Confession Time: I Want to Make Shoes!

Can I tell you all about a secret desire I've harbored for most of this year? I want to make shoes! Not the fabric covered ones, or embellished ones, or re-colored ones (although those are all lovely), but real, made-from-scratch, designed-by-me footwear.

As you can tell from the links above, while shoe decoration is par for the course for many DIYers, making actual wear-it-outside, made-from-scratch shoes is virtually unheard of, which makes it exciting, uncharted territory. My suspicion, of course, is that shoes are often left to the pros because they are highly technical, and probably require industrial equipment and special forms. But I'm tired of cheap overseas made flats that really just appear to be some rubber soles and fabric sewn and glued together. What is more, I'm allured by the idea of creating a comfortable shoe on the cheap that I can style however I want!

As an avid blog reader, blogs were the first place I turned to for help. But unlike our beautiful little sewing community, I had a hard time finding a group of cobbler-bloggers just waiting to fill me in on the deets with picture tutorials and tweet chats at the ready. *Sigh*

Not to be deterred, my internet searches over the past few months have occasionally turned to shoe-making, and a few little nuggets have shown themselves.

Barefoot Shoes: Many amateurs who make their own shoes come from the barefoot running/hiking camp. For them, minimal foot protection is key, and form and style follow much further behind. These are meant to be functional shoes, but they just weren't for me...
via XeroShoes

Shoe Kits: Next up were the sites offering shoe kits. These are kits with all the necessary materials and handy instructions for putting it all together. But for me I see very little point in spending the same full-shoe price on a shoe kit, especially if I don't have the opportunity to modify it. (Of course, some could probably say this about sewing as well.)
via SimpleWay

Inspirational Shoe Makers: You can sometimes find the online crafter who makes shoes. And some of them are very, very pretty. Inspirational - yes! Instructional - not so much. 

via Cloves on BurdaStyle

Online Instructions: There was also the occasional blogger who posted about their adventures in making fashion shoes.While this got me very excited, I found that I probably need a little more instruction and support to make my first pair. My number one questions: how do you attach the shoes fabric to the sole? And where do you source the materials? 

via Avishoes

Tilly Made Shoes: A few months in to my shoe-making obsession, Tilly made shoes! Of course, she got to do it with the help of a professional, but I was more inspired and determined than ever. Plus, I was able to scour the post for some helpful information: neoprene glue. Lots of it!

via Tilly and the Buttons

Make Your Own Shoes Book: It was about this time I stumbled up on Mary Wales Loomis and her Make Your Own Shoes book. This woman tore her own shoes apart, figured how they were made, made her own, and wrote a book on it!

via Mary Wales Loomis

Books and Courses: A while later I came across another option for learning to make shoes - the trendy and cute I Can Make Shoes site. They offer courses, materials and books on sale at their site. And man do they look cute! I also found online shoe-making courses available at Shoe Making Courses Online and

via I Can Make Shoes

Feeling inspired yet? Here's my plan: START SLOW. Before jumping head in and buying/making the shoe lasts, investing in a gallon of neoprene glue, and stashing up on leather and canvas, I think I'll try to turn a basic clipper patter into a wearable fabric flat and take it from there.

Women's Slippers Pattern via EtsyShoe GooShoe Foam via Etsy

With a little slapdash proto-typing, I think I'll be able to tell about whether I want to pursue this or not. And if I do - imagine the possibilities!

But don't hold your breath on anything any time soon... I'm still recovering from the Fashion Challenge, have about a million garments I want to sew, and haven't even completed my last make-it-yourself adventure BraQuest 2013(-2014??). 

In the meantime, has anyone out there in blog land attempted to make your own shoes? Slippers? Shoe embellishments? I am beyond curious about this new realm!

Update:  I started a Pinterest board to keep track of my resources and all your amazing suggestions. Thanks to you, I'm feeling very motivated and a lot more informed!


  1. i've been wanting to try this also! you may want to check out she has patterns and supplies at a reasonable cost. i really want to make an around the house pair, but she also has instructions and tips for waterproofing, etc so they can be worn anywhere!

  2. I saw making shoes as the next logical step, and am very lucky to have found a course for shoemaking near me! Here in Belgium we have specific education for adults who dropped out of school or want to learn new skills, and this course (it lasts four years!) really trains you to be a professional shoemaker. I'm only just starting out but it's awesome so far!

  3. I have been feeling the same way for months now! Although I didn't have as much luck finding shoe making books as you did. I couldn't find anything. Thank you so much!

  4. I didn't even realize you could make your own shoes! How neat! Can't wait to see what you come up with. :)

  5. I also really want to make shoes! I can never find quite the right size that are also comfortable and stylish for the right price - pretty much the same reason I started sewing! I look forward to following along with your progress and for now I'll check out your links. I'm so excited!

  6. I took the I Can Make Shoes course and made ballet flats - it was really great. I want to make my own shoes again (hopefully soon) and post the process on my blog. The only thing holding me back is finding good shoe lasts. I may just have to pay for the ones I Can Make Shoes sells. Or, fill some old shoes with plaster, like Mary Wales Loomis does. If anyone knows of a good source for shoe lasts or a good way to make you own, please let me know!

  7. Oooooh how fun! I admit that this has been a secret obsession of mine for years, but truth be told, it will probably never happen. Other than simple slippers lol. Best of luck, and I look forward to your results!

  8. Shoemaking! The last frontier of the crafty.
    Here's a few more resources:
    SimpleShoemaking (website and etsy store, details of making outstitched shoes)
    FairySteps (website and etsy store, mostly inspirational!) (blog of a theatrical shoemaker)
    and last but not least, don't know where you're located, but these guys offer weekend courses where you get to make your own shoes!

  9. You guys have some amazing resources! Keep them coming :)

    I am especially loving Simple Shoe Making's books with 40 patterns:

    And this pattern for Oxfords is amazing!

    I could totally see this becoming a major obsession!

  10. Me too! I just made my first practice pair using a pattern from uku2 on etsy:
    She has really detailed instructions for measuring your feet and making adjustments. I would definitely recommend it. My first pair is close enough to wear as slippers and I think I'll be able to get a good fit for my "real" pair.

    I also plan to try one of shoeology's patterns:
    She has a video on YouTube showing how to attach the soles:
    Although I may just buy a tub of liquid rubber and use that for the soles instead.

    I look forward to hearing about your shoe-making adventures!

  11. Ohhh this sounds like so much fun! Thanks for the pinboard, now I want to make my own shoes, too!!

  12. Very cool, Meg! I've also been interested in shoe-making, but not enough to do the research you have done. I had come across the Make Your Own Shoes book some time ago. I believe she is local to us!

    I look forward to seeing where this goes!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...