How to Add an Elastic Gusset to Tall Boots

how to add a gusset to boots

I love boots and wear them most of the winter.  I basically go from flip-flops all Summer to boots in the Fall/Winter and back to flip-flops in the Spring.  There are a couple of weeks in Spring and Fall that I wear shoes with toes and heels but most of the year I’m in boots or flip-flops :D  When I’m not in my house that is – in my house I go from barefoot to fuzzy socks.

I’ve worn the same pair of black boots for years now.  I also have a pair of full grain leather UGGs that I wear when it is really really cold.  I’ve worn them more this Winter already than ever.

In October when we went on our trip to Wisconsin I wore my black boots.  I took one pair of shoes along but never wore them – it was the boots only.  Soon after we left home I realized that the heel cap of one boot was loose.  Last winter I glued them both on with E6000 glue as they both decided they had done their job long enough.  This winter one came back off and I re-glued it.  It didn’t last and I repeatedly shoved the heel cap back on when it would work its way off.  After arriving home from vacation a new pair of boots was at the top of my list of things to shop for.

how to add elastic to boots

And I found a pair I really loved.  At Nordstrom Rack.  Still pricey but just under the top price I was allowing myself.  Full-grain leather.  Leather lined.  Leather soles.  They had to be leather – the sole is negotiable but the lining HAS to be leather.  My hubby is a leather snob and he’s pretty much converted me.  I rarely buy myself footwear that isn’t leather.

The only problem with the boots was the fact that they were tall boots, made to come almost to the knee.  Not really a problem with the boot exactly, but my legs are not long skinny legs – they are actually rather chubby and short.  So tall boots never fit.  And while these boots did look ok just scrunched down a few inches I really wanted them to be able to come up higher.  I had heard that a good boot shop can alter the boots by adding a gusset to make them bigger in the calf so they will fit.  So I bought them, prepared to take them to the boot shop in the town I grew up in and have them altered.  But after getting them home, I thought, ‘how hard can it be?  I bet I can do it myself!  So the next trip I took to town I took my boots, and the old black boots too.  The black boots got left to have new heel caps put on them.  The shop where I left them the guy had no idea what I was talking about when I explained what I wanted to do with the new boots.  So I went to the next shop – the Bootery.  It’s been there for years and the people who worked in it when I was younger were rather hoity-toity and didn’t act very friendly if you weren’t spending a ton of money in their shop.  Since I hadn’t been there for years I was a bit concerned about how my request would be met.  I wanted to  know if they could do what I wanted but what I really wanted was for them to tell me I was on the right track with how I wanted to fix them myself and I wanted them to sell me the elastic gusset I needed to get the job done. :D

The gentleman who works in the Bootery now was wonderful.  I told him what I wanted and that I thought I could possibly do it myself if I could get the elastic.  He looked at me with a small smile and wanted to know how I was going to go about accomplishing my goal.  He listened attentively, nodding and smiling slightly.  He then went to his work space and pulled out a couple different sizes of elastic to use for gusseting.  We decided the wider one would work best, he determined how much length I would need and cut the elastic.  He told me he thought I knew what I was doing, charged me $4 for the elastic and sent me on my merry way!

how to add elastic to tall boots


And since I decided to do the job myself I thought I’d show you how to add an elastic gusset to tall boots.  You’re welcome.

The first thing I did was make the cut down the inside of the leather boot.  If the boots had zippers I would have worked with the zipper, adding some leather or gusseting into the zipper seam.  Without a zipper the only option was to cut the leather.  When I posted this pic on Instagram I got quite the horrified reaction from some of my friends!  I, of course, expected that and laughed heartily at their exclamations of horror! One nice thing about altering the boots myself – I could try them on and make the cut as far down as it needed to be.  Custom fit :D

adding elastic gusseting to tall boots

I cut just a very tiny bit of a strip of leather out, just to even my cut a bit.  Basically I just let the leather spread apart and slipped the elastic between the outer leather and the leather lining.

sewing elastic in tall boots

Sewing the first side of the elastic wasn’t too bad.  I had to work it a bit and go slowly, and I had to make sure the leather and the lining stayed where they should on the elastic piece as I went because I didn’t want to put pins through the leather.


I found it helpful to use tailor’s chalk (any fabric marking pencil will work) to mark on the elastic where the edge of the leather should be when I laid it out flat.  That way when working with the piece in the machine I could tell where the leather was supposed to go as I worked and bunched up the boot sides to make it fit through the machine.


Second side was a bit trickier and is not for the faint of heart or a sewing novice.

sewing elastic in tall boots

As I worked toward the point on the second side I just had to go very slowly and keep working it through.

sewing elastic in tall boots


It wasn’t completely perfect – the first seam I sewed wasn’t exactly straight.  But since it is to the inside of my leg I decided it wasn’t worth taking that stitching out.  I did have to remove some stitches on one seam because the leather lining on the inside shifted and wasn’t caught in the seam like I wanted it to be.


I sewed a straight line (well, as straight as I could!) down both sides of the elastic then i wanted to sew a small seam across the end of the point made by the two seams.  For this I pulled out my old sewing machine – it is smaller and has a detachable part that, when it is removed, makes the arm of the machine much narrower and I was able to slide the boot onto it horizontally to stitch that seam.


