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Learn to Make Shoes

Shoemaking Workshops, Classes & Tutorials

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Shoe maker making a pair of leather shoes
Nicola Tree/Taxi/Getty Images

If you think you might be interested in shoemaking, be it for personal pleasure, or as a business, why not start by learning to make shoes yourself?

There's no better way to find out whether or not shoemaking is for you than by attending a short class or workshop.

These classes will introduce you to hand-tooled shoemaking methods, and will have you leaving the class with not only a new skill, but a new pair of shoes to boot. With introductory level classes and instruction on shoemaking, one of these workshops would be a great place to cultivate your interest before pursuing a more formal education.

The Shoe College

Tamera Lyndsay designs and makes incredible shoes and boots, and she teaches these skills to others via her Shoe College in Northern Arizona.

Offering classes ranging from two day workshops in sandal-making to 20 day certificate programs, Lyndsay's courses cover a wide range of topics including foot measuring techniques, pattern making, assembly, finishing and more -- she even offers a course in Western Boot Making.

For more information on courses and fees, be sure to visit ShoeCollege.com.

International Shoemaking Design

Located near Cleveland, Ohio, in the suburb of Rocky River, International Shoemaking Design is a state-of-the art teaching facility run by master shoemaker Sissy Puccio.

This school attracts students from around the world, and available two-day courses include classes in making mules, pumps, sandals, boots or handbags. As a pedorthist, shoe designer, and cordwainer, Sissy also does consulting work for doctors, entrepreneurs and high end shoe designers, and she offers private tutoring as well.

If you'd like to learn more about Sissy Puccio or her classes and services, please visit the International Shoemaking Design web site, where you'll find course schedules and fees. While you're there, be sure to navigate your way to the media section, home to video and print coverage of Sissy -- one of the videos even shows her making a shoe from start to finish.

Prescott & MacKay

This studio is located in London, England, and offers beginning and advanced shoemaking classes, including a two day shoemaking course which allows you to make a pair of mules from scratch, and a five day intensive shoemaking course that allows you to design and create a pair of fully-closed shoes.

If you're not going to be in London anytime soon, this shoemaking school offers several other options, including shoemaking courses in Melbourne, Australia; and Berkeley, California, as well as shoe design workshops in New York, New York.

Courses in bag, corsetry and belt making are also offered.

ShoeSchool

is located in Port Townsend, Washington, approximately 2 hours from Seattle, and offers several basic and advanced workshops including:
  • Introduction to Shoemaking - In this 5 day, hands-on workshop, students will learn about a variety of topics including measuring, pattern designing, material selection, and using hand tools. Over the course of the workshop, students will make a pair of shoes for themselves using hand tools.

  • Introduction to the Business of Shoemaking - is a three day private workshop for those interested in a career in the business of designing or manufacturing shoes.

  • Cottage Industry Development - for those interested in manufacturing and marketing their own hand crafted footwear on a small scale, or from their home.
If traveling west is not an option for you, they also offer distance learning programs that use videos to teach various aspects of the shoemaking industry.

SimpleShoemaking.com

Sharon Raymond, author of two shoemaking books, teaches a variety of shoemaking classes in Western Massachusetts.

Teaching students one at a time, Sharon provides instruction on how to make flat studio shoes; her one and two day workshops include Renaissance Faire Boots, Sheepskin Bootmaking, Children's and Baby Shoes, and Sandal-Making -- and if you'd like to stay longer, she also offers classes for constructing other styles of footwear.

Even if you can't make it to Massachusetts any time soon, you should check out Sharon's Simple Shoemaking site, as she provides a wealth of information on shoemaking, and even provides free instructions and patterns for making felt flats and clogs.

Manhattan's Jewish Community Center

Manhattan's Jewish Community Center offers several different workshops in shoemaking, as well as workshops in sewing, leather purses, and shoe design and illustration. The courses range in length, so be sure to check the site for more information.

Mary Wales Loomis' Shoemaking Book

One day, curiosity got the best of Mary Wales Loomis, and she decided to take a pair of her own shoes apart to find out how they were made. The result? She's since made tons of shoes for herself, and has written a book to teach others how to do it as well. I've purchased this book, and while I haven't yet tried her shoemaking method, the instructions appear to be very helpful and easy to follow.

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