Sigh. Look at those Miu Miu heels. The Selfish Seamstress once considered learning how to whittle just so she could have a pair of these shoes. With a rather dainty foot (size 4.5 or 5 US) she has a hard time finding pretty shoes that fit, given that most stores don’t even stock shoes smaller than 5.5 or 6, and that kids’ shoes, well, often look like kids’ shoes. Naturally she has often fantasized about becoming an expert shoemaker and being able to make any shoes she could dream up or copy any shoe she saw. (It should be noted, however, that this was her motivation in learning to draft, but the closetful of custom-made, perfectly fitting designer knockoffs has yet to materialize.) Since she has not had the opportunity to sew in recent weeks, she’s once again become fixated on this fantasy.
Mary Wales Loomis has published a manual on making your own shoes at home with her adorable hand-drawn illustrations like the one above. As she promises, the process requires no special or expensive equipment. I did buy the book, but after reading it, I found the whole process rather intimidating – the sort of thing one would probably rather learn by watching than by reading, like, say, filling a cavity or giving someone a perm. The book has been around for a long time and is pretty informative, but I have seen very few accounts from people who have actually tried the process, fewer who have had success with it, and even fewer resulting shoes. I get the feeling that if I try it, I will end up with a big wonky mess.
And so my latest obsession is with the idea of taking a shoemaking course. As it turns out, there are many seminars (well not many, but a handful) for laypeople who want to learn to make shoes. They’re not fashion certificate programs; they’re not intended to make you a professional cobbler or train you for a job at Jimmy Choo. Just seminars or continuing education classes in which you’ll make a pair of shoes, possibly of your own design, using professional equipment, and subsequently become completely addicted to making your own shoes. Courses range in price from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars, and wow, are they tempting.
Those are some pictures from Prescott and MacKay, which in addition to offering a variety of shoemaking courses also holds other tempting classes including millinery, tutu making, and bag making in London and San Francisco. They look like they’re pretty serious about their accessories.
Cleveland dwellers, or those who can travel out there for two days, can take a class at International Shoemaking Design, whose emphasis is on fun and sexy shoes- spectators, pumps, strappy sandals, mules… nary a Croc nor Birkenstock in sight! Check out these fun shoes from the site- you can’t buy them so you’ll just have to make them yourself:
New Yorkers have an enviable array of choices, including lots of options at the Manhattan JCC (2-month courses are less than $300!), a sandal and evening shoe course at Make, and an upcoming stiletto-making course for rank beginners from Koronya! That’s right- four days of your labor at Koronya, and you could walk out in a pair of these:
So yeah, you can bet I’m going to be thinking about these courses when planning my next vacation, not to mention eyeing vintage fabric remnants with a whole new perspective: How would that look on my feet?
And in case I do have the good fortune to take one of these classes and end up with a closetful of adorable and covetable custom footwear- don’t ask, because you already know the answer. No.