Make Shoes Out of Trash
These shoes are made entirely of garbage -- old clothes and rags, toilet roll tubes, plastic soda bottles, junk mail etc. The only thing I paid for was the thread to sew them together. They may not look like much, but they are easy to make, comfortable to wear and the time I spend wearing them around the house is that much less wear and tear on shoes that I paid for. These shoes can go outside onto a wet  sidewalk as long as there is no standing water on it, or on dry grass or earth. I take a pair with me whenever I go somewhere that I can change into comfortable shoes for awhile. I especially like to take them with me when I am visiting anyone in their home. They think I'm being considerate of their flooring and carpets when actually I am just enjoying the excuse to change into my cheap, comfortable  home-made shoes.

There are as many ways to make these shoes as there are items of junk in your house to make them with. I suggest starting with a simple, backless flip-flop, as I have done here, to get the general idea of shoe-making..

To  make a backless flip-flop such as the one pictured here, you will need, for each foot, the following pieces: a front upper, an insole, a sole and a bridge arch.

You can make these pieces either by drawing around the feet to get a pattern, or measuring the length and width of the feet and using those dimensions to print out the patterns offered here. To make your own pattern using a tracing of the feet, see the instructions below. To use the patterns offered here with your own dimensions, follow the instructions below.

 Making Printed Patterns
The same pattern is used for sole, insole covers and insole insert,.
1.) Stand on ruler and measure width and length of each foot at widest and longest points.
Right-click on each pattern and choose "Save As"

Use the instructions on your graphics or printer program to alter the size of each pattern by adding amounts given below to the measured width and length of each foot.
You can download the free graphics program
Irfanview and follow the instructions for re-sizing with irfanview given below.

Alter size of pattern for printing as follows:
Insole insert -- Width and length same as measured feet. Print 1 each for left and right foot.
Insole covers -- Add 1" to both width and length to print. Print 2 each for left and right foot.
Sole -- Add 1/4" to both width and length. Print 1 each for left and right foot.

Instructions for re-sizing with Irfanview
To adjust the width and/or length of the pattern using Irfanview graphics program:

Open graphic
Click on File >> Print
Make sure that "Original Size (from image DPI)" is checked under Print size
Click on "Custom"
Make sure "Aspect Ratio" is not checked.
Set width and length to desired size.
Click on Print
Click OK
Re-measure size of printed graphic to double-check it is the correct size and re-print if necessary.

Label each print.

(You will make 6 prints in all -- 1 print for sole of each foot, 1 print for 2 insole covers for each foot and the insole insert for each foot.)

3.) Print out the patterns using these dimensions. (Tip: After printing, measure the printed pattern to make sure your printer and printing program have made the pattern the correct size, and adjust and re-print if necessary.)

Front upper pieces  
4.) Measure foot from side to side at widest point, beginning and ending at the bottom of the sole of the foot.. This is your bridge arch

Then measure the foot from the tip of the toe to where you want the front of the shoe to extend to. This is the toe-to-bridge measurement.

5.) Download pattern by right clicking on it and choosing "Save Picture As"

Alter size of pattern for printing as follows:
Width = bridge arch plus 1 half inch. (Bridge arch + 1/2").
Length = toe-to-bridge measurement plus 4 inches. (Toe to bridge + 4")
Print 2 each for left and right foot.
(The bridge arch does not need a pattern and can be cut by measurement alone.)

6.) Print out the patterns using these dimensions. 
(Tip: After printing, measure the printed pattern to make sure your printer and printing program have made the pattern the correct size, and adjust and re-print if necessary.)
 Using the Patterns to Make The Shoes Pieces

Materials needed

Fabric or material for front uppers (2 layers per foot).
Cardboard or stiff plastic material for insole.
Fabric or material for insole covers.  (2 layers per foot)
Something waterproof for the sole. (Several layers of plastic from plastic bags can be used. Plastic will wear out quickly and later you may want to look for something made of vinyl, rubber, old soles or even leather. However, although they wear out quickly, plastic is easy to work with and easy to replace when they do wear out, and makes a good choice for your first pair of hand-made shoes. You can always re-sole it later with something more durable.)
Something for front upper bridge. Toilet tissue tube or plastic soda pop bottle can be used, or you can fold over several layers of fabric. (The bridge is an insert in the front upper that adds stiffness to it to help hold it open when you put your feet in the shoe.)
The Pieces you will need to make a pair of backless slippers


Cut out patterns printed to sizes as above.
Pin, tape or baste pattern to material and trace outline of pattern onto material.
Cut out pattern along the line traced.

Insole Insert, 1 each for left and right foot. Tape pattern to cardboard or other stiff material and trace around edge. Cut out on line.

