DIY Sneakers

Hey folks, I just finished this up and figured some of you would find it interesting. @Majicj and @Janet come to mind, but I figure others may also want to try their hand at it.

I picked up a DIY Sneaker kit from Lonsdale Leather (just a few blocks from the Cook Street space we used to be in) and thought I’d share. The kit is very easy to make and requires interest more than skill. If you get their deluxe kit, the only things you need to provide are laces, a hammer, and a sharp knife (box cutter works fine) You’ll need to use a hole puncher, a knife, and a sewing needle, and it took me an afternoon/evening to make the pair. The soles are flat rubber like you’d expect to see in a “skater shoe” like Vans or Converse, and the sizing for mine were spot on but if you wear thick socks or plan on adding an inner lining maybe buy one size up.

9/10, will definitely make again. I plan on buying another set of the soles and drafting my own pattern for round two, but the free included patterns were super easy to make and look decent. Here is my first stab at making a shoe using their “hightop” pattern with an added heel loop and optional brass eyelets for the laces:


This is the “Montana” leather from Lonsdale Leather in burgundy, the tongue and loop are the same leather, just suede side out for a little contrast. I bought 2sqft and had a bunch left over, but not sure if you could pull it off on 1sqft


So cool! These are totally amazing. Thanks for posting them! Any chance you wear orthotics? If so , did you have to address that in the sizing. Also any plans to make your own custom last down the road?

Is the sole glued on or sewn on? Just been reading about goodyear welts recently and really interested in making my own shoes at some point.

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I wear custom insoles but they are not much/any thicker than most normal insoles so I didn’t modify the pattern. IMHO, the toe box could be a little roomier but I am used to wearing boots and steeltoe shoes, not really used to the leather on the top actually touching my toes so that is almost certainly a “me” thing. I do not THINK it would be a big deal to add a bit to the bottom of the pattern to make them a little taller if you need that for an orthotic, but the soles themselves are designed in a way that you NEED an insole (they provide a fairly standard one) so I don’t know if you’d need to.

These are sewn to the soles. The upper channel around the top of the sole is a groove to hold the stitching. The process the kit uses is that what you see as the suede tongue and toe is one piece, and the sides and back that you see as pebbled leather is all one piece. So you cut two pieces of leather, punch your holes for the laces and the stitching holes, then stitch them onto the sole. I want to make another pair with some more detail to them. I am thinking maybe a wingtip with a more defined toe box, a bit more decorative shape to the area where the sides meet the toe, and a contrasting strip on the exposed edge of the upper to reinforce the eyelets and give it a little body. But seriously, for a first time interest project, I definitely recommend it as a reasonably priced experiment that I honestly think anyone can complete. I might gift a kit to a friend’s tween daughter who is into fashion design/drawing and see what she makes with it.

I am currently shopping for a last, I am thinking I want to try an outstitched boot next, but a last would be nice too. Lonsdale sells lasts but they are way above the prices I see on the internet for them so I am doing my homework on that right now. I might make and pad a cast of my foot and go from there, but I think I’d rather start with a known-good last. I am honestly surprised I couldn’t find mush in the way of 3d printable lasts. That seemed like a logical solution.


actually, you can see the contrasting thread on this one which shows the stitch lines really well. One of the few complaints I have is that I would have liked the stitch holes closer together, they feel like they are super long stitches… but since I’ve never made a pair before I can’t say other than my gut feeling…

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These are amazing! Nice work.

I think there is also a shoe stitching machine at VHS.

Wondering how hard it would be to machine a custom last on the wood CNC.

Now I totally want to try this.


I’m thinking for a cheap first last I may pick a sacrificial pair of shoes that I like the fit of, line the insides with something and fill them with alginate or plaster or something, then cut them off. We’ll see. Wood does seem to be the ideal material for a reusable one.

I found this blog and have fallen down the rabbit hole. They have great detail on the actual technique of making a lasted shoe.


Very cool.