Making Gorgeous Leather Sneakers using SneakerKit Black

For beginners it is difficult to start making shoes in traditional ways, using either the Goodyear construction or Blake stitch method. That’s where SneakerKit comes in play. SneakerKit was on Kickstarter some time ago. The shoe making process that they developed enables everyone to make their own sneakers by simply following the steps. If I can do it, so can you. All materials to make and design beautiful leather shoes is provided in the kits they offer on The templates and patterns to help you in designing these shoes are available for free download on

A few months ago I made my first pair of shoes and had a really good time. I reached out to SneakerKit and they provided me with a free black sole kit to review on this channel. I did my utmost best to make this the most beautiful pair of shoes that I have ever created. Have fun watching this video!

Video transcript:

Hello ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Tony Needs Hobbies. My name is Tony and about half a year ago I made these beautiful sneakers using a really helpful kit that I from SneakerKit. They now also offer a kit with black soles, really awesome. And they provided me with one of those kits free of charge, which is even more awesome. So in this video I am going to make a new pair of sneakers and I am going to do things a little bit differently. Have fun watching.

While that Tony is working on, and struggling with, the design, this Tony will show you how the previous pair is holding up and what will be done differently with respect to the previous pair. But first, let’s have a quick look at what they put in the box.

So here’s what SneakerKit provided me with:

  • Every full kit comes with an instruction leaflet
  • A pair of German made hole punch pliers
  • A long needle, waxed thread and eyelets for the laces
  • Their black soles and purple insoles
  • And of course a beautiful piece of leather, they have many options.

If you too want to make your own pair of sneakers, don’t hesitate and go to, link in the description for your convenience.

The piece of leather provided is large enough to make the two shoes out of, but as I mentioned, that would be the easy thing to do. I am going to make the design somewhat more interesting and incorporate some of the things that I learned making my previous pair. So let’s take a look and talk improvement opportunities.

Here are the two sneakers I was talking about. As you can see, they still look good and are holding up well with a crease developing here and there. That’s just how it goes with leather. Construction wise, I want to change the following:

  • The way the loop was constructed resulted in some bad blisters. During my walk I had to cut it off using my pocket knife. I think I can design the loop in a smarter way that double serves as lining for the heel area.
  • The brown leather was a bit stiff when I made this pair. My own fault since I used other leather than what I ordered with the kit. The leather is broken in now, but wasn’t very comfortable to wear around these edges. I am going to bevel these to make it more comfortable from the start.
  • One thing I will not attempt, is gluing the upper to the sole. In the other sneaker making video I mentioned that I wanted to try this, but I got a helpful comment explaining that this wouldn’t be of any use and might only result in destroying the looks by spilling glue on the leather.

There will also be some design changes and speaking of that, let’s cut back to the living room to see if the other Tony has finished the design yet.

Design wise this pair of sneakers is going to look very different from the other pair. Here’s what I am going to do differently:

  • Obviously the kit is different:
    • It came with dark green leather
    • Has black soles
    • and black thread to stitch it up
  • These sneakers will be a high design instead of a low design
  • And I am going to make a multi-color design using three different colors of leather: dark green, dark brown and some left over black nubuck.

Except for the design changes, construction will be the same. Let’s get on with it!

This is the leather that I will use. The green and black piece are 2.2 millimeters thick and the brown piece is just below 1 millimeter. The templates that I used to make an interesting design can be found via the link in the description. Just print them and cut them out. I like to transfer them on a piece of cardboard before transferring the template to the leather. It’s more rigid and easier to work with. Cut the cardboard templates out with a strong pair of scissors and you’re ready to move onwards to cutting out the leather pieces. One side is marked with the word “right”. This is the template for the right shoe. Flip it over and you have the template for the left shoe.

I am using pull up leather which is lovely to work with. One of the benefits is that it’s very easy to transfer the templates on to it. Gently following the outline with an awl will leave an imprint on the leather. All mistakes can easily be massaged out. I’ll start by cutting out the brown top parts of the upper. Then I’ll repeat the process for the green leather parts and when those are all cut out I finish by cutting out the  loop that covers the whole heel part to prevent uneven pieces of leather on the inside of the shoes and makes them even more comfortable to wear.

All the leather pieces are cut out, now I will continue by gluing and hand stitching some of these pieces together to form the upper.

Before I can follow the instructions that SneakerKit provides with the kit, I have to attach the three parts of the upper together. I only know one way to do that: gluing and stitching. I don’t own a sewing machine so it will be stitched by hand using a saddle stitch, one of the most durable stitches for leather so perfect for this pair of shoes.

I will glue the pieces together using contact cement. After applying the glue it will be set aside to dry for five minutes until dry to the touch. Then I put the two pieces together right away at the right position. Once the pieces touch you cannot really wiggle it around much so there’s not much room for error. Then press it together and it’s ready for the next step: punching the stitching holes.

The total thickness of the two pieces glued together is slightly over 3 millimeters, so the stitching holes have to be pre-punched if you don’t want to injure your fingers while stitching. So pre-punch them using diamond stitching punches. They’re not made of diamond, but after the blow of a mallet, the individual punches are diamond shaped resulting in the most beautiful row of stitches, in my humble opinion.

