Shoes for Earthbound Superheroines

Hi, I'm Seelix, or Emily, and I'm a geek. If you're anything like me, you're perfectly happy rocking your Cylon t-shirt, jeans and your Mad Art Lab sneakers most days. However, there's always that day that calls for something a little… more. More dressed up, more on the formal side, or occasionally, just more attention-catching. 

Well, have no fear! Not only am I a geek, I'm also a bit of a fashionista, and I'm here to make your wardrobe just a little more super. Now you won't be limited to letting your geek flag fly on casual day, you can let your inner Wonder Woman out at cocktail parties too. Or when teaching in a Philosophy class, which was the first place I wore these.

Wonder Woman Heels! - photo taken by Jamie Bernstein

Skills Needed:

  • Patience 
  • Ability to use scissors un-supervised
  • Ability to sew a running stitch or an overcast stitch. Or the ability to find a YouTube video that shows you how to do this.

Really, that's all!

You'll find the step-by-step instructions for making your own Superhero shoes after the jump.


Supplies needed:


  • Blue shoes made out of fabric, moleskin/suedecloth looks the best.
    • You can use leather or suede, but only if you are The Incredible Hulk or a 300 Spartan. Otherwise, stick to fabric. Your fingers and needles will thank you. Do NOT use any sort of plastic or or synthetic leather. They layer you're sewing on top will need to be under a bit of tension to look right, and that tension means you'll rip right through your plastic. (You'll see that the shoe I'm demonstrating on is red rather than blue. That's because it's a commission, so I'm working off the shoes that were found by the owner-to-be. This means I will actually be covering the whole shoe. I'll include a picture of what the pinning of the back part looks like at the end, but save yourself the hassle and find a blue shoe to start with.
  • Stretchy red and gold fabric.
    • Yes, there are many lovely non-stretchy fabrics out there. However, for your first try, you want the fabric to stretch as much as possible. I used an old Supergirl Halloween costume that I cut up, so the fabric is not high quality in the least bit, but it's easy to work with.
  • Straight pins
    • Shorter pins are better for this, since you will be sewing around them. You will bend *a lot* of pins in this project. Get an extra box. They're always good to have around anyway, for emergencies such as ripped clothing, curtains that won't hang right and voodoo dolls.
  • Needles
    • Don't use super-thin embroidery needles or thick rucksack needles. You need something strong enough that you can push through the fabric and maybe even the sole of the shoe, but something not so huge it will tear holes in anything. Again, you will bend a few of these before you get the hang of getting it just in the top layer of the shoe.


Supplies which are not required, but will make the whole process easier:

  • Sewing Machine
    • This is not required, as these shoes really require very little of the type of sewing that is done by machine. However, you might want to use one to sew the gold pieces together.


  • Fabric Glue
    • This will depend on what kind of fabric you're using. The red fabric I used on my first pair showed the fabric glue badly, but the gold did not. I did do a couple of dabs on the second shoe, since I was carrying it around with me to work on, and I didn't want to risk losing my placement if the pins were knocked out. 
  • Wine
    • Self-explanatory. Match this to your shoe color as closely as possible. Whites go well with anything; reds are best reserved for a Dark Phoenix or Wonder Woman. For Green Lantern, go for Andorian brandy.


To start, pour yourself a glass of wine. Survey your workspace. Make sure no cats or toddlers are waiting around to eat spare pins. You'll need those pins.

Step 1: Creating the Gold "W"

Take your gold fabric and cut two strips. One should be roughly 1 1/2 inches wide, the other should be 1 inch wide. They should both be long enough to stretch over the top of your shoes where the W will go four times. This will give you enough space for cutting the W and pinning the edges under. Make them a bit longer if you want some more wiggle room. 

To start out, you're basically making bias tape. Metallic gold bias tape (what every classy superheroine needs on her costume). Take the 1" gold strip and iron it so that there is a crease down the middle. (you might want to put a damp cloth on top of the fabric to protect it, if your fabric is as flimsy as mine). The correct side of the fabric should be on the outside of the fold. After you've added this crease, fold the raw edges inside your folded fabric and iron it like that. It makes a lot more sense in the picture of the pieces sewn together than it does in words. Just look at the pretty pictures.

For my first pair of shoes, this gold piece was actually lined with interfacing, so that it gave it a little more of a puffy shape. If you want to do this, go ahead. Putting a piece of round cord inside the fold would also work to give it this shape, and probably be less of a pain than the interfacing ended up being. For this pair, I'm actually using the edges of the boot covers from the Supergirl costume that I scavenged the fabric from. They already had foam attached to the gold fabric. All good costumers are scavengers. You'll learn this quickly.

