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, 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

Update 1/2021


Over the years since publishing this post, many people have asked me for a tutorial on how to make boots like the ones shown in this blog post.

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 all-leather shoes and boots at home.










27 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!

  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

  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

  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!

  6. Happy to hear Sandals from recycled tyres.Are the recycled tyres not having thread wire inside ,which I believe will make it impossible to cut and to skive? I am talking about vehicle tyres. Please, explain to me how it works. To

    1. I haven’t taken apart a tyre myself yet but bought a recycled tyre roll from the supplier mentioned above. However, on my visits to Africa, I have seen sandal makers making entire sandals out of tyres. Search for African Tyre Sandals on YouTube and you will find videos of people taking tyres apart for soles as well as sandal uppers. I’m not an expert on tyres though, there may be tyres with wire threads inside that can’t be used for this purpose. It is the outer shell of the tyre that is used for soles.

  7. hi just come across your page via Pinterest. have you an online store for patterns? is your book completed? novice leather craft maker

    1. Hi, yes my shoemaking book is completed. Check it out here In the book I explain step – by – step how to make patterns that fit perfectly over your lasts. It is much better to make your own patterns (it is not difficult) than buying a ready-made pattern that most probably won’t fit well over your lasts resulting in not so great shoes.
      Happy crafting!

  8. Hi Neda, I am excited to read your book. I came of age in the 80s/90s and love a fat soled platform with a little bit of a wide rounded toe. I am wondering if you think getting a lost and adding to it, or making my own from plaster or wood makes the most sense in terms of getting that slightly rounded toe (demonia boots have that feel). Thanks for your work!

    1. Hi, I think the best option would be to get lasts that have precisely the toe shape you are looking for. If you can’t find them you can shape your lasts either using veg tan leather pieces (skived at the edges for a smooth transition) or epoxy clay. The challenge here is to get the toe shapes of both lasts as identical as possible. Both methods are described in more detail in my shoemaking book if you are interested to learn more.
      Have a lovely day

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