Cross-stitched shoe insoles 十字绣鞋垫: Make your shoes look better from the inside than from the outside

Cross-stitched shoe insoles 十字绣鞋垫: Make your shoes look better from the inside than from the outside

Because I am really into the cross-stitch art, last year my aunty (大姨) introduced me to another embroidery art which seems to be very popular in Niuji village where my in-laws live.

I have seen some Chinese insoles stitched with wonderful motives and images. But most of them use a thin silk thread. The ones my aunty introduced me to were different. The base insole was made out of some kind of plastic. Just looking like this, I really couldn’t imagine that this would be comfortable in your shoe.

Motives can vary. For boys usually tigers are chosen and for girls all kinds of flowers. When a couple gets married in China, some opt for insoles with the Chinese character “囍” xi, also pronounced as shuangxi, symbolizing double happiness.


Nowadays though, they have all kinds of images. Very modern ones: pandas, ducks, sometimes even cartoon characters. I tried to stitch a reindeer and failed desperately. I have done my fair share of cross-stitching, but that insole cross-stitch was a totally new level. The pattern is usually very simple. You use thick cotton threads (which make the insoles very soft when you are done), and a very thick needle. But I really underestimated the strength you need in your fingers. After fifteen minutes my fingers hurt so much that I gave up and went back to my normal cross-stitching works.

I have great respect for big aunty, with her over 70 year’s old fingers! That woman has power in her fingers! On a winter day she could finish up to six pairs of insoles.


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Anna Z. is a freelance illustrator and portrait artist in her late 20s, with a passion for Martial Arts and Chinese culture, and is the creator of Lost Panda, a blog to China and Art. Together with her husband, a Chinese national, she writes about daily life in rural China, focusing on cultural and social differences and the joys (and sometimes difficulties) as an intercultural couple. Apart from China related topics, she publishes her artwork, photography, art material reviews and tutorials to help more people discover their creative side. She is fluent in German, English and Mandarin Chinese.

2 thoughts on “Cross-stitched shoe insoles 十字绣鞋垫: Make your shoes look better from the inside than from the outside

  1. Hi,

    You didn’t say what type of plastic. It looks like plastic canvas. That’s really pretty and a great idea.

    Why did your fingers hurt so much because of the thickness of the thread? I would like to learn more about this.

    I love learning about other cultures and things they create by hand.

    Thank you, I love your blog. Did you already start your new website? Have to look, so much to learn.


    • Mh I have no idea what type of plastic Oo normal plastic? Is there a difference? It’s bendable but still hard. And yes my fingers hurt because the thread was thick and the holes tiny compared so you need to use a lot of strength.
      I have started my new art website a while ago but I haven’t had time to update much, especially now with a baby :( Hope to write more art related posts when I get the chance

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