Fortunate wet-felt bootmakers

wet felt bootmaking

I am making “Soles with an Edge” for students in two workshops right now, here’s a photo of boots made last year by instructor Carin Engen. I love providing this soling, because these beautiful boots were worn outside all last winter! No more little circles of suede as soling!

Of course the felt boots are exceedingly warm, but the natural rubber soling adds to their warmth by being so flexible..when your foot muscles are involved in walking, they stay warm.

Another opportunity to have our own creativity and skills expressed wherever we go..

Update on prada footwear spring 2013 ……

prada sandalsGreetings, since I am the go-to person for the latest in foot fashion (for those of you who don’t know me, this is a joke – but i do like to check out couture footwear for ideas.. So now that i’ve found a good photo of said footwear, it’s a tabi-sock inside a sandal – some at perilous heights, others at ground level. But making a sandal, with a soft leather colorful or metallic tabi sock inside it, to wear in the fall, sounds like an irresistible project. Just make your sandals – they could even be minimalist tumahumara sandals with tabi inserts, with long cords to wrap around tabi at ankle..

Whoa, I just googled “how to make tabi socks”, found that Folkwear patterns sells a pattern (I ordered it), and there is a beautiful pair of tabi socks that you can knit at Let’s have awesome feet!

It’s official: duct tape shoes are in!

Here’s a shoe from the Prada show at Milan Fashion Week spring 13 – and folks, you can make them yourself! The trick to making shoes from duct tape is to wrap the first layer around your foot with the sticky-side out; then apply a neat second layer with sticky-side in – and you’ve got $500.00 per pair shoes! (and don’t forget the bow.)

“Shoes are boring; wear sneakers”

Converse “design it yourself” ads are all over web pages I go to: I say, “shoes somebody else makes are boring, make your own!” Why be stuck with choosing colors and maybe the location of a rivet or two? Start with my book, How to make the simplest sandals for everyone with your own two hands! And out of recycled materials, no less!

I was talking with a fellow recently who wants to make high end shoes for men. As I reflected on our conversation, the idea came to me that a brilliant business move might be to make the “fisher(man)” sandal, and make the heel section and toe-strap out of a neutral, less-expensive leather, then make the cross-straps out of more interesting colors and textures of leathers; perhaps the customer could select the colors and types of leather that he wants for the cross-straps from strips on display.  His customized sandals could be ready in hours.

The fisher sandal that is featured in “simplest sandals” has an elastic instead of a leather strap; great for women’s and children’s sandals, but not sufficiently “upscale” for the man’s sandal I am imagining. I’ll be working on making patterns for the fitted heel section and strap so it can be available for those who are intrigued by this concept. I did create a children’s pattern such as this one several years ago for an organization in Haiti; you can see the sandals in the young Haitian man’s hands, one pair I sent as a sample, the other pair he made himself.

Tweaking the loop sandal

For those of you who have purchased either How to Make Simple Sandals, or How to Make the Simplest Sandals, I just made a pair of loop sandals and offer these improved directions: (1) On the pattern, two holes are shown so the loop can pass up through one and down through the other, I now don’t think that’s necessary, so you can punch one hole in the center of the two holes shown, and pull your loop material up through it. I cut a 1/2″ dowel rod and cut sections of it to put into a loop so it remains the same size while I make the next loop. I used a 3/16″ hand punch to make the holes. To pull the loop material up through the hole, I used a paper clip: one leg extended up, one-half of the “lozenge-shaped” section poked through the hole. Pull the loop through the paper clip, then pull it up and shape it over a dowel rod section.

In memory of Glen Leasure

I received an email today reminding me that it has been two years since the death of Glen Leasure. Frequently during those two years I have deeply lamented the absence of my shoemaking friend.

Glen Leasure and myself both took up shoemaking in the 80’s, inspired by Christine Lewis-Clark’s book The Make-it-Yourself Shoe Book. We met and realized our common pursuit when my husband, daughter and I were visiting “intentional communities”, seeking a place to live that would provide us with an extended family as well as an opportunity to share resources and live simply. We met Glen and Peggy at Common Ground Community in Lexington Va.

In Lewis-Clark’s book, she taught the stitch-down process, and her belief that lasts weren’t needed for shoemaking, that instead one’s own feet can serve as lasts.

(Lasts are standardized molds that shoes are built over that include adequate toe space and the desired toe shape).

Glen stayed with Lewis-Clark’s teachings, and therefore each pair of boots – the footwear he most-often made – he made were custom-made over a customer’s feet or a replica of their feet. For myself, having done a lot of dress-making, I was drawn to making patterns and the using of commercial lasts.

We remained constant in the support we gave each other and there was much shoemaking information that we could share with each other and we did.

I was an admirer of the beauty of the boots Glen made, because he made hundreds of them and constantly worked at improving his process. He has a dvd available on his website,, describing how he made his boots.

Glen aspired to teach shoemaking to those in areas of the world where foot-wear making knowledge was lacking. He spent over a year gathering materials to be used to teach shoemaking in Sierra Leone. His death after exposure to tropical diseases left his goals of helping the children there who were sickened by parasites entering their bodies through their unshod feet, temporarily incomplete.

I use the word “temporary” because his family, friends and others inspired by his dedication are determined that his goals be met, and will find a way. If you’re going to Sierra Leone, please get in touch.

Rest in peace, my generous friend.

more sandal inspiration

here’s two more sandal styles that can easily be made as out-stitched – or even “understitched” – meaning that you punch slits or oblong slots in the sandal sole and thread the ends of sandal tabs through them. Then, either stitch, rivet or nail them in place (this is all explained further in my sandalmaking book and/or dvd) before assembling the sandal.

Sandals you can make by reworking patterns in “Simplest Sandals”

I saw two pairs of shoes on the web recently; they each provided an example of how you can take an idea you see and like, and make something similar for yourself. Here’s the two shoes, which one can you see yourself making? That’s right, the ones on the right, just create some gorgeous fabric through beading, applique etc, construct the pattern using pattern for the avarca sandal from my “Simplest Sandals” book. A leather strap and you’re all set. Re: the high heel, you could take the heel tab and the two leather straps from it and make something similar, but with a low heel.