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


I am a Designer-Maker


As a designer-maker I feel part of that weird breed of people, who since the start of time, in all ages, climates and situations has felt the urge (and necessity) to look down at their feet, and to devise a suitable foot covering, using available materials.

My greatest love and interest in shoe making is still that part; in fact my interest was first awakened when I saw a Native Indian moccasin in the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, and realised that someone, a very long time ago, after dinner put their foot on a piece of left-over hide, cut roughly around their heel and toe, sewed a half round piece to cover the top of the foot, and wrapped the rest in strips up around their leg, fashioning in effect a layered bootleg with ventilation gaps, and tied the ends with a tendon at the top. It looked so well-thought-out and at the same time so easy, so natural, and so like what I would do!

I love discovering shoemakers who take an old construction (most are old constructions) or style and think “Now, would it be possible to make the shoe I want to make, using this construction?” Or “Could I make the same shoe, but using a different construction?” “Is there a material out there that acts like bark but doesn’t break like bark?” And ” Is there a rest material I can use/recycle?”

Of course, you want the modern innovative shoemakers too, the ones that require a whole new material to be devised that functions perfect for a certain design, but I love the shoemakers the best who take something old/traditional, and invent a modern or new function and interpretation for it. Then there are the designers who make works of art!

Why I love making shoes


I love shoes.

I love the way they can influence the way/make you feel, look, move (differently or better), how they are designed with the wearer in mind (or should be), how they can show craftsmanship, care, intelligence, and attention to detail, what they can mean as beauty objects and as functional objects/products, how they come in families (brands) you can be part of, and how literally everybody wears them!

I love making shoes.

I love figuring out what to make out of which material, for what function, that there are several stages and a natural order to them, that “anybody” can learn to make shoes, and that so many people do!

I love the fact I can make shoes by myself in my room or workshop, but also as part of a small or huge team, for a small or a huge company, for just myself and my feet, and more importantly for others.

Shoe making creates so many opportunities; to create and invent new things, to provide something that people need and want (jobs and shoes), to pass on skills and knowledge.

I love providing for myself; to make my own shoes and not have to accept what is available in the shops.

I would love the opportunity to be part of making shoes in a team again.

To apply my skills in a bigger picture, to have the opportunity to concentrate on a specific area of shoe making in detail, to communicate and work towards a shared goal, with values I support. I would love the opportunity to join Clarks in a department where they feel my skills, love and enthusiasm can be best used, and I think personally that could be any department.

For me it’s not just about making or buying the perfect shoe, it’s about feeling part of a community, about supporting and loving a brand that stands for values I find important; For me in Clarks’s case: Function, Comfort, Quality (which all include durability) and a little bit of craziness, for everybody.

I feel each of those values could be preceded with “All” (as in: full, all-over, for all ages, suitable for all occasions and daily life)
My partner is from Street, and he has told me about what the Clarks family means to the area, which sounds right up my street (excuse the pun)

We have just moved back into the area, which means I’m getting closer!