Luxe Bespoke insoles

Crafts: How to make luxury slip-in-slip-out insoles for favourite shoes.
Today I will run through how I made luxury slip-in-slip-out insoles for some of my favourite shoes.
You can make them for flats, but today I focused on my best high heels, which often come with beautiful insoles. These tend to get dirty and worn the more you wear the shoe, particularly if you go without tights!

You can, of course, buy insoles to protect the inside of your shoes. The majority seem to be a big foamy layer that you cut (badly) to size. They tend to look horrible. Know the ones I mean?

You can also get leather insoles, but they tend to be quite expensive.

So I made up a quick set from some A4-sized offcuts of faux leather and faux suede in amazing jewel purple, mock-croc green and pearly palest pink. These are great, as they are thick enough to hold their shape and not slump into the shoe, but not so thick that they make the shoe feel tight.

This would also be a great use for real leather offcuts

You can start with a bog standard insole as a template if you like. But to get a really good fit, I suggest making one up from a well-fitting shoe you already own. For heels, take a piece of aluminium foil and rub it over the outside of the sole, up to underneath the heel. You will get a great rubbing from the edge of the sole. Shoe soles tend to be made of layers of the same shape stacked on top of each other, so this will be a good starting point for your insole.

The top of the pattern can be formed after cutting out the main shape, by inserting it into the shoe and pressing into the back to get a final impression around the heel. Cut along this rubbed line.

Cut your insole pattern from card next, and insert into the shoe to look for fit. It should be snug around the edges. It might take a few repeat cuts at the card stage to get a really good fit. It is worth doing this before you cut into leather or material!

You can see below the fit was great on my red heels, which I took the pattern from. Funnily enough, it wasn't too shabby for the grey alligator heels either, which have more of an almond toe. A quick experiment suggests I should be able to wear this shape in most of my heels, without it slipping around too much. If you have any that are unusual shape, you might need to do the process again especially for them. 

Once you have a great fit, trace around your pattern onto the back of your material twice. Remember to flip it over so that you get right and left feet! Cut with long, smooth strokes for a clean edge.
Time to embellish... Here are two ideas, but really the list is endless!

TECHNIQUE 1: Decorative stitching.

I used a 90/14 jeans needle in my machine and a thick, golden topstitch thread to put a decorative stitch around the outside of the purple faux suede insoles, giving a luxurious finish. Always try out your stitching on a scrap piece of the same fabric first! I had to play with the settings quite a bit to get the right look.

The toes and heels of an insole have quite pronounced curves, and so a wavy or curved stitch pattern is quite forgiving in terms of still looking neat. I used an edge-stitching foot. I recommend that you do most of your guiding of the fabric edge during the "straighter" part of the pattern, and let the fabric alone when the feet are pulling backwards for any little leaf / flower motifs, as you don't want those pulled out of shape.

I used a metallic pink thread doubled up with a standard pink polyester around the pearly faux leather insoles, with a slightly different stitch. This material was quick sticky under a regular foot, so a Teflon foot really helped.

TECHNIQUE 2: Love your Sharpies.

Sharpies write on pretty much anything and faux leather is no exception. I used a metal feather stencil (see the first photo) and a gold Sharpie to put an abstract gold feather on my green mock croc insoles. 


Because these can be slipped in and out, a few pairs can be changed between shoes as and when you use them. They protect the real insole from wear, and take the tough stuff themselves. Now you see that insoles can make the inside of your shoes look good too (important in households like ours, where all shoes come off at the door!). Once your insoles are worn out, chuck them and make yourself some more! 

For the real fashionistas - make a matching pair for different colours of shoe?

And finally, I'm thinking these would make great little Christmas gifts for a shoe fanatic...


  1. whoooo knew this was something that you would or could do? I never thought about customizing my shoe inserts. Geez I really only ever thought about replacing an insert when the original was destroyed. I like this!

  2. hmmmm....good idea! I think I would only use real leather tho- I think it would help with preventing blisters?- definitely going to try it!