Making my own office shoes

Discussion in 'Gear & Footwear' started by Sid, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. Sid Barefooters

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    Finally the Perfect Minimalist Shoe: The ones I'm going to make for myself
    (using your helpful advice)

    After 3 years of wearing minshoes and 2+ years of barefoot running, I can say that my feet are much less shoelike and more like the normal feet of the habitually unshod. As such, no commercially made shoes will now fit me comfortably. That's okay. They can keep their foot coffins. (Before the shoddies sneer, I still have a pair of nice dress shoes that I can manage for the once a year formal occasion.)

    Before deciding to make my own, I looked at several options.
    Itasca Moccasin will make custom mocs from tracings. However, my feet would require a much wider toebox, and as a result, I don't think that mocs they would look very good. Also, the soles are leather only. [IMG] Sodhoppers are great shoes, and I think that the style would look fine with a wide toe box. Though, they do fit snug and require some breaking in. With my bunions, I'd prefer something looser. I'd also rather have shoes that I could slip on and off easily, as I sometimes kick off the shoes under the desk while at the computer. [IMG] So, after running out of custom options, it's time to try to make my own. There's actually some good information online.
    http://design.seamlyne.com/design/costume/footwear/footwear_index.asp
    paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/14813#.UumfQ_41j1Q
    Eventually, I decide that something simple was best. If Runamocs were wider, I'd just buy them. However, they served as inspiration, since the upper is essentially one piece that is sewn onto a sole. [IMG]
    Seams can be uncomfortable. Apparently, seams don't have to be on the inside. [IMG]
    I could also add a sole like in the photo above, but use a thin Vibram outsole.

    Itasca Moccasin suggested elkskin on their website due to its stretchy properties for people with bunions, so that's what I've ordered.

    I'm not sure if I can successfully use my sewing machine to stitch the upper to the innersole, but I can manage using an awl.

    I've ordered some leather glue for the seams.

    That's the general idea. I understand that I should practice with some felt first to make sure that my pattern is correct. Also, these shoes are strictly for the office. I'll have shoes to wear to and from the parking lot, especially for rainy days and such.

    Any suggestions?
  2. OdiarAmor Chapter Presidents
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  3. migangelo Barefooters
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  4. Sid Barefooters

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    Thank you for the suggestions!
    Oh yes, I looked at Russell Moccasin several years ago, and even sent a tracing to them at one point. They make great shoes. Though, their idea of a minshoe is closer to a traditional shoe. Might have been a good starting point for me years ago, but it's too structured of a shoe for me now.
    Same applies for Primal shoes, and the toebox is too narrow for me.

    I apologize. I didn't describe my idea of the perfect office minshoe, which would be soft, flexible 1mm leather with a 1mm Vibram Pro Tania sole. Closer to a slipper, more than anything else.

    Something more akin to this, but with a more professional appearance, using the construction methods, that I described.
    brotherpriests.com/2009/11/soft-sole-moccasins/
  5. Sid Barefooters

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    Reading about the construction of shoes has opened my eyes into contemporary footwear. Many aspects of the modern shoe are there primarily for fashion and really aren't needed in today's environment.
  6. Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
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    I've been pretty happy with the Vivobarefoot Jay. They're well-constructed and I got a good deal on them, something like 70-90 dollars, at Zappos I think.
    But my feet aren't particularly wide.
    Also, the Jays are made of leather so they get hot.

    Be sure to let us know how your homemade shoes turn out, with pics please.

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  7. Sid Barefooters

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    Our shoes are cousins! I wear the Vivobarefoot Dharma currently, but try to kick them off as much as possible. I think that as my foot conditoning has progressed, they have been less tolerant of traditional shoes. My feet are more flexible and more acclimated to freedom from confinement.
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  8. Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
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    Yah, I've had that feeling for a long time, mainly because I get 'hot foot' with shoes on. It's literally difficult for me to sit still when I have shoes on. I fidget.

    The great thing about the Jays is that they are so easy to slip on and off. Laces are just too much of a commitment for me!

