Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Making Baby Tiger Head Shoes

Elle's baby sister turned one month old last week. We took the opportunity to learn about the Chinese custom of celebrating a baby's first moon, and Elle made her sister adorable tiger head shoes as a blessing and gift. 

In China, the tiger is a symbol of power and bravery, and is a protector of children. The Chinese believe the tiger can ward off diseases, evil and misfortunes, which is why babies often have at least one pair of tiger head shoes. 

Elle was quite excited to make these for her baby sister. She was especially happy that she would be using the sewing machine (or so we thought), since she really does not enjoy sewing by hand. She spent nearly an entire day working on these, with my help, to ensure they were complete to give to her sister on time. She also created a template for the tiger head if anyone else wants to make these, and it can be found at the bottom of the post.

Photo Credit: Denis-Carl Robidoux
We looked at images of tiger baby shoes on google, and found a pair on Etsy that were the basis for these. Elle wanted to use red felt, red because it is an auspicious color in the Chinese tradition, and felt to make them sturdy. Luckily we had quite a bit of red felt in our Christmas craft box. We purchased yellow printed cotton for the inside of the shoes and embroidery thread for the tiger head decorations. 

Elle started off by making baby kimono shoes, using this template and this tutorial from Homespun Threads. (note there is a tutorial with the template we used, and a second tutorial that was of greater help, which includes three templates for different sizes).

After cutting out her pieces, she basted the pieces for the soles, wrong sides facing each other, since we did not use fusible interfacing. She then sewed the sides together, right sides in, along the dotted line below. Once sewn, fold the fabric over, and iron.

When the time came to assemble the shoes, Elle was quite dismayed to find out we would have to hand sew the two pieces together due to the heaviness of the felt. Since we had a limited time to make these, I let her off the hook :) and did the hand sewing while she started on her tiger heads.

Place the fabric for the outside of the shoe facing in - in our case, the red felt. Loop the edge piece around so that it overlaps, and sew all around the edge. Once sewn, turn right side out. Because we were covering these shoes with a tiger head, I didn't pay too much attention to the overlap, and ended up with two shoes with an overlap facing the same way. Which would have looked funny, but luckily, we were covering them up.

Elle created a tiger head template she was happy with, and again, cut out four pieces - two in felt, and two in the yellow cotton lining. Then she started decorating her tiger faces.

She cut out two larger eyes in yellow felt, and smaller black ones to fit inside. She then felted these to the face (of course they could be sewed on). She took a small rectangle of white felt and rolled it, and sewed it from the back of the head. She then embellished by sewing gold beads to the center of the eyes, and colorful embroidery thread stripes over the nose. 

For the mouth, she looped the embroidery thread the width she wanted, the tied both ends with a contrasting color. To attache it to the tiger head, she used embroidery thread in the middle. And then she embellished the rest of the head with colorful embroidery thread. I helped her at the very first, but she got the hang of it fairly quickly. It would have been easier though had we bought proper embroidery needles!

Isn't it cute? She was so proud, and happy when she was done. Then I reminded her of the second tiger face, for the other shoe. It did go quicker, the second time around. 

I then sewed the face and the yellow lining, right sides in together, leaving a small gap on the bottom. Turned them right side out, and Elle stuffed them just a little. The faces were then sewn to the shoes.

After all that work, Elle was quite proud of the shoes, and of herself, for making them. She was so excited to give them to her sister! She also decorated a sweet little cardboard box to gift them in. She drew the Chinese character for Sister. 

And if you are inclined to make these shoes for a sweet baby in your life, you can use Elle's tiger head template. I also included some Chinese characters that might be used for a box or tag. 

Want to buy tiger head baby shoes? DIY Time on Etsy has adorable shoes for sale.

You can find more cultural and historical activities at the following linkups:


  1. Wow, very impressive. They look so professionally done.

    1. Thanks! We were both really pleased with the results.

  2. These are seriously amazing! What a talented daughter.

  3. These are absolutely wonderful. You are quite skilled at sewing.

    1. Thank you! It took time, but it was totally worth it! (: -Elle

  4. Thanks for swinging by my blog; so glad it lead me to yours! I'm your newest follower, lucky #8!

    And add me to the list of tiger shoe lovers, too!

  5. These are adorable!! And what a sweet gift from one sister to another, a very special gift. And I love that she took the time to share a template for others. Thanks for sharing at the Culture Swapper!


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