Introduction: Make Your Own Shoes at Home!

Picture of Make Your Own Shoes at Home!

This is an instructable for making your own pair of shoes with materials you can buy in an art store or a fabric store. I base my technique off of traditional shoe making methods, but you won't need expensive materials, a nice set up, or complex tools.

This method will also create perfectly fitting shoes as the pattern will be drawn from your own feet!

The total cost of this project is less than $50 and, will take under 20 hours.

*Note: if you choose not to use leather, you shoes will probably be best as indoor-only shoes*


The Shoe

2 sqft 1/4" thick cork (OR shoe leather, which can be bought at a shoe repair store)
1 yard of each fabric/leather used on the outside of the shoe
1 yard of the fabric used on the inside of the shoe
Thread (thicker is best)
8+ Eyelets
Shoe laces
Masking tape
Superglue (or Shoe Goo)

The Last (cast of your foot)

13+oz. of alginate
64+oz. of Permastone (or another casting material like rubber)
Cardboard box


Retractable utility knife
Eyelet puncher (usually comes with eyelets)
Cutting mat

Step 1: Generate a Concept

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The most important step in any project is the design phase. Think about the type of shoe you want to make and do some sketches.

For my shoe, I ended up wanting to do a fancier-looking dancing shoe with a wider end that wouldn't constrict my toes.

Step 2: Making a Last

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We need to make a last before we do anything.

A "last" is a hard, usually wooden, object that shoemakers build their shoes around. Lasts look like feet, with extra space in front of the toes to accommodate the sleek pointed style common in shoes.

Lasts are important because they allow you to accurately draw your patterns, give you a harder surface to work with, and they also provide a quick context when you are unsure.

Here you have two options:

1) Buy a last: ask a shoemaker or do an Internet search (these are not expensive)
2) Make a cast of your foot and augment that.

I'll teach you how to make your own lasts, but if you choose to buy some, they aren't very expensive.

Step 3: Casting Your Foot: Preparation

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Making lasts is a great way of ensuring a perfect fit for your feet. For this process, you will need alginate to make a mold of your foot, a casting material, and a box to hold your mold in.

To make your mold, you first need a makeshift box for your foot.

Leave plenty of room around your foot (note: the more space you leave the more alginate you'll need to use).

Step 4: Casting Your Foot: the Mold

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Time to make your mold, which is a negative of your foot. Alginate can be found at most craft stores. It's non-toxic and good for single-use molds. I'm using a 13 oz bag, which costs around $8. You may want to use a bag and a half, but we can make do with a single bag. This material will not damage your tools.

First, mix the alginate and water in a large mixing bowl. You can use a spatula, but your hands are the best mixers. You will use around 6 cups of *COLD* water for an entire bag, but I highly recommend you add water gradually to your mixture isn't too liquidy.

The alginate is ready to pour when it is gloopy.

Working quickly, pour the mixed alginate into the box you've made.

Put your foot in the box. Depending on whether you want your shoe to conform to your foot flat on the ground or not, you may want to suspend your foot in the alginate without letting it touch the ground.

Your foot should be covered to slightly above the ankles in alginate. If you don't have enough alginate add some napkins to the empty space in the mold to fill it out.

Wait for about 20 minutes until the alginate solidifies into sturdy jelly.

Step 5: Casting Your Foot: Removing Your Foot

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Remove your foot from the alginate mold. Be careful as you do this; the alginate will hold well, but you don't want to rip chunks off.

If you are worried, you can use a utility knife to *carefully* cut along the top of your foot to pull your foot out.

Step 6: Casting Your Foot: Casting

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You will need about 5 cups of your casting material for an average male shoe size (estimate). I am going to use Permastone, which is inexpensive and more durable than plaster. If you find yourself short of material, you can add filler in the form of napkins (as with the alginate mold) or powders like sawdust.

Mix your material according to its instructions and pour it into your alginate mold. Put your bowl and mixer in the sink under running water while you work to minimize the risk of damage to your tools.


1) Tilt your box back and forth to make sure you get it into the toes and crevices.

2) Tap the sides of the box hard, shake it against the ground, and continue tilting it until to force air bubbles to the surface. This is satisfying.

Remember though, we're doing this cheap and easy, so your mold probably won't be perfect and that's OK.

Let your cast sit until you're sure it's dry.

Note: I am using PermaStone, which is pretty cheap ($6 a box), but you can substitute another material such as rubber if you have the means. I do not recommend plaster, as it takes forever to dry and it is fragile.