    Anyway, I think it was you Sid who initially convinced me to give the Vivobarefoot brand a try. I first got the Aqua Lites, then the Neo Trails, then the Jays. I had known about the brand beforehand, but your recommendation got me to make the final push. It's funny though, I get the most usage out of those pairs in reverse order of purchase. The Jay is my go-to casual shoe, the Neo Trails I only use for fresh snow, and the Aqua Lites, unfortunately, have been sitting in my closet since I discovered the Vapor Gloves last year, which themselves have recently been supplanted by the Sockwa G4s.

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  9. Sid Barefooters

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    I see that both of us have had problems finding good shoes. Well, if the shoe fits...
    (or if it doesn't because everyone is different and one last does not fit all)

    I'm assuming that your workplace must be fairly open minded if they are ok with the Ra. What would they think of the shoes below? Would you consider altering your Ra's? [IMG] [IMG] As for me, my biggest issues are with fit and flexibility. I can't stretch out my toes to get a full splay. The sole and shoe are also too stiff, such that I can't get full range of motion. I need to stretch and splay my toes occasionally, otherwise my bunions start to bother me.
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  10. Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
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    Yah, in 2010 I started out with the Patagonia Advocate for casual minimalist shoes, and the Nike Free for winter running shoes. The former have pretty good ground feel, but the canvass material is stiff and gets hot in the summer. The Nike Frees suck wholesale.

    Three years and many experiments later, hopefully I'm all set now with the Jay as my go-to casual shoe, the Sockwas as my go-to running shoe when it's too cold to run bare, and the Neo Trails as my go-to running shoe in snowy conditions.

    I work alone most of the time, so my feet are barefoot. I just slip on the Jays when I need to pee or interact with people.

    For me, the problem with shoes has always been the heat. My feet feel sweaty inside of shoes. So I've been a casual barefooter for most of my adult life without really thinking about it, until the whole born to run thing happened (shortly before I returned Stateside) and I learned how to waste time on the interwebs reading about it, without, however, having ever read the actual book.

    So I guess I've never worn shoes enough to have the problems you describe, except during my brief foray into mercenary modeling. I wore some really uncomfortable shoes during that time, and had to walk quite a bit in them too, using mass transportation to go to auditions and jobs, cuz I didn't have my own car in Japan or Brazil. I did kinda like being an inch or two taller though. On the other hand, besides the cramped discomfort, wearing heels made me less stable/more vulnerable and I felt like I was on display more. I felt like a chick in other words. My wife still likes to wear heels, but she only does it once in a while. She's short, so I think she likes the elevation.

    I was just thinking on my run-commute this morning that you should be the New York Times Foot Critic. You've amassed a pretty broad knowledge on all issues related to feet and shoes over the last couple of years.

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  11. OdiarAmor Chapter Presidents
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    @ Bare Lee: I wear heels occasionally and my Hubby doesn't know what to do with me. I'm two inches taller than him flat footed but the only heels I own are a good 4-6 inches, which leaves him feeling abnormally short.

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  12. Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
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    But perhaps with pleasant double vision! I'm almost a foot taller than my wife, so when she has heels on I don't have to bend over to hear what she says.

    I think more than make-up, short skirts, cleavage, perfume, jewelry and general bling, it's heels that turn a woman into a chick. I also read somewhere that the buttocks protrude 25% more when someone wears heels. Maybe it's counterweight to the induced forward lean? Wear heels for a Pose pose?

    My wife mostly wears flat shoes or sandals, but I don't mind her transformation into a birdlike creature from time to time. It's done mostly standing or sitting, the walking is minimal. Ah, the ornamental ornithological life . . .

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  13. Sid Barefooters

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    Funny you should say that. A short time after I switched into minshoes, a co-worker asked if I was shorter. Apparently, people do notice. (There are studies that suggest that taller people have higher incomes.) I used to twist my ankle, so I do enjoy being more sure-footed and closer to the ground with my minshoes.
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  14. Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
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    Yah, I've taken a hit income-wise since going pure minimalist, but it's been worth it.

    And yah, I also like the stability of barefoot/minimalism. My old karate teacher taught me how to walk powerfully, with a slight bend to the knees.

    Also, apologies, but when I was saying "Ra," it should be heard as "Jay." I got the two Vivo models mixed up. I'm a poor consumer. I can never keep brands and models straight. For me there's just big car, medium car, and small car, for example. Anyway, I've edited out the mistake.

