I have a pair of Converse high tops I’ve had for at least ten years. I don’t wear them every day, but pretty often, and I’m surprised they’ve survived this long.
The funny thing is, the laces have never been long enough. They came with the shoes, but I bought them at a factory outlet store, and I’ve always suspected that was why they were there. I can’t lace them through the top set of eyelets if I want to tie them. For ten years.
I wore them recently, and decided it was finally time to buy some laces that actually fit. I started looking around online, and it wasn’t long before I came across versions that were colorful and patterned and I couldn’t go back to plain white. Not that my decade-old laces were still that color.
I made it all the way to putting a pair in my shopping cart before I thought “Why don’t I make my own?” Close call, that one.
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You only need a couple of things to make these, but one of them is kinda weird and specific, so I’m going to also suggest some alternatives at the end. For now, I’ll show you what I did.
For my four-eyelet red tennis shoes, I made the laces 33” long, and for the eight-eyelet black high tops they’re 54” long.
Cut two fabric strips on the bias that are 1 1/8” wide by the length you need for your shoes. If you can’t get an entire strip from one piece, cut two and sew together with an angled seam.
Trim the seam to 1/8”, press open, then cut to length. That ensures the seam will be within the lacing section, and not closer to the end where it can interfere with tying.
You might be tempted to cut the fabric on the straight of grain, rather than the bias. I had the same thought, so I tried it both ways. You definitely want the bias. It drapes better. In the photo below the right is the bias and the left isn’t.
Fold the strip lengthwise with right sides together. Stitch the long edge with a 1/8” seam. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.
Pin the safety pin along the stitching line near one end. Don’t pin it into the seam allowance because it may rip out.
Push the top of the pin into the tube. Keep pushing through until it comes out the other end, gently sliding the fabric as you go. Pull it out until the entire tube is right side out.
Press the tube with the seam to one side, rolling it out with your fingers.
Roll the two edges in on the tip to make it skinnier. You can stitch it if necessary, but I found it was easy enough to just hold. Push the end into the shrink tube until the fabric meets the other end.
Using the heat tool, shrink the tubing. I wish I could tell you a hairdryer would do the trick, but I tried it and it doesn’t get quite hot enough.
Dab a small dot of craft glue onto the tip of the tube. That will keep the fabric tip from unraveling. Let it dry.
Repeat all steps to make the second, and your one-of-a-kind laces are ready to show off!
Now about those other options for finishing. They do sell the tips, called aglets, but I haven’t tried them myself. They look simple enough, and I do like the look.
Another way to go would be to fold the edges in at the end and zigzag over. If I went this route, I’d probably coat them with Mod Podge or glue to stiffen and protect the tips.
These fed smoothly into the large eyelets on my high tops, but I had to work a little harder on the red shoes. I just had to give the tip a little twist as it went in, but it wasn’t a big deal. It could be more of an issue for kids shoes.
Now my well-loved high tops can have a wardrobe of their own!