Step 7: Casting Your Foot: the Pull

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When your material is dry, take apart your box so you have a big cube of alginate.

Don't be shy: tear your alginate apart to reveal your mold. Don't worry about the alginate, it's meant for a single use.

If you are planning on wearing your shoes, you'll want to make the other foot as well :)

Step 8: Making Your Foot Cast Into a Last

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Following your shoe design, crumple up tape and add it to the front on your cast to round off the end as you desire.

It is important that you are satisfied with the shape of your last, because the shape of the last determines the shape of your shoe.

Step 9: Cover Your Last in Masking Tape and Draw Your Pattern

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Wrap your entire last in two or three layers of masking tape (You need to cover the bottom of the last too!).

Then, carefully draw the patterns for your shoe design on the tape.

Finally, Cut your masking tape pattern along the lines you drew with your utility knife.

*Importantly,* continue your cuts down onto the bottom of your last at least 1". You will need this extra fabric to properly sew your shoe together in later steps.

Your pattern should consist of at least four parts (see the diagram).

1) Vamp: This part covers your laces and moves down to the bottom of the shoe

2) Counter: This is the back of the shoe. It is usually stiffer to give the shoe shape (but not necessarily)

3) Toe: The front of the shoe

4) The... other part: This part is in between the front of the shoe and the vamp.

* Note: This process could also be used to copy the pattern of a shoe you really like *

Step 10: Flatten Your Patterns

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Remove your patterns (careful not to tear them) and flatten your 3-D patterns into 2-D patterns.

If you need to, cut darts (triangles) into the extra few inches of pattern from the bottom of the last to help the patterns flatten.

Step 11: Trace & Cut Your Patterns

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Trace your patterns on paper.

Add a 1/4" seam allowance on all your patterns.

If you are a new sewer, you may want to add even more allowance so that you can "fudge" your shoe construction.

* Note: remember to draw a pattern for a shoe tongue as well (a rectangle whose shape is determined by your design). *

Step 12: Making Your Patterns More Useful

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In the last step you drew your patterns on paper, and then drew an extra seam allowance.

If we left things here we'd have a problem: when stitching the fabric pieces together again it would be difficult to allow for the seam allowance purely by eye.

So in this step we cut out small pockets along the original pattern tracing so that we can mark our materials in the next step.

Step 13: Cut Your Fabric

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Arrange your patterns on your fabric. Using either tape or pins, stick the patterns onto the fabric.

Using a pencil or marker, lightly outline the patterns on the fabric and remember to mark the seam allowance in the holes we cut in the last step.

Cut your pieces out.

* Note: remember that you are cutting your patterns twice: once for the outer material and once for the inner material. *

* Note: consider which side of your fabric you want showing. *

* Remember: Keep your paper patterns; for the opposite shoe you will flip your patterns over and repeat. *

Step 14: Sewing Pattern Pieces Together

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You now need to sew all of your patterns together. If you aren't familiar with sewing, check out these next few steps for help.

There are two ways you can stitch your pieces together. Consult the photos.

The First Way:

Line your patterns up and pin them together so that the seam allowance guides you marked follow each other. This may be a little difficult.

Sew within your seam allowance. It is important to sew in a straight, smooth fashion or your seam will look messy when you invert the fabric.

The Second Way:

Depending on your style, you may want to cut the seam allowance off *one* of the two patterns, simply overlapping it with the adjacent pattern so that its edge lines up with the seam allowance markings you drew earlier.

Once lined up you can stitch your pattern without needing to invert the fabric later. I did this on the outside of my shoe, using the white string in my stitching to accent my black leather pieces (see photos).

*Note: user Lukieh suggests that machine-sewing or saddle stitching would improve the durability of the shoe, wherever sewing is required. I wholeheartedly agree. The stitching in this instructable is done in haste primarily, so, without a sewing machine, I didn't bother to saddle stitch.*

Step 15: Sewing Tip: Darts

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Sew your patterns back together can be straightforward if you know how to sew. If you don't here are some tips.

*Before you begin, know which side will be showing and which side will be hidden (by the other fabric layer.) and work on the hidden side.*

Sewing your darts back together will give your patterns shape.

To sew these back together fold your fabric such that the corners of your two edges line up.

Grip the point where the actual lines on the pattern (excluding the seam allowance) meet with one hand and sew towards it with your needle/sewing machine.

