Want to learn simple shoemaking via FaceTime or Skype?

If you’d like to make shoes the simple way, you can do so in the comfort of your own home.  You might even gather a small group who want to learn together. Here’s how it works. I send you a shoemaking kit that contains a sole in the size you request – it has a vegetable-tanned topsole and a bottom sole of either natural rubber or vegetable-tanned leather. The uppers are made from leather upholstery remnants.

A 1/4″ wool felt and natural rubber sole is also available, if you’d prefer not to use leather.

You will receive as much FaceTime/Skype-time with me as is needed to guide you through the shoemaking process.

To determine what size kit to order – since the kit size is rarely the same as the size you have been wearing, it’s important to make a mock-up before making your first pair. Use felt to make the upper, and USPS corrugated cardboard for making the sole. Upon payment of the $100.00 fee, you will be sent a pdf of The Simple Shoemaking Handbook, and you can make mock-ups until you get a good fit.

The kit includes a piece of upper leather in the color you choose, lining for the upper and “veg” leather for a toe box, vegetable-tanned topsole, natural rubber or leather bottom sole, two “egg eye” harness needles, sufficient waxed braided thread, and a small bottle of Aqualim 315 non-toxic cement with a brush. You will need to purchase leather-cutting scissors and a 00 punch – either a hand-squeezed “spring” punch or a drive punch that you hit with a hammer (with a suitable surface underneath).

If we see that the mock-up is just not going to work for your feet, you can make custom patterns. I’ll work with you through this – a video of the process is on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8RMcXhw40c.

Once you let me know what size, bottom sole material and color of upper leather you’d like, the kit will be prepared and sent out.


I have created the box above as a “stage” for demonstrating simple shoemaking. I place my hands inside the box to demonstrate each step – my iPhone is taped over a hole in the top of the box.  The camera lens peers down onto the action.  Of course I don’t want to apply tape to my phone, so I tear off a piece of duct tape several inches longer than the width of my phone. I adhere another piece of tape to the center of the first piece, so your phone isn’t taped, but there’s sticky stuff on both ends – see photo below.


Windows are cut out of the upside-down box with a utility knife – the windows are needed so there is adequate light on the workspace.

This box needs to be re-created by the student, so I can see what her/his hands are doing.

The workshop instruction happens in spurts: a student may be ready to cut out upper parts, so we’ll disconnect until the student calls back, then we’ll work on the next step. It usually takes most of a six-hour-day to make the shoes, but the project doesn’t need to be done all in one day.

I love to offer the workshop to small groups, so if yourself and a few friends would like to work together, please email me and we can discuss the options.

Please consider taking a workshop, and becoming a shoemaker!



How to make a pattern from a favorite boot or shoe

Do you have some shoes that fit just right, that you would love to duplicate? If so, here’s how to do it. Use two layers of masking tape that exactly copies each piece of the shoe. Just as you do when making a pattern over a last, have one layer of tape going in one direction and the second layer going in the opposite direction.


Peel off the layers and flatten them onto pieces of paper. Be sure to add seam allowances wherever needed. If you have trouble flattening your pattern pieces, you can see the process in the video “How to Make a Custom Last” on this blog.


I would make a felt mock-up using your new boot pattern, then modify the pattern as needed.

boot and copy

How to make simple stitch-down shoes for people with swollen feet

My own mother had problems finding shoes to fit her swollen ankles, so I had wanted to make her a pair. However, before I was able to, she moved into a nursing home and was not getting out of bed. So, I had some ideas in mind when I recently received a call from a daughter frantically trying to find someone to make a pair of shoes that her mother with swollen feet could wear.

duct tape mockup of mother's swollen foot

duct tape mockup of mother’s swollen foot

I suggested that she follow the directions in “How to Make a Custom Last”, a three-part video on my blog, to make duct tape “molds” of her mother’s feet. She sent me the duct tape molds, and I used them to make mock-ups in polyester felt. I sent them for her to try, and – I was a little surprised – no alterations were needed! She then sent the mock-ups back.. Her mother wanted a slip-on, so she marked where the topline of the “clog”  would be.

felt adjusted copy of mock-up

felt adjusted copy of mock-up

To make a shoe with such height at the toe, I decided to use a center seam style.

