I made these loafers! My experience at a brilliant workshop…

…and the rest of this week’s Shoes News.

I CAN make shoes!!

If you follow me on Instagram, it probably didn’t escape your notice that I spent last week at a shoe making workshop. I’ve been meaning to do something like this for years, and had explored the courses available at art colleges, but they were usually a week long and I’d never actually committed to it. So when the girls at I Can Make Shoes got in touch and invited me to try one of their weekend workshops, I jumped at the chance.

The I Can Make Shoes studio in East London

I Can Make Shoes specialises in workshops of all lengths, from weekends like the one I did, to more in depth courses where you can design and make an entire collection of shoes. The idea is that you learn skills that you can actually take away with you, and so will be able to make more shoes at home afterwards. In this respect, it’s brilliant for anyone who is quite crafty or makes clothes already, as we did use sewing machines to stitch the leather. That said, if I can do it anyone can; I hadn’t used a sewing machine since school when I broke the needle and didn’t own up to it and the whole class got held back in detention. Sorry everyone in my class.

Work in progress. At this point I had stitched the upper parts of the shoe together, and on the right you can see where I have glued the inner lining to the insole.

Anyway! There were four of us in the class, and we had all sent in pictures in advance of the kind of shoe we fancied making. The girls teaching us had then made and cut paper patterns for us so that we were ready to get stuck in as soon as we arrived. I don’t want to give too much else away about what happens on the course in case you want to book and go yourself but it was absolutely brilliant. The girls were incredibly clever at making the whole process remarkably straight forward, and were all really skilled in not only teaching us, but helping with the practical stuff when it got difficult (I had quite a lot of help on the sewing machine, unsurprisingly). They never took their eyes off the ball which must have been tricky, since we had two pairs of ballet pumps on the go, and some complicated summer shoes as well as my loafers. I have to say, I was expecting to come away with something quite flimsy that you probably wouldn’t actually wear, but as you can see, these are real, proper shoes; sturdy and practical and really beautiful, if I do say so myself. I don’t think I’ve felt this proud since I wrote a book.

There is a lot of strong glue involved, so here I am with my protective gear on! And right with my finished shoes. 

The course I did was the Weekend Flat Shoe Making Course. It’s £350, but all the materials are included and you have at least two dedicated teachers with you at all times. The classes are small – there were four of us – so you really do get special attention. Two women were on the course together and had come up to London for the weekend for it, staying in a hotel and having dinner on the Saturday night, which I thought was a lovely idea. If I’d known about this before I turned 40, I would have definitely asked for it as a special present. Other courses include everything from a Leather Sandal Making Class which is half a day for £110 and an Accessories Evening Class (£55), to Bespoke Boot Making (£1,600) and a Footwear Master Class Program (£3,200), both of which are 10 days long. If you were thinking of becoming a shoe designer, this would be a really good place to start, but equally the shorter courses are perfect for beginners. I can’t recommend it enough. Oh, and they have 15% off all courses this weekend!

En Brogue I Can Make Shoes

3 of the best…hiking laces 

hiking laces

Shoe The Bear ‘Agda’ boots with Shoe-String Laces

It’s been quite a week for hiking boots thanks to Holly Willoughby’s I’m A Celeb outfits. She caused the Grenson website to crash when she wore its Nanette boots on the first night; they were already sold out anyway, but I’ve been getting messages from people all week who want to recreate Holly’s jungle look. So if you can’t get your hands on a pair, or want to make a slightly less expensive pair look a bit more snazzy, or just want to give an existing pair of boots a hiking edge, all you need to invest in is a pair of flecked laces like these. Here are my favourite places to buy – these websites all have LOADS of choice – and a top tip: take your old laces out first and measure them before ordering your new ones. You’re welcome.

Big Laces round grey and orange boot laces, from £3.69 (biglaces.com); Mr Lacy ‘Hikies’ in red, £2 reduced from £4 (mr-lacy.co.uk); Shoe String walking laces in grey/stone dogtooth, £3.50 (shoestringlaces.co.uk)

READ MORE: 15 FASHION HIKING BOOTS AND HOW TO WEAR THEM

Roscomar’s new pop up shop

Roscomar

You might remember me writing recently about a new ethical sneakers brand called Roscomar. Well it has just opened a pop-up shop in London, so if you’re in the area do pop in, say hi and see the shoes for yourself! You’ll find them at 55 Duke Street and they’re open every day.