Once you get to the point you're gripping, turn your sewing around and stitch back to the edge to ensure a strong stitch.

Refer to the photos.

Step 16: Sewing Tip: Tying Off Your String

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Once you've finished a stitch tie it off.

The way I do this is by beginning a simple knot and then using my needle to guide the knot down close to the fabric.

Step 17: Sewing Tip: Use Your Last As a Reference

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Messing up sucks, but you can easily avoid problems if you constantly refer to your design and use your last as reference.

Step 18: Sewing Tip: Working With Leather

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Leather is pretty tough to stitch through, so if you're using leather and you don't have a capable sewing machine, I recommend banging your holes into the leather before you begin stitching.

You don't HAVE to do this, but it will save you some frustration.

Using a $4 awl and a hammer (and a cutting mat/book I didn't want), I banged each hole into my leather.

Step 19: Attaching the Outer Fabric to the Inner Fabric

Picture of Attaching the Outer Fabric to the Inner Fabric

Sew your pieces together until you have the two separate layers: the outside pattern and the inside pattern.

Now, you'll need to sew the inside pattern to the outside pattern.

To do this line your seam allowances up (*with the wrong sides of the patterns facing outward*) and stitch along the 1/4" seam allowance you cut out earlier.

Step 20: Flip Your Patterns Back Over

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Make sure your sewing is neat and tight and when you have finished going completely around the ankle and the sides of your vamp (where your shoe laces will be) flip your pattern over.

Step 21: Shoe Tongue

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Don't forget about the shoe tongue!

To make this you'll want to take your two shoe tongue pieces, the outer and inner, and line them up, their wrong sides facing outward.

Sew along the 1/4" seam allowance on both of the sides and the top of the tongue. *Do not sew the bottom of the tongue shut.*

Next, forcibly invert the tongue through its bottom (see photo).

If your corners aren't fully inverted you can push them out with a closed pare of scissors.

At this step you'll want to tack on your shoe tongue with a few stitches in discreet places.

*Tip: sew some extra stitches around the bottom of your tongue sides to add some reinforcement.*

Step 22: Adding Eyelets

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Before we move on to the sole of the shoe we need to add eyelets and laces to the "upper."

Eyelets are the holes where your laces will be threaded.

Depending on what your design, you can either make holes in the fabric itself, or you can add metal eyelets. It's up to you.

A fancy eyelet tool will cost you $20, but you can packs of eyelets often come with simpler tools that do the same thing.

To add eyelets, mark the places on your fabric where you want to add shoe lace holes and, according to the instructions included on whatever tool you're using, punch holes or cut holes, place your eyelet pieces in, and punch them together. It's pretty simple!

Step 23: Add Shoe Laces

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Put your last inside your upper to fill its shape in.

Pick a pair of laces you're happy with and tie your shoe for the very first time. Don't tie it so tight that your pattern distorts.

At this point you are essentially done with your upper and we will be moving on to your soles.

Make sure you have:

1) sewn your patterns together.
2) sewn your outer fabric to your inner fabric layer
3) punched eyelet holes
4) sewn your tongue on
5) added laces

Step 24: Soles

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We are going to move on to the shoe sole. There are three parts of shoe soles.

1) The insole: this is the part of the shoe that your foot comes in contact with. This must be slightly soft.

2) The midsole: this is a part of the shoe we won't need to be making. Typically the midsole is curved to provide arch support.

3) The outsole: This is the bottom of the shoe that makes contact with the ground. Usually made of sturdy leather or rubber.

I will demonstrate everything using 1/4" and 1/8" cork, which is easy to find at any place with architectural supplies.

Begin by tracing your last on a piece of 1/4" cork. Make sure you add around 1/2" extra so that you avoid cutting something too small.

Cut out your sole with a utility blade.

**These steps also work with shoe leather, which you can buy from a shoe repair store for around $30 a sole**

Step 25: Shaping Your Insole

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Soak your cork/leather sole in water for 24 hours.

Tie your sole to your last tightly so that it conforms to the shape of your foot. Set it in the sun and let it dry.

The sole will keep the shape of your arch when you untie it.

Step 26: Pare Down Your Insole

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Hold (or secure) your insole to the bottom of your last.

Since you left some extra material around your foot tracing, you should have some paring to do.

Using your utility knife, carefully shape the insole to fit your last.

