How to replace high heel insoles and add a hidden platform

I bought a pair of shoes at London Fashion Weekend sometime around 2009. Their shape is lovely, they have ankle straps to stay on, and they are made of funky fish skin dyed nude.

But they are old and a bit too large. The insoles were knackered despite me not wearing them too much. I decided to replace them.

It’s actually very easy, replacing insoles.

All you need is a piece of leather, a scalpel, a pen and UHU glue.

In 2017 I took the shoe making course at Cordwainer’s and I was surprised how easy some parts of making a shoe are. (Also I LOVED that course. My alternative career is definitely shoe maker.)

So I ripped the insoles out.

The nails sticking out over the heel needed something thick to cover them.

I decided to add something thick to the front too a bit like a hidden platform. Just one thick piece of leather.

Then I saw some foam I had lying around… so with the shoes being very roomy, I decided to add some padding in the front.

All you need is glue. No joke. I use UHU.

Foam went first.

Then more glue and the leather front soles.

Then I again used the old insoles as pattern pieces, traced them, then carefully cut new insoles out of baby blue leather using a scalpel.

I prefer putting insoles in suede side up. I find it more comfortable and grippy against the soles of my feet. The shiny leather can give blisters and is slippery so shoes move around. Not a good look, a shoe slipping off and a twisted ankle on a London sidewalk.

Getting the new full length insoles is a bit harder but it’s very doable if you get your hand under it (and covered in glue).

Ta daaaa!!

They are aaaalmost ready to wear. I put them on and stood for maybe ten minutes to put pressure onto the glue and warm it up to help it stick.

All done!!

They are now super comfy. And they hide my favourite colour (blue) in the insoles. Yay!

Watch strap (going nuts here)

I’ve been wanting to try this for ages, and I finally did!! I made a watch strap.

This isn’t a typical watch for me. I have been wearing swatches near-exclusively since 1985.

I got the withings watch to track my activity and sleep during lockdown, because I wanted to have some reason to walk around and some reason to go to bed and get out of it. And an awareness of moving and sleeping “enough”.

It came with a silicone strap that wasn’t breathing. It was really unpleasant. So I bought a leather strap from amazon. That was a lot better. And it motivated me to try making my own.

Well, ok, if I am honest, work motivated me to make my own. I am on a project right now (which is awesome, because there aren’t that many of them for designers), and it has 2-6 hours (HOURS) of calls every day. For most of them, I mainly need to listen. And pure listening is hard for me, I am very visual. So while someone was talking, I thought it might be wise to do something with my hands so I don’t go nuts.

And that’s how the watch strap got started.

One small piece of leather with two lines
Slice it up
Check the width
Thin the leather where you’ll fold & glue it
Glue it all up and let it rest a moment
It’ll need a bit of stitching in a few spots
And it fits like a … watch strap 🤣

End to end it maybe took 2 hours.

It is blatantly imprecise, and rough, cut with a scalpel by hand without instruments, out of plain undyed leather.

It will get darker and tanned with time, as it spends time in the sun, just like my skin.

In a world where there is no reason to get up in the morning, and where the only accomplishment (aside from staying on top of work) is keeping oneself fed every day, and preventing the flat from looking like a tip, it feels good to make something.

So I made a watch strap.

My first sewing-awl saddle stitch!! Pen roll strap

Over new year’s, I went with my parter to visit his brother in the US. While there, I happened to go to an art store and buy some pens… which I could not fit into the – frankly too small – pencil case I had brought along. So I went back ans bought a pen roll too!

Except the pen roll was so poorly made! The strap felt quite unpleasant and stiff to the touch, and the button was popping off and letting the roll unroll while in my bag!

There are few materials I like less than plastic trying to pass itself off as leather… yuck! So today, as my first project of 2017, I replaced that strap with a leather one.

I had a leather skin, with a convenient straight edge, which I followed to manually cut a mostly straight strap much longer than the one on the pen roll.

Then I had to unpick the bad strap without damaging the pen roll! Embroidery scissors came in handy.

And finally, I stitched it using a sewing awl I bought in Germany about three years ago. My first ever real saddle stitch!! It was very exciting and surprisingly not very difficult at all! I am glad I have a massive chopping board to hand for doing my leather work on, or the cutting mat would be looking like a needlepoint project by now!