When you look at the steps involved in how to make sneakers, it is easy to see why they are massed produced in a method that takes many machines and laborers. In 1800 the first rubber soled shoes called Plimsolls were manufactured. In 1892 Goodyear produced Keds made of rubber and canvas that was much closer to what we now think of as sneakers. Over the years sneakers have changed much but the process to make them can be rather difficult to attempt by hand.
Supplies needed to make sneakers:
- Sneaker pattern
- Wooden shoe form (optional, but recommended)
- At least one yard of leather, canvas or other sturdy fabric
- Rubber soles
- Fabric glue
- Needle and thread or a sewing machine
- Cut the material you wish to use by using the sneaker pattern. When you are finished you will have three pieces. You will have a left and right side of the shoe and an inner piece known more commonly as the tongue of the shoe. A half inch flap should be left loose so the top of the fabric can be easily sewn to the rubber sole.
- Sew the pieces together. This is easiest accomplished if you start of by sewing the two side pieces together first in the front and then the back. Canvas or other fabric can be hand sewn with a needle and thread, but it is recommended you use a sewing machine for leather.
- Take the piece you just sewed and turn it inside out. Sew the tongue approximately an inch from the bottom.
- Punch holes in the front portion of the shoe. Loop the shoelaces through these newly made holes.
- Use a sewing machine or fabric glue to glue the material to the sole. Please note that if you purchased a wooden shoe form, this step will be much easier. Most fabric glue takes 24 hours to dry. Check the label on the glue you purchased to see the recommended drying time.
- In modern sneaker manufacturing these tasks are done by many different machines that are overseen by laborers. This is not a good starter craft project.
- Using an old pair of sneakers for sizing and as a guide can be helpful.