Friday, February 18, 2011

Crafting! What to do with old bike tires

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.
Finished flip-flops.

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.


  1. That is so cool. Love your shoes. How original. Just be careful! Hubster may never let you buy a pair of shoes ever again :-)

    Lisa x

  2. haha, he already thought I've made more shoes than any person could ever want. Clearly he doesn't have a good grasp on women.

  3. thats such a great idea, i've always wanted to make my own shoes!

  4. I love your third pair of shoes. Was the pattern hard to make?

  5. No, not too hard at all. The book gives pretty good instructions. It helps if you can visualize things.

  6. Do you take orders?

  7. Oh My Good Ness!
    I have wanted to make my own shoes for simply ever and I did make a mock up of the shoeology pattern
    But I love yours so very much!
    I just ordered that book and I can't wait to make some beautiful shoes like yours!

    1. Thanks! Did you order the book from her website, the photocopied version? I am thinking of doing that soon. It's too bad used copies are so expensive!

  8. Wish had better concentration to make a pair of shoes. Realize need more support now in shoes (took a line dance clase and that night woke up with partial dislocation in foot.) Am currently trying to make some with flt and cork and then get some outsole. Not sure how to cut the bike tire, maybe old inner tube would work too. Wish could go visit and watch you make a pair. (live about hour away)

    1. Hey Lynn! Where abouts are you? Bike tires actually cut fairly easy with scissors. I cut the old tire in sections big enough to trace each sole and then cut out the sole. That seems to help a bit with the curling. After I cut them, I rolled them backwards, opposite the way they were curling and held them like that with an elastic for a night, although I'm not sure that does much. Once the tire is glued to the shoe though, the curl isn't a problem. I would imagine an inner tube would be slippery if walking on any smooth surface, especially if it is wet, and it would also wear through pretty quickly. Cork sounds like it would give lots of support. Where did you find your cork? I've used packing foam and Dr. Scholl's insoles in my shoes, but they can be a bit thin. I haven't made shoes in quite a few years though!


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