I am excited about this new facebook group, and hope it will be of interest to you, too. There is a Shoemaking Forum facebook page, but most of the members are professional shoemakers, making footwear by the highest standards. The footwear that results is usually a refined men’s oxford shoe, or a women’s elegant high-heel shoe.

Shoemaking fun offers a page where those who make less conventional shoes can ask questions, share resources, etc. So have some shoemaking fun and become a member of the group!

1930s Film of a German shoemaker making boots

There’s a lot to learn from this movie if you are making fully-lasted shoes.. I don’t make fully-lasted shoes, but I still need to nail the sole to the bottom of the last when making “stitch-downs”. And, that has always been challenging. But after watching this video, I took a bicycle inner tube, cut it, then tied it together just long enough to pass under my left foot and then over a last between my knees. The sole was held firmly in place on the bottom of the last as I pounded a couple of temporary nails into the sole to hold it on the last. When I turned the last over, the sole was perfectly centered – voila!

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Walter’s shoes


Walter  taught English in Thailand, and became fascinated by the colorful cloth shoes that many people were wearing there. Upon return to his home in Roxbury, Ma., he googled a bit and found Since it seemed that I made “unconventional shoes” from ecological materials using non-toxic cements, he got in touch and asked about doing an internship.  I thought I’d enjoy having someone to bounce shoemaking ideas off of who was many decades younger than me, so we made a deal; he would help me with photography and marketing ideas and I would help him design a prototype fabric shoe.

Challenges arose: how to make a fabric toebox so there was adequate toeroom and a smooth appearance in the toe area (we made a paste to coat the fabric toeboxes from an old recipe); how to make the shoe adjustable without using ties (there’s a strip of bicycle inner tube under the black and white strip over the instep); how to finish off the top edges of the shoe (he learned about the wonders of a serger); and how to make a nicely-finished stitch-down edge (he learned how to make bias tape from recycled jeans).

Here’s the shoe that has resulted from his many days of hard work! I can see him now with samples in each size at a Farmer’s Market in the Boston area this summer, vending footwear that is unique, ecological and beautiful! And I now have lots of great product photos and some interesting marketing ideas. I love having an intern!


Want to save $2,300.00 on a pair of sandals?!

Dolce & Gabbana Slave Sandals

These Dolce & Gabbana sandals cost $2,395.00. You could make these sandals for less than $95.00, meaning that you could save a lot of money! To make pom-poms in a fast and easy way:, they might cost $1.00 each..There are online instructions on how to make yarn tassels also. The little pom-poms on a band can be purchased at your local fabric store. Perhaps you have a collection of little charms that you can randomly add, or purchase a few.

I sell vegetable-tanned soles, so they could be purchased, or make them yourself. You would need very thin leather to fold over and make the ankle strap, Hide House sells a thin leather – Plonge 22-32 sqft 1.5-2oz but of course you would have to buy a whole hide – not a wise purchase for a couple of straps unless you are wanting to make your version of these sandals to sell..I have some that might be useful if you want to inquire..

You can also get some design ideas from the Masai sandal sold on the brothervellies site – if you know how to make bead strips on a loom, there are lots of ways they could be used in making bands for sandals.

Beaded Maasai Sandal

Punch patterns

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An interesting way to embellish footwear is with punch patterns – here’s a selection that might give you some inspiration. You might also be inspired by the way Emily Ruth Davies uses punch patterns on her beautiful shoes – All you need is a punch (00), a mallet, a pounding board underneath, and a pattern. and a steady hand.

Ultimate fully-lasted shoemaking video – treat yourself to a look at the shoes Jacob Blaise Ferrato is making in Cleveland. Even though they might be the “most complicated shoes you can possibly think of making” (made possible by that dandy sneaker sole that he happens to have, and the fabulous machine for stitching those soles to the shoes), there is much for the simple shoemaker to learn and enjoy on his site and in this video.

Awesome shoes from Spain

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These shoes show what can be done if all the stars align: you have nice leathers, soling is available, you have no doubt been a leatherworker a long time to perfect the brown lacing stitch, you’ve got a great machine that stitches with the thick white thread around the edge of the shoe – and you are extremely gifted in working with color and design!

A friend recently wore these shoes, telling me that she had purchased them ten years ago in Spain at a country market. I can’t find any trace of them on the internet, but perhaps someone can.

This is a perfect example of stitch-down shoemaking – the white stitching shows where the upper was turned out upon the soling, then the layers were stitched together. I am now imagining how this shoe would look done as a nofomoc, my favorite “simplest shoemaking” technique. (Nofomocs have a 1/4″ edge sticking up from the sole with holes punched in it, that the upper is stitched to..)

I checked with a leatherworkers facebook page, asking how they thought the leather lacing was done, and got some interesting responses. One said maybe the lacing was only on the top of the shoe, but was drawn down in the slits by a separate cord underneath. Another thought there were two pieces of lacing, with slits in them… any other ideas?!

Interestingly, my friend says that she seldom wears them because her heel slips up and down with every step she takes. My guess is that the sole is very stiff, and that if the sole were more flexible, made out of natural rubber for instance, the problem would dissipate. And, it looks like the heel seam doesn’t follow the shape of the heel very well..always something more to learn..



I (heart) nomocs!


I love making nomocs, lomocs and fomocs! I recently asked Sandy, who has made several pairs of fomocs if she thought that making shoes in this way – no/lo/fomoc – is useful and simple..

her reply:

Oh YES, definitely. Using the no-lo-fomoc technique is indeed a very useful and simple way to make shoes..!!!  Many probably have the same reaction I did to the thought of shoemaking….”That’s just not possible!” Shoes come from a factory filled with expensive, specialized machinery… or they’re made by a little old Italian shoemaker who learned the secrets of a master craftsman from generations past.

The biggest roadblock in my mind was how to get the sole firmly attached to the upper. You’ve been making shoes and boots for a while, so there’s no issues in your mind, but for me, it’s almost impossible to envision a strong enough glue to keep a shoe held together. An even more difficult concept is trying to figure how you can possible sew a shoe together. How do you get your needle inside the toe of a shoe? It’s just impossible.

With the no-lo-fomoc method, it became so easy to see how the pieces come together. There is no mystery, whatsoever, as to how a shoe can be made. All that’s needed is your full-size patterns, a means to make holes or slits and a couple of needles, …dull needles at that!! How simple could it be?

Truthfully, what drew me to Simple Shoemaking was the possibility of cutting out a pattern, punching some holes in the predefined locations and sitting in the rocking chair, …stitching. (Not stitching & stitching & stitching as in knitting)  ….but simply stitching up a pair of comfortable, healthy shoes. With basic no-lo-fomoc skills, really, it is almost that easy and style shoe or boot can be conquered.

In the “Introduction to Simple Shoemaking” video you talked about modifying the stitch-downs for your little grand daughter. When it was tried on that red shoe of yours, you said, “it was a good fit and you may be on to something here.” Well, I have to agree, totally..! You’ve hit a winner.
; )  -me