Back to school…Shoe School!

In September last year I went back to school…

Shoe school!

Lou recently relocated her Shoe School from Dunedin to Wellington and offers 1 and 2 day workshops for pattern making, leather sneakers, sandals and a 5 day workshop in shoemaking. She studied shoemaking in Australia and has twice been to Tokyo to intern with a Master shoemaker.

I enrolled in the 2 day sandal workshop.

The first day started in Lou’s fabulous workshop located in Newtown. While we waiting for everyone to arrive we explored.

Sewing machines…of course

Beautiful leather

Tools, thread, Franken-shoes…AND A KITTY!

We began by talking about our inspiration images and sketching our ideas.

I had been working on a Pinterest board with way too many ideas but ultimately I narrowed it down a Chie Mihara sandal. My goal for the weekend was to replace my worn out “Romies” with a more “grown up”, sophisticated, me-made version.

“Romies” in NZ refer to a specific Roman sandal style that both genders usually wear to school in summer. My pair was made in NZ by a company called HealthForm. I don’t think you can get this brand anymore and it’s sad to see that all the examples I looked up online are made overseas.

This is my second ever pair of Romies, they are at least 10 years old, they last a long time (or at least this brand does). After wearing them for school most people never wear them again. When I was at school the manufacturers realised they were getting really popular and so they went from a cheap summer shoe option (~$10) to an overpriced one (~$50).

I bought my first pair later as a grown up and loved them. They take a little while to wear in, you’ve got to persevere until the leather straps gets nice and supple and the sole molds to your foot curves.

When I wear my romies in summer they get noticed. The comments are all good, people usually reminiscent of summer school days. I guess it is is a bit odd to wear them as a grown up.

After sketching and chatting we started to look at the leathers and discussed accessories. My roamies would need a buckle so I grabbed a few of those first.

I swayed between so many leather options, it was too hard to choose. I saw a lot of sandal inspiration using a bold colour with a metallic. I came so close to using the green and gold however I kept coming back to the simple and timeless brown of my original idea.

My next pair of sandals could be more extreme, the second goal of the weekend was to come away with something I loved and could wear all the time…but I still used a little of the gold for some fun bling.

Next we drew around our feet. It was weird to see my foot like that, it looked so flat and…huge! But just like in sewing, when you write down your measurements, accuracy is more important than flattery.

We then adjusted some base patterns to suit our sandal design.

The whole process for me was very similar to sewing. From picking fabric, the right pattern, making adjustments, it’s the same methodology.

We tested out pattern in paper first and made adjustments.

(Also super proud with myself for remembering to paint my toenails)

“ghost shoe”

Next we transferred our modified patterns to cardboard, adding on seam allowances and noting strap and other critical placement points.

Pattern card matches nail polish, check ✔️

And then it was time to cut the leather. I also cut out some lining leather which was glued to my outers.

Rand was attached to our soling next. This it glued on, the stitching is just decorative.

We chose our soling and EVA foam. Layers of EVA foam will add of thickness to the sole and also create the heel.

I covered my insole with more lining leather

My ankle strap was to be hand sewn on – I used a punch to create the holes in both my strap and shoe. The buckles we’re attached using a rivet.

And then things started to come together really quickly.

After another check for fit there was a flurry of gluing and trimming.

First the straps…(outside because the glue is very smelly!)

Then the EVA foam and soling.

The glue is heat activated. After it dries on both sides we used a heat gun to get it tacky before joining the pieces. I wooden roller helped to apply pressure.

Lou did the scary skiving and trimming part – that blade is sharp!

Insoles were tacked in place and…OMG they were finished!

Here’s a comparison with my old roamies above.

The fit is really comfy and I was so happy with my colour choices in the end.

Bling, bling!


The 2-day course was a lot of fun and with only 4 of us we got a lot of teacher time with Lou and her assistant. This is an expensive pair of sandals but there was nothing we did in the course that couldn’t really replicate at home so with a few purchases I’m looking forward to trying to make a second pair by myself.

If you’re even vaguely interested, are in Wellington, or could get here for a few days, then absolutely DO IT!

13/10! I really want to do the 5-day shoe course next.

Hoarding ALL the crafts

I know I’ve dropped a couple of grumbly winter comments in the last few posts but I don’t really mind winter.

I remember when we announced we were returning back to Wellington from Perth (the sunniest capital city in the world) everyone kept saying, “but it’s so cold there!”…yeah it’s not really.

Here in Wellington we have our fair share of amazing summer days and because we do know how cold (and windy!) winter can get (looking outside my window right now and shivering just thinking about going out for my next meeting) it means that when the sun is out us Wellingtonians (and Kiwis in general) know to get outside and make the most of it.

