Shoemaking class is one of those hobbies that can quickly escalate into self-inspired businesses. It is a detail-specific craft that demands your undivided attention, and this is what makes it a happy retreat for many people – just like all handcrafted hobbies let the world dissolve away to give you some escape. Apart from making a creative context for DIY projects, the art of shoemaking also has a survival aspect to it. Similar to gardening hobbies to grow your own plants, fruits, and vegetables, shoemaking is a handy craft that allows you to improvise with available resources and build your own solutions. While of course it is unlikely that one might end up stranded on a remote island, with nothing except strong shoemaking skills and Cast Away nostalgia, the idea that you are capable of such a talent has its own charm.
Shoemakers, or cobblers, work with various tools, machines, and materials to create different kinds of footwear. Hobbyists will often enroll in a shoemaking class to refine their skills and experiment with creative techniques. Online classes and YouTube tutorials are popular sources of flexible learning. You might even find a shoemaking school in your local district, and various colleges offer the course as sideline programs and crafty workshops. Armed with this self-sufficient talent, you can even start your own shoe line so that others get to walk a mile in your shoes!
Shoemaking tools and materials
There are endless ways to design and handcraft shoes using several materials and tools. The most commonly used shoe materials are:
The choice of tools varies from shoemaker to shoemaker, and it is more about your expertise and comfort rather than standard practices. Basic, miscellaneous tools used include:
- tape measure
- wooden or plastic shoe lasts – to construct the actual shoe
- lasting pin
- circular saw
- sewing machines
There are also options for shoemaking class kits with all-in-one versatility. They often include a combination of accessories and materials like plastic lasts, colored leather, insoles, welts, nails, heel lifts, thread spools, pliers, etc.
Shoemaking and Etsy: if you cannot find it, then make it!
If it is a handmade craft, then it has got to be on Etsy! With a global platform to showcase their cobbler talents, hobbyists have found a huge fanbase for their hand-sewn creations. There are countless DIY, handcrafted shoes for women and men, with vintage options that are hard to ignore! It is a great opportunity for skilled shoemakers to take their hobbies towards a full-blown home business. The Etsy catalog features a range of handstitched shoes, sandals, slippers, and boots that are all made from different materials, including recycled and organic materials for eco-friendliness.
Some of the exciting handmade designs that caught our eye include:
- suede shoes made of recycled textiles
- gender-neutral slip-on leather loafers
- vintage leather shoes
- leather moccasins
- brocade heeled shoes for women
- welted leather shoes for men
- cotton fabric espadrilles
- casual sneakers
- ankle cowboy boots
- platform shoes
- baby shoes
Exploring this vast Etsy line of handstitched shoes opens a whole new world for creative ideas, allowing shoemakers to launch their crafty trades. It also helps you appreciate the diverse possibilities for making different kinds of shoes, adding your own signature and styles to make them stand out. The superior quality, attention to detail, and smooth finishing make it impossible to tell if these Etsy shoes have really been built by hand. With a huge collection sitting on the virtual shelves as well as lining their own wardrobes, the shoemaking class artists will never get tired of being asked: where did you get those shoes?!
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
Success stories are always inspiring to read, and they become ten times more fascinating when you learn that you share something in common with those stories’ protagonists. Almost everyone who discovered their talent early on and worked to take it further and further until they reached the top often began with a passion for what they are good at. This is usually a hobby that ignited the whole wildfire journey, and in the world of shoemaking classes, there are several examples that motivate people. While we are talking about shoes and heels, these stories will certainly make you fall head over heels with the power of unshakable confidence in your pursuit.
Success stories range from small-scale businesses to global brands, and one such trailblazing journey is driven by Nigerian female entrepreneurs. Olamide Orgunsanya – The Shoemaker – is the pioneering founder of BeautyMatics Nigeria Limited, giving her talent a story-telling perspective that earned global recognition. Collaborations with various female entrepreneurs in Nigeria have led to the combined effect of smashing the glass ceiling in industries that fail to acknowledge inclusive talents. And it all began with a single, handcrafted shoe. Talk about walking your ground and still touching the sky as the limit!
Another example is that of Adidas. The German cobbler – Adolf “Adi” Dassler – started off as a determined shoemaker following the footsteps of his father. Working in a makeshift laundry area with makeshift tools and power supplies, he experimented with different styles until he came up with the idea of adding spikes to the soles. Moving into the first dedicated workshop, followed by a bigger factory, Adi Dassler’s handcrafted shoes began to earn a bigger reputation. By collaborating with his brother – (Rudolf Dassler, who became the founder of Puma) – Adi Dassler searched for opportune moments in sporting events to organize his marketing campaigns. Eventually, his shoemaker steps led to what came to be known as Adidas around the world.
