I was (beyond) thrilled recently when a little device I had asked a machinist to make for me actually worked: I screwed it into a drill, bolted the drill to a table, placed the sole and coaxed in around, and it cut a 1/8″ deep groove 1/4″ from the edge of my soles!

Ever since I stopped using toxic shoe cements, I have had the dilemma of how to attach bottom soles without it. My solution is to stitch soles on, but the stitches need to be recessed so they aren’t worn away. Stitches become recessed in natural rubber soles, since this material compresses when stitched. But natural rubber has drawbacks as it gets gooey on hot sidewalks, plus it’s expensive, and I have been reading articles about the horrors of the rubber industry. Fair trade natural rubber is available, but the minimum orders are beyond my reach.

The soling I am putting grooves in is ecological: I ordered it from http://repurposedmaterialsinc.com/. I asked the company if they had anything that could serve as shoe soling, and they had sheets of – shoe soling! So, I ordered the sheets they had. I would not buy new petroleum-based soling, but once it exists and has no other apparent uses, I believe it is best to use it instead of sending it straight to the landfill.

I love this soling – it’s black, 1/4″ thick, flexible, and soft enough that my little “device” could cut into it. I’m now selling the soles in my website store, both with and without stitching holes punched into the groove.

If you order soling with stitching holes punched into the groove, the holes have the same placement as the stitching holes marked on the sole patterns in my books, How to Make the Simplest Shoes, How to Make Center-Seam Shoes, and How to Make Cinch-top Shoes for the Whole Family. Any upper in these books can be stitched to these “soles with a groove”, and the stitching holes will line up. Over the next year, I’ll be putting new patterns in my store (the first will be a “renfaire” boot, and all will have stitch holes marked on them that line up with the holes in the soles.

Since the upper turns out to be stitched, it’s best if the upper leather is 4 or 5 ounce in weight. Thinner leather will make a “wispy” edge. If you want to use thinner leather, it’s best to make nomocs, lomocs or fomocs.

Soling can be ordered in standard medium-width sizes women’s 5 – 10 1/2, including half-sizes, or they can be custom-made to the shape of your foot.

Shoemaking has never been simpler than this!