May 12, 2022

Shoemaking with Any Fabric-What you need to know!

We make shoes from different types of materials and I am talking about shoe uppers. The most common materials we make shoes from are leather and fabric.

In this shoemaking article, I want to focus on making shoes with fabric material, what kind of fabric for your shoes you need to choose, and what to do if the fabric that you chose is not suitable for shoemaking.

The special fabric for shoes

Fabrics for shoes have a few parameters that you can notice right away.

1. The fabric must be dense.


2. On the inner side of the fabric must be a thin extra cover like layer of some coat that will protect it from coming glue through it (read the full article).


3. The treads the fabric is made of are thick (optional)


In my Fashionable flat ballet course, I teach how to make shoes from this fabric. 

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Ballets shoemaking program
Fashionable Fabric flat ballet shoes

The main problem using not suitable fabric for shoe making

What will happen if you will use some beautiful fabric for the upper of your shoe that doesn’t fit all these criteria, the fabric that is not suitable for shoe making?


The problem that you would encounter mostly will be in process of gluing when you will glue the edge of the fabric to fold it. Why we need to fold and how-to, you can read in this post “How To Fold a Shoe Upper?! Shoemaking steps”

But the much bigger problem will happen in the gluing of the upper from fabric to the lining during lasting. 

The lasting process consists of a few steps and you can learn more about it in these posts  “Lasting shoes. Where to start?”, Use Minimum Nails in Lasting of the Shoe Toe.

So during lasting you will need to last first the lining, then place all inner parts (toe puffs and counters) and in this post, you can learn more about toe puffs “How to Make Shoe Toe Puffs? Shoemaking Training”

Then you will need to attach the upper to the lasted already lining of your shoes. 


In this exact step, you will encounter the main problem of working with not suitable fabric for shoemaking. The glue will come through your fabric and will leave dirty yellow spots on the top of your fabric. As a result, you will have unpleasant spots on the upper of your finished shoes.


So after watching this tutorial you understood the main problem of working with the wrong fabric for shoemaking and maybe now you are asking yourself if still exists some solution to this problem. Yes, I have an excellent shoemaking solution for you, just keep reading.

Solution! How to use any fabric in shoe making

If you can’t find special fabric for shoemaking and want to use some canvas, some fabric that is dense enough but still doesn't suit shoemaking, you can upgrade it to use for your shoes.

The solution is in using some reinforcement material that will protect your beautiful fabric from spots of the glue. It will create some layer that will not allow the glue to come through. That means that you can use almost any fabric for your shoes!

To demonstrate how it works I chose the same fabric that I used in the previous shoemaking tutorial, so you will see it very clearly.

This reinforcement material calls jersey thermo-adhesive reinforcement and you can activate it with a hit. I am sure that there are plenty of places where you can buy it locally but online I found this store where you can buy it.


In the tutorial I prepared for you I show the step by step process of  working  with this jersey reinforcement but you need to understand that 

To reinforce your upper from fabric you need to make first the exact pattern of this reinforcement (and in my Sneakers course I teach how to make it) and only then proceed with the process. 

How to work with reinforcement material to use any fabric in shoemaking?

1. This adhesive material has the paper cover on which you must copy the pattern of this reinforcement.  

cutting of the shoe reinforcement from fabric

2. Take off the paper cover and attach to the inner side of your upper fabric


3. Even if this reinforcement jersey has an adhesive side already, you still need to activate it with a hit. To do so, you can use a simple domestic iron. Hit with max temperature but do not place your iron directly on the jersey, cover it with baking paper.


So watch this tutorial and comment below if you have some questions.

All Shoemaking Supplies 

If you want to make shoes there is no way around it, you will need knifes, hammers, leather, glue, shanks, boards, and everything else to get the job done.
For that purpose I have created a detailed list of everything you need to make shoes.

What else  you need to know in working with fabric in shoe making

Two important issues we have to consider when lasting shoes from fabric and in this blog post I also want to concentrate  on stiffeners.
As I already mentioned, between the lining and upper you need to attache stiffeners that could be made from a non-chemical woven material or a Veg tan leather. The only problem with using Veg tan leather for stiffeners, when you making shoes from fabric, is thickness. Although you can and must skive the leather, it will never be as thin as the non woven sheet and because you are lasting shoes with fabric which is thin material it will stick out under the fabric, creating bumps and not very clean look to your shoes. That is why when working with fabric I use mostly non-chemical woven sheets, because they are thin enough and I can skive them and sand them as well.

Veg-Tan-leather for toe puff

The second issue when using a fabric material is glue. Non woven material consist glue inside of it and as we will activate it with a thinner the glue will come out.


When you working with leather there is nothing to be worry about, but with fabric you must check it even in the stage of choosing the right fabric for your upper as I already explained previously. Choose a dense fabric suitable for shoemaking, because if not, the glue of that non-wooven chemical material contains will be visible on your upper and obviously, you don’t want that. So make your test before you start lasting it will save you a lot of time and if it will be needed, reinforce it with a jersey as I taught you before.

What type of fabric have you chose for your project?


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About the author 

Sveta Kletina

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  1. The fabric I tried or my lining is a pretty dense rayon. The problem – I had to back the fabric and it was almost impossible to last it correctly.

    1. Wait, let me understand this. You have a dense fabric and you still reinforced it with another fabric?

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