Insole Insert Cover
-- pin, tape or baste the pattern to 2 layers of material and cut around the edge.

-- tape or or hold down the pattern to some kind of waterproof  material such as plastic sheeting or vinyl and cut around the edge.

Front uppers
pin, tape or baste the pattern to 2 layers of material and cut around the edge.

Cut a piece of stiff, curved material about an inch shorter than the bridge measured on the feet and 1/2" - 2" wide
Cut out a piece of material an inch shorter than the bridge arch measured on the feet and about 3" wide and fold it in on itself twice and sew together at seam to make a cloth bridge.
The bridge is optional. It makes it easier to put the shoes on, but it is not necessary.

 Making The Pieces
Fold a piece of cloth 1" shorter than the bridge arch and sew it onto 1 of the front upper patterns on the wrong side (the side that will not be facing out). (If using a piece of curved plastic or tissue tube, insert it into piece after it has been turned right-side out and sew around it to keep it in place.)

 Front Upper
Put front upper piece with bridge onto another front upper pattern. (Wrong side out)
Sew the two pieces together using a straight stitch 1/4" from the edge. leaving a small gap unsewn so that the two pieces can be turned inside out.
Turn the two sewn pieces inside out, to the right side (the side that will be facing out).
Sew around the edge using a straight stitch 1/4" from the edge, tucking in the gap to close it.
 Insole Covers
Place the two pieces for each foot on top of each other, wrong side out.

Sew the two pieces together using a straight stitch 1/4" from the edge, leaving the area from the widest point to the toe unsewn so that cardboard can be inserted into it.
Turn the two sewn pieces inside out, to the right side (the side that will be facing out).
Insert cardboard insole.

Sew around the open edge using a straight stitch 1/4" from the edge, tucking in the gap around the toe to close it.

 Putting The Pieces Together

Put foot onto insole and place front upper on top of it. Make a mark where the arms of the front upper reach on the insole.
Sew the front upper piece onto the insole from the ends towards the toe, bunching up material at the toe as you go along.

Sew the sole onto the bottom of the insole (with front upper attached) using an overhand stitch that pulls the edge of the sole up around the insole.


Can I Use A Sewing Machine?
Maybe you can, but I can't. Since High School home ec., I never met an electric sewing machine that I couldn't jam, so if I can't sew it by hand, I don't sew it. I think someday I'd like to look for a foot pedal or any other type of non-electric sewing machine and see if that's any better for me. But other than the sole, all of these stitches could probably be done by machine, and perhaps the sole could be sewn on using a buttonhole type attachment with the threads set wide apart.

Skid vs. non-skid
At my age, I just shuffle around slowly, so it doesn't matter to me if these aren't athletic shoes. I don't know if they would be safe for children to run around in. On the other hand, they might make good indoor sliding shoes for children. If being non-skid is an issue, you might have to make compromises in the made-only-from-junk department, and buy something specifically for that purpose, if you don't happen to conveniently have a non-slip shower rug that is ready to be replaced and cut up and used as the soles.
One might say that soles have two functions that are in conflict with each other: one is to be resistant to wearing down and the other is to be able to put a needle and thread through it. The easier it is to put a needle through it, the quicker it will wear out when it is worn. The good news is that shoes you make yourself are easy to resole. Just cut out another sole and sew it on over the worn out sole, making it a little bit bigger if need be. There is no need to take the shoe apart.

 More Shoes 
This is the second pair of shoes I made. I made them straight, rather than left- and right-oriented. I had read that up until about the 1800's, all shoes were made straight and it was only with industrialization and mass-production that shoes became made specifically for the left and right foot. I thought it would be easier  to make them identical, but really it didn't seem to make any difference. It probably only matters when you need to replace one. You won't have to make a new pair just because one has worn out; you just make one to replace it. Perhaps that's why manufacturers like oriented shoes -- enhanced obsolescence and the need to buy more shoes.  I shall have to make the template differently, though, for the next pair of "straights".

I used a piece of a plastic 2-liter soda pop bottle as the bridge in the front upper. I inserted it after turning the pieces right-side-out, and then sewed around it to secure it in place. The purpose of the insert is to provide form so that you can put your foot into it without having to hold it open.

These came out too wide at the front. They fit fine and I know I say I'm only making them for around the house and care only about cost, recycling junk and comfort and not looks, but I don't  like the "bigfoot" look. They look "clown-y" to me.

I shall make the next pair with right- and left- orientation again as I did the first pair.

Here are shoes #2 again, this time as the home for my favorite pair of slipper-socks. The slipper-socks had worn down and been repaired so many times, I had despaired that the day would come when they would no longer be repairable and I would have to bid them a sad farewell. Then, when the weather started getting cooler and I wanted more padding between my feet and the linoleum floor, it occurred to me that the big floppy home-made shoes that I didn't wear might be the prefect answer. They would keep my feet warm and take the wear and tear of walking around the house. The clowny shoes will wear out many times and be replaced, but my beloved slipper-socks will probably now last me the rest of my life.

