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Want to Make Your Own Shoes? It's Easier Than You Think

Picture of India Doyle
Updated: 1 August 2017
Nestled away in The Pill Box Studios near Bethnal Green tube station is I Can Make Shoes, a workshop changing our perceptions of shoemaking for the better.

Founded in 2010 by Amanda Overs, the premise of her vision was to take the seemingly complex and alienating task of making shoes, and create classes and workshops that made it really simple.

“We are a shoemaking school designed to teach beginners how to make shoes”, she explains to me when I go to visit the studio in May. “We don’t use any heavy machinery at all, so the whole idea is to make it an ‘at-home’ craft, which is broadening the whole footwear industry really. Until recently you needed to have huge sanding machines etc. It’s making it more accessible.” Indeed, of all the DIY fashion ideas one might have had – customising your jeans or cutting yourself a sleeveless top – shoes have always seemed far too intimidating to approach on your own. Amanda is on a mission to change that.

I Can Make Shoes is part of an unfolding craft revolution happening in the city, with increasing numbers investing in passion projects outside of work. Millennial cliché? Of course, but it hasn’t stopped swathes embracing everything from pottery classes to denim workshops. “I think people are getting a bit bored of seeing the same thing everywhere, and having so much stuff accessible all the time. There is a need and want for people to be creative and make something with their own hands.” Amanda notes of the success of her business. And while I Can Make Shoes classes include one-day and weekend workshops, they also cater to those looking to launch their own businesses and further their understanding of the craftsmanship behind making a pair of shoes. On the weekdays, there’s private tuition for those really looking to hone their craft.

Given the summer season, the shoe I chose to make was an espadrille. However there’s nothing stopping you from thinking and dreaming big – hell, you should! Classes cover everything from high heels and ballet pumps to boots, leather sandals and there’s even a Derby making masterclass.

“I think people have an idea of shoe making and their have an archaic image in their head of an old man hammering away, and actually shoe making has come a long way since then.” She notes, “I’m trying to make it more of an at-home craft, because it’s not that difficult, at all.”

So anyone could make their own shoes? I ask, staring at the rows of glittering home-made high heels lined up against the window. “With anything, practice makes perfect. Anyone who is creative and isn’t afraid to make a mistake and learn from it, is in the makings of being a good shoemaker.”

I Can Make Shoes runs classes in London and New York, as well as online. Find out more information here.