Also, who doesn’t love that the amazing ski fields are only a short (and beautiful) drive away?! Or if the weather people are right I might even be skiing in my back yard tomorrow!!

My only proper grumble with winter is the loss of light. I feel like it’s always dark. I know it isn’t really but as we slog towards the shortest day this month it’s dark when I leave for work and it’s dark when I get home again. I can’t remember what my garden looks like or even what colour my house is painted.

Ok, it’s not really that bad, but it can get you gloomy if you let it.

Until I address the lighting in my sewing room stitching dark items is pretty much impossible in the evenings. Instead I tend to watch TV after dinner – can you believe I have only just learnt about this thing called Game of Thrones? Don’t be a hater, I had to watch something while waiting for the new seasons of Falling Skies and Warehouse 13 to start! 😉

Is my nerdyness showing? Good, because it will all make sense later on in this post

So while on the couch in the lounge I have re-discovered an old craft that I used to really enjoy when I was younger.

It’s cross stitch and since we are being so honest I can tell you that I also used to be a bit embarrassed about it.

I guess I thought that “proper” embroiderers must think cross stitch is the paint-by-numbers joke of the needlework world. You follow a chart, fill in the symbols and it’s not really that hard, even the fabric has the holes already in it but you know what, even if people do think that I don’t care because I enjoy the speed at which a cross stitch project develops and have you seen and the nerdy patterns you can get now?!

I was first introduced to cross stitch at Brownies. I am assuming Brownies is an international concept but I could be wrong. “Back in my day” Brownies was a fun girls only group where I got to meet other young girls my age (7-10 years I think) and learn some good morals and crafts and do lots of fun group activities. My younger sister started as a Pippin and after Brownies you move up to Girl Guides.

Anyway, at Brownies one of the leaders gave out those little beginner sampler kits that comes with a chart, the right sized bit of aida, a needle and thread. She taught us how to do the stitching and we all made up our kits under her guidance. Mine was a turtle and guess what, I still have it!

My mum chose the frame for me and I was super proud of it and immediately hooked. I made a few more of this style of kit and also moved on to larger charts where you bought the notions yourself but nothing much bigger than maybe 15cm across.

It’s all a bit cutesy huh?

When I moved up to Girl Guides I wanted to earn my needlework badge (or whatever it was called) so I brought my large collection in to show one of the leaders who was very much into her needlework. She promptly turned them all upside down and told me the backs of my works were too messy and that I should work harder at tidying them up. She lectured me that the backs of each work were just as important as the front and that I should bring in the next item I made and if that had more clean back then I would get my badge.

Now I know she was probably just trying to be helpful and maybe my childhood memory betrays me but it seemed like quite a harsh critique to place on a young girl and I was crushed.

I don’t think I ever got that badge since I stopped being a Guide soon after (not because of that experience) and it didn’t stop me cross stitching, I even got into designing my own charts but at some stage I did stop and forgot all about it.

Well, enter the amazing enablers that disguise themselves as the WSBN! If it isn’t fabric or pattern sales it’s ALL THE OTHER CRAFTS! Haha, love you girls!

So, back to the couch, and over the last few weeks this is what I have just finished:

Ohh nerdy deliciousness!

It doesn’t really come across in the photos but the aida is a light blue, a gift from Holly at one of our WSBN Mega Stash Swaps and that was all I needed to get me started again.

Now I guess I better show you the back too, which has improved considerably but then I am older and more appreciative of these things, nimble fingers etc…

This pattern is by Nerdstitcher but I used designers-discretion and changed the thread colours, utilising some from my re-discovered stash and also I left off a lot of the back stitching. I feel like it maybe needs a bit of a boarder, what do you think? And then obviously it must be framed and hung up somewhere 🙂

I’ve already started my next cross stitch project, it’s along the same nerdy lines but different franchise, if that’s the right word…

Haha, not much of a clue huh? But this is what made me think my TARDIS needed a boarder, something kitschy-country perhaps?

As Sir JK says, “I am an active relaxer”, my brain or body needs to be busy to unwind, so in the evenings, when I can’t sew, I am glad I can pick up my cross stitch…well, after Harri falls asleep on my lap I can…otherwise it becomes a tug of war!

Anywho, Creatives tend to hoard crafts much like fabric and patterns so what other crafts are in your creative collection?

Do you cross stitch, or did you used to? How about knitting or crochet? I know lots of you do that.

Do you have to swap up your crafts when the seasons change? I couldn’t bear the thought of knitting at the height of summer!

Happy creative awesomeness xx