I urge you to be careful. If you are using a harder material like sole leather cutting can be difficult. My best advice is to take your time and be happy cutting only a little away with each cut.

You'll be paring down the rest of your sole pieces in the exact same way as you do here.

Step 27: Preparing to Sew Your Upper to Your Sole

Picture of Preparing to Sew Your Upper to Your Sole

Cut out another sole.

Then, cut a ring out of the sole about 1/2" from where your sole begins (see the photos).

Affix this ring onto the bottom of your insole with superglue or another strong glue.

Shoemakers use something called "Shoe Goo," which is best for this project but harder to find. It also takes hours to dry and stinks, so super glue is fine!

Do not throw away the other pieces of the sole from this step.

Step 28: Sew Your Upper to Your Sole

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Put your insole and last into your upper (with its laces tied). Because your patterns continued onto the bottom of your last, you should have extra fabric that hangs down past the sole.

Hold the fabric tightly against the ring of sole you glued on in the previous step.

Now, using as thick a string as you can find, stitch through the fabric, through the ring of sole, and back, continuing around the entire shoe, pulling fabric tight as you go along.

This can be time consuming and irritating, but one thing you can do to ensure this process goes forward is keep your needle level as you pierce the ring of sole.

Expect to have a lot of excess fabric on the other side of your stitching.

*Note: One tricky area is the heel of the shoe, which can be difficult to maneuver in. You can always pierce the sole diagonally if you have trouble at this point.*

*Note: If you have trouble pushing your needle through consider using pliers to pull it through.*

Consult the photos if you aren't sure what to do!

Step 29: Cut Off Excess Fabric

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Once you've completely sewn around the shoe sole you should have some excess fabric. Use your utility knife to shave this fabric off.

Your shoe is coming together!

Step 30: Glue in the Extra Material for Your Sole

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Remember those sole pieces I told you to keep a few steps ago?

Glue them into your sole now! You may have some problems putting the outer ring on, so you can trim some material off of the inside to make room for the fabric you sewed on.

As with the insole, use your utility knife to trim off excess sole.

Step 31: Add a Heel And/Or Treads

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If you want a heel or some treads just add another layer of cork or leather!!

Step 32: Finish the Sole

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Add a final, thinner layer of cork or leather (the normal width is fine for that) to cover all the work you did affixing the sole to the upper.

I used 1/8" cork.

As always, trim off extra cork that you have.

*Note: If you plan on using your shoes outdoor and you didn't use leather you can shellack your shoe to add some integrity to the material.*

Step 33: Appreciate Your Shoe and Make the Other One

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Woo! Your shoe is officially done!

Put it on and see how it fits. The shoe I made with cork was extra light and flexible, but still pretty classy looking.

Now you have to make the other shoe :)

You should definitely make a cast of your other foot, but you won't need to draw your patterns again.

Take the paper patterns you drew and turn them over. If you made your right shoe first the flipped over patterns will fit a left shoe perfectly and vice versa.

Good luck and I hope you enjoyed this homemade shoe Instructable!


Curious777 (author)2016-03-12

Thank you for this useful article! Though I'm a woman, I've never owned more than 2 or maybe 3 pairs of shoes at one time because I was born with two feet of different sizes and have to buy 2 pairs of shoes instead of one. Now, I know how to custom make my own and it will be less expensive in the long run than having to shell out money on shoes I never will wear! I will have to experiment to get the kind of shoes I want for formal wear though.

SOMTeam (author)Curious7772017-02-15

Curious777, I recommend that you look for small shoe manufacturer in your country. They may be able to serve you. I am part of SOM Footwear in Colorado, and we serve different sizes feet on a regular basis, at no additional cost. Hope this is to help you.

T0BY (author)2016-12-06

I still haven't got round to making these but can't wait!

pgabriel3 (author)2016-10-08

This tutorial could also work for high boots. The main difference would be that whoever followed it would have to make the uppers rise higher on the leg; that could call for lasts that would employ more alginate.

That said, I have plans to make use of this tutorial to construct boots for myself. Once I do, I mean to add the "I made it" tag.

KimberlyR49 (author)2016-09-26

love your details, thank you so much for sharing! I am making moccasins and medieval moccasins and have been trying to figure out how to do the soles and getting the shape down packed has been a challenge and I am so picky! this last is the missing link I think to perfecting my shoes!! thank you so much! the only thing is, because this is for my business it would be beneficial to have one if it was adjustable to different sizes...

