I have been dreaming about making my own footwear for a long time now. And if you ever looked into it even remotely, you will know that it’s an expensive, complicated and time-consuming hobby. There are so many steps, tools and ingredients that you need to make proper shoes that are not espadrilles or other forms of simple sandals. But a few months ago, I went on a course and I darn well made my own leather trainers by myself!
I am so proud to be now able to put together outfits that are 100% made by me, excluding underwear, which I don’t because I’m genuinely not interested (no judging if you are).
It was one of the most, if not THE MOST empowering handmade project ever, beating even jeans and coat making.
Here they are in the wild:
I can’t wait to tell you all about how I managed to make my own trainers and also about how you can take the plunge to make your pair as well!
Making trainers is so much fun
I can’t even remember how I came across the SneakerKit account on Instagram, but I was instantly hooked. No, obsessed! Verging on stalker. These were people that were taking standard moulded soles and turning them into actual wearable footwear, some with awesome design details, like laser-cut outs, booties, flounces, you name it.
And then I realised that I can learn to make them myself too.
SneakerKit is the baby of Dutch footwear designer Roderick Pieters, who wanted to empower regular people to make and customise their own footwear at home in an easy and accessible way. So he created the moulded sole and kits with everything you will need to put together a very cool pair of trainers (or sneakers).
I was so taken with the idea that I immediately started looking at where I could find a course to make my own. And luckily, Guthrie&Ghani were offering a class in the UK, so at the end of May, I got on the train on a Sunday morning and headed to Birmingham to have a go.
Guys, it was the most fun I ever had in any class I ever took! And there was not even a sewing machine involved!
And here are my masterpieces!
I really wanted white trainers, but there was not enough leather to make both of them, so I went for a grey/taupe and white combination. I wear a lot of greys lately, so I knew that they will go with a lot of combos in my wardrobe.
Of course, other people went for more colourful options, including metallic and textured leathers.
Spreading the joy of making your own trainers
On the train back, I was absolutely buzzing! And I was thinking that it’s absolutely mad that there is no course available in London.
So I decided that I needed to do something about it myself! I immediately fired an email to SneakerKit to ask if I can organise a local course. They came back right away and said that of course I could. So I set about doing just that.
SAVE THIS FOR LATER ON PINTEREST
You might remember that I regularly teach at a local sewing school in Hampshire, Joy to Create. This was the perfect option to start offering a Trainer Making course as part of their curriculum. Steve and Joy, the owners, were just as excited about it as I was.
However, that still left my desire to offer such a course in London. And serendipitously, I met Annie from the Village Haberdashery when my friend Kate and I organised a viewing of the River Blue documentary. It might have been the wine, but I excitedly mentioned to Annie that I was looking for a venue to do a trainer course in London. And she agreed right away to host a workshop at the Village Haberdashery.
And now we have dates for both locations, yay!!
Joy to Create is best reached by car – location details here – but it’s only 1h away from London Waterloo to Petersfield and we can arrange for a lift from the station.
What will happen on the day?
Well, you’ll make your own trainers, of course!
But seriously, I will guide you through the entire process and share my tips and tricks that I picked up by making my own pairs, train-the-trainer sessions with Roderick and my experience in working with leather. You will also learn a bit about different types of leather, leather tools and footwear construction information.
What do you need to bring?
Just your sense of adventure, we’re going to make footwear, people!
All tools, materials and patterns will be provided. We can also cater for veggies with heavy canvas or vegan leather, though we thoroughly recommend making them in leather. If you have leather in your stash that you want to use instead, you are welcome to bring it. You will need about 2 feet square. The soles come in several sizes, from Euro 36.5 to Euro 47 (UK 4 to 12).
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK? ARE YOU READY TO START MAKING YOUR OWN TRAINERS? ASK ME ANY QUESTIONS IN COMMENTS OR VIA EMAIL.
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