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Homemade hiking shoes
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Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Homemade hiking shoes on 10/31/2010 19:00:44 MDT Print View

Sorry this is so long.

After much trial and error, I have made a pair of hiking shoes. Why? Because I wanted shoes without arch support, toe-spring or a raised heel and with the width I need for my foot. Something somewhat minimalist. I tested no cushioning as well, but that was just a little bit too minimalist.

I learned simple shoe-making from this site: I bought patterns from her, but my pattern is pretty similar to if you were to assemble the fisherman sandal pattern pieces and then trace around the front portion for the front piece. Then the heel section is more of a long rectangle.

I cut two of each pattern piece with a seam allowance for each shoe. I cut one of each piece of fusable interfacing with no seam allowance.

I used fabric from a pair of mens polyester shorts from the thrift store.

I fused the interfacing, then sewed right along its edge. Turned the pieces right-side-out.

For top soling I used a pair of flip-flops. I have also experimented with cutting my own soles. It's the same foam so why not use something that already has clean edges? To ensure the width I needed, I bought XL flip-flops and cut the excess length from the heel.

First I pinned the pieces to the flip-flop and tried it on. I adjusted until the fit was right, then pinned the two pieces where they met and sewed them together.

I sewed a channel in the front piece for some webbing, thread the webbing through and sewed the webbing to the inside by my ankle bones.

Then I pinned the pieces to the flip-flops and with a stitching awl, stitched them to the sole.

Next I used barge cement to glue the foam soles to a real sole.
gluing soles

Here's the stitching.
Stitching on bottom

Here is the sole. Vibram Kletter 148 is the type. Very grippy.sole on black and blue shoes

After gluing, I cut the excess soling off. This is difficult. Fortunately dirt eventually hides the rough edges.

I sewed on plastic buckles from the hardware store for the closure.

Here is the finished shoe.
finished black and blue shoe

Some things I have struggled with:
- I had a hard time with the patterns. I finally figured out that on my size 6 foot, a size 9 front piece with an extra half inch width overall and slight narrowing at my arch fits. Otherwise a size 6 would be long enough but very tight over my toes.

- I had a hard time with the heel piece. Turns out a curved shape like the pattern did not work as well as a straight shape. Then I would try on the shoe and pin the heel piece close to my ankle and sew it. Eventually I made a heel piece pattern that included this inward slant toward my ankle.

- Leather top soling is too slippery unless you put the rough side up.

- I tried zero cushioning but I think for faster hiking, cushioning is good. This is a lot of cushioning, but they are cheap flip-flops so will pack down quickly. I made similar sandals with no cushioning so I can go more minimalist if I want.

Chris Peichel

Locale: Eureka
Homemade hiking shoes on 10/31/2010 20:09:41 MDT Print View

I am very impressed!
Let us know how they work.

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: Homemade hiking shoes on 10/31/2010 21:53:32 MDT Print View


Awesome progress you're making, I think in the next iteration or two I'll expect to order custom shoes from you. ;)

I really like the styling of the uppers, and the webbing cinch.

Are you using recycled/replacement boot soles or soling sheets? I'm guessing those soles are making those shoes pretty heavy. They seem like overkill from my experience, but YMMV.

I don't find the top soles? of my Softstar Runamocs to be very slippery, maybe it's the type of leather? It's a light tan color with lots of pin-holes in it.

Very cool.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: Homemade hiking shoes on 10/31/2010 22:51:42 MDT Print View

I realized after I took the picture that they look like Softstar moccasins (their standard kind, not the running ones). But when worn they aren't as poofy as Softstars look in the pictures.

Black and blue shoes worn

The lug soles are a bit heavy but it's not bad. I'd say these weigh more than my MT100s but less than other sneakers.

I really like the lug soles. I put them a pair of sandals that I made and tested them yesterday on a short hike. They grip all surfaces really well. I have struggled with traction with some of my other footwear, specifically Chaco and Keen sandals.

David Erekson
(finallyME) - F

Locale: Utah desert
Great shoes on 11/12/2010 11:09:01 MST Print View

Piper, just wanted to thank you for the inspiration. I was looking on Flikr for inspiration for homemade shoes and saw your pictures there. I really like what you have done. I recently made some huaraches, but want something a little warmer for this winter. Mukluks for snow camping are also on the drawing board now. Anyways, the shoes look great and I look forward for any updates on how they hold up and perform.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Great shoes on 11/14/2010 22:12:25 MST Print View

Black shoes with new soles

The flip-flop soles were too squishy. I removed them and restitched the uppers to a thin layer of leather and cork sheeting. Glued the Vibram soles back on.

These are really nice. I wore them on two hikes and they were very comfortable. They are like moccasins with good traction.

It is different to walk in such minimal hiking shoes. I was able to maintain a fast pace because they do provide good protection from rocks and good traction. But they are still minimal enough that I can feel the ground under my feet. They also seem to provide a good workout for my forefoot. I liked what moving from high-top to low-top did for strengthening my ankles and hope that a minimal shoe will strengthen my whole foot.

I'm working on another pair of shoes made from felt. After this I might try to make a pair of boots kind of like Ugg boots.

Rob Hubbard
(robwa10) - F

Locale: England
Hiding Stitching on 11/15/2010 04:51:38 MST Print View

Piper those are some great looking shoes! I love the idea of making my own lightweight shoes. Just a thought on making them look 'production' style.

Do you think you could take the upper material and wrap them over the cork and then stitch it on from the underside of the cork? This would mean the stitching was hidden inside the shoe, which may bring a comfort issue of rubbing on the stitching. But then when you glued the sole on you wouldn't be able to see the cork or the stitching holding the upper on.

I may have to give it a go next Spring/Summer. To cold and wet now here in England to wear anything that's not waterproof. Also I would like to make a lighter quilt, tarp, backpack.................

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Hiding Stitching on 11/15/2010 07:27:37 MST Print View

The glue that sticks to the sole won't stick to fabric.

There is a method to hide the stitching of handmade shoes but it is painstaking and takes a huge amount of work. It is the "bespoke" method and is used for dress shoes.

For simple shoes, I could create a binding around the edge and stitch in the crease where the binding meets. I could also make a "turnshoe" which is a shoe stitched together inside-out and then turned right-side-out.

The lady who sells the pattern that I used sells soles that have a strip of leather already attached. You just drop your upper into the sole and stitch the leather strip to it. It doesn't look quite so moccasin-like. But those soles had heels and weren't as minimal as I was going for, nor did they have the hiking boot lugs which I really wanted.

Cory Turner
(CoryTurner) - F

Locale: Northern California
homemade waterproof shoes on 11/20/2010 02:33:25 MST Print View

could you wrap these in some material to make them waterproof? I'm sure it could be done but would be a good idea. You could even have them have snaps in place to attach to homemade waterproof pants so you'd have the same effect as gaiters in light snow.