Ya'll, I did a minimalist shoe DIY thing....

I'm a DIY'er. I love saving money, repurposing material, and using my hands to create something. I also have 4 growing boys to keep in shoes. This was the starting point to my attempt at making our own minimalist shoes.

Now, there are some AMAZING minimalist shoe companies out there that I fully support, Soft Star Shoes, being one of them. But again, with these healthy amazing kiddo's growing non-stop - my budget asked that I get a little bit creative.

So, I've had this idea in the back of my head a while, and it's spring time and I get crazy when the sun starts to shine, and I think I can do all the things and take on crazy projects. Enter, Project: Sew Your Own Minimalist Shoes.

What you will need to attempt this crazy project:

Shoe Pattern- I used Tale’s Wayfarer Shoes

1/4 yard or less fabric, outer layer (I used repurposed denim and canvas)

1/4 yard or less lining fabric (used bedsheet or cotton t-shirt)

optional: used wool blanket or sweatshirt for added cushion - I did this and recommend it

1/4 in elastic 12-18 inches

Sewing machine, needle, thread, etc, everything listed in your pattern

Barge Cement

Ground Tires

Masking Tape

Large Craft Popsicle Sticks

Rubber Gloves

Paper bags or something to cover your work surface

Patience, lots and lots

I started with a Twig and Tale Pattern. I really love how this company focuses on creating patterns that up-cycle old clothing or blankets and repurpose them into beautiful and one of a kind pieces. I always get inspired by looking over their site and photos. I started with the Wayfarer Shoes, measured my boys and printed the patterns. I used materials I had around the house, old jeans that were ripped past repair and some old canvas I had laying around and got to work. The pattern is clear and has pictures. I am the type of person who loves pictures, my favorite cook books and blogs and tutorials have step by step pictures, and this pattern fits the bill.

Now here's where things got fun. I wanted to create a sole that was flexible, durable and not too slippery. I wrestled with this for quite a while and researched different options. You can purchase some thinner sole material and glue it on, but I was nervous that it would peel off or catch some and make my kids trip. Plus, I really only wanted a very thin layer, because my boys have strong feet and I want their feet to have as much mobility as possible. We also live in the Pacific Northwest, so something with water resistance is necessary. Then in my research I stumbled across a forum where a man used shoe cement, mixed it with ground tires, painted this onto the sole of his moccasins for extra durability. Hmmmm... could this be it? I liked the sound of it. I liked the idea of repurposing tires, how it could possibly add a layer of durability while still be flexible and adding some traction. I did it. I ordered the cement and ground up tires.

Here we go. I started super optimistic, "This will work, it will be amazing, why hasn't any one else done this?"


Did I mention I made five pair? Five. Because I don't do anything half way. Ever. And I couldn't make one pair to just try because then I'd have to pick a child and then scar the other 3, and I also wanted a pair, so that equals five.

My first step was to stuff the shoes with paper bag strips to give them stability and to wrap my shoes in masking tape to have a clean line between where the goop layer was and the shoe started. The masking tape was 'cool forum guy's' idea, and I copied it. Thanks 'cool forum guy'. I laid out a protective covering on my back porch, grabbed my rubber gloves, a tin can, wooden sticks and my shoes. I open the cement, pour it into a used, empty and cleaned tin can and add a few spoonfuls of ground tires to the mix. Here we go.

I take my fat popsicle stick, dip it into the goo mixture and set to work. This is where I start getting discouraged. Why did I think this was going to work? It is SUPER messy, stinky and looks ridiculous. Seriously. My husband came out and just laughed at me, then I glared at him and told him to be supportive, then he took a few pictures for this blog. True story.

It looks like it's soaking into the fabric a little, it's hard to get the layers looking right. Then I wonder if when it dries if it will just crack and be pointless. It takes about an hour to do all the shoes. I had to do two layers on each in most places to get good coverage. I'm muttering under my breath at this point about how this is the dumbest idea I've ever had and I'm not quite sure why I ever thought it would work in the first place.


Well, I did it. My glove fingers got stuck together at some point during the process and I had to finish with few of my 'fingers' stuck together. A few times I got some of the black goo mixture onto parts of the shoe that I was hoping to keep clean, and I had convinced myself that this wouldn't work, but since I started, I was going to finish. The first picture is me laughing at myself over how ridiculous this project was. The second, I'm losing my sense of humor and starting to feel sorry for myself.


Now, the 'cool forum guy', who at this point in time I feel has personally mislead me down a terrible path and so I'm thinking of him as 'dumb forum guy' (sorry, man), said to let the shoes cure for 2 days. Fine. I will take a break for 2 days. I was also PMS'ing a little and when that happens and projects that I've spend days on don't work out, I usually need to have a good cry. So - a break was good.

My kids were excited to try them, and I tried to temper their expectations. Two days later, we pulled them out. They were flexible. They really didn't look like they would crack or break. That's nice. They were a bit sticky, tacky even - though they were totally dry. A quick run through the dirt and dust helped with that, as it just had a layer of dirt then stuck to them. I had my kids run out in the wet grass and they said their feet kept dry. They do tend to have dirt stick to them, and it doesn't really brush off - it looks like it’s now a permanent part of the shoe. I don't mind for these as they are outside shoes, but something to keep in mind.

What! Did this project really work? I have them wear them this spring and summer and do an update after the season, but for now, after a week’s worth of play and hiking and climbing, we have two thumbs up from my kids on comfort and function!



Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. The thoughts and opinions are all entirely true and accurate. I would never recommend anything I didn’t fully believe in, no matter what the commission was.

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