PaulaT18 (author)2016-04-10

Fabulous, thanks for the tutorial!!

Miriel_of_chaos (author)2016-04-07

A couple of great ideas here, I will definitely use some!

Just a word of warning: be careful with reusing right foot pattern for the left foot *and the other way around), it's totally not uncommon to have different sizes on different feet. But then again, I guess this should be pretty obvious for those familiar with the problem :)

The last is actually not needed for pattern creation as you obviously can use your feet (just put some socks on). I've sewn three pairs of moccasins without ever using one, it depends on the design of your shoes. But it is most useful when sewing uppers to the outsoles.

And to those puzzled by how to remove last, I can suggest to untie the lases. The last is just a cast of your foot after all and you'll expect to be able put your feet in and out your shoes ;)

garethllewelyn (author)2015-11-07

Super 'ble

Calytrix (author)2015-09-08

I think the soles in these DIY huaraches kits from Xero Shoes would last longer than other materials - they offer a 5,000 mile warranty on the soles! :-)

T0BY (author)2015-08-03

Very nicely done!

kategordon (author)2014-12-01

so I'd like to make a pair of leather boots, (the reason is- can not find anything that is long enough in the calves to suit my taste. Im a tall woman. I want a riding boot that actually comes up just a little past my knees, seems impossible to find without going to the "Hooker Protocol" thight boot lol any suggestions?

Hi there! I'm a custom shoe & boot maker, and I'm assuming you're not interested in paying what it would cost to have custom boots made. (Although, if you're interested, I could possibly point you in the direction of some people who are making the sort of thing you're looking for.) If you're seriously looking for something you can make yourself, out of leather, I'd recommend modifying a pair of shoes that fit into boots rather than trying to make boots from scratch. Making a solid pair of footwear that looks good, lasts through more than a few days, and fits properly is extremely complicated. To modify shoes into boots, you'd be covering over the existing shoes, in their existing pattern, with leather that then extends up the leg as far as you want it to go - probably best to do a fabric mock-up first, then do it in leather. Also, you'll probably have more success with a boot that laces up the front or has a side zipper than with one without an opening. If you're interested, I'd be happy to recommend materials or methods for going that route.

acoleman3 (author)2015-07-09

most wear resistant sole material you can find is crepe. 1 square foot panels, in 3 or 4 mm, can be purchased from tandy leather for about $12.

weish (author)2015-04-23

a useful method for making the shoes more waterproof and durable, especially when making them with all fabric, is to take the outer material and prep a mix of equal parts beeswax and linseed oil. paint the mixture onto the material while it's hot and molten, let it soak in, and that's it, waterproof. it'll stiffen the fabric a bit, and darken the colours some, but you end up with an extremely durable waterproofing that works for cloth and leather.

BethH2 (author)2015-03-25

I haven't made shoes from scratch but have worked with shoe materials and anatomic plaster models.

Adhesives: Barge is outstanding. Renia is also outstanding. I actually prefer Renia but it is expensive and a little tricky to purchase unless you're a professional.

Barge is easier (an advert for ShoeGoo popped up on Amazon when I searched for Barge):

Modifying plaster is possible and mostly easy. You can extend/round the toe box by placing the foot mold sole side down. Then staple a 1.5" wide strip of plastic (like 1/8" polypropylene) to the sides of the foot so the strip makes a loop around the front of the toes and makes full contact with the work surface. This plastic is going to serve as a barrier for plaster, if there are gaps the plaster will seep. Then mix about 1/2-3/4 cup of plaster so it is silky smooth. Pour the plaster between the toes and the plastic. Wait. When the plaster has set pry off the staples and plastic. Shape as needed using a surform rasp.

Or modify like in this video around the toe box.

aalahna.desiato (author)2015-01-16

I'm planning to do this soon, I am a little confused though on how you removed your foot from the mold without ruining it?

sonya.hunt.319 (author)2014-10-12

Sewing most leather is all about the needle, not the sewing machine. They make leather sewing machine needles that will fit most any normal sewing machine. They also make hand needles for leather. Also, the tandy company has a lot of leather crafting things. I use to make shoes for my toddlers. The last ones I made, I made a last out of a cheap pair of off brand crocs. Those were the best shoes I ever made. I'd love to try my hand at making my own shoes. If I could make myself a boot that I could actually wear, I'd be in heaven.

neffk (author)2014-10-08

How does the cork insole hold up?

