Three Super Common Reasons Crafters Struggle to Make Doll Shoes

You've seen the PERFECT doll shoes to compliment the doll clothes you've been meticulously laboring on.

You know they exist. After all, we all know there is such a thing as just the right shoes for an outfit.

But then you realize if you want to have them, you must make them yourself.

Oh well, doll shoes are super hard to make so we'll just have to dream, right?


The truth is, once you get the hang of it, doll shoes are crazy easy. And they're just so much fun and so rewarding to make yourself!

So, today we're breaking down three super common reasons crafters struggle to make doll shoes and easy ways to overcome those challenges!

Let's get to it!

Reason 1: You're Using the Wrong Materials

I used to only use the thickest vinyl I could find, usually marine vinyl, which is made rigid and thick to withstand weather elements. And while it's great for that purpose, it's not so great for making doll shoes.

Once I discovered craft vinyl, everything changed.

Craft vinyl is wonderfully easy to work with for doll kicks. It is easy enough to work with and creates nicely fitting shoes that still hold their shape for long-lasting shoes.

Plus, craft vinyl comes in much more exciting prints and colors!

Marine vinyl has it's place and might be a better choice for some shoes or boots but when you're first starting out, I'd recommend avoiding it.

Reason 2: You're Using the Wrong Soles

This is super important: not all doll shoes soles have the same shape!

Even the slightest curve or smallest measurement difference can make or break your success. Every designer creates their shoe patterns with a particular sole shape. It's a necessary step to make the shoes look right.

Think about cowboy boots. Most cowboy boots are tapered towards the front with more room in front. On the other hand, sandals need to be more rounded and closer to the toe edges so they don’t look enormous.

Check out these four different types of soles we use (among others) here at Appletotes & Co. 

Pictured here from left to right: Chelsea Boots Embroidery Pattern, Penny Loafers Sewing Pattern, Bella Shoes No-Sew Pattern, Sporty Sandals No-Sew Pattern

As you can see, each design features significantly different sole shapes. Unless you're absolutely sure they are the ones you need, we don't recommend buying precut soles in bulk. There's a good chance they won't work for the project you have in mind.

Quick tip: if you're making shoes in bulk, consider a Cricut Maker to cut the soles for you! We have lots of doll shoes patters available with SVG files for cutting machines to make your sole cutting super easy. Shop for the Maker at

Reason 3: You Don't Have a Solid Foundation (Literally)

This is easily where most people have the most trouble and, therefore, our most useful tip!  Making doll shoes without a solid foundation will leave you frustrated with effort and you'll probably end up with shoes that just don't quite look right.

Give yourself the foundation you need with a spare pair of doll legs! 

I found these on eBay for less than $20 and they are the most helpful tool.

While there are different types of shoe making tools out there, I find the legs to be most helpful. They create a perfect fit as these are the feet they'll end up on. And you can also look at the top of the shoes (to make sure they are straight on the feet) before you glue the shoes to the sole. 

Wrapping Up

So, there you have it - three awesome tips to get you started on the right foot when it comes to making doll shoes for 18 inch dolls!

Want more fantastic ideas to make doll shoe making easier? Check out these other tutorials here at Appletotes & Co.


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