Finally, I got around to making myself some sneakers, I love how they turned out. I used a sneaker-making kit, veg-tan fish leather and cowhide leather for the lining. It took me a weekend to complete them. All in all, a really fun project, I will definitely make more in the coming months.
The basic sneaker-making kit comes with pre-punched outsoles, insoles and a 3 in 1 pattern (super low, low and high). For the outsoles, I chose tan, there are also black and white soles available. They are 60% natural rubber.
The only tools I needed were a hole punch and leather shears. Thread and needle come with the kit.
Why I chose fish leather
I’ve been collecting fish leather for a while now, whenever I see a nice piece I buy it. There is a lot of going for fish leather. It is a by-product of the Nordic fishing industry and is known to be 10 times more durable than calf leather thanks to its cross-fibre structure. By comparison, the fibres in calf leather run in only one direction.
Only 1% of fish skin is used to make leather, the rest is destroyed. Most fish leather comes from Iceland and is treated and tanned using gentle and eco-friendly methods aided by Iceland’s natural hot springs.
Special about fish leather is that each skin is unique. No two skins are exactly alike. I used 3 skins for these sneakers, depending on their size you might need one more. I had to cut the tongues from smaller pieces and patchwork them together, but that’s fine with me.
I read somewhere that fish leather shoes can last for 20 years or more, so that is something to consider when paying more than usual for leather.
Crafting the sneakers was straightforward. After cutting out all the pieces and glueing the fish leather to the lining (using non-toxic Renia 315) I attached eyelets with a flower punch.
By the way, the pattern is just 2 pieces, the sides are one piece and the tongue the other. Because of the shape of the fish leather, I had to cut the pattern at the back because the fish skin wasn’t big enough to fit the whole pattern piece. It was no problem, though, I just sewed it together at the back and covered the stitching with a small piece of leather.
Sewing wasn’t too hard, the kit comes with a long needle. I followed SneakerKits YouTube video on how to stitch it all together.
The only thing I’m not too keen on is the insole, as it’s plastic, I might look for a cork insole or replace it with a thicker leather sole. I tried to just put a leather top sole on top of the plastic sole, but that resulted in squeaking when walking. I will figure something out…
SneakerKit is a small business in the Netherlands, their kits can be bought worldwide or directly from their website. I got mine in the UK from Guthrie & Ghani.
For how to make the most beautiful all-leather shoes and boots, check out my PDF shoemaking e-book Handcraft Your Own Shoes And Boots. A Step-By-Step Guide To Making Artisan All Leather Shoes And Boots At Home.