Fabric versus leather shoes


I am still trying to work out the (many) differences between making shoes out of fabric or leather; It seems fabric shoes have to  be much tighter around the foot; that way the shoe stays on the foot, and when the foot spreads while walking, the fabric gives support by being tight.

In the photo you can see a drawing of my foot with a sole pattern behind it. The sole pattern is from a fabric shoe from the shops, which I’m using as a reference and inspiration. If I didn’t have my foot in this shoe and feeling that it fits perfectly, I’d never have thought I could make the sole so narrow and tight!  Coming inside the foot would not be possible when making a leather shoe…


Another difference is needing much less equipment using fabric; no splitting, soaking and skiving is needed, an industrial sewing machine is handy but not necessary, less glue is needed, a pair of scissors can do a lot of what you need several knives for if you’re working with leather.

Fabric is also much more accessable: easier to find and buy,  cheaper, available per meter (as opposed to a whole cow-sized skin plus wastage) and lighter and flatter to store. A lot of fabric can be “recycled” from other items (my local dry cleaner has a lot of used terry towelling items for sale for example) and no animals have to be killed! (Though, really, leather is a rest material from the meat industry. Nobody would (afford to) buy leather shoes if animals specifically had to be killed for leather only.) It’s also much easier on the body to work with, and generally stitching is better than glueing. It’s washable! Paintable! Printable! Dyeable! Bio-degradeable! More suggestions on a postcard please! (Actually, just use the comment box;-)

I’m really hoping to find out making shoes with fabric is Shoemaking Lite on everything:-)

I suppose the only thing it’s less good at compared to leather is wearing-in and being durable…


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