How to make a pair of shoes

How hard can it be to make your own shoes? Answer: very hard and also quite painful

Sat 14 Mar 201505.30 EDTLast modified on Thu 27 Jul 201710.57 EDT

I am typing this with obliterated fingers. They arent even fingers any more. Theyre wounds. I am a broken man, and its all because I tried to make my own shoes.

There are many reasons why a person would attempt shoemaking. Perhaps they want to wear shoes that nobody else has. Perhaps they get a little bit handwringy about the conditions in which shoes are made. Perhaps they just really like the idea of not sleeping at night because they can feel their ruined hands throb with their every heartbeat. Who knows?

However, I will say this: do your research before you start making shoes, because equipment can vary enormously in price. Some kits are so pointlessly expensive that itd be more cost-effective for you to stitch your own footwear from fairydust and unicorn pubes. Others are cheaper but you have to source your leather. And, frankly, Ive already got enough on my plate without having to worry about a conviction for cattle abduction.

Eventually I discovered a happy medium.Simple Wayis a small company from north-east England that specialises in easy-to-use leather starter kits. You choose the shoe that you want to make or the satchel, belt, or hat and they send you a box full of pre-cut, buttery-soft leather shapes that you sew together yourself. I picked a chocolate pair ofWalter Whiteish Wallabee-style shoes.

On paper, it couldnt have been simpler you line up a piece of leather with the sole, thread your needle and sew through pre-pressed holes but I hadnt braced myself for how utterly laborious the job would be. To be fair, Kate from Simple Way had warned me of this, telling me that the easiest way through would be to follow the instructions, take your time and dont be afraid to take a break.

Four hours of solid stitching later of slippery hands and yelling at instructions, of holding the needle with pliers because sewing through three layers of shoe leather is basically like pushing a buffalo carcass through a catflap and the name Simple Way started to look like a sarcastic threat.

The only way this could have been harder is if I had set myself on fire, swapped the needle for an uncooked sausage and tried to knit the things out of beryllium on a yacht in a typhoon.

This was just one emotion I felt during my shoemaking odyssey. Others included frustration, hatred, blind boiling rage, more hatred, sadness, newfound respect for sweatshop workers, and dull resignation. But then it happened. Eventually, after a days work, I was able to look down on my finished product. Sure, it was a little raggedy. Sure, some of the stitches could have been neater. And, sure, I dont think itd hold up to especially wet conditions. But it was mine. Id done it. Id made a shoe.

A shoe. After all that, Id only made one poxy shoe. If I actually wanted to wear the bloody things, Id have to go through all this again.

To my credit, thats what I did. And now I have a pair. Theyre a bit wonky, and if anything Ive ever owned has been destined to fall apart in a rainstorm five miles from home, its these. But I think I might love them.

I realise now that Id always taken shoes for granted. But when actually making them, you realise they take more work than youd ever realise. Im sure Ill start to appreciate that once my hands stop bleeding.

Stuart Heritages Homemade Life

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How to Make Shoes

Shoes make an important fashion statement. After all, youre walking around in them all day, so why shouldnt you be wearing shoes with some pizzazz? Although it can be a pretty complicated procedure in untrained hands, its quite possible to make your own pair of shoes from home. To make shoes, you need to gather the right materials, make a cast of your feet, cut the parts of the shoe to size, assemble those parts, and finalize the design. Once you get the basics down, you wont have to depend on store brands for your look. Few things can look so interesting as a unique set of shoes, and making them can actually be a lot of fun once you get the hang of it.

Decide what kind of shoe you would like to make.

If youre planning on making a shoe, its undoubtedly important you have some idea what kind of shoe you would like to make. Shoes are incredibly diverse, and there are plenty of types you can make, not limited to loafers, sneakers, sandals, boots and high heels. Try to imagine what kind of shoe style would suit your individual style the most.

It may be helpful to sketch out a few ideas. Manifesting your ideas with an illustration can come a long way towards planning out your shoe.

If youre new to shoe making, its probably best to stick to something simple. A basic laced shoe goes without some of the finesse of more complicated types, and you can still add plenty of flair to a basic formula.

Design, find or purchase a blueprint for your shoe.

Before you think about making your shoe, its important you have an accurate and well-detailed set of plans to work on. After all, you dont want to be making design decisions on the go; shoemaking is a very precise business, and the slightest mishap could keep the shoe from turning out well.