OK, now all the holes are pre-punched so it is time for the longest step in this process: hand stitching. I’m a slow stitcher and it will take me roughly 2 hours to do all this stitching, but the result will be strong and look really awesome. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do this if you want the sneakers to be single colored, but I want to make them really special so I cannot skip this step.. I’ll speed it up a bit, since I have a separate video on how to saddle stitch. Feel free to check that one out by clicking the link in the top right corner. As just mentioned, I’m very slow but as you can see in a little while, the stitch lines that I make these days, are very nice and regular.

I finish off by back stitching two stitches, pulling the thread in between the leather and making a tight flat knot. In that way you don’t see the beginning or the end of the thread. It just looks a little bit nicer.

To make the sneaker a bit more comfortable right away, I take the sharp edge off of the collar by beveling it with an edge beveler.

And with that and all of the stitching out of the way, I can continue following the steps as instructed on the leaflet that was in the box. I’ll continue at step 6: punching the holes in the leather with the hole punch pliers. First I will mark with an awl the locations where the stitching holes and the eyelet holes need to be punched. Then punch them out. As you can see, I made the edge of the brown leather fall right in between the stitching holes so I don’t have to punch through the stitches. Something you might want to think about when working on your design. You don’t want to damage those nice stitches.

When all those holes are punched, I am going to install the brass eyelets. They gives a nice contrast and the color works well with the color combination of leathers that I chose. These eyelets will also maintain the holes in good condition which makes for a more durable shoe. Then I am going to determine the location for the holes in the loop slash heel part and mark the four holes with an awl again, before punching them out with the pliers. And with that, all parts are ready for assembly.

Funny thing, my wife just dropped in and told me that this design reminded her a bit of bowling shoes. Which is funny because I got a comment on the previous sneaker making video on a similar note. Anyway, let’s hand stitch as well as the nose slash tongue part to the sole and take a look at the final result.

That means I can continue with step 7 to finally step 20. That sounds like a whole lot of steps, but basically it boils all down to three main parts:

  1. Stitch all the leather parts to the sole
  2. Put some laces in
  3. Enjoy your freshly created sneakers

So I am going to continue with the first of those three parts: stitching it all together.

To make it a bit more easy I first open up the pre marked holes in the sole with an awl. Then, measure 3.5 times the outline of the sole in waxed thread to attach the leather to the sole. Make the first stitch from the inside outwards from the point in the sole where it is marked with a little arrow and a cut out in the leather is made. Leave 7.5cm of thread hanging inside.

No reason to do this inside when it’s such a beautiful day. Let’s continue outdoors!

After the initial stitch move towards the heel stitch by stitch and attach the heel part. Then continue stitching towards the nose until you reach the toe box. Take that leather part and continue stitching it to the sole. Keep the right tension, which is not too tight and definitely not too loose. You don’t want the rubber to wrinkle. For the toe box, I stitch it very loosely on the first round, then tighten it up once all these stitches are made and continue going around the sole. There is a little wrinkle now, but it will go away in the second round. At this point, you can already see the sneaker take shape.

Continue all the way until one round of stitches is made. Then turn around and continue stitching in the other direction. This will fill up the gaps left from the initial round. What I found to be the hardest part is the second round in the toe box area. It’s difficult to find the punched holes so it requires some wiggling, but the needle is long enough to find the holes after a while…

Once back at the beginning again, make an extra stitch, cut both ends and melt them with a lighter. Don’t forget to stitch the loop and the tongue to the upper securely by making three loops and a flat knot. Cut the thread and you’re ready to go. You could also melt the ends together, but the knot is fairly tight and if it fails, I can simply replace the thread and make a new one since more than enough thread is provided in the kit.

Those are all the steps from step 7 to 20. Please do read the instruction as I was too pigheaded to do so and as a result made a mistake stitching the extra stitch-lines. I did this in the first round but you’re supposed to do it in the second. For the looks it doesn’t change a thing, but construction wise I don’t know if this is going to have an impact. If you do know, please let me know in the comments below.

What’s the value of one shoe, without the other? Not much if you want to have two similar shoes on your feet. So let’s quickly put the other one together before wrapping it up. Bad choice of words, I meant lacing them up.

My wife and I had a little dispute on the color for the laces. Please help me decide between black and brown laces by letting me know your opinion in the comments box. You’re also more than welcome to share your opinion on the choice of leathers, the color combination and what not. Go and have a ball in the comments section… It’s appreciated!

Before I close off, a few things to note:

  • As you can see, the inner and outer side of the shoes are not the same. I think it looks pretty cool. Left and right are mirrored so it doesn’t look weird at all
  • And here’s a detail of how I fixed the loop issue that gave me blisters in the other pair. This dark heel part has the loop on it and goes all the way down so that there are no uneven edges

Alright ladies and gentlemen, that’s it for this video. I want to thank SneakerKit again for providing me with the opportunity as well as the ability to make another good looking pair of sneakers. I had a lot of fun making them and I