Low-cut hand-made meri jane shoe

This is a shoe mock-up  made with a Peltex interfacing upper and Texon plasticized paper sole. I made it to see whether the patterns in my book The Simple Shoemaking Handbook could be used to make shoes with a low-cut topline…and the answer is “yes!”

An aspiring shoemaker recently emailed me a photo of the shoes below.  She was wondering if she could make these shoes from the directions and patterns found in my book. That stirred a distant memory, I went to my file cabinet and rustled through folders until I found it – a file labeled “shoes like Cydwoq shoes” (google this name if you’re not familiar with this brand, they are so inspirational!)

I describe these shoes as being like Cydwoqs because of the lovely vegetable-tanned soles that they have. And, you can make the shoes look as interesting,  elegant and unique as Cydwoqs are.

Briefly, the way that these shoes are made is: Two layers of vegetable-tanned leather are cemented together to make the sole. The sole is further prepared by making a stitching groove 1/4″ in from the edge of the sole, on both the topsole and the bottom sole. All stitches will be stitched in that groove, so they are protected from wear, particularly on the bottom sole. Stitch marks, as shown on patterns from the Handbook, are copied onto this laminated sole, then the stitch holes are punched out.

I will be offering these “veg” soles w/ stitch grooves and stitch holes punched out in my website store. All you have to do is stitch the upper you have created to the sole, either by using patterns from the book or ones that you have customized.

By the way, the easiest way to make these shoes is to remove the little triangle of material seen at the toe so you don’t have to gather the extra leather found on the upper while you’re stitching. However, you can make them gathered, without the piece cut out.

Of course you can make the soles yourself, using directions in the Handbook. I’m eager to help you get started with shoemaking, whether you want to learn how to make the whole shoe, or whether you want to have the fun of making uppers, then stitch them to purchased soles.

I look forward to showing you a pair of shoes I’ve made using this technique, now that I know it’s going to work!