Leather Derby Shoes




About: Maker of clothes Maker of shoes Enthusiast

I'm a sucker for a great piece of leather and when I came across this metallic, textured, laser cut blue leather I knew I just had to make a pair of shoes using it as a feature. I made them pretty slowly over a bunch of weekends but you could probably make them start to finish in one weekend if you wanted to.

Let's begin!

Step 1: Materials

Here's a list of everything I used to make them:

  • Shoe lasts
  • Upper Leather
  • Feature Leather
  • Lining Leather
  • Soling Leather
  • Texon Board
  • Foam
  • Sandpaper P800
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Masking Tape
  • Dremel
  • Lasting Pincers
  • Scissors
  • Knife
  • Leather Punch
  • Silver Leather Pen
  • Awl
  • Hammer
  • Waxed Thread
  • Leather Needles
  • Leather Laces
  • Glue
  • Nails
  • Tacks

Step 2: Pattern Pieces

I started by covering one of my shoe lasts with masking tape and drawing out the design lines of the shoe. I cut the masking tape off my last along the design lines and attached it to cardboard where I added my lasting allowance and also a bit of extra height for my lining pieces. The picture shows you the finished pattern pieces ready to cut into my 3 different types of leather - the black leather for the upper, the blue leather for wrapping around the black leather as a feature and some dark grey leather as the lining.

Time to put all the pieces together!

Step 3: Stitching - Glueing - Skiving

Once my leather pieces were cut out it was time to put them together.

I started by glueing the black and blue leather together to creature the feature back panels. Once they were dry I hammered the edges to make sure they were as flat and smooth as possible. Then it was time to hand stitch the two feature panels together at the heel seam. Using waxed thread and two leather needles I stitched up this seam and hammered the seam open once done. I repeated the same for the other shoe.

I then hand sewed my lining pieces together at the heel seam for both shoes before glueing the lining to the feature leather along the outside line as you see above.

For the black leather I skived down the edges where these two pieces intended to overlap. I don't have a skiving knife so I did this with my Dremel. Then I glued just the top line edges of the lining to the upper.

Using my waxed thread and two leather needles I hand stitched the upper to the lining along this top edge. I started at the end of where I skived, hand stitched all the way around the tongue and back to the end of the skiving on the other side. I did this for both shoes.

While these were still a separate piece I marked the holes for where the laces would go and used a leather punch to cut them out.

Time to assemble the two pieces together!

Step 4: More Stitching & Glueing

I applied glue and carefully placed the feature leather onto the upper. Careful to position it perfectly and making sure to cover my skiving completely. I held this in place with clothes pegs for a little extra pressure while it dried. I then attached it to the other side and applied pegs again to keep it in place. When the glue had dried it was time to do some more hand stitching.

This time I was aiming to hand stitch these newly glued sides together as they would take a lot of pressure when the shoes were being worn. I stitched from the bottom of the arc right around to where the holes for the laces were. I repeated this for the other side.

Once that was hand stitched into place I started some new hand stitching around the top line of the feature leather to keep it together with the lining.

I repeated the above step for both shoes.

Step 5: Lasting & Sanding

Time to put the leather pieces on the last!

I started this process by cutting my midsole out of Texon Board and nailing it to the last (temporarily). Then I positioned my leather piece at the exact height on the heel and hammered a nail through the lining to keep everything in place. Now for the tricky bit, lasting!

Using my lasting pincers I glued my lining to the midsole and left it to dry. In the meantime I wet the upper leather and wrangled it into place with nails so that the leather could shape and have a memory of the last. Once everything was dry I pulled out the nails, applied glue, wrangled the leather into place again and hammered nails in again to make sure the leather dried in the right position.

Once all of this was dry I cut away the excess folds of leather and sanded everything flat so I'd be ready to attach soles.

Step 6: Soles & Heels

Since I was using leather soling which is extremely thick I let all my pieces soak in water and dry just a tiny bit to make them more pliable. I put on the glue and positioned the sole over the bottom of the shoe perfectly. Once it was in the right spot I hammered it into place so it would follow the contours of the shape of the last.

I attached an extra layer of the leather around the heel and sanded it back with my Dremel until everything was perfectly level. I applied glue and attached the heel.

I pulled the shoes off the lasts and put them on my feet ready to wear!

Step 7: The Finished Shoes!

I'm pretty stoked with how they turned out!

They fit great and they're comfy and wearable!

Tandy Leather Contest 2016

Second Prize in the
Tandy Leather Contest 2016



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    12 Discussions


    6 months ago

    I love these! Amazing work! I know this is probably really late, but was wondering where you gained your knowledge of making leather shoes? It is my dream to make my children some leather boots someday! Thank you


    2 years ago

    great instructions. Where do I purchase shoe lasts.

    2 replies
    Jodie BMindeeS

    Reply 2 years ago

    I bought mine from ShoeLastShop online and had them shipped to me. They have some info on their site about length and width of their sizes so you can choose wisely. Have fun!

    MindeeSJodie B

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you Jodie B, I'm going to look into ShoeLastShop.


    2 years ago

    When stretching the leather over the last, did you wet it at all?

    2 replies
    Jodie Bneffk

    Reply 2 years ago

    Yeah I did, it was actually my first time wetting leather before lasting. I only wet the toe part as that was the bit I really needed to stretch. It left a tiny waterline across the toe which was unfortunate. If I wet last again I'll dunk the whole thing in so it gets water evenly even if some parts of it don't need to stretch so much.

    neffkJodie B

    Reply 2 years ago

    The results look fine. Can't see the water mark even when I'm looking.

    I'm working up to making a pair of derbys that are welted construction. There's a lot of new and it's hard to get started. It's encouraging to see your results.


    Awesome instructable! This is probably the best shoe making tutorial that have seen on the site so far. Good luck in the Tandy Leather contest.

    1 reply

    2 years ago

    Wow. Seriously awesome shoe making tutorial. I have been toying with the idea of making shoes for a long time and am so glad to see lots of new authors sharing their process. Bravo and good luck in the contest! I voted for you.

    1 reply
    Jodie Btinaciousz

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you! Making shoes is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it, thanks for the vote! Much appreciated.