Thursday, March 12, 2020

One Afternoon Tutorials--Shoes

Since I have not attempted to gather shoe construction projects for my collection of "one afternoon tutorials," I figured that I would do that today.  

Now I have, in the past, posted links to tutorials for shoe ornaments (such as rosettes) or shoe modifications (such as shoe dyeing).  But those are different from making, from start to finish, a pair of wearable, at least plausibly period shoes in a single afternoon.

There's a reason for that.  Shoes have to be more than pretty; they also need to protect the feet and be reasonably comfortable to wear.  That means that most shoes are made from leather or similarly tough materials, not fabric alone.  The toughness of leather makes it physically challenging to sew, so making shoes from scratch usually takes much longer than a single afternoon.

That being said, there are historical shoe projects that can be single-afternoon tasks.  Two of the three tutorials here are for prehistoric shoes, and involve nothing more complex or strenuous than cutting and lacing pieces of leather to fit the feet.  
  • "Net-Top" Shoes.  This tutorial comes courtesy of Heather Rose Jones.  The historical examples of this style that Heather gives are associated with "barbarian" cultures of the late Roman Empire.  
  • "Iron Age" Shoes.  The designer of this tutorial refers to them as "Iron Age/Viking," but these designs are not Viking.  Like the "net tops" above they require cutting a single piece of leather in a manner that can simply be laced to the foot; the result resembles traditional Irish dance shoes more than anything else.  This particular design may not be historical, but lace-on shoes are documentable for early periods in Scandinavia and probably for Ireland and Scotland as well, and the result is not offensively anachronistic for other prehistoric cultures.
  • Regency era dance slippers. This tutorial describes how to sew Regency dance slippers by sewing machine; they have fabric uppers and light (synthetic) leather soles. [NOTE:  This tutorial is old (2010) and the internal links in it no longer work.]  These slippers are meant for wear indoors. [SECOND NOTE:  The recommended pattern mentioned in the tutorial, Butterick B5233, is still being sold but the current version does not include the shoe pattern featured in this tutorial.]
I have been looking for sandal tutorials but have not found anything that I think would, or even might, be a one-afternoon project.  If I find anything else of interest, I will share it.


  1. Thank you for posting these! They look easy to make and the results are very cool.

    1. You're welcome! I should try the net top ones sometime (though with my bad feet, I could really only wear them indoors).

    2. You should try them even if you only wear them indoors. They look fun to make.

    3. I may, but there are other projects higher up on my things to spend money on at this point.