Custom-painted First Footsteps shoes

Marina Meeker painted these little shoes for a friend who is expecting a baby, but who had recently lost her pup.  Wouldn’t you bet that these first walking shoes, with baby’s foot imprint inside, will be treasured forever? She dyed the shoes also – I’ve got to find out more because that is the best dye job ever! Ordering the white  “first walker” kit with no stars punches on the front gives the maker two surfaces for customizing with dye, paint, applique etc – I will be attending a baby shower soon, the father installs solar panels, so a shiny rectangle will be appliqued to the front of the shoes! Thank you for the inspiration, Marina.

New pdf book: The Sandalmaking Handbook

The second book in the quartet of books I am planning is launched, The Sandalmaking Handbook. I am hoping it will help to bring on a sandalmaking revival! Sandals are relatively simple to make – I would have named the book “The Simple Sandalmaking Handbook“, to align with The Simple Shoemaking Handbook but all sandals are “simple” to make, and a book with that name might get confused with Tim Skyrme’s Simple Sandalmaking. If you purchase Neda Hussain’s E-book, How to Make Unique Leather Sandals (, it makes a nice companion to mine, as she brings much artistry to her sandalmaking.

This book is an updated compilation of my previous Simple Sandalmaking and Simplest Sandalmaking books, with color photos instead of (crude) drawings. Anyone who has ordered either of these books in the past can email me ( and I will send the new book out to them.

Additionally, I have copied the sandalmaking chapters from two books from the seventies, Christine Lewis-Clark’s and Brendan Smith’s Leathercraft and offer them on my website. I met Lewis-Clark decades ago, and don’t believe she’s involved with footwear-making any more, and I can’t find any information about Brendan Smith, but if either learns that I’m offering these chapters and want me to desist, of course I will. In the meantime – they’re a goldmine if you’d like to join the sandalmaking revival!

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!



New tutorial: How to make Moccashoes!

I could stop making other shoe styles and simply make moccashoes forever! They are so simple – which is the second place reason why I choose to make a certain style (after first place, which is – ecological). So these shoes are simple and ecological – if you make them from pre-used items, and use inner tube for soling.. Find the directions and a pattern under my Tutorials category. The pattern can be altered on a photocopy machine to make other sizes. If you make moccashoes, please send a photo – I’ll be giving a pdf of my new book, The Simple Shoemaking Handbook, to the next three people who send me a photo.

Chicago bears baby

My niece just had a baby boy – her husband writes about the Chicago Bears football team for the Chicago Tribune – so I made these First Footsteps shoes for their little one!

The kits for making the un-decorated shoes are available at:


Sandal-making workshop at Snow Farm

Would you like to learn how to make sandals that you can embellish (or not) with wire-wrapped beads, loom beading, small weavings, special fabric, carving, metal pieces, etc?

I will be teaching a sandal-making workshop at Snow Farm in Williamsburg, Ma. June 2 and 3 ( It’s a beautiful place with excellent food and accommodations.

Or, you can purchase pre-made sandals to embellish in my store (available soon).

The sandals will be made from tan or black ecological vegetable-tanned leather (other colors can be custom-ordered) using non-toxic cements.

For more information please contact me at:

So much inspiration!

Do yourself a favor and follow the above link to see 25 pairs of shoes made out of non-traditional materials, using non-traditional shoemaking techniques! Not all of felicity’s shoes are wearable, but all are such fun to gaze at. My favorite is pair # 23, the weaving is so beautiful and I’m stumped as to how she made them…

$3.00 lasting post


Lasting post: Standard lasts have a hinge so they can be “cracked”, which makes the distance between the toe and heel shorter; the last needs to be “cracked” at the hinge so you can get the last out of a shoe without tearing up the top of the heel seam. This means that each last has a hole in the top of it that fits exactly into the top of the lasting post. Once the last is on the post, a sharp tug will cause it to crack and the shoe can be safely removed from the last.

Re: making a lasting post, I appreciate this idea, posted on the Shoemaking Forum facebook page by Bill Shanor, along with this comment: “I grind the threads for about two inches from the top, round the top so that I can rub and open seams, and have more than one length of bolt. Oh, and if you use the bolt to remove “pesky” lasts, a hardened one is in order. I’ve bent several unhardened bolts over the years”.

Hunkered down

It seems I have been hunkered down for a long time – literally, as I’ve been draped over our wood stove for the last week, here in frigid Massachusetts. However, my stiff fingers could still type, so it gave me the perfect opportunity to complete the compilation of five of my books – How to Make Simple Shoes for Women, How to Make Cinch Tops, How to make Center-Seam Shoes, How to Make Stitch-down Shoes, and How to Make lasts –  into one, named “The Simple Shoemaking Handbook”.  All of the upper patterns will fit with a “universal” sole pattern, so there is an amazing variety of shoes you can make, using a range of simple processes, by using the directions and patterns from this one book. I’ll have it finished in a few days.

I plan to send the pdf out to anyone who has ordered any of these books from me in the past, who contacts me to let me know that you’d like to receive it.

I guess winter is good for something!

it’s the era of eco and destructivo – perfect for simple shoemakers

I just ran across these “shoes” in an article at: Granted, his styles for men are “off the charts outlandish”, and Ximon Lee put these “shoes” on the feet of all his runway models.

Creations like these give me such license for making things with a similar spirit. I recall reading a book written by Natalie Chanin, of “alabama chanin” fame. In it, she recommended that surface embellishers leave their knots on the outside of t-shirts they were transforming with applique. I’ve not hid a knot since. (not totally true.)

Especially when using heavy fabrics in shoemaking, such as denim or canvass, just leave those edges raw! Put any interesting material over your foot, and go for a walk – the paparazzi might start following you, as an arbiter of high fashion!