Monthly Archives: August 2012

Finishing the soles


EVA is a great material; it’s light, soft, doesn’t stretch, comes in all kinds of colours and densities, and let’s face it: it’s cheap. The good thing for me, and people making footwear from home, is that you can cut the thinner layers with scissors, though it’s near-impossible to get a continual smooth edge.

If you are particular about finishing the edges of the soles quite neatly- or it’s just too tiring to keep your feet moving- have a look at my portable set-up: Welcome to the balcony workshop:-)

It’s a drill clamped in a workbench, with a drum sander attachment. Even this one, which is a cordless, doing only 700 rpm, works well enough to tidy the edges up. I’m quite pleased!

Ideally, I’d walk into a fully kitted out workshop where a multitude of tools and machinery is laid out ready to use of course, and even  a more powerful drill that has a locking mechanism for “on”, so you have your hands free (or don’t use up so many zip ties) is an improvement, but you have to admit this is a pretty sweet deal: Small, portable,sufficient, not very noisy, and assuming you have a drill and a workbench already, cost me £7.54.

An important factor for a lot of people these days…



Gluing the soles


After you’ve stitched the upper to the runner sole, it’s time to glue the soles on! I should say, after every stage take the opportunity to try the shoes on! I find it immensely motivating to finish them then, so I can get to the business of wearing them around town and catching the looks:-)  At every stage there is also the option for adaptation, or even starting again:-(  That hardly happens though! That’s what sample making is for;-)

I trimmed the runner sole neatly to 5mm from the stitches. That way the outer sole will overhang a bit, and will be easier to fit. The runner is also easier to trim neatly with scissors.

Glue according to directions. You can use glue for fixing bicycle tyre punctures too. Reheat/reactivate, put the two parts together and give it a good hammering! Then put bulldog clips all along the edge to be on the safe side. Trim the outer sole with scissors or knife.

The shoes are finished! If you have a band sander handy you can tidy up those edges, if not, just keep your feet moving and no one will know!

I treated myself to some girly covered insoles. I’ve heard that you’re allowed to mix stripes and flower prints nowadays, so do whatever you fancy!

And then they were finished:-)

Hand stitching using 2 needles


Just to recap; First I stitched the upper to the fabric sole with my sewing machine. The distance from the needle to the edge of the presser foot is 8mm, hence the stitch line is 8mm in from the edge on the runner sole. That way my hand stitching will go neatly over the top of the machine sewing.

Cutting out soles and runner soles; I’m using 5mm and 3mm respectively medium density EVA sheet material for this. (Think flip flops) This will keep the sole light and thin, but cushiony, and I’m free to add another layer later if I want to, of textured high density sole material possibly.

Always test to see if it all fits and looks good, before you stitch it together forever!

Then clamp your shoe into place, prepare a thread (about 2 double arm lengths should do it) and attach a saddlery needle to each end. I’m using thick industrial sewing machine thread (double bonded nylon) so my ends are not attached…You can use cotton or linen thread, but I wouldn’t wax it with beeswax here, as the wax will stop the glue from sticking properly. With cotton or linen thread you can poke and pull the needle through the end of the thread to attach it. It makes it easier to pull the needle through the hole, and your needle can’t fall off!

Pull the thread through until you have 2 equal lengths on either side of your work, and do a couple “on the spot”. The best place to start is the inside waist of the shoe. (Where your arch is) You are ready to stitch!

Hold the needle between your first 2 fingers. Stick the awl in from the back, straight to the front, put your left needle through from left to right as you pull out the awl with your right hand, then put your right needle through from right to left. Slowly pull your hands apart pulling the stitch tight (but not too tight!) Take care not to sew through the other thread!  Using the 2 needle method makes the stitches more regular, and you can pull them tight more evenly.

Adjust the clamping position as you go along, and take the opportunity to have a good look to check it’s all looking nice and even:-)

And then of course the other foot….

Preparing for hand stitching.


Marking the stitch line 8mm in from the edge


Marking the stitches 8mm apart and attaching the upper with clips.














After marking the stitch line and stitches,I attached the upper to the runner sole with tape. The bulldog clips do the rest.

What you need for hand stitching is basically a third hand to hold the work side on, so you can see the back and front.

I’m using this funny contraption because since moving house I can’t find my wooden clamp, but the upright of my desk actually provides support along the whole shoe, not just the bit you’re stitching. You can use a door if you don’t have an upright desk. I found the metal clamps in a pound shop.

Back of the clamped shoe