Itsy-bitsy baby feet are some of my favorite things in the whole world. They do complicate things a bit though. Those tiny feet mean little shoes, and there are times when those miniature shoes can't accommodate certain shoelaces without becoming a spaghettified mess.
You can easily shorten shoelaces with just a few simple tools found around the house. Shortening kids shoelaces will make their footwear look even better and more importantly, it is a necessary step to take in making sure your kiddos stay safe when they're toddling out and about. Shoelace death and injury certainly happens.
Speaking of safety shoelaces, have you seen Silly Feet's reflective kids shoelaces? They're neon with a silver stripe during the day, giving off a sporty look. Then at night that reflective silver stripe works to keep your children safe from unaware drivers.
So how exactly is shortening shoelaces done? Let's discuss the different methods of shortening kids laces.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
The first step is to figure out exactly how long you need your kids' shoelaces to be, so pop them on and tie them up. You can then measure and mark the point the denotes what you'd like the actual size of the laces to be. Double check that it isn't too short because you only get one chance to make the correct snip.
You can eyeball it but I'd highly recommend measuring and marking. Take how you like to tie those shoes into consideration. Obviously if you're double knotting your kids laces you'll need a bit of extra slack in the shoelaces. Once you're sure that you've got the proper size, make the cut with a pair of sharp scissors to prevent fraying the ends of the shoelaces.
Alternatively, you can cut the desired length from the middle of the shoelace instead of the ends. The ensures that you can keep the original aglet instead of needing to jerry-rig one for yourself. This might be important if you paid for a name brand featuring a tiny logo on the shoelace tips, or for an aglet made of metal which can be exceedingly difficult to recreate.
Creating A New Aglet
When shortening your kids shoelaces you will want to create a new aglet if you snipped the length from the ends. (If you took your cut from the middle of the lace you can simply tie the two pieces back together and be ready to roll.) An aglet will prevent those shortened shoelaces from becoming frayed and falling apart.
To do this you can use adhesive tape, glue, or tiny segment of heat-shrink tubing. In addition to one of those items you'll also very likely need a source of open flame, a lighter probably works best but you can use whatever you have available. I've used a camping stove to get an aglet sealed. Needs must, as they say.
Creating An Aglet With Tape
Adhesive tape is probably the most ideal item to recreate an aglet. You can add a couple drops of glue to solidify it. Adhesive tape mimics store-bought aglets so well that you can probably get away with snipping the length from just one side in order to shorten shoelaces. If anyone can actually spots the difference, they have supernatural powers of observation.
Engineering An Aglet With Glue
This is a fairly simple process that consists of dipping the ends of a shortened shoelace in glue and pressing down as it dries. You can repeat this process as many times as you please, until the makeshift aglet feels solid. Do not use any sort of superglue to accomplish this. Elmer's Clear Household Cement is waterproof, clear, and makes the perfect candidate. You can use whatever you like to fix up those shortened shoelaces, but if you're using something like white school glue you might need to reapply it again at some point.
Heat-Shrink Tubing for Shortened Shoelaces
This is my favorite method without a doubt, though it might require a trip to a local shop if you don't have some heat-shrink tubing handy around the house. There is no shortage here since my partner is a computer science engineer. This is how most aglets are actually applied so the look is almost indistinguishable. A 4mm to 5mm diameter will fit a shoelace inside nicely.
Snip a small segment, place the shoelace inside of the tube. Don't jam the tube on top or you risk fraying the lace, give it a gentle twist and work it inside slowly. The last step is to apply some heat. If you have a hairdryer or straightening/curling iron I'd highly suggest using one. A lighter can work too, but you'll need to hold it away from the open flame. If the tubing is bubbling you're too close and the heat-shrink tubing has just become heat-melt tubing, which doesn't make for a good look.
Shortened Laces and Lighters
Some laces are made from synthetic materials that can simply be melted. These materials don't really require a makeshift aglet unless you're going for a certain look. They won't fray once you've melted the fibers back together after the snip. While it is convenient, it can be slightly dangerous if the melted material hasn't been given time to cool properly. Getting melted plastic on any part of your body is an experience that you do not want.
Don't apply the laces directly to the flame. Hold them close enough that you can see the fibers coming together but try not to set them on fire. Once the synthetic fibers are rejoined just give them a few seconds and then press them down on a flat surface. This will not only ensure they will finish bonding together completely, it will also allow you to gauge how hot the material is. If the shoelaces don't leave any residue on your chosen surface then they're ready to be relaced and used!
You could avoid the vast majority of these shoelace hassles by simply investing in a pair of curly no-tie shoelaces. The kids will love them, and you won't need to worry about stray laces ever again.