I recently decided to spend a good chunk of my vacation time fulfilling a longtime dream to learn how to make boots by hand, old school cobbler-style. A few years back I found a boot making class in Brooklyn, How To Make Boots From Your Garage, that teaches the method I wanted to learn: the lasting method. I had been dragging my feet waiting for the right time to spring for a week-long course where I’d make a pair of boots from sketch to finished product. After a few too many tragic incidents this year reinforced the notion that life is too short to neglect one’s dreams, I took the plunge and signed up.
I decided to make a simple ankle boot for this first attempt so I could focus on the process and not get bogged down in extraneous details while learning the basics. The first step was a trip to Global Leathers in Manhattan’s fashion district to pick out materials. This place is the nirvana of leather. I nearly got lost in row after row of rolls of the most exquisite leather in every color and texture imaginable.
Next up was pattern making. In this step, I covered the last with two layers of masking tape, then drew on my design. The craft paper is used to extend the height of the boot if needed. After the design was complete, I carefully cut the masking tape and craft paper in pieces and flattened out the pattern. I then cut the pattern pieces in leather, and sewed them together.
Once the inner lining was lasted, I lasted the outer leather. The soles were built from hand cut leather and the heels I made from scratch, cutting out pieces of leather, adding glue, stacking them up to the desired height, then sanding to the desired shape. I added a dark gray lambskin lining with silver lambskin underneath the zippers.
Now with a pair of stunning bench made boots under my belt (if I do say so myself), I’m ready to take the next step and purchase the equipment needed to make more from my garage. The class includes a book that outlines each step in the process and Olivier, the instructor, is available for Skype consultation for those who can’t travel to Brooklyn.
Shelly, guest blogger, student of life, shoe lover (and Brittni’s favorite cousin)