Tutorial: Shoe insole replacements

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This tutorial is going to detail how to make new insoles for shoes. It’s a pretty quick project, and the result is rather awesome.

Insole replacement materials


  • Shoes with grungy insoles
  • Buckram as a strength layer
  • Batting (prewashed)
  • Fashion fabric (prewashed) to go against your feet
  • Canvas (prewashed) or any other sturdy  material
  • Sharpie
  • Pins
  • Utility scissors for the buckram
  • Fabric scissors
  • Pinking shears
  • Paper for the pattern
  • Pattern weights — I use nuts from the hardware store
  • Glue, I think I used mode podge
  • Glue brush
  • Sewing machine


Removing the insole

First things first, take out those old insoles! Be careful though, we’ll need at least one intact so we can pull the pattern we will be using from it. I would recommend doing this slowly, and using your fingers to break apart the glue and separate the insole from the shoe itself.

Once you have it out, lay out your pattern paper and use it to trace your master pattern piece from it with the sharpie. Paper weights will help keep this process easy.

Once you’ve traced it, cut it out and slide it into your shoe. Does it fit? Awesome! If not, make adjustments as needed.

Insole being traced for our master pattern Close up on the tracing Checking the pattern in the shoe

We’ll be working with buckram next. We’re going to use our master pattern for this, but the buckram only needs to go 2/3rds down the foot, so fold your pattern piece along that line and then trace and cut your buckram.

So, you’re probably thinking, “Ahhh! Why is my buckram curling?!” This happens from buckram being (generally) stored in a rolled position. To fix this just break the buckram over the edge of something (This actually works for your pattern paper too). What that means is drag the buckram across the edge of a surface along the convex side of the curl. I generally do this along a sink edge, since the buckram can be rough on wood.

Checking the length of the insole for buckram Tracing out our insole on buckram

Next up: Batting. You will want to fold this over so it’s three layers thick. Pin it down around the edges, then trace your pattern on the batting. Don’t cut anything out yet! We want to keep Batting, folded to three layersthis as one piece until we’re done securing it.

First thing we want to do is sew along the sharpie line on both pieces with a straight running stitch. Once that’s completed, go back through with a zigzag stitch along  the inside edge. Now that your pieces are securely sewn together, go ahead and cut them out along the sharpie line (You’ll likely cut through the straight stitching, it’s okay, try not to cut the zig-zag stitch however).

Go ahead and slip these into the shoe to make sure everything is still going smoothly. If something is too big, work it down until it fits but make sure to zig-zag stitch the final edge.

Batting with pattern traced on it Zig-zag stitching along the inside edge Batting ready to be cut out Checking the batting in the shoe

And now the fashion fabric! This is going to be what’s against your foot.  Trace your pieces out and cut them out with a 1.25 inch seam allowance. Now that you’ve got your three pieces, stack them in the following order:  buckram, batting, fashion fabric.

Tracing fashion fabric for insoles Fashion fabric cut out for the insoles The pieces stacked together

Now that we have our layers, take that stack and begin wrapping the fashion fabric around the piece, strategically folding and pinning to prevent as much bulk as possible. Generally works best if you go in the order pictured below. The dotted line is where you will need to slash the fashion fabric to account for the curve. Only cut in about one inch, making sure not to cut to the traced line.

Pinning the fabric Order to fold the fabric over in

Folding techniques Folding close up Pinning complete

Now sew it all down! I recommend quilting it to make sure nothing gets gathered strangely. You can do that with a generic square quilting pattern, or free hand quilting. Spirals might look pretty neat too! I would try to avoid a running stitch just along the edge since it might allow slipping between layers, but feel free to experiment.

Quilting the insole Both insoles quilted

We need one more pattern piece — make a copy of your original one, then take off 1/2 an inch all the way around. Place your pattern piece over the bottom side of your new insole to confirm that it will cover any raw edges. Once you have O.K.ed your pattern, trace it on the canvas and cut out with pinking sheers! This is important, we don’t want it to fray.

Bottom pattern piece Test bottom insole piece Bottom piece traced on canvas

Once you have both pieces, coat the bottom side of the canvas in glue, then place it on the bottom of the insole making sure to cover the raw edges up! Repeat for both, then sandwich between paper and put something heavy on it until it dries.

glue Covered in glue Glue in place

Once dry, you will have new insoles for your shoes! I have yet to glue or sew down to the shoe itself and have not encountered any issues. In fact, that is my preference so I can change them out and have different fabrics in there! However, if you find that your insole slides around while you’re walking just get some glue and glue it down.

Shoes with newly finished insoles

The Quick Guide for the Impatient:

1. Gather materials
2. Take out old insoles, make paper pattern from them and make sure they fit
3. Cut out buckram, needs to go 2/3rds way up foot from heel
4. Trace pattern onto triple layer batting, running stitch along sharpie, zigzag stitch inside edge, cut out
5. Trace out fashion fabric, cut out with a 1.25 inch seam allowance
6. Layer buckram, batting, fashion fabric, then wrap fashion fabric to the back strategically folding and pinning to eliminate as much bulk as possible
7. Secure down with preferred method (I used quilting)
8. Make backing piece; can be achieved by taking off 1/2 inch all the way around original pattern
9. Trace this on canvas, cut out with pinking shears
10. Cover the back in glue, then place on the bottom of the insole making sure to cover all raw edges of fashion fabric
11. Let dry, put into your shoes, then revel in your pretty new insoles

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