Shoemaking classes to sign up for
Colorado Shoe School – Bellvue, Colorado
From artistic backgrounds
Colorado Shoe School is the brainchild of two aspiring art and dance graduates, with diverse creative opportunities to explore along their journey. Quickly warming up to their affinity for shoemaking classes craftsmanship, Annabel and Dan launched their own studio for sharing the art of shoemaking. Their classes are organized in the custom studio located in Bellvue, Colorado. They are designed to help like-minded hobbyists pursue their passion for making shoes that match their individual personalities.
The charming treehouse studio has been custom-built to host a range of shoemaking classes endeavors. It is well-equipped with proper workstations, sewing machines, and accessories to help students craft away conveniently. It is the place where all the magic happens, and you get to take away valuable skills to launch your own projects. The studio hosts various shoemaking classes workshops, and the necessary tools and materials are offered by the school. There is a lot of scope for improvising creative ideas to refurbish different objects into shoe parts. Therefore, students get to use scraps, upholstery, old clothing, discarded fabrics, etc. as raw materials for their shoes.
Classes and workshops
In line with the COVID safety measures, Colorado Shoe School provides lessons to bite-sized groups of 1-on-1 classes as well as 4-member groups. There are several 1-Day, 2-Day, 3-Day, 5-Day Sneaker classes with dynamic learning outcomes. These offer opportunities to craft your own shoes by choosing your materials, designing a pair of boots with your choice of soling options, working with pre-formed soles, and creating wet-lasted shoes. There are also classes for handcrafting un-welted, unlined, and low-heel shoes. The school’s 5-Day workshops are ideal for exploring new techniques starting from deconstructed shoes and making measurements to sewing and pattern-designing classes. By assembling and adding the finishing touches to the shoes, these comprehensive workshops raise the bar for DIY projects in the shoemaking world.
Udemy online courses
A hub for virtual learning
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Udemy offers a whole spectrum of learning opportunities in different subjects and skill levels. It is one of the leading global platforms for teaching and learning courses through online environments. Shoemaking classes are also offered to allow interested applicants to start their journey as a shoe designer and launch their first-ever shoe line – both as virtual businesses and brick-and-mortar stores. These courses are often derived as fashion-design projects with a dedicated focus on the art of shoemaking.
Learn to make Shoes and Become a Shoe Designer
In this shoe designing course, students learn how to make and sell their own brands of shoes. The online course addresses footwear designs as DIY milestones that take their creative streaks from fashion industries. It also teaches the fundamentals of secured online selling contexts, so you get to sell your shoes on reliable marketplaces. This program is presented in manageable breakdowns to streamline your learning objectives and give you enough time to refine your shoemaking skills. Footwear items include shoes, sandals, boots, etc., and employ a range of techniques for quality-defined results – as explored in the course milestones.
DIY LeatherCrafting: Making Leather Sandals
This leather crafting course tackles the art of designing leather sandals. It offers a creative insight into the craftsmanship that works behind the scenes of modern leather footwear. The course also elaborates on selling options and strategies for your shoe line. Beginners and experts can both participate to learn new techniques and experiment with different styles, materials, tools, etc. The module focuses on various fundamentals of leather-crafted shoes, starting from paper templates, to choosing the best leather, to using the correct tools so that you can transform the pieces into assembled pairs. The final touches include adding buckles and design details.
How to Become a Shoe Designer and How to Make Designer Shoes
This shoe designer class is organized to help you with resume-friendly skills in the fashion industry, specifically in the shoe design avenue. It teaches and explores various points of the shoemaking learning curve to give you an independent approach to this craft. You get to learn how to make a foot cast, gather the right materials, assemble the shoe pairs, add finishing touches, collaborate in relevant networks, etc. There are also strategies to understand your selling options with online consignment shops. The course is a great threshold to the shoemaking world, where the end product makes an impactful fashion statement.
Skillshare online courses
Online learning communities
Headquartered in New York, New York, Skillshare is a project-oriented platform that encourages interactive learning environments between participants. With creative exploration that makes education an enjoyable pursuit, different subjects are available to help students bridge their learning gaps. Shoemaking is one of these subjects, and it is delivered with a special focus on beginner goals as a shoemaker.
In this sandal-making class, three key objectives are explored. These include working with leather, creating patterns, and working on shoe construction. It is an ideal shoemaking class for DIY enthusiasts, fashion designers, leather crafters, and of course, shoemakers. Sandal-making forms a resourceful skillset that can be applied to all areas of the craft. The bite-sized modules traverse over materials and tools, pattern designing, leather tracing, straps and holes, hammering stages, gluing, and final finishing steps. This beginner-level class teaches students to work on projects and handcraft gender-neutral sandals with rubber soles. By sharing their inspirations, design sketches, and selfies with the sandals, students get to experience a more collaborative and interactive virtual class.
