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
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Step 1: Generate a Concept

Picture of Generate a Concept
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.
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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.

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?

kategordon3 months ago

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?

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.

neffk5 months ago

How does the cork insole hold up?

bigfoot032428 months ago

Well done

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...?

amadadi1 year ago

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!

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
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!)
Zobot1 year ago
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?
wbohrer1 year ago
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!
MissLead1 year ago
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.
luciac19882 years ago
angel birch2 years ago
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 Rambler2 years ago
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.
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?
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.
tinker2342 years ago
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
tinker2343 years ago
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
lukieh3 years ago
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)  lukieh3 years ago
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!
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...
ahelton3 years ago
I'd love to see a photo of them on your feet. Have you made other styles?
9995923 years ago
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.
kbeadle3 years ago
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)  kbeadle3 years ago

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!
kellylynn3 years ago
looks good and can't wait to try w/ leather,thanx!
bachinie3 years ago

Thank you for this c:
Cpt. Caleb3 years ago
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.
josuchav3 years ago
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)  josuchav3 years ago
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.
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.
taria3 years ago
this is cool, I wonder if you could make a pair of boots with this?
mo53 years ago
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)  mo53 years ago
I don't quite follow... Show me a picture?
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
pyromonkey4 years ago
This project is so creative!! Now I have a new use for my fabric scraps! :)
WilliamBottini (author)  pyromonkey4 years ago
Yay! It's not difficult to use this to make different tops for a pair of shoes you already have too.
do i need 1 yard of fabric per shoe or for both?
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