Basic shoe templates are available on the internet. Do a search and look up some recipes. If nothing else, it might give you inspiration for your own design.

Online art outlets like may have more elaborate shoe templates for sale.

Designing your own is only recommended if youve made a shoe before. If thats what youre ultimately looking to do, try stitching together something basic with a free template, and put that experience towards making your own the second time around.

You can save yourself a lot of time and give your shoes a more professional look if you harvest parts from other shoes you dont use anymore. In particular, shoe soles are good as theyll give you a reference for the rest of your stitching. Provided theyre in good enough shape, you should salvage the parts you think might work in your new shoe, taking care to remove them slowly and carefully with a scalpel knife.

Get the rest of your materials from a hardware store or speciality outlet.

While specific lists of ingredients will depend on the certain type of shoe youre looking to make, it generally goes without saying that youll want a few sheets of good leather and a firm fabric.

If you dont have a sewing and stitching kit, youll need to buy or borrow one to make your shoes.

Rubber, leather and fabrics are all good for the chassis of the shoes.

While its recommended that shoe soles be taken from old shoes or bought as pre-fabricated supplies, you can make a functional and waterproof sole using a few sheets of cork. Each sheet need not be more than 1/8 inches thick.

Remember to get at least twice as much as you think, so youll have enough to make a pair!

A last is a block in the shape of a human foot shoemakers use to guide their work. To do this, youll want to make a cast mould of your foot; that way, the shoes youll be making will be custom-fitted for you personally. Get a box filled with an alginate jelly and place your foot in, ideally up to the ankle. Let your foot rest for 20 minutes while the jelly solidifies, then slowly remove your foot.

Make sure to remove your foot slowly; you dont want to damage anything once it solidifies.

Its highly recommended you do this for both feet at the same time. The idle time is best to get over with early on in the process.

One positive thing to mention about this step in the process is that you can ideally reuse these lasts fir each subsequent pair of shoes you try to make. Make a point of keeping them somewhere safe, where they dont run the risk of being broken.

Pour casting material into your casting box.

Now that theres a proper mould of your foot, you can pour casting material into it. Depending on the type and quality of casting material, the solidifying time could take anywhere from half an hour to overnight. Be patient– it may be a good time at this point to work on other parts of the process if your plans are settled enough.

Once the last has solidified, its time to take it out and get it ready. Cover your last with a colourless masking tape. That will keep it from being damaged as easily, and youll be able to draw your designs directly on the last.

Outline your design on the last itself. Before you get to putting the pieces together, youll probably find it helpful to give the last an outline of what you want the shoe to look like around it. While you shouldnt rely on it for concrete measurements, having an idea of what it will look like in three dimensions will help as youre figuring out where each stitch should go.

Using your template or personal design, cut each necessary section of fabric or leather out using a surgical knife or scalpel. You may find it helpful to use a ruler or protractor to help you with the incisions.

While cutting your pattern, you should leave at least an inch of extra material along the bottom edge of the shoe, as well as a centimetre or so, where the different pieces of the upper join together. This will be your seam allowance.

A fluid stitch is one of the most skill-testing parts of making your own shoe. Be meticulous and slow as youre piecing it together; while it may be easier to go faster, bad stitching will certainly show in the final product, and your shoe wont look as good as it should Try to get the stitches as close to the end of each piece of fabric as you can. Overlaps might leave unnecessary ridges on the shoe. If you intentionally cut your pieces to be slightly bigger than necessary for the sake of having stitching space, remember to take that into account. You dont want to end up with a shoe thats too big, or too small for the sole.

While fabric wont be any problem to stitch through, you may have an issue with leather. Leather is notoriously sturdy, and you wont be able to stitch it fluidly. Rather, its recommended you punch holes in it before connecting it to your other pieces.

Eyelets are the holes youll need to fix your laces through. Chances are your shoe design will use these. Evenly space the eyelets apart from one another (just less than an inch, in most cases) and offer enough of them (4-5) to encase most of the laces. If youre the DIY type, you can make these incisions with a scalpel easily enough. If youre going for a more professional-looking product however, there are specific eyelet-making tools you can order from a specialty outlet.

