23 July 2013

I Can Make Shoes!

You guys, I CAN MAKE SHOES! Look at these sandals - designed and constructed by moi, with more than a little help from Amanda, owner of the aptly titled shoe-making workshop studio I Can Make Shoes. I was jumping up and down when an invitation came through to a special one-to-one with Amanda herself. Just what I need to finish off my DIY outfits - DIY sandals!

So how do you make shoes? Lucky for us, Amanda has devised a simple method that allows people to make shoes at home with minimum special equipment. We began with a size 4 sole template, played around with a few design ideas, turned them into simple paper patterns and wrapped them around my foot to see what they'd look like. Soooo much simpler than pattern drafting for dressmaking! Next we transferred the shape to leather, drawing around the pattern with a biro pen and cutting out with regular scissors - Amanda uses tools that people have at home where possible. We hammered some holes out of the soles for the straps to pass through, and assembled all the pieces with glue. Ahh... the glue... deliciously thick and gooey neoprene-based adhesive - or "liquid wetsuit", as Amanda put it. It looked like Gremlin gunk and was a JOY to play with.

It really was one of the best days I've had in a while. It was so much fun to go in totally clueless, to have no idea what I was doing, discover that it isn't so difficult after all, and walk out with a pair of sandals that are totally unique, that fit me perfectly and that I absolutely LOVE. I made a few novice mistakes - such as forgetting to cut straps for the second shoe, doh! But it was all part of the experience, and I left feeling sooooo pleased with myself, with the same feeling of empowerment I felt when I first learnt to sew. Remember that feeling?

Thank you so much to Amanda for a fab afternoon, for patience while I spent about an hour deciding the order of the coloured straps, for the laughs, and for sanding down my rubbish leather cutting. Oh, and for making shoe-making so easy!

If you want to exclaim, "I can make shoes!" too, check out the awesome workshops in Hackney and e-books they offer. I'd highly recommend the sandals as an introduction for beginners. I'm seriously considering buying some liquid wetsuit and making a few more pairs.

Next I just need to learn to make brassieres, then I can have a whole handmade outfit...

[Soundtrack: 'New Shoes' by Paolo Nutini]