You can see that small seam here – it still wasn’t very easy to get to it and make that seam but I managed.  It won’t win any beauty awards but it works for me!

how to add elastic to tall boots

And there you have it.  You can see that my seams weren’t perfectly straight and the small seam at the bottom of the point is rather a mess.  I wanted to stitch it more than once for extra strength and I got the job done even if it’s not the most beautiful thing I’ve ever sewn.

how to add an elastic gusset to tall leather boots

And there they are – my beautiful new boots, altered to fit my chubby legs.  I love the color – it’s somewhere between black and brown and grey.  They are Coach brand and the color is called Elephant.  My husband was very pleased with my purchase of leather boots.  And I managed to stay just under the $200 I had said was my top price.  I know to a lot of people that is just ridiculous.  But we have found that buying quality leather makes them last a long, long time.  My black boots that I’ve had for years are leather but not leather lined.  I found them at Elder-Beerman at least 5 years ago on sale for $26.  I paid less than $20 to get new heal caps put on them this year and I’m still wearing them.  These Coach brand boots should last me 10 years or more.  And the leather sole means that when it wears out all I have to do is have a new sole put on it.  The older I get the more I tend to wear the same boots/shoes, when I find good pairs that fit comfortably.  Gone are the days that I bought new, cute, cheap shoes every season.  Give me leather that will last for years any day!

What do you think?  Would you attempt to add an elastic gusset to a pair of leather boots?  Would you hire me to do it for you? :D

Have a wonderful day and STAY WARM!


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  1. Great idea! To say my legs are “chubby” would be an understatement and no boots ever fit me, it’s always the one purchase I say I’m going to splurge for when I lose weight. If I had the right machine (or thought my machine would do it) I would for sure try it, not sure I would ever spend anywhere near that amount on boots (I understand your reasoning, just can’t ever see having that much to spend on shoes). Since my machine couldn’t handle it I’d definitely hire you! :)
    Mrs. K recently posted..Welcome 2014My Profile

  2. I too am a big believer in buying quality. My two $100 handbags are STILL going strong after 3 years.

    I am a leather snob myself and can’t wait to show my friend Tracy that she will finally be able to wear some boots. :)
    Laura Ingalls Gunn recently posted..Customizing A Standard ShedMy Profile

  3. Very nicely done! I would have been a wreck making the first cut on that beautiful leather. I’m curious, what kind of thread did you use?

  4. Great idea to add the gusset! I certainly wouldn’t do it, but only because I can’t sew anything more difficult than a button on a garment, but I would hire someone to do it in a heartbeat! As for the amount… that’s a personal choice. I definitely prefer quality shoes over cheap ones, but $200 is a bit pricey for me. The boots I have are more in the $80-$100 range.

  5. Beverley Leonie says:

    Wow. Congratulations. You are one creative and intrepid problem solver. You have the guts and the talent. Make me want to go to YouTube and listen to that song from Rocky, I believe the title is “Survivor.”

  6. Christy Livingston says:

    You are great. I learned something new today, even if I’m not brave enough to attempt trying this (only because I’m a beginner sewer!). I purchased a fairly new pair of J Jill leather boots from a local consignment store that I frequently shop at and when I tried the boots on I thought that part of the boot would stretch. I was obviously wrong! Can I mail my boots to you to put a gusset in? :)

  7. Those are some very classy boots. I’m so glad you bought them for yourself. I know “Moms” don’t often splurge on themselves. I know you are so deserving !! Hope you enjoy wearing them !

  8. Great idea!
    Thank you for sharing. You did a great job explaining it all. :-)
    Carla TePaske recently posted..Ice FishingMy Profile

  9. I do like that you were able to alter the boots to fit you and were able to do it yourself. I noticed the cut edge of the leather looked a little light, maybe you could use a soft cloth and some shoe polish or a crayon. Nice job and I can see you will enjoy wearing the boots of years to come.

  10. bravo. I would bet you have added some color to the edges of the cut. you have displayed that good old buckeye ingenuity.
    . if you look at other leather pieces, I would say that your application could stand up to any of the best.
    happy new year

  11. you got skills :) that’s a great idea.
    Daniela @frugal ain’t cheap recently posted..Craigslist findsMy Profile

  12. Love your boots…and you are brilliant! I’d hire you any day! :)

  13. JaneEllen says:

    You are one smart gal but think I’ve told you that before. I’d have been terrified cutting into quality leather boots but you did it girl, good for you. Glad for you to be able to buy good boots that will last many years, they’re very nice looking boots, love the style.
    When I buy boots I always have to buy ones that have some kind of gusset in them or can’t get boots over my fat left leg (from lymphe dema). Depending on how swollen it is from day to day, (if I’ve been on my feet alot)I can hardly get my foot into my BearPaw boots and they are so comfy. Love those boots, wearing them now as it gets pretty cold in my craft room at night. I’d love to get a pair of higher ones to keep legs warmer.
    You did such an excellent job on your boots, saved money also doing it yourself. Glad you could buy the gussets you needed. Happy week

  14. That is a clever idea! You are a brave girl to try this! I would have been so afraid of screwing up my boots. You go, girl!

    Thanks for linking up at our Twirl and Take a Bow Party. Hope to see you again tomorrow!

    • Thanks Trina! I was a bit worried when I went to actually cut the leather but I figured I could surely figure out a way to make it work – somehow! I’m glad I went for it!

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