Textiles/Fabrics for Shoemaking

Textiles and fabrics have been used in shoemaking for centuries and offer a wide range of aesthetics, functionalities, and comfort levels. Here are a few of the most popular fabric types used in shoe making


A heavy-duty, plain-woven fabric made from cotton, linen, or synthetic fibers.

Uses: Predominantly used for casual shoes, especially sneakers and espadrilles. It's durable, breathable, and can be dyed in various colors or printed with designs.

Advantages: Lightweight, breathable, and relatively inexpensive. It's also easy to clean and can be made from sustainable materials.

For example, in the Fashionable Flat Ballet shoes from Fabric, we used this sort of canvas when combined with patent leather.

If you wish to make your own shoes out of different materials, such as leather or vegan leather, you may read more about them.

You should be aware that shoes made of textile must have unique seam allowances, therefore the pattern will alter significantly in the process of constructing shoe upper using basic pattern that remains the same regardless of the material used. As a result, the only difference will be in the developing upper pattern or lining pattern.


A natural fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals.

Uses: Used in eco-friendly shoes, winter footwear, and some athletic shoes for its insulating properties.

Advantages: Naturally moisture-wicking, temperature regulating, and has antimicrobial properties, reducing odor.


A smooth, glossy fabric typically made from silk, acetate, polyester, or nylon.

Uses: Popular for formal shoes, ballet slippers, and dance shoes due to its elegant sheen.

Advantages: Offers a luxurious appearance and smooth texture. It's also lightweight and can be dyed in vibrant colors.

If you are going to utilize some thin satin that may be difficult for shoemaking, you may strengthen it with a special reinforcment canvas that will keep the surface of the satin from coming through the glues and solvents used in the lasting process. Here's a shoemaking tutorial where you can learn how to make your shoes out of satin or any other fabric: "Shoemaking with Any Fabric-What you need to know!"

Furthermore, if you are serious about learning how to make shoes, you should read more about the complete process of shoemaking so that you are aware of what to anticipate.


A soft, plush fabric made from synthetic fibers or wool.

Uses: Used as lining in winter boots and slippers for warmth.Mesh:

A fabric with a net-like appearance, often made from polyester or nylon.

Uses: Common in athletic shoes for breathability.

Advantages: Lightweight and offers excellent ventilation


A synthetic polymer made from polyamides, originally designed to replace silk. It's one of the primary materials used in the production of synthetic fibers for textiles, known for its exceptional strength, elasticity, and resistance to abrasion and chemicals.

There are certain types of nylon fabrics are specifically designed and preferred for shoemaking due to their unique properties. Here are some of the commonly used nylon fabrics in the footwear industry:


A high-performance fabric resistant to abrasions, tears, and scuffs. It's often used in the production of durable, high-performance footwear, especially for hiking boots and military boots.

Ballistic Nylon

Originally developed as an anti-flak jacket material for World War II airmen, ballistic nylon is thick and tough. It's often used in the construction of the uppers of work boots and other heavy-duty footwear.

Ripstop Nylon

Characterized by its crosshatch pattern, ripstop nylon is woven using a special reinforcing technique that makes it resistant to tearing and ripping. It's lightweight and often used in athletic shoes and other performance footwear.

Nylon Mesh

A breathable fabric, nylon mesh is often used in athletic shoes, especially running shoes, to provide ventilation and reduce moisture inside the shoe.

Nylon Neoprene

This is neoprene rubber that has been laminated or bonded with nylon fabric. The nylon fabric layer enhances the durability of the neoprene and provides a smooth surface. This combination is often used in products like wetsuits, where the nylon surface provides added durability and often used in water shoes, wetsuit boots, and other aquatic footwear, nylon neoprene offers water resistance combined with flexibility and insulation.

Nylon Spandex (or Nylon Lycra)

This blend combines the strength and durability of nylon with the elasticity of spandex. It's often used in snug-fitting athletic shoes or shoe components that require stretch.

When selecting nylon fabrics for shoemaking, it's essential to consider the specific requirements of the shoe type. For instance, hiking boots require durability and abrasion resistance, while running shoes prioritize breathability and lightness. Nylon, with its various types and blends, offers a range of options to meet these diverse needs


A category of polymers that contain the ester functional group in their main chain. It's one of the most widely used synthetic fibers in textiles, known for its durability, resistance to various conditions, and versatility.

Microfiber Polyester

Description: A very fine polyester fiber, which results in a soft and silky texture.

Uses in Shoemaking: Often used in the linings of shoes due to its softness. It can also be used in the uppers of athletic shoes for a smooth finish.

Polyester Fleece

Description: A soft and fuzzy type of polyester that provides warmth.

Uses in Shoemaking: Used in winter boots or slippers for insulation and warmth.

Tricot Polyester

Description: A type of knit polyester fabric that is smooth on one side and textured on the other.

Uses in Shoemaking: Commonly used in athletic shoe linings due to its moisture-wicking properties.