Take your second strip of gold fabric and slip this piece inside the folded piece and sew along the edge where they meet.

Gold fabric sewn together.


Cut your now-joined tube into eight equal pieces. Four will go on each shoe to form the upside down W shape.

Next, pin your pieces, wrong side up, to your shoe. I started with the inside two, since they sit strangely against the foot, and I wanted to make sure they wouldn't pucker. N.B.: I also did this with the shoe on. Now, your flexibility and tolerance for accidentally shoving pins in your foot may be different from mine, but you'll at least want to put the shoe on at this point, even if you, unlike me, are smart enough to not use yourself as a living cobbler's mold. 

Ignore the black foam. The recipient wanted a more 3-d look to hers.

Mark with a pencil where the bottom of the Gold fabric hits. This is going to be as far as your red fabric needs to cover.

Now take the pieces you just pinned together off the shoe and sew them together. Trim off the excess fabric. Now put them aside


Step 2: Adding the Red Fabric

For the fabric covering the toe, you'll want to pin the fabric first, then cut. Shoes are an interestingly three-dimensional object, and by 'interesting', I mean that you're not going to eyeball the correct shape of fabric on your first try. Save yourself the cursing and do it this way. 

Your fabric will have the most stretch on a diagonal. You'll want to use this to your advantage. To do this, find out which direction the fabric stretches the most. You'll want that direction pointing basically from the toe to the heel. Pin the fabric to the toe first, right along the edge of the shoe. You don't actually have to stick the pin through the shoe, just skim it under the top layer of fabric. This will prevent you from bending every pin you own, and will also mean that the fabric lays flat against the shoe.

Everything you do with the red fabric, start from the toe. It's the hardest part and will pucker if it's not correct.

After you have the basic positioning worked out, trim your fabric, while still pinned to the shoe. Leave a half inch around because you will find a spot that needs more once you start pinning it correctly.

You don't have to trim it exactly. You'll trim it more as you pin it under.

Now you need to get the fabric where it's going to end up. Start from the toe and work your way around one side of the shoe, folding the fabric under exactly where the fabric of the shoe meets the sole. You can trim as you go if you've left too much fabric and are getting a visible line where it ends. 


If you spend extra time on any step, spend it on this one. This is the hardest to correct if there are any creases or puckers.


Once you have it pinned down, put the gold W over it, folding the fabric over the same way you did the red. You will only need to sew the edge of the W that is bordering on the red and the part that bumps up against the sole. You don't have to do anything to pin the top of the red fabric or the gold piece down. The way it forms around the shoe will keep it in place.

Now you'll start sewing it. I used an overcast stitch (where it loops over the edge of the fabric. This allowed me to work with the edge of the shoe and basically sew only to the top layer of the fabric in most places. In some places (as you'll see in the picture) I ended up sewing the fabric directly to the sole. I don't recommend this, but I did these in the two days leading up to Dragon*Con 2011, so I was in a bit of a rush and wasn't being the neatest I could be.

Stitch the bottom edge of the gold W to the red fabric.

It's easier to just show pictures of the stitching than to explain it.


You probably want to use gold thread rather than red for the top part, but I was in a rush at this point and had possibly had several glasses of wine.

And, you're done!


In all, this project took me roughly 8 hours. It might take a few more if you're not used to working with fabric, but the majority of the time was taken up with the sewing itself. If there's one takeaway message I would like you to get from this or any of my future posts, it's that sewing doesn't take talent so much as it takes the patience to line everything up, the ability to visualize each step before you do it, and the wisdom to know when to set your project down before you toss it at the wall.






Seelix, aka Emily, is a Science Communicator, Forensic Anthropologist, Costumer and QA Analyst, sometimes, but not usually, all at once. Emily can usually be found lurking in dark corners of the internet as Seelix on Twitter, on Google+ and even occasionally at her blog This View of Life.

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  1. Welcome to Emily, our newest contributor! These shoes are fantastic, and your post is informative and hilarious. I look forward to reading more!

  2. This is fantastic welcome to the team! I have one question, I have looked everywhere but can't seem to find a store to buy some patience. I just keep finding that awful Guns n Roses song. Any suggestions?

  3. Thank you!
    Amy, unfortunately, one can only aquire patience through somewhat shady means. I recommend lurking around Craigslist and making oblique inquiries. That's how I found mine.

  4. Patience? I'm sorry- what's that? I have none of that but I can get you ziti. A LOT of ziti. Or some Blackwing pencils.
    Also- welcome Emily! We Lab ratz are completely delighted that you've joined us here! Seriously, who wouldn't want a superheroine on their side?!

  5. Emily you are awesome! Congrats on joining Mad Art Lab. So glad to have spent some time with you last TAM–and definitely looking forward to this year.

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