How I made My Boots

How I made My Boots

When I moved to Siberia from tropical Guatemala I found out I didn't have any boots. Here in Siberia flip-flops aren't really that useful, there aren't too many hot days in a year. 

I went to see what they had in the stores but for me it is always hard to find something I really like, so I decided to make my own. I asked in our local leather community if anyone was teaching shoemaking and found Svetlana Kondratova - a professional leatherworker who has a workshop here in Novosibirsk and makes all kinds of things from reupholstering car interiors to bag and shoe making and tooling. 


I scrolled through her posts and saw a pair of very nice leather sneakers made by one of her apprentices. They didn't have a sole attached yet but I was looking for something like this, and I decided to take the masterclass with Sveta. 

 The whole process took 5 days, working for about 4-6 hours a day, and here is what we did.


First, we had to create the pattern. We took a shoe last that fits my foot by measurements and covered the outside half of it with a masking tape, cutting a clean line at the center afterwards. It was a surprise to me to discover that a shoe pattern is basically symmetrical! Then I drew the shoe design right on that masking tape.

Then this masking tape pattern is taken off the shoe last, flattened on paper and the whole design is transferred to a clean sheet using an awl. 

 After that, each part of the boot is transferred to different piece of paper and cut out. Using those templates, I cut each part for both boots out of leather of my choice. I chose a nice vintage cowhide that I bought in Guatemala and a darker crazy horse leather for the accents. The leather for the boots should be on the flexible side, in order to be able to shape it around the lasts later.


 After cutting everything out, I had to glue the accents onto the main pieces and stitch them together. 

The sides were stitched together at the heel and the heel part is stitched on, as well.

We installed the grommets for the laces and glued the central part to the sides before stitching them together.

Meanwhile, the insole was made. As we decided to make a slightly raised heel, it was made out of 3 pieces glued together and then sanded to make it smooth.

The whole thing went back onto the lasts and laced up.

Then there was a lot of nails and stinky glue :) The boots had to be shaped around the lasts and securely attached to the insole. This alone took more than one day and then it had to be left to dry overnight.

I forgot to take pictures of the process when this whole mess under the sole was flattened, the excess thickness sliced off, and there was some cork filler glued in the middle to achieve a flat surface.

Then the store bought rubber sole was glued to the boot and pressed down with special device to set properly.

And the last (also forgot to take the pictures) but not least, stitching the sole to the boot with a special awl that has a hook. The sole is stitched on with a "machine style" stitch where one thread is always inside and the other is always outside. No saddle stitch here folks :) 


I must say it was quite a fun and a really amazing experience. I have been making the bags for a while now but with the shoes, it has always been a mystery - how are those made and if I could do it myself. 

The hardest part for me was the nail-n-glue part because I was banging all over my fingers with the hammer LOL and the glues are super stinky which for me is quite tough with my sensitive nose.

I am very pleased with the results, and if any of you guys have an opportunity to take a shoemaking class, do it, it is so worth it. 

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These are beautiful – I would love a pair like this. The two toned brown is fantastic… and I like the shape of the sole (so many shoes are great, but ruined by an ill-matched sole). I have always wanted to extend my leather craft to shoe-making, as I very rarely find shoes I absolutely love… I was only planning on making sandals and mocassin-boots/soft slouchy boots, but you have inspired me to try something like this. I already have a pair in a similar style to yours, but in soft red and black leather, that I bought in London 20 years ago – my absolute favourite shoes until the off-white sole went hard and yellow. I am going to get them out and have them re-soled so I can enjoy them again… and then look into a shoe-making workshop/course! Thanks so much for sharing. Let me know if you make any more (size 39!) for resale! All the best, Lea

Leanne Rowe-Roberts

What an amazing achievement. They are beautiful and you have every right to be proud of yourself. Well done. 👏

Elizabeth Procter

Wow. You have motivated me I will try to learn once I get money for shoe lust

Michael Njenga

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece.

Lister Kom

These look amazing! 😍

Robin Abbott

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