Off-topic: The slipper socks, btw and relevant to nothing, were made in Africa by village women in one of the western business-starting initiatives designed to set up small endeavors to help the villages turn their labor into a cash product. They are made by knitting a short sock first, and then sewing a sole onto it in the manner I have described (overhand stitch) for sewing soles on these shoes. I can knit simple knit and purl, but I don't know how to knit a sock. I wish I had a pattern with instructions for knitting socks like these, and then I could make them myself.

I made these and then decided I wanted to add a strap. I still didn't like them and so I re-remeasured them against my feet and found out the pattern I had printed was an inch bigger  than I thought I had set the printer for (which is why I recommend measuring the print-out to make sure it is what  you  want it to be.) Anyway, I finally decided to cut the excess off the heel and then add a back upper and an arch strap

To make the backs, I put the shoes on after I had cut off the back of the heel, then wrapped a strip of paper around the back of my foot and cut off the parts that weren't the shape I wanted. (this is a good example of how it is easy to modify these shoes once you've made them if you want to change or add to them.) 

For the straps, I cut up long strips of black knit jersey and then pulled the ends apart, rolling them up. I sewed it into place, adding a loop on the end of the strap. I sewed it to the inside of the shoe (these are not pictured correctly as a pair -- they are reversed left and right. That's to try to cover up the fact that I learned my left foot is actually 1/3" longer than my right.)

Once the straps were in place, I just sewed a button of the size of the loop at the point where the loop landed when I pulled it across my feet.

I made these backless slip-ons and then made a strap (cut strips of knit fabric and then pull ends apart, rolling them up.) I used trial and error to determeint the length that suited me.

The thin plastic soles soon wore out, so I traced another sole 1/4"  larger all around for each shoe from an old camping airbed mattress. I then sewed them on using an overhand stitch all around.

 Make Your Own Pattern 

1.) Place each foot on a piece of paper
2.) Draw an outline around each foot. Be careful to hold pen straight up and down. Use your right hand to trace on the right side of the foot and left hand to trace on the left side of each foot, so that  the angle of the pen doesn't skew the drawing.

3.) Draw around the tracing to smooth out all the knobbly bits

4.) To make the pattern for the front upper, drape a piece of paper or cloth over the foot and cut it into the shape you want.. 

(The bridge arch does not need a pattern and can be cut by measurement alone.)

To cut the material for insole, sole and insole cover, you can use the same pattern (the tracing of your foot), and add the extra material by cutting at a place away from the pattern.
The length of border excess you want to cut around the pattern for each piece is as follows:

Insole -- exact size of each foot.
Sole -- cut at 1/8" wider all around.

Insole covers -- 1/2" wider all around.

 Working with Leather 

A leather sole is the most durable. If you want to use leather, cut out the pieces using a single-edged razor or utility knife. Mark where sewing needle holes should be around the sole and then punch the soles with a leather hole punch. A hand-held punch (pictured here) is inexpensive and easy to use, but your hand can get sore punching through leather so many times. I did it, and it took me 2 days to do both soles, and even then my hand ached afterwards and I wish I'd taken a week and not been in such a hurry. I would also wear a thick glove the next time I do it. If you plan on doing this often, you may be advised to get the set of punches that are used with a hammer to punch the holes through (advertized below).

 Tips & Notes 

When tracing foot onto paper, put a piece of double-stick tape or rolled up piece of Scotch tape with sticky side out to keep foot - paper alignment steady.

When cobblers make shoes, they construct a replica of the foot called a "last" so they can take measurements and adjust sizes as they go along. If you are making shoes for yourself, you can just check each piece against your foot as you go along. If you're making them for someone else, you can either ask them to come in for secondary fittings or you can make them to their regular shoe size average.

Use a thimble when sewing through thick or several layers of material
It's easier to cut through cardboard if you cut through it once with a single-edged razor and then finish cutting it with scissors.
You may find old vinyl in back of waterbed shops where they throw out defective waterbeds. Also, old raincoats, air mattress, plastic inflatable rafts or shower curtains can be used for waterproof material for soles.

Concise Guide to Self-Sufficiency by John Seymour.  Has a recipe for honey mead
Fire Your Doctor! How to Be Independently Healthy by Andrew W. Saul
Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival  by T. S. Wiley. This book talks about the circadian rhythms and how sleep plays a major role in your state of health.

My e-Books


Brother Sewing Machine

Bottle Cutter
Punch Set for Wood, Leather, Plastic
Capsule Filling Machine

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