Polyester Mesh

Description: A breathable and lightweight fabric with a net-like appearance.

Uses in Shoemaking: Frequently used in athletic shoes, especially running shoes, for breathability.

Polyester Canvas

Description: A durable and sturdy fabric that resembles traditional cotton canvas.

Uses in Shoemaking: Used in casual shoes, sneakers, and sometimes in reinforced areas of athletic shoes.

Polyester Satin

Description: A shiny and smooth fabric that mimics the appearance of silk satin.

Uses in Shoemaking: Often used in decorative elements of shoes or in dress shoe linings for a luxurious feel.

Polyester Taffeta

Description: A crisp and smooth fabric with a slight sheen.

Uses in Shoemaking: Sometimes used in shoe linings or decorative elements.

These are just a few examples, and the versatility of polyester means it can be woven or knitted into various textures and finishes suitable for different types of footwear.


Fine synthetic fibers woven together to create a lightweight, durable fabric.

Uses: Used as an alternative to leather in vegan shoes or for specific performance characteristics.

Advantages: Can mimic the look and feel of suede or leather, is breathable, and often more resistant to water and stains than natural materials.


Gore-Tex® is a patented microporous membrane material known for its ability to provide waterproofing while remaining breathable. It's a product of the company W. L. Gore & Associates.

Key Qualities:

Waterproof: The microscopic pores in the Gore-Tex® membrane are about 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet, preventing water from penetrating the material.

Breathable: These pores are also 700 times larger than a water vapor molecule, allowing perspiration to escape, which keeps the foot dry from both external and internal moisture.

Windproof: The membrane acts as a barrier to wind, helping to retain warmth in cold conditions.

Durable: While the membrane itself is delicate, it's typically sandwiched between protective layers, making the overall material durable and suitable for rugged use.

Applications in Shoemaking:

Outdoor and Hiking Boots: Given its waterproof and breathable properties, Gore-Tex® is a preferred material for hiking boots and other outdoor footwear. It ensures that feet remain dry in wet conditions while allowing sweat to evaporate.

Running and Athletic Shoes: Some athletic shoes incorporate Gore-Tex® for those who run in varying weather conditions, ensuring feet stay dry without overheating.

Casual Shoes: With the rise in popularity of functional fashion, even some everyday casual shoes and boots feature Gore-Tex® for added comfort and protection.

Winter Boots: The windproof nature of Gore-Tex® combined with its other properties makes it suitable for winter footwear, ensuring feet stay warm and dry.


Care: While Gore-Tex® footwear is designed for durability, it's essential to clean them regularly to maintain the material's breathability. Dirt and oils can clog the membrane's pores over time.

Cost: Footwear with Gore-Tex® technology tends to be more expensive due to the added benefits of the material.

Environmental Impact: W. L. Gore & Associates has been working on sustainability initiatives, including reducing the environmental impact of its products and manufacturing processes.


Jute is a long, soft, and shiny vegetable fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It's derived primarily from the plants of the Corchorus genus, which grow in warm, humid regions, especially in parts of South Asia.


1.Espadrilles: Jute is most famously used in the soles of espadrilles, a type of shoe originating from Spain. The jute rope sole is the defining characteristic of this shoe style.

2.Insoles: Due to its breathable nature, jute can be used as a material for insoles, providing comfort and reducing moisture.

3.Uppers: Jute fabric, often in combination with other materials, can be used for the upper part of shoes, especially in summer footwear designs.

4.Decorative Elements: Jute threads and ropes can be used as decorative elements, adding a rustic and natural aesthetic to the shoe design.


Jute is 100% natural, making it environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

Known for its inherent strength, jute can withstand prolonged wear and tear.

Its natural fibers allow for good air circulation, making shoes comfortable in warmer climates.

Jute is often more affordable than many other materials, making it a popular choice for various applications.

Its coarse texture can be both a design element and a functional feature in shoes.

Sustainability Factor:

With the fashion industry moving towards more sustainable practices, jute's biodegradable and eco-friendly properties make it an attractive material choice. Its cultivation is also less dependent on pesticides and fertilizers compared to other crops, adding to its eco-friendly appeal.


While jute has many advantages, it's essential to note that it's not as water-resistant as some other materials. Prolonged exposure to moisture can weaken jute fibers, so it's crucial to consider this when designing shoes intended for wet conditions.

In shoemaking craft, textiles and fabrics offer a wide range of options for designers to play with aesthetics, comfort, and functionality. Whether it's the breathability of mesh in athletic shoes or the elegance of satin in formal footwear, fabrics play a crucial role in determining the look, feel, and performance of a shoe.

Online stores

Here are some online stores where you can purchase various shoemaking materials, including textiles:





All Shoemaking Supplies 

If you want to make shoes there is no way around it, you will need knifes, hammers, leather, glue, shanks, boards, and everything else to get the job done.
For that purpose I have created a detailed list of everything you need to make shoes.