If you purchased a pre-fabricated sole or nabbed a pair from old shoes, you wont need to worry about this step. If youre trying to make a purely homemade set of shoes however, picking up a few sheets of cork is your best bet. Cork has a comfortable amount of cushion, and its waterproof.

If you have the fabric stitched together already, you can use that as a point of reference while making your incisions, although you should ultimately rely on the empirical measurements laid out in your template.

Your last should come in handy here as well. Cut the sole out of the cork sheet, leaving a little extra space around the last so your foot will ultimately have some breathing room.

If youre wanting some extra cushion and height, you can add a second or even third layer of cork to your sole. Just cut it out in the exact same dimensions, and superglue the layers together.

Give the glued cork soles some time to solidify once youve finished gluing them.

You can make a shoe heel by adding an extra layer to the posterior third of the sole.

Stitch and glue your pieces together.

Stitching the fabric to your sole wont work, at least not by itself. Its recommended you pick up a shoe-specific adhesive to glue your fabric to the sole. Apply the glue slowly and evenly. This will maximize the waterproof seal for your shoe, and keep it sturdy. If your blueprint suggests any additional stitches, do those as well.

Make use of the last inside the shoe as youre putting it together. It will make a great point of reference and support while youre getting the tricky stitches done.

If youre a real pro with stitches, dont be afraid to spice up your stitching style. Stitches themselves can be an interesting aesthetic tool. If youre feeling more daring than the rest of us, you can experiment with irregular stitching patterns, so long as theyre fundamentally sturdy enough to do their practical job.

Trim excess fabric and add patches where desired.

By this point, you should have relatively functional shoe. Add laces through the eyelets if you havent already. To make the shoe look as good as it can be, youll want to trim the excess fabric. If there are some really ugly seam marks on the shoe, you can add a new layer of leather or fabric to cover it up. Now that you have the body of the shoe, you can start thinking about adding more aesthetic flair to it.

Repeat the process for the other shoe.

Its generally assumed youll want to make two shoes to wear at the same time. After the basics of the first shoe are done, its time to move onto the second. Keep in mind that youre not wanting to make a copy, but a mirror image of your original shoe. Try to keep it looking as close to the first as you possibly can. Any possible slip ups you made on the first will look worse if theyre not reflected on the other shoe.

If you were frustrated making the first shoe, you should find making the second is a lot more enjoyable.

Putting Finishing Touches on Your Creation

Waterproof your shoes with a sealant spray.

A leather-based shoe will own  with its own natural waterproofing abilities, but youre going to want to do everything you can to make sure water isnt able to get in. Getting a relatively inexpensive sealant spray and give your shoes a thorough going-over is a smart idea, especially if you live in a wetter part of the world.

Add decorative touches to your shoes.

Lets face it; most of the time youre making something from home, its because you want to put your own unique spin on it. You have plenty of chance to do so even after the shoe is made.

Taking a leather paint and adding an inventive design to the sides of the shoes is a fun and effective way to add style to your creation.

There are countless ways you can stylize your shoes. Look online for some ideas if youre in need of inspiration.

Now that your spiffy creations are finally finished, its time for the defining moment of trying them on and putting them to use. Try walking down the hallway or the street and get a hang for the way they feel. Are they comfortable? Do you think they could keep out water if you accidentally stepped in a puddle? If this is your first time making shoes, its perfectly normal for there to be issues. If youre not satisfied with the end result, you can always put the expertise youve gained to good use and make another pair.

If its just the insole thats uncomfortable, you can buy gel-based insoles (like Dr. Scholls) to give your feet some much-welcomed cushion.

What is the best material to use if Im new to making shoes?

Fabric is a lot more forgiving than leather.

What is the best all-purpose shoe-making glue?

It depend on what you want to glue. For example, for gluing leather parts together for stitching, a normal milk glue will do. If you want to attach the sole with glue, you should first roughen up the two surfaces and then add contact glue or carpet glue before pressing them hard together.

What sewing machine is best for hard leather material?

Youre best off with an industrial sewing machine and special needles for use with leather. Some of the home sewing machines can handle the thicker, stiffer material but they will cost much more than other machines. Check the manual that comes with your machine first; if it mentions nothing about leather sewing, assume its not strong enough for shoe making.

Do I need a sewing machine to make shoes?

No, you can sew it all by hand. There are even videos out there showing each step crafting the shoe all by hand. All you need is needle and thread.

