Bunka Baby Booties
Bunka is a Japanese thread that comes in a variety of colors and from different companies. I have always used bunka from YLI because I like the colors but any brand will do. Bunka can be purchased from most miniature shops or show dealers who sell fabrics and trims, etc. If you cannot find bunka, please email me at email@example.com, subject line How To Bunka. When making baby booties and clothes, I use the softer pastel colors that are shown in the picture. One package of bunka goes a long way.
Supplies and Tools Needed: Bunka, tweezers, small sharp scissors, tacky glue, and a glue applicator (toothpick, glue applicator, or small square paintbrush).
Step 1: Unravel Bunka. Remove the plastic wrap on the bunka and pull out a long piece. With your fingers or tweezers, grab the insides of the end of the bunka and pull. The bunka will start to unravel. You do not have to pull hard but gently stretch the bunka then release. You can see the difference between the bunka and the unraveled end on the photo shown. With small sharp scissors, cut small pieces approximately 1/8” long. Some can be a little smaller and some a little longer. Make a small pile. Always make sure you have enough pieces before applying your glue. Cut more pieces as needed throughout this project.
Step 2: Apply Glue. With a toothpick or a small square paintbrush (or whatever you use to apply glue), smear an even layer of glue over the bottom of one foot.
Step 3: Glue the Bunka Pieces. Pick up one piece of cut bunka at a time with your tweezers and gently lay it into the glue. You can start in the middle or the outer edges of the foot, it doesn’t matter, just as long as you place the pieces right next to each other. Continue this process, picking up one piece at a time and placing each piece into the glue until the entire bottom of the foot is covered. The bunka will look bulky at this point. This is normal.
Step 4: Press and Mold the Bunka. With your fingers, gently press the bunka down and carefully mold it to the shape of the foot. Do this to the entire foot bottom. The bunka should look flat with no spaces in between the pieces. If some of the foot shows through, simply apply a little bit of glue to this area and press another small piece of bunka into the glue.
Step 5a: Top of the Foot. Apply glue over the top of the foot and place the cut pieces of bunka into the glue – just as you did on the bottom of the foot. The bunka should merge with the bunka on the bottom of the foot.
Step 5b: Gently press the bunka down to flatten it. None of the foot should show through. If it does, place some glue in this area and press another small piece of bunka into the glue.
Step 6a : Top of the Bootie: Spread some glue around the bottom of the leg. Spread the glue up the leg and stop when you are happy with the height of the bootie. Place the cut pieces of bunka into the glue, making sure the pieces are right next to each other and next to the seams on the foot.
Step 6b: Using your fingers, press the bunka down and shape the top of the bootie. Use your fingers to gently press the top edges downward just a bit to puff it out a bit. This will make the top edge look a little more realistic.
Go over the entire bootie and fill it any bald spots that you may have.
If you have any areas where the bunka is sticking up and you cannot press it down any more, simply snip it off with your scissors.
Repeat Steps 1 through 6 on the other foot.
Step 7a: Flowers: The flower can be any color that you want to use. I have chosen a soft yellow to go with the blue. Cut this chosen color into two 1/8” lengths. Cut 2 pieces of a soft green into two 1/8” lengths. Cut both of these green pieces in half forming 4 pieces.
Smear a little bit of glue where you want the flower to go and pick the flower color up with your tweezers. Pull the 2 ends together to form a ball and place in the middle of the glue.
Step 7b: Pick up the 2 green pieces with your tweezers and place one on either side of the flower. You do not have to press the bunka down – you want it to stick out. Repeat with the other bootie.
Step 8: Trim: Unravel a length of white bunka long enough to go around the tops of both booties. Spread a thin layer of glue all around the top of the bootie – the glue goes on the doll’s leg, not the bunka. Starting at the back, place the length of white bunka into the glue and gently pull it around the top of the bootie into the glue. You do not want to pull too hard or you will get a thin layer of white. When you reach the back, cut off the excess bunka and press the end into the glue. Both ends should meet in the back. Gently press the bunka down all around the leg. At this point, I like to use the side of a hat pin to gently press the bunka downward and out. To do this, place the side of the pin at the edge of the white bunka and press down toward the colored bootie then gently use the pin to press the bunka out so that it doesn’t look so flat. You are fluffing it up a bit.
You are now finished with the booties! Wasn’t that fun!