Thursday, 11 December 2014

How To Add Ankle Straps To Heels

I like heels, but I don't want to spend that much money on them. The problem with cheap heels is that they are made of plastic, which doesn't really conform to the shape of your feet. This can make then quite uncomfortable to wear. What I did was to buy these lovely spine heels in a size that I knew was a bit loose on me, so they wouldn't squeeze my poor feet, but that meant they don't stay on that well. Solution? Ankle straps! Here's how to make them!

Here's a link to where I got my pair on eBay. The delivery to Finland took a few weeks, but the shoes arrived well-packed and were just like described in the description.

You need:

Ribbon in a colour that matches your heels for attaching the straps
Fabric that matches your heels to make the straps
Heel grippers (optional, they make the heels fit more tightly and give a nice finish to the attachment)
Sewing machine

Finished heels with ankle straps.
1. Make the straps

Measure your ankle and add about 5 cm to the length to find out how long your straps should be. I made mine with PVC folded and sewn on both edges. I didn't finish the ends because PVC does not unravel, but if your fabric does, fold the ends on the inside of the strap and sew to secure. You can also use for example wide satin ribbon for the straps. If sewing is not your thing, use fabric glue. 

2. Add velcro to your straps

Take you two straps and try them on. They should have 5 cm overlap. That's where the velcro will be. Check how you can make them symmetric and choose to use the side that looks the best as the outside. To keep your straps from tangling on each other, plan the closure to sit on the outside of the ankle, with the overlapping part of the strap on top pointing towards the heel of the shoe. Cut the velcro to have about 4 cm piece on each strap (of both sides of the velcro, naturally!) and attach it by sewing a rectangle in straight stitch. Note that the different sides of the velcro (the scratchy and the soft one) go on different sides of the strap, not just different ends. It doesn't matter which side of the velcro is on top and which below.

3. Sew ribbons on your heels

Make two loops of ribbon. Each one should be large enough to let your strap pass through and then have 2-3 cm extra "tail" for attaching the loop to the shoe. Sew the tails with a zig zag stitch. Take your loop and sew each to the seam on the heel of a shoe. Make stiches only on the seam to hide the alteration. The seam is also the softest part, but you should still use a thimble, the heel part is very tough! If you have trouble pulling the needle through, try suing pliers. You don't need many stiches per shoe, but it's hard work.
I used black velvet ribbon for attaching the straps to the heels. It's soft, easy to sew and with black heels anything black matches well enough.
4. Add heel grippers

Heel grippers are basically leather sticker that fit the inside of the heel of the shoe. They make the heels fit more snug, but in this case they also help to hide the ribbon you sewed on the heel seam and attach it more securely. Stick them on the inside of the shoe according to the instructions, just leave the ribbon ends under the grippers.

5. Put your straps in the loops

Check which strap is for which foot and wiggle them through the ribbon loops of the corresponding shoes. Ta-dah! Heels with ankle straps. If your straps are too loose, just take the strap out of the loop, cut the stitches securing one piece of velcro, re-attach it to a better location and sew it in place. The loops allow you to modify the straps as much as you like without you needing to keep the whole shoe out of the way when you sew.

Sewing the ribbons on the heel seams keeps the shoes looking nice and posh.


  1. Kiitos tästä tutoriaalista! Vaikka paljon tulee kaikkea tuunailtuakin, niin eipä taas tullut mieleen aiemmin, että kengistä voi tuunailla näinkin pienellä vaivalla helppokäyttöisemmät :)

    1. Ole hyvä! Mulla on jotenkin sen mallinen jalka että kengät ilman remmejä eivät tahdo pysyä, joten tykkään tuunailla ja vinkkien jakaminen hyödyttää kaikkia :)

  2. Great job! I can only ever wear boots or shoes with a 'mary jane' type strap, my feet slip straight out of open top shoes!

    1. Thanks! My feet are the same way, I hardly ever wear shoes without straps.

  3. I dream of this shoes so bad! Bone fetish <3 :))
    Very practical tip with this ancle straps, thanks! :)

    1. You are very welcome! These are my second pair of Chinese replica spine heels, I just love the heel design ;D

  4. Hello, such a great idea! Can you put up a link where you bought the shoes? Thanks :D

    1. Sure, I forgot to put the link in the post, so sorry! I got mine from eBay from a Chinese seller. When searching for shoes with this heel you should try many searches to find an affordable pair, I suggest "bone heel", "dinosaur heel" and just "bone" in Women's Shoes -area.The link to my pair is here:


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