Make shoes! While browsing in the craft section of the library, I discovered the most amazing book, "Crafting Handmade Shoes" by Sharon Raymond (unfortunately, it is out of print, but you can order a photocopy of it from the author herself. She also has a very informative website here). Flipping through the pages convinced me that this was something I could do. It was a challenge to learn new skills and make things from scratch. So I took the book home, gave it a good read through, and then bought the few tools and materials necessary to make shoes. I bought an awl (actually, I couldn't find an awl anywhere, so I got the closest I could find), some leather sewing needles, some contact cement, and artificial sinew. My work surface is an old cutting board and I usually just work on the floor. I bought leather scraps from Michaels and my husband donated his old bike tires. I used packing foam (not styrofoam)that I got when my husband's work upgraded to new computers. I used the foam to build up the midsole of the shoe, along with some Dr. Scholls inserts to make a supportive arch. Other tools that I needed but already had included a mallet, good scissors, exacto blade, and a geometric compass (to mark the stitches so they are even). It takes quite a lot of time to make a pair of shoes, from measuring your feet, making the pattern, cutting out all the pieces, gluing and sewing, but I love the challenge of it. I think it takes me about 40 hours to make a pair of adult shoes.
Here is my very first pair. They don't really fit well and I don't really wear them now. They are more like slippers than shoes.
This is the second pair I made and my favourite. These took a lot longer to make as all the pieces had to be sewn together before you could sew the upper to the sole. Notice the bike tires for the soles.
I call them my Frankenstein Shoes. The nice thing about these shoes is that I didn't need two large pieces of leather to make the upper pattern, but could use different size scraps to make the upper.
I've had these for about 3 years now and they are holding up well. It is time to re-stitch around some parts, but that doesn't take long to do. The glue holds them together in the meantime.
The third pair. I think these are cute!
Some of the baby shoes I've made. They don't have bike tire soles though.
In the process of making some flip-flops with arch support. This is my work station and most of the tools required.
You should give it a try sometime! It sounds intimidating to make shoes, but it really isn't all that hard. It just requires patience and the ability to follow written instructions.