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 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 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 actually 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 a bit 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 results 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 wonderful all-leather shoes and boots check out my shoemaking eBook Handcraft Your Own Shoes And Boots. A Step-By-Step Guide To Making Artisan All Leather Shoes And Boots At Home.