Shoe making with The Shoe Camaraderie

I’ve been lucky enough this week to attend not one, but two, workshops and they couldn’t be more different.

First up was a shoe making workshop with The Shoe Cameraderie, and yes, I made a pair of sandals!


I chose this design as I felt that it would be the most flattering on my foot whilst not being too difficult to make. I wanted the tan coloured leather as this is a colour missing from my summer shoe wardrobe.

A quick overview of the making: We had to take fairly comprehensive measurements of our feet and send these through to Lisa, the teacher and the person behind The Shoe Camaraderie. I found this to be almost the most difficult part of the process as I kept getting different measurements. When we arrived, each of us had a bag with all the bits required to make our chosen shoes – the pattern, leather, inner soles, soles, heels, and randing. I shall explain randing in a moment.

First job was to cut out all the pattern pieces. I had the four slightly shaped pieces that crossed the front of my foot, the four rectangles which would hold the straps, and the very curved strap pieces.

We also had a pair of shoe lasts in our general size sitting at our allocated places at the table, and the next job was to attach our inner soles to the lasts with pieces of masking tape.



Then the pieces that go across the front of the foot were fitted on to the soles and wrapped around. At this point I forgot about taking photos, but the last was slid out from the shoe and we were able to do the first fitting. My feet are quite narrow and once the fitting was done I could no longer get my sandals back on the lasts. This is not ideal, but we managed.


Where pieces of leather are folded over we learned to “skive”, or shave off the inner part of the leather to reduce the bulk where the joins are made. We then punched small holes at the ends and used waxed thread to hand sew the leather. You can just see in the photo above. The wax was melted slightly with a lighter and the knots stomped on with the end of the lighter to make them flat and very secure.

This is what the bottom of the soles look like once the shoes have been individually fitted. Lots of “dart” like wrinkles! Yes, those are my besocked feet at the bottom of the photo!


The wrinkles are sanded completely flat and two or three coats of contact glue are painted on to the soles and left to get touch dry.


This is where we had to open all the doors due to the fumes. It was a wild day weather-wise and I had all my warm clothes on! Thanks to Jenny (IG  @Jensonamission) for this photo, it was so nice to have.


Lisa had pre-glued the soles and heels and we used heat guns to warm them up. The soles are enormous so that we had plenty of margin for error, which is just as well as my first attempt at fitting them went a bit awry, but it didn’t matter.


Once the soles are attached to the shoe, they are trimmed down, and then the randing is applied. I have a large number of shoes that have that stitching round the edge of the shoes and I’ve always assumed that the stitching is done by machine when the shoes are finished. Imagine my surprise when I learned that it’s a little strip that is premade and just glued on to the shoes!


These aren’t my shoes – it is much easier to apply randing when the shoe is on a last. Mine weren’t on the last, so it’s a slightly slower process, but this gives the general idea. The soles have to be sanded where the heel is attached, and the heel is glued on. Lisa then took the shoes to a sander where all the edges were smoothed out. The final step is to use an edge beveller to, um, bevel the edges of the shoes.

Then it was time to line up all the shoes, have some wine and cheese and congratulate ourselves!


It was lovely to share the day with five other shoe makers and we are all now following each other on Instagram. Lisa is coming back to Perth in February and I have already decided what shoes I am making!

Here are my shoes in action on a freezing day. I nearly didn’t include this photo because you can see the imprint of my socks on my skin, but then I figured that I needed a warts ‘n’ all photo, and it also made me laugh!


What of the second workshop you ask? Well this post was much longer than I anticipated so it’s coming in another post. Stay tuned!



21 thoughts on “Shoe making with The Shoe Camaraderie

  1. Fabulous!!! I wish I could attend such one too 🙂
    They look great and it must be a nice feeling having made your very own shoes.
    I look forward to your next post! (and the one following your February workshop)…

    1. I suspect that these classes are going to be popping up everywhere as people are really getting into making shoes – another example of fast fashion.

      1. After I made my comment (a bit silly one, I’m sorry… it sounds very much like “me too”!!), I looked up for workshops and, surely, seen quite a few in the UK. The trendy/fancy ones in London go for an arm and a leg, while those in the country-side are more reasonably priced. I can’t tell whether there is actually much difference other than location and “hip” factor, though 🙂
        But it’s fascinating to wear things that are not mass produced by lowly paid work force.
        Not that I’m in dire need of shoes really 😉
        Have a nice day!

  2. It’s interesting to read your post. I enjoyed the photos of the process and look forward to reading about your next shoe making adventure.

  3. One of the reasons that Birkenstocks are the only open sandals I wear, is I can take them to my shoe repair, who separates the cork sole from the tread and glues a cork arch support between them. Without that I get back, hip, knee and ankle trouble. I’d love to have a go at making my own. Do you think what you learnt was enough for you to adapt it to include adding arch supports?

    1. Hmm, I think I could. If you did a class you could take the supports with you and see if you could build them in. Then you would know how to do it next time.

  4. What an amazing achievement! I’d love to have a go at something like this one day 👍 well done, they look great 👏👍🙏

  5. Amazing Sue! I would never have known that such workshops existed. It is great that you are doing this.

  6. How cool is that?! Your new sandals look soon nice and professional and I bet it was sooo. Much fun making them! I always thought the stitching was made at the end with a machine, thank you for clearing that up!

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