As stated in the article, you wont get much in the way of hard soles unless youre repurposing old shoe soles. If youre making your own leather soles, youll need stiff cow hide and a special awl/sewing machine to attach the uppers to the soles with.

Is there anywhere that teaches how to make shoes?

Andrew Wrigley creates YouTube videos on every step for how to make mens shoes by hand. If you prefer reading books and blogs, I would recommend you the book Herrskor (2000). Vass, L. and the blog Gentlemans Gazette.

Where can I find a school to learn how to make shoes?

Some art schools have it, but can sometimes only offer it to full time or graduate students only. Try changing some of the words in your internet search. Occasionally, shoemakers will have workshops throughout the country that offer classes for a few thousand dollars.

What material is best for high heeled shoes?

I would choose suede or leather to make high heeled shoes.

Pleas what are the names of the Materials used in Shoe making.

Can I use meranti timber for the heels?

How much alginate jelly is needed for each foot to make the mold?

How do I identify fabrics or leathers for different parts of a Shoe?

Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.

Its best to do both shoes concurrently; that way, youll be saving time and giving the shoes the best possible chance of looking even.

Some of these stitches are a skill that can only be mastered with time and experience. Try experimenting with a few pieces of fabric until you roughly get the hang of it.

Making shoes from scratch can be an incredibly challenging thing to do, particularly if youre not usually inclined towards arts and crafts. It may take a few times to get the proper hang of it, so keep trying and dont sweat it if you mess up the first time. Learn from your mistakes, and try practicing your skills with measurement and stitching a bit before jumping in again if youre unsure.

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Create Your Own Shoes

Create Your Owni class=zazzicon zazzicon-att-signed-open/i

Street-Cred Create Your Own Slip-On Sneakers

Easy Create Your Own Personalized Flip Flops

Create Your Own Wedding Photo Collage Monogram Flip Flops

(Personalize) Add Your personal touch. Name Slip-On Sneakers

Cool Unique Personalized pictures Flip Flops

Make Your Own Personalized Slip-On Sneakers

Create Your Own Instagram Photo Collage Lime Flip Flops

Custom Flip Flop Summer Sandal Thong Template DIY

Pick Your Colour White/Black Trim Flip Flops

CUSTOM Add Your Name! High-Top Sneakers

Stylish Create Your Own Kids Kids Flip Flops

Easy Click & Replace Image to Create Your Own Flip Flops

Easy Click & Replace Image to Create Your Own Kids Flip Flops

Easy Click & Replace Image to Create Your Own Flip Flops

Create Your Own Wedding Photo Collage Monogram Flip Flops

Create Your Own Personalized High-Top Sneakers

Fanciful Create Your Own Low-Top Sneakers

Stripes Any Color Template Create Your Own Low-Top Sneakers

Street Wise Create Your Own High-Top Sneakers

Create Your Own Black/White Trim Flip Flops

Create Your Own White Polka Dot Kids Flip Flops

Create Your Own Zebra Print Low-Top Sneakers

Create Your Own Vivid Red Stripes Bright orange High-Top Sneakers

Create Your Own Zebra Print High-Top Sneakers

Create Your Own Chevron Pattern High-Top Sneakers

Designer Template Street-Cred Create Your Own Slip-On Sneakers

Create Your Own Chevron Pattern Slip-On Sneakers

Create Your Own Chevron Pattern Low-Top Sneakers

Black Create Your Own – Make It Yours Custom Text Flip Flops

Create Your Own Honeymoon summer and free time Flip Flops

Create Your Own Colorful Water colors butteries Kids Flip Flops

Make Your Own Personalized Flip Flops

Create Your Own Kids Dark Flip Flops

Create Your Own Monogram Blue Quatrefoil Pattern Flip Flops

Create yOUR Own Classic Custom Adult Flip Flops

Create Your Own Monogram Orange and Teal Abstract Kids Flip Flops

Create Your Own Vivid Red Stripes Very dark red High-Top Sneakers

Create Your Own Safari Animals Hakuna Matata Flip Flops

Create Your Own Bright Yellow Cool Urban design High-Top Sneakers

Personalized photo shoes. Create your own! Slip-On Sneakers

Personalized photo shoes. Create your own! Slip-On Sneakers

Rustic Rainbow Hipster 4 Photo Custom Collage Flip Flops

Choose Your Colour White Trim Flip Flops

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