Chinese Children’s Booties: Taming the Tangles

One of the challenges of working with the BSM’s diverse collection is preparing shoes for long term storage since each style has its own inherent design issues. The museum acquired a collection of Chinese children’s booties with tassels that presented just such a challenge. These boots are made of silk satin with a cotton or silk lining and feature embroidery on the sides of the legs. The boots are composed of two pattern pieces that are united with a back seam that extends under the foot. The leg sections continue over the toes at the front and terminate in the face of an animal with embroidered features. Sometimes a 3D element, such as a rooster on a spring or pompoms, is added as an additional decorative flourish. Tassels made of very fine silk cord are attached to the ‘chins’ of the creature’s faces. This is the detail that can be most confounding when trying to organize one’s storage shelves.

Preparing the booties for storage

The first step involved untangling the matted tassels. The dyes of all the different colours of cords on the 10 pairs of booties were tested and most proved quite fugitive, meaning when water came into contact with the dye it bled onto the paper. Passive humidification was used to relax the cords and the end of a darning needle was used to very gently tease out all the strands. This process required a great deal of patience and was repeated several times before everything was gradually eased back into place. Continuing humidification allowed the relaxed silk cords to be straightened.

Once the booties were returned to their former glory, the next task was to make a container in which they could be safely stored. The boots need to stand upright and the tassels had to extend perpendicularly and directly in front without sliding around and getting knotted again. Although the tassels of each pair of booties varied in length, a decision was made to make the containers the same dimension in height and depth for the sake of uniformity and the ease of fabrication.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to create mounts for these types of booties.


1) Coroplast – polypropylene (PP) corrugated plastic sheet. This is composed of two plastic faces (let’s call them a front and back face for this exercise) with interior channels separating these two surfaces.

2) Olfa knife (or other cutting device with changeable blades). Make sure you break off the dull sections as you work as this can dramatically affect your ability to cut through the plastic. Remember to dispose of these blades safely, I use an old jar with a hole cut through the lid.

3) Volara – polyethylene foam sheeting, 1/8”

4) Cotton twill tape – 3/4” wide. Wash in advance to remove the sizing.

5) Scissors

6) Hot melt glue gun & glue sticks

7) Pencil & 18” steel ruler

8) Tweezers

9) Clamps, such as Bull Dog clips (fold-back binder clips)


1) Basic tray (refer to figure 1)

- using the Olfa knife cut out a rectangle 16 3/8” X 14” with the corrugated channels of the PP running in the direction of the arrows as indicated in the line drawing.

- measure and mark 10 3/8” to form the depth of the tray base.

- measure and mark 2” on either side.

- cut these two sections off.

- you will now have a back section that extends 2” on either side of the base.

- trim the top two corners of the back with scissors to create a rounded corner.

Fig. 1

2) Incising and cutting the plastic

- establish the sides of the tray by measuring 1 1/2” along the sides (follow this line all the way through the back of the tray, from end to end). Measure 1 1/2” to create the front wall.

- incise the front fold line, you will be cutting through the top layer of plastic but not completely through to the bottom. Essentially you are creating a fold line.

- now you will incise lines for the side walls of the tray. At this point you will be cutting into the channels between the interior walls of the Coroplast.

- the next step requires special attention as you will be cutting all the way through the plastic in some areas only. To create the front corners cut completely through the side incision as it crosses through the front face of the tray, creating a front wall that is 6 7/8” wide.

- this step forms the folding line between the tray and the back. Cut completely through the plastic 1 1/2” on the sides; in between you will cut through only the top face of the plastic (7”).

- at this point your container should have a back wall with two side ‘wings’ and a base that has a front wall and two side walls with tabs that fold around the front wall.

3) Removing excess plastic

- unnecessary plastic is shaved away to make the box smoother when overlapping sections fit together.

- remove excess plastic from the tabs that extend from the two side walls. These tabs will fit behind the front wall, so remove the top layer of the Coroplast and most of the channel walls, leaving the back face.

- measurement 3 5/8” on the side wall at the back of the tray. This is the point where the side ‘wings’ from the back will join the walls of the tray. Cut a line part-way through the wall at this measurement and shave off the plastic as you did for the front tabs.

4) Joining the sections

- for this step you need asbestos fingers!

- glue the side wings of the back to the tray first, use a couple of heavy books as weights while the hot melt glue dries which takes approximately one minute.

- glue the side tabs to the back of the front face, use the binder clips to hold these in place while drying.

5) Lining the box

- for the back: cut a piece of Volara 7” x 6”. Use the hot melt glue to secure to the back wall.

- for the tray: cut a piece of Volara 8 3/4” x 6 7/8”. Glue in place.

6) Weights for the booties

- the boots are top heavy with a very small footprint and have a tendency to topple over.

- small weights can be made using washed then dried, uncooked white rice or navy beans and old clean socks, tights or pantyhose, preferably white (so there won’t be any transference of dye).

- the bundle should be no larger than the bottom of the boot.

- put a label on the front of the box indicating that there are weights inside the boots as a cautionary measure for future handling.

7. Twill tape fasteners

- set the boots inside the box beside each other with the tassels laid out in front

- mark the foam, with pencil, on either side of the tassels near the point of attachment to the chin and again close to the terminal end of the cord extensions.

- remove the boots and cut a slit ¾ - 1” through the foam and the Coroplast at these 4 points.

- cut two lengths of twill tape, each 12” long

- glue one end to the underside of the tray in the gutter of the fold of the side wall parallel to the slits using the hot melt

- using the blunt, proximal end of the tweezers, weave the twill tape through the slits (up through the 1st one, over the tray where the tassels will lie, down through the 2nd slit, etc.). Glue the other end of the twill tape to the gutter of the other wall. There will be excess twill tape. Repeat this procedure for the 2nd length of tape (figure 2 and 3).

- pull the excess tape up through the slits with the tweezers to form large loops over where the tassels lie. Place each bootie on the tray. Using the tweezers, gently work the silk cords under the loops. Pull the excess tape through to the underside of the tray until it lightly presses against the tassels.

Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Final thoughts

When you read through this procedure it might seem quite complicated initially. After making your first box, it will be much easier and provides a real sense of accomplishment!


Coroplast and Volara

Cutting knife, hot melt glue gun & glue sticks, available at most hardware and craft stores.

Twill tape, available at most fabric supply stores.

Bull Dog clips (and similar styles) can be obtained from an office supply store.

You Might Also Like


  1. Each of the women associated with our agency is strictly professional when it comes to rendering her services to her clients.Escorts Service in New Delhihere at our escort agency make sure that their talents are such that they will never fall short of giving the best of services to their clients. Check our other Services...
    Escorts Service in Paharganj
    Escorts Service in Paharganj
    Escorts Service in Paldi, Ahmedabad,
    Escorts Service in Pune
    Escorts Service in Raebareli Road, Lucknow
    Escorts Service in Rajajipuram, Lucknow
    Escorts Service in Rakab Ganj, Agra