bigfoot03242 (author)2014-07-19

Well done

musicstudent42 (author)2014-02-16

I just spent the weekend experimenting with shoe prototypes! question, what fabric do you recommend for the fabric used on the inside of the shoe? Did you use canvas? bukram? something I haven't heard of...?

amadadi (author)2014-01-25

I know this sounds too extravagant, but I always wanted to make my own Soccer cleats. do you think replacing the rubber / cork outsole with suitable plastic material (I think I found some suitable ones for this purpose) and cutting holes in it to accomodate the studs will work? Please let me know if you have any ideas I really want to do this and this tutorial was both eye opening and full of hope for my project! Thanks!

ruthemilydavey (author)2013-02-20

heya i was just wondering about the bit where you have made the last and want to mould around your toes, did you just use tape or did you use some sort of filler permastone solution? i want to make my own lasts and fill in that area to make it smooth ish. thanks for sharing your work

Javin007 (author)ruthemilydavey2013-12-17

To do this, you will need to take a second mold of your "foot." You create the original permastone foot mold, then using regular old modeling clay, smooth the whole thing over to make the last design you're looking for. Take a second casting of that with amalgam, and create another permastone (or resin - for stability's sake's) mold to finalize your last. As another addition, you can crank four or five large nuts over a large bolt, and set those into the "neck" of this last when the medium is still soft. Once the medium has set, the bolt can be removed and the nuts (with threading) will remain in the last. This will give you a hole that can be used to prop the last on a cobbler's stand, and the threading will allow you to crank in a handle (or attach it to a stand) so you can remove the shoe once it's built around the last. (Don't want to end up with a last stuck in a shoe that you can't remove!)

Zobot (author)2013-06-03

I love this inscrutable, it is very inspiring. I have been looking for something like this for years, and it opened the door to a wealth of information by means of knowing what questions to ask :D. I do have a question for you though. I tried this, and I used a roll of cork that I bought at Lowes. The shoes turned out great except that the second time I used them the cork sole cracked. I think it is 1/8 cork from the flooring department, I don't know much more about it. Is there a special kind that you are supposed to use for shoe making that is more flexible?

wbohrer (author)2013-05-28

Dude this is utterly awesome, I am a total shoe freak and have been search for instructables on how to make decent usable home made shoes like for EVER. Coupled with all the cool advice in the comments I can't wait to get started!

MissLead (author)2013-05-18

Your instructable is great so far! Although to reduce the air bubbles found in the casting, you could coat a thin layer on the inside of the mold first and tap out the rest while pouring :) This was a great idea though. I probably would have done a two part mold and gotten a mess everywhere.

luciac1988 (author)2013-02-03


angel birch (author)2012-12-14

Wow, I love your ideas, I am researching making espadrilles at the moment and found that I have gone off on a tangent. I thought of using cork on my own and I have to say you made an amazing job of the assembly.
Thank you for sharing
angel x

The Rambler (author)2012-11-08

This is very cool. I've been looking at making children's shoes (I have a young son) as well as comfy slipper shoes, so this is really useful.

clairedelaval (author)2012-09-28

This is awesome! Great instructions :)
Do you (or any of the other commenters...) know how I could tweak your steps to make high-heeled shoes?

GirlOfAllTrades (author)2012-08-02

With the 2nd way you could also fold under the seam allowance and it'd give you a much prettier (and fray-proof, if applicable) edge.

tinker234 (author)2012-04-01

i was wondering could i draw my foot on a piece of paper and then cutting that on cork then using steel wire into the cork then add some cardboard for structural support around the shoe then glue down leather

tinker234 (author)2012-03-01

i like the idea for the outsole could i use a large rubber alos for insole could i use something like doctor shouls pads thanks

lukieh (author)2012-02-26

Hi William. Can I recommend one of the easiest way of improving the strength of your shoe uppers and sole attachment would be to stop using a running stitch! Either use a sewing machine or learn to saddle stitch (with two needles and threads).

Shoe glue shouldn't take too long to dry. In the industry we use contact adhesive (called Barge in the USA I think) which only requires a fairly thin coat. No glue should really take hours to dry unless it's water based.

WilliamBottini (author)lukieh2012-02-26

Thanks for the tip! I've seen shoe glue before (it smells!) and I would *definitely* agree that sewing machine work is ideal. I did this in college and I didn't have a sewing machine. I'll update the Instructable with your insight in mind!

