Making Boots at Home – Inspiration For Shoe Making

Making boots at home is the most wonderful feeling of accomplishment. You can make them look exactly like you want them, choose the material, colour, decoration, height and so much more!

I started making shoes 10 years ago, they didn’t look like these then. I used to take apart old shoes to figure out how they were constructed and then experimented with basic shapes, different leathers, dyes and ways to decorate it while teaching myself leather craft techniques.

I got so fascinated by the fact that I can actually make shoes at home that I haven’t bought another pair of shoes since.

At the time there was very little information on making boots on the Internet or in books and it hasn’t changed much, so it took me some time to get where I am now.

Making boots
Cutting the pattern pieces with leather shears

I use vegetable-tanned leather for all of my shoes and boots. Here I decorated it with a pyrography tool burning a design onto the leather. I prefer water-based leather dyes over alcohol-based dyes as they don’t dry out the leather as much.

Making boots
The vamp, quarters and sole shapes

Once I get to the sewing stage most of the work is already done. Sewing the uppers to the soles takes me about 1 to 2 hours. I still have to attach the outsoles and heels and edge-finish the soles.

making boots

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Update 11/2020

Over the years since publishing this post, I got a lot of requests for a tutorial. It has taken me some time, but I’m happy to announce that I have finally completed my new eBook Handcraft Your Own Shoes And Boots. A step-by-step guide to making artisan shoes and boots at home. You can find it here.

21 comments on “Making Boots at Home – Inspiration For Shoe Making

  1. Hi! These are really amazing!!! I was wanting to make a pair as I do a lot of leather work and I was wondering if you had more details in how to make these and what supplies you used? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Eva, thank you, glad you like them. I’m planning to write a step-by-step tutorial over the autumn, please check back in a couple of months.

    1. Hi Mike,
      I buy vintage lasts on eBay or Etsy, but you can also find new ones although a lot more expensive. I have a few links I could send you, depending on where you are, Europe or the US?

    1. Hi Mike
      one shop is Lisa Sorrels shop Sorrel, Notions and Findings, she is a bootmaker in the US.
      There is also the Brooklyn Shoe Supply shop with lots of lasts, hope you find what you are looking for!
      Neda

  2. Hi amazing I really like. I’m in Egypt I just learned how to make wallets and bags.. Shoses are a little bit hard for me.. I’m afraid to take the first step.. I need your advice and how can I make a pattern

    1. Hi Mai,
      I’m in the process of writing a new eBook on shoemaking, it will have pattern making in it, please check back some time in spring 2019 or subscribe to my blog (in the sidebar), I will announce it here when I’ve finished it. Unfortunately, pattern making is a bit too complex to put into a few sentences.
      All the best
      Neda

  3. Thanks for the very interesting page! I have recently tried making non-lasted shoes, prototype was ok but still learning. Looking forward to your book!

    1. Hi Pete, thank you for buying the Sandalmaking eBook! I’m still in the midst of writing the shoemaking book but hope to finish in a couple of months. I hope you enjoy making sandals
      Neda

  4. Hi Neda,
    it’s nice to see, that I’m not the only one beeing stressed with creating own shoes 😉

    While your Book seems to be not done yet, I have a Question…
    I allready did a Chukka-Boot from 2,5mm thick vegtan Leather.
    The Pattern works and the fitting is ok.

    My Issue:
    When I walk and bent my Toes, the Leather wrinkles extremely and the Front of the Shoe collapses.
    Do you have a Tip, how to get rid of this?

    Thanks a lot!

    Still waiting for your book by the way 😉

    1. Hi Chris, I always make a toebox so that the toe area of the shoes stays popped up. I use thin veg tan leather that I cut using my vamp pattern (you can see the shape of the toecap on the boots above it’s the sewn on front part of the vamp). I skive the top edge paper-thin so it can’t be felt from inside and then cement it onto the inside of the upper with Renia 315 (non toxic cement) or Hirschkleber. When dry the toebox is stiff and doesn’t wrinkle anymore. I also use lasts, stretching the leather over it makes it keep its shape.

      I’m still working on the book, in the end it always takes longer than expected, but I hope to finish it soon.

    1. I have made sandals with recycled tire soles and can recommend it. I have walked in the sandals for a couple of months now and the soles still look almost new. I bought mine at Leather and Grindery but of course, you can take apart a tire yourself with the right tools.

  5. Hi Neda,
    I’m looking for some guidance as to where i can buy shoe last. I live in the EU. Love your articles. Regards Seo

    1. Hi Seosamh,

      there is Springline in the UK, Spenlé in Germany and Shoe Last Components in Portugal, there might be more but these are the ones I know of. Good luck in finding what you are looking for!

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