Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Making Shoes #2

It has been a long time since my last post and all I've got to show is this?

House slippers from a 1910's pattern

Oh sure, you can laugh at me and say:„these aren’t even real shoes, they are just house slippers!“. And  yes, I guess you are right. What you don’t know is that in the meantime I have become completely and utterly obsessed with the whole subject of shoe making. I was so thrilled to get comments and emails from actual shoemakers on my last post (some just to inquire about the booklet, but still!) and one gave me a word of warning about how addictive shoe-making can be. This didn’t only come too late – she couldn’t have rescued me no matter how hard she tried. I started diving into the subject and found out that there is actually not very much out there – blogs, books, classes. Not much compared to the sewing world, anyway. So while indeed this little pair of slippers isn’t much to show off, the underlying enthusiasm to see this as the beginning of a longer journey is HUGE!

Firstly you can watch this little video on how I finished up the soles and stitched it all together. It is by no means a tutorial. In the midst of it all I realized it was a bit cocky of me to try to make a how-to on my first pair of shoes. Sheesh. Modesty calling...

Things I've learned making this pair:
  • I quilted the outer fabric and used a heel enforcement made from cardboard, which I am not thrilled by - but it is like that in the original instructions. Heel enforcements are great, but next time I might use something more lasting than cardboard.
  • It is the exact pattern from the 1910's, which is a one-fits-both-feet pattern, left and right shoe are the same. This is another thing that doesn't thrill me.
  • As mentioned in my previous post, making the soles is the trickiest part. What material you use and how you connect it with the rest of the shoe is key.
  • You can never have too many layers of soles/insoles. After all, your full weight is on it, you want it nicely cushioned!
  • You need very sharp needles and hand/finger protectors to stitch through those many layers.
  • Finding the raw materials to make shoes is difficult...

Hey, it's a start!
This sole is definitely stronger than a felt or other fabric sole. I can step out into the courtyard to bring out the garbage, go to the basement etc. I will try to wear it a lot and see where the wear and tear shows first.

I went to the library to find everything on the subject they had - it was in four different sections of the library: crafting, historical arts and crafts, fashion, and some section I didn't get the point of.
I got the books below, but there will be more. These are mainly for inspiration, then a middle-age book which has a pattern for a very simple shoe in it, and one book just on working with leather, as I will have to get into that subject soon.

I went to the DIY store and bought all kinds of materials I think I could possibly use to make my next shoes - and this time, we are talking street shoes:

 And yes, I have my awl, and a bunch of leather, too. 
I will still continue on with the booklet, which first concentrates on how to make soles out of stuff you have in your house - but mainly for house slippers. But I will definitely dive right into the second part of it, too, which talks about making shoes over lasts - street shoes!

This is the booklet I am using now. And guess what. I just found another one on shoe-making from 1918. I will share that with you soon. And yes, yes, I am still sewing, too. Right now: a dress from a 30's pattern, and a blazer from a 50's pattern. Bear with me. Too much piled up at once...

By the way, here is the first video on how to make the four strand braids:

 And this is the first part of making the soles:

Take care and let me know if any of this is of special interest to you - that way I can adjust to your wishes!


  1. Very cool! I have also been doing quite a bit of playing with shoe-making, though I have been working with different supplies (leather and rubber). I am excited to see what else you make!

  2. It's so fun watching you make shoes... and I especially love shoe history and your braiding work. I have been interested in and toying around with leather work myself and find so little information on it but it's fun taking little steps into it!

  3. Ich hatte Dich schon vermisst! Sehr interessant und ungewöhnlich Dein Schuh-Tutorial ... toll! Und das Ergebnis kann sich wirklich sehen lassen. Spannend!


  4. Unglaublich, was du da machst, ich bin fasziniert und bin gespannt auf die angekündigten Straßenschuhe. Lg Heike

  5. Schuhe selber machen... da wär ich nie drauf gekommen und das hätte mich normalerweise auch null interessiert: Aber es ist sehr interessant und spannend hier bei dir darüber zu lesen, zu gucken und zu hören!!! :-)

  6. Ich bin total beeindruckt. Und gespannt auf die Straßenschuhe!!

    Und weil ich deine Schöpfungen einfach klasse finde, lasse ich dir den Kreativ-Blogger-Award da und hoffe, du nimmst ihn an.


  7. Abgefahren! Nein, falsches Wort, aber abgegangen klingt doof ;-)
    Die Schuhe sind richtig klasse, seit langem wieder muss ich meiner Finger ruhig halten, damit ich ja nicht das nächste Projekt starte.
    Viel Spaß und Erfolg bei deinem nächsten Paar.

  8. I am so thrilled to join your blog! I like to weave and for the longest time I've been wanting to make my own shoes. The Youtube videos are a great help and make me want to try them. Thank you for sharing your passion with us.