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  15. migangelo Barefooters
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    Sid i so would've worn those black shoes just a few years ago.

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  16. Sid Barefooters

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    Got the black elkskin in the mail yesterday. Just lovely. Soft and smooth, like buttah. These are going to feel and look great. uploadfromtaptalk1391398523950.jpg Got started today and made some lasts using one of the links above. Traced my feet onto cardboard, and made the lasts from gorilla tape. I can already tell that these shoes will be the first that will truly fit my feet. uploadfromtaptalk1391398553461.jpg Next step will be to trace on to felt, then make and test out the pattern.

    I'm think that the bottom of the shoe will need a bit of structure, so I might stitch the elkskin upper to an elkskin insole and 1mm vibram midsole. The midsole should provide a good base to glue the 1mm vibram outsole onto. This will allow me to change the outsole easily when it wears out. Getting exicted!
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  17. peter.robinson Barefooters
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    I'm looking forward to seeing the results of your experiment. I've been thinking of trying to make leather covers that slip over a pair of VFF. Can't go barefoot at my office or my client's and need something I can wear with a suit to not look too out of place
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  18. Sid Barefooters

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    Initially, I had planned to make a shoe, like the Dharma, that I currently wear. [IMG] However, after a day at work, I came to the realization that formfitting mocs are going to be difficult to get on, with my current sock situation. (With my bunions, I find socks much easier to tolerate by cutting the toe off.) Without the toe, the socks have a tendency to ride up my foot, when I'm putting on my shoes, which would be even worse with formfitting mocs. (Unfortunately, my work attire looks fairly ridiculous without socks.)

    My next thought was to make calf-high boots, to eliminate the need for socks completely. Then, I realized that they might get too hot and would be more work to take on and off.

    I then thought about modeling them after my Vivobarefoot Gobi shoe, which measure 4 in tall. I could cut off the socks higher than midfoot, so my whole foot would be encased in the wonderful elkskin. [IMG] However, while taking measurements, I noticed that the Gobi comes right above my ankle. I'd have to pull the sock about 2 in below my ankle, to make it look like I'm wearing socks instead of legwarmers! My foot is fairly wide at that point, so the socks would have a tendency to ride up. So, a 6 in boot seems to be a good compromise.

    While I've noticed that most fashionable boots have the zipper on the outseam side, I'm thinking about installing the zipper on the inseam side of the boot, so as to make it easier for me to reach.

    I'm really getting tired of my Dharma shoes, since they're getting more and more uncomfortable as my feet continue to develop. I can't wait until I have everything I need to construct my new shoes!
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  19. Sid Barefooters

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    Made some soft lasts this weekend. Took a few attempts. Ditched the first one, as my foot was inverted while I was taping it. Also, figured out that the low cut boot will need to be made in two pieces similar to the Dharma. There was no practical way to wrap a single piece of leather around all the curves of my foot. The inside edge of the white tape shows where the split will be.

    Also, after a bit of reflection that the insoles wear out first in my shoes, I've decided to attached the upper directly to a 2mm Vibram sole, instead of a leather insole. Although the 1mm is sturdy, it looks like the stitching might tear through it over time. So, I ordered a sheet of 2mm Vibram. (Also, the rubber insole will provide a nice grippy surface. My understanding from The Gait Guys is that anchoring the big toe is important for proper gait.)

    I still might consider cementing the 1mm sole onto the bottom of the 2mm sole, to make for easy resoling. I'm glad that I didn't feel very motivated this past weekend to construct the shoes, as the extra time has allowed for some important redesigning.

    Attached Files:

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  20. Sid Barefooters

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    Someone brought this up, and I apologize for not clarifying. Yes, shoemakers do use industrial sewing machines.

    The 1mm leather and 2mm soles that I'm using could be sewn using a home sewing machine. However, I don't have very much faith in my entry level Singer to sew reliably and consistently.

    Since all holes in leather and rubber are permanent, I'm going to carefully handsew mine using a Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl.

    I also prefer the more rugged and handmade look of handstitching thread vs. sewing thread. The handstitching thread is also thicker and may be more durable and less likely to tear through the rubber sole.

    I'm hoping to replicate the style of stitching that is along the bottom of this shoe. [IMG]
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