is upon us again, and just in time, the Living Crafts Knitted Child’s Hat is now also available in sizing for babies- a quick knit and a great gift for the fall and winter babies in our lives.

Our baby hat is soft and warm, covering and protecting our littlest ones’ ears and neck from cold winds and drafts.

Materials: 1 Skein Noro Kochoran yarn, 50% Wool, 30% Angora & 20% Silk

Note –one skein will be enough to knit 2 hats. The Noro Kochoran has a beautiful angora halo when handwashed gently in a mild soap. It also felts only moderately when put through the washing machine and dryer- try going up one size and washing it for an even more warmth and softness!

Needles: size 8 (5mm) Straight and Double Pointed needle sets

Gauge: 14 stitches and 22 rows equals 4 inch square

Instructions given for two sizes:  The beautiful baby is pictured here at both 3 months and 6 months, wearing the 3-6 month size.

3-6 months years, measures 14 inches at widest part of head

(6-12 months, shown in parentheses), measures 16 inches at widest part of head


Using straight needles, cast on 28 (32 stitches).

Knit 12 rows garter stitch (knit every row). At the end of last row, turn work and cast on 20 (22) stitches. 48 (54) stitches total.

Evenly divide stitches while transferring onto dpn’s. Turn knitting.   Place a marker to show beginning of round.

Purl one round, joining to work in the round, being careful not to twist stitches.

Knit one round.

Purl one round

Knit every round until piece measures 4 inches from hat front edge.

(6-12 month size only- K7, K2together, repeat to end. Knit 1 round)

Both sizes:

K6, K2together, repeat to end of round.  Knit one round.

Repeat these two rounds, knitting one less stitch before the K2together, in each decrease round, up to and including:

K1, K2together, repeat to end of round. Knit one round.

K2together, repeat to end of round. (6 stitches remain)

Note: for a flat topped hat- break yarn, pass yarn end through remaining stitches, pull tight and sew in end yarns.

K2together, repeat to end of round. (3 stitches remain)

Pass stitches onto 1 dpn. Knit 4 rounds I-cord. Break yarn, pass through remaining stitches and sew in end yarns.

Make two cords, each 10 inches long, either by knitting 3 stitch I-cord, braiding or fingerknitting,

Sew one end of each cord to corner of ear cover to make the underchin tie.

Sew in all end yarns, and wrap your baby (or someone else’s!)  in some woolly love!

Fiona Duthie

Fiona Duthie is a regular contributor to Living Crafts.

In her studio on Salt Spring Island, BC, she creates in a bountiful beauty of color, wool, and texture, inspired by the natural world. Fiona designs fine feltwork, felting and knitting patterns, gives workshops in natural craft, and runs her hand dyed, artisan fibre company, Kattikloo. You can read more about her fibers, projects and creative living at and on Facebook.

Posted by Fiona Duthie on Sep 19, 2011 01:33 PM | 34 Comments

Felt Baby Booties

Can you just imagine a baby’s sweet little feet surrounded by rose petals? Squee!

How about lettuce leaves?

Crafted by SmartlittleonesTM on Bryn Du Farm in Colorado. Available at

Posted by Living Crafts on Jun 4, 2011 09:49 PM | 3 Comments

Lamp Shade Mobile

This cute-as-a-button mobile on the Dottie Angel blog does not come with a tutorial, but I suggest everyone hurry up and pay her blog a visit for all the vintage goodness. There is a bubbly crochet blanket to die for …

Posted by Living Crafts on Mar 23, 2011 07:17 AM | 2 Comments


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