Learn to make shoes day #5


Day 5 – last day of shoe school and the day we get to see the final results of our work.  I started the day by applying the rand to the second shoe.  We had all joked that one shoe would always be better than the other, as we had generally learnt from scratch on the first shoe and by the 2nd shoe we were a little more skilled!

Once the rand was whacked on, it was time to decide on the sole & heel.  I went for a plain black wedge with a small heel, keep it simple, there are already stars aplenty.  We used EVA (ethylene-vinyl-acetate), effectively a synthetic rubber, which is lightweight and easy to handle.  It is cut roughly to the shape of the shoe with a craft knife, with maybe a 1cm excess around all the edges.  You know the drill by now – glue…… wait…… warm with the heat gun ……… stick the bits together.  Hammer gently around the edges so we don’t stress the rand, and give it a good whack in the middle to get a tight bond.  Then lather rinse and repeat until the sole is the thickness you want.

trimming the EVA sole

For the heel, a shorter piece of EVA is cut to fit just the heel and it is sanded at one end so that it blends smoothly under the foot arch.  To get the heel high right, you should be able to get your finger under the toe of the shoe and the heel should rest evenly on the floor.  This is all done by eye, and a bit of “try the 5mm and we’ll check it again”.

Once the sole and heel are all glued and the heel is the right height, we cut a crepe sole to be the final layer, which is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.  This will provide a bit of grip in the wet.

It’s time to take the shoe off the last.  We snip the plastic twine that has been used until now as a lace, no point getting our pretty laces dirty while we last and glue.  Get your fingers under the shoe at the top of the heel and lift while pressing down on the ball of the foot to bend the hinge of the last, and slide the shoe off over the toe.

removing the shoe from the last

On to the finishing touches – the inner sole is cut, leather linings are cut and we glue, wait, and stick them together.  I chose some of the lovely purple spotty leather that was my trim to put a small circle of decoration on the heel of the in-sole lining, cut with pinking shears to continue the impression of stars.

inners and linings

For the laces, I used the same spotty purple leather, and glued together two long strips about 1cm wide, and then cut these with a craft knife to about 3mm thick to go through the eyelets.  Lou came to the rescue and suggested I stick the strip of leather to the cutting board with double-sided tape to stop it moving while I cut it – what a stress-reducing little tip that was.  Hissy fit averted!  Thread the laces and ………. we’re done!!  

And here they are ………… finished.



looking starry

My five-day adventure making shoes has come to an end.

It will be weeks before I have got all the glue off my fingers and out from under my nails.  But I have a pair of shoes that is completely unique, made just for me, to fit only me, out of materials chosen by me.

They are not perfect, and if I look closely I can see the mistakes and the learnings. They are handmade. By me.
If someone happens to say “hey, love the shoes” I can say “thanks, I made them !”

It was a really fun time and Lou was a fabulous instructor.  Don’t try this at home.  Learn to make shoes at Shoe School


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