The Sun Sandals : Earthing Leather Sandals for Beginners in Shoe making (soft-sole / barefoot shoes)
This beginner shoemaking class teaches the art of making comfortable, bespoke leather sandals. With stitching techniques and leather lace designs up your sleeve, you get to practice the skills for creating custom-fitted patterns for free-sized shoes. Depending on your resource availability as well as accessibility, you can recycle leather materials from different objects and use them as shoe parts for this project. The course provides an insight into the shoemaking basics, size specifications, lacing the parts, stitching the heel, and putting everything together during assembling.
Brooklyn Shoe Space – Brooklyn, New York
A footwear hub
Founded by Keiko Hirosue, Brooklyn Shoe Space was the brainchild of this iconic, self-inspired shoemaker who wanted to revolutionize the craft’s accessibility in urban contexts. She took her skills, tools, and materials to the studio and quickly spread the word to welcome a pool of interested shoemakers as well as leather workers. The studio soon became a footwear hub for collaborations and projects from famous brands like Adidas. Universities such as Harvard University, Jefferson University, and the Fashion Institute of Technology partnered with Brooklyn Shoe Space for apprenticeship programs for their students. This made the school a very community-driven platform for sharing ideas and teaching others.
The well-equipped shoemaking studio is a women-centric workspace that welcomes every female artisan on-board. In response to the COVID protocols, the previous studio had to shut down and move to new premises. The shared space with Shoe Girls Studio still continues to be a growing network of shoemakers and handcraft enthusiasts. The studio also provides the necessary tools and materials ahead of class for both online and in-person classes.
Brooklyn Shoe Space has limited its in-person classes to just 1-on-1 sessions to prevent group gatherings during the outbreak. These private classes focus on introductory shoemaking, 5-day intensive workshops, Air Jordan classes, 3-day stiletto classes, 2-day sneaker classes, slides and mule-making workshops, and much more. Students receive a variety of techniques with included course materials like midsoles, insoles, outsoles, toe puffs, shanks, and heel counters. There are opportunities to dive right into some hands-on work with mule shoes and custom-made Air Jordans.
Regarding the online Zoom classes, students have better freedom with the shoemaking curriculum. The classes have introductory shoemaking lessons, mule workshops, and WFH slippers. The online curriculum teaches shoe lingo and foot measurement techniques. It helps you figure out the right shoe lasts for your projects and guides you throughout the stages of mule patterns. By sharing the art of making cozy, comfortable WFH slippers, the course helps with giving your shoemaking creations a branded perspective to launch your own entrepreneurial success.
Alexandria Wills Studio – Chicago, Illinois
Braced against COVID
Alexandria Wills Studio is an inspiring, generous, and welcoming initiative that was launched not just to spread the skills of shoemaking but also to lend a helping hand during COVID restrictions. The studio is a widely-admired workplace for passionate shoemakers and DIY craftspeople who have left countless reviews of their rewarding time at the studio. Alexandra Wills is a shoemaker herself and also designs fabric face masks for those who need help.
All the classes are strictly COVID-proof with regularly-sanitized equipment, socially-distanced workstations, and mandatory masks during the lessons. Furthermore, you can reserve classes with your quarantine friends to come and practice in controlled, isolated environments. The studio is an eco-friendly place that uses non-toxic glues, ethically-sourced leathers, and even vegan leathers on request.
The studio organizes a variety of shoemaking events and workshops. These workshops explore beginner 1-day modules for learning the valuable craft and leaving the class with a finished, handmade pair of shoes. The 2-day class teaches the shoemaking techniques for Derby shoes in their gender-neutral styles. There are also custom private lessons that are tailor-made to address your shoemaking goals on a per-hour basis. These workshop classes are designed to share traditional shoemaking skills for handcrafting your own styles and brands of shoes.
“Recalled to life”
Like all DIY hobbies, shoemaking is a solitary escape that gives people something to create, something to build, something to focus on, and something to be proud of – especially when the world around moves at a sluggish, reluctant snail’s pace. We all know the feeling of being locked in during quarantines and lockdowns. Handmade creations stepped in to save us many times during the paralyzing shutdown of all activities, jobs, recreations, and outdoor gatherings. Shoemakers around the world found renewed admiration for everybody’s favorite shoemaker – Dr. Manette. United by how shoemaking became his escape and continues to be a retreat for us hobbyists, we really are living in the best of times and the worst of times – with classical metaphors making more sense than they ever did before.