I’m so excited to show you my newest pair of handmade shoes! I keep seeing so many basket weave mules and have been absolutely dying to make a pair myself. And of course I couldn’t help using this pair as an opportunity to try out some of the skills I learnt whilst taking the I Can Make Shoes online course, before I jump into my first pair of completely closed shoes. I used the techniques from the shoe course to make my pattern along with inspiration images from Pinterest. I honestly can’t even tell you how much I love these shoes!! I have been wearing them constantly and we even used them in our latest photoshoot which was fun!
I thought you might enjoy seeing the process from beginning to end, as well as some info on what I learnt along the way!
First the inspiration! These are a few of the inspiration images I saved to my Shoe Love Pinterest board. I kept referring back to these images as I was working to try and make sure I was getting the shape and weave right.
The first thing I did was to tape up my shoe lasts in the general shape I was aiming for so that I could create a rough pattern for my mules. I also pulled out my insole pattern which I made to match my insoles following Amanda’s directions from the I Can Make Shoes course.
I carefully pulled the masking tape off my last and stuck it to a large sheet of scrap paper. Then I started planning out how many straps I would need to cut and how to arrange them. I used my inspiration images as a guide, and just kind of went for it haha. If you’re intersted I cut 19 straps that were 30cm long and 8mm wide, and 11 straps that were 20cm long and 8mm wide.
I started laying out my straps on my pattern and shaping them. A lot of the reason I used vege tan leather for this (apart from the fact it’s gorgeous haha) is because it’s so maleable when wet. I used that to my advantage and wet the middle of each of the 5 core top edge straps, and used pressure from my fingers to shape them. This was fiddly but it was fun! I used masking tape to secure them as i went.
Once I had the top five straps shaped, I began weaving them. Trying to make sure I kept them as tight as possible.
I began adding more and more straps, tightening the gaps as I went. I used the longer straps for the widest part of my foot and the shorter straps as i got closer to the toes. Again I kept using tape to hold it all together.
I really love covering the insole with the same leather as the upper, so I decided to cover my insoles in the vege tan leather. It was quite thin, so acheivable, but it was still a little stiff and tricky. Overall it worked, but was more of a struggle than i’m used to. I then trimmed off all the excess to remove bulk underneath.
Then it came to lasting! this was so fiddly so I didn’t get a lot of photos. I started by taping my insoles to my lasts. Then I adding a layer of Renia Aquilim to both the underside of the insole and the edges of all the straps. i knew I would need to glue the straps more later, but this was just my first preliminary gluing to kind of fix things in place a bit.
The first section I lasted was around the ball of the foot. Then I went back and dealt with the section around the arch where the weaving stops and the straps continue. I tried really hard to keep tightening all the straps as I was lasting so that the weave stayed close and didn’t loosen up, but if I’m really honest, I failed a bit here. I know no-one else will probably ever notice, but I didn’t last the right foot quite as tightly as the left foot and as a result it’s ended up a bit loose.
I found out about this cork filler during the I Can Make Shoes course, so i bought some from Leffler leather and gave it a go. It was really fun to use and I really like the result! The only thing I don’t like is that it didn’t come in a resealable bag, and I’m really worried it’s going to dry out. I bought a plastic storage box to keep it in, so hopefully that helps.
Next I attached the randing, and I have to admit this is the happiest I’ve ever been with randing application. I can’t believe it’s taken me so many times to get to a point where I like the finish! But I think I finally have a feel for it, and this randing doesn’t have any gaps – yay!
Then it was soling time! Usually I use the Renia Aquilim glue for all parts of making the shoe, but whilst taking the I Can Make Shoes online course Amanda chats about using a stronger glue for the soles and randing- Renia Colle de Cologne. I’m all for learning new skills, so I ordered some to try it out at the soling stage. It’s a little different to Aquilim (which i used for all other parts of the shoe construction), it’s super stinky and rather toxic so I made sure to use it outside only. It’s also less tacky when dry, so that confused me at first! I was kind of expecting the same texture, but it wasn’t which threw me, but I can report that it works and is super strong and I will be using it on the randing and soles of all future shoes too.
Last time i made shoes I really struggled with applying enough pressure to the sole when attaching it, so this time i absolutely belted it with a hammer. It was both satisfying and exhausting haha. I’m really pleased with the result, I felt like i got a really good contact and will be hammering my soles on from now on.
The last finishing steps! For my previous shoe making adventures I had just used my orbital sander to sand the rough edge of the shoe sole, which worked but wasn’t ideal. Whilst taking the I Can Make Shoes online course I learnt that Amanda uses a Dremel for that last step, and it honestly looked so much easier than my usual hacky method. I marched myself over to the hardware store and picked up a set with about 500 attachments and then proceeded to use only one. Typical haha.
First I taped around the edge of the shoes where the randing touches the upper to protect the upper from the sander and excess dust.
I’m super happy with how the edges of shoes look after sanding, this is by far the neatest job I’ve done. Hilariously I was covered in leather and soling dust from head to toe and then had to take my kids to Taekwondo looking like i’d been through a dust storm! Thankfully I was doing this outside – so just a tip if you are using a Dremel to sand your shoes, I’d do it somewhere that you are happy for dust to go everywhere, wear a mask and also goggles.
The very last (optional) step was to use an edge beveler tool. This just takes off the sharp/hard edge on the randing and gives it a smoother look. After watching some Youtube videos by shoe makers I decided to use it on the underside edge of the sole too.
I’m so thrilled with how these turned out, and I finally feel really satisfied with the finished product! There are lots of imperfections, but I’m learning to accept them and love them as part of the process of learning.
One of the things I have loved about learning to make shoes is just throwing myself into the process of being a beginner all over again and learning things as I go.
I really hope you enjoyed reading all about the process of making my basket weave mules!
For my next shoe making project I really want to try and make my own pair of Derby shoes. I’ve been building up to making closed shoes, and I think I’m ready to give it a go!
If you have any questions about the process of making these shoes, or if I left out any links to supplies that you’d like to know about let me know in the comments!