DIY Hand-Stitching Shoe Repair

by Laure Justice ; Updated September 28, 2017

Keep your shoes in great shape with do-it-yourself shoe repair.

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If the stitching on your shoe breaks but the leather or canvas is damage-free, try hand-stitching to fix your shoe. It's possible to make hand-stitching that's as strong as machine-stitching as long as you use the right thread and needle. Use 5-cord waxed-linen thread, available in fabric stores and upholstery shops. Use a needle with a leather point and a hook, or a curved hand-sewing needle. You'll probably want to protect your fingertips with a thimble.

Thread the needle. Tie the thread ends together with a single, tight knot. Trim off the loose ends.

Separate the two pieces of shoe material, where the hole is located, by gently lifting up on the top layer. Don't pull too hard because that will make the hole bigger.

Slip the needle's tip between the layers, and poke it through the first open hole in the upper layer. Pull the needle and thread through until the knot rests against the shoe leather or canvas. Don't pull hard enough to pull the knot through the hole.

Push the needle down through the next hole, this time going through both the upper and lower layer. Wear the thimble if pushing on the needle hurts your finger. Use the original stitching holes. Pull the needle through. If your fingers don't fit inside the shoe, use the pliers to grip the needle.

Work your way all the way across the damaged area, making either a running stitch or a straight stitch. Anchor the stitching at the end of the gap by making three stitches right on top of one another inside the shoe.


  • Choose thread that matches the color of the thread used on your shoes.

    Lighter weight thread will work, but will not hold up as long as 5-cord thread.

    These directions will work for repairing either leather or canvas shoes.

    If you want to add extra strength to the stitching, make a double running stitch. Thread a second needle and run it in the opposite direction, so the threads cross in each hole. Note that this stitching may look different from the original stitching.

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About the Author

Laure Justice is a professional copywriter, since 2008. Justice has a broad-based business education, holding an AA in business administration and a Bachelor of Arts in management, plus certifications in accounting and international trade. She has written for GMC, Bounty Paper Towels, Purina's Petcentric, Colgate, Type F, Kudzu, eHow and many others.