T Everett Holland (author)2012-01-28

Thanks much for posting this article. I was wondering: did you remove the last from the upper prior to attaching the sole, or were you able to take it out afterward? The thought occurred to me that I could make the initial cast of my foot in plaster/Permastone/whatever and then fill it out with Sculpey or the like to get closer to the desired interior shape so that I can pull the material tighter to get a more defined form in the end. The problem I run into with that is getting the last out without destroying it or the shoe... If I wanted to go all out, I could replicate the last in silicone putty, cut it into segments, and embed magnets to hold the pieces together. However, that probably wouldn't be worth the effort...

ahelton (author)2011-11-23

I'd love to see a photo of them on your feet. Have you made other styles?

999592 (author)2011-11-10

this is quite possibly the only truly step by step tutorial that i have been able to find on shoe making. and i have been searching for quite some time... thank you very much.

kbeadle (author)2011-10-22

Can you give me some advice on how much of one permastone packet you used for the casting? I'm in the UK and can only find permastone from usa so want to make sure I order enough. Best how to make shoes instructions I've found on the web!

WilliamBottini (author)kbeadle2011-10-22


I have US men's size 9 feet, and I used entire 28oz packages of permastone for each foot. Honestly the couple of times that I made casts of my feet I didn't use enough, and I had to end up adding volume by stuffing paper into the drying mold.

While everything depends on the type of shoe you're designing, I think you should play it safe and get around 80 oz of it, or two of the 48oz bags they sometimes sell, and split it between your feet (unless you have giant feet, then you're on your own!)

You should also be generous with the alginate when you make the actual mold for your feet, and try to mix enough that you'll be able to make a mold of your foot that goes up to the ankle.

This mold-making part of the process is probably the most resource heavy, but it's also pretty important. Good luck and ask if you have any questions!

kellylynn (author)2011-08-09

looks good and can't wait to try w/ leather,thanx!

bachinie (author)2011-08-08


Thank you for this c:

Cpt. Caleb (author)2011-08-01

Geez, thanks for being the ONLY practical step by step process for this topic on the entire internet!

Nice Ible by the way, it'd be great to see more of these made. but it just seems so tedious.

josuchav (author)2011-07-13

this rocks.
I've made some turn shoes in the past but these are awesome.

How well does the cork hold up against concrete/ street walking?

WilliamBottini (author)josuchav2011-07-13

Thanks! It's a pretty fun project because it can be very involved if you want it to be but isn't so long that you'll stop halfway through.

I'll say that the cork will work with street walking if you're careful to avoid rocks. There are several thicknesses of cork you can buy at a drafting or art store and I think that stacking thinner pieces together works better than getting using a single piece. It seems to allow for more flexibility.

However, I try to use my shoes indoors only. If you want to use them outdoors I'd suggest you visit a shoe repair store and ask for some of their sole leather. You should be able to buy them and pare them down yourself for about $20.

josuchav (author)WilliamBottini2011-07-17

I've been thinking about this a bit and there is a shoe making group (I can't seem to remember the name right now) and they use regular shoe glue or contact cement to adhere tire shavings. I tried this out myself a couple of times and it's a fun way to do it too. Just smear a coating of contact cement on the sole and then put tire shavings on it. Let it dry and repeat until desired thickness is achieved. I usually tap the sole with a light hammer to make the rubber stick a little tighter.

I won't have time to do this for at least a couple of weeks to a month, but I really want to try this out. Once I do I'll see if I can figure out how to make an instructable response to yours and do only the soles part.

At any rate, thanks again for making this one. I looked and looked online trying to find an easy way to make lasts and then how to make a shoe around it... this is certainly the best bit I've found.

taria (author)2011-05-29

this is cool, I wonder if you could make a pair of boots with this?

mo5 (author)2011-04-25

for the toe

i have all of the darts and everything

im using one sheet of fabric instead of multiple strips. so

how do i put a square around a circle?

WilliamBottini (author)mo52011-04-25

I don't quite follow... Show me a picture?

mo5 (author)WilliamBottini2011-04-25

im sorry. i kinda worded that as a puzzle hahah. the best example is to get a CD and a piece of copy paper. fold the paper around the circumference of the cd. you will have a perfect edge but the rest of the paper is sticking up in the air and there is no way to fold it back down with out messing up what you already did. idk if that is very clear. but i will try to upload a picture

About This Instructable




Bio: I am trying to do what I love to do. Looking for people to do it with!
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