I had asked what color her mother wanted – brown, black – red, purple?! She wanted purple! I had a nice “dignified” purple, so purple slip-ons she will have.

I used the felt mock-ups as lasts, so I stuffed them with wool batting. They gave me the shape and height I needed to drape the upper over, while cementing the upper to the sole.

using felt mock-up as last

using felt mock-up as last


completed pair

completed pair

Once cemented, the shoes were stitched together, and I have my fingers crossed that they will provide the spaciousness and comfort her mother needs so she can soon walk outside – in her new purple shoes!

Local Children’s Shoemaking Workshop! (near Amherst, MA)

I’ll be hanging up this flyer on local telephone poles! Wish you could attend!

Learn to Make “First Walkers”!


shoes for finley

Why make your children’s shoes? Well, they’d be locally-made, not in some distant and possibly unhealthy factory. You can select the materials – recycled leather, cloth, non-petroleum-based soling… You can express your individuality and that of your child by the design and embellishment choices you make. You can assure your child has healthy footwear – with flexible soling, no heel and a wide toe area, as close to being barefoot as possible. And, they are sure to cost a lot less!

Saturday, July 13

10:00 – 2:00


price includes pdf book How to Make Simple Shoes for Children and children’s shoemaking online video

for further information contact:

Sharon Raymond

145 Baker Road (location for workshop)

Shutesbury, Ma. 01072




Shoes for Natalie

Shoes for NatalieI love the work of Natalie Chanin (www.alabamachanin.com) and how she has shared the details of her hand-stitching process in three inspirational books. Adopting her nonchalance, I no longer concern myself if the ends of my threads are visible on the outside of my work – which is a big boon to a shoemaker since knots left on the inside might irritate the foot. Transparency of the process is her way of working – and might that inspire us to reveal our inner process as well?

Above is a pair of flats that I made using Natalie’s process of reverse applique, note the dangling threads!

Beautiful felted llama-wool boots

How could boots be more beautiful?! Marlice van Zandt made these by felting her own llama fleece, following directions in the video workshop (http://www.northeastfiberarts.com/feltbootworkshop.php) offered by Jennifer Hoag of Northeast Fiberarts. They were made by the resist method, meaning that a piece of plastic is inserted between two boot-shaped piles of wool batting; once this is complete, it is rolled up, wet with soapy water, and agitated until it shrinks. Then the felter puts her foot in it and agitates some more so it continues to shrink, until it fits! (only experienced felters are encouraged to take the workshop series, so this explanation is from a non-felter to others who haven’t tried this before).

And for those of you in Colorado, Marlice will be offering a felting workshop at her ranch, http://www.touchtheearthranch.com/.

marlice's felted llama-wool boots

new page: TUTORIAL: How to Make the Side-Seam Moccasin-Boot

After seeing “Stephanie’s side-seam moccasin” project in Martha Stewart Living magazine, I decided to make it using different materials and stitching. I changed it further by stitching a piece of material along the top edge of the moccasin, transforming it into a boot! The boot can be found in the Craft Manual of North American Indian Footwear by George M. White.

I have described my process of making the moccasin-boot in the first (of many to come) TUTORIAL that I have posted on my blog; if you scroll down under PAGES on the right-hand-side of the page, there you’ll see TUTORIAL: How to Make the Side-Seam Moccasin-Boot.

A pattern for making the boot is included at the end of the directions. I welcome feedback on how this tutorial works for you, what questions you have – and then I welcome photos of the unique boots that you have made!

Side-seam Moccasin-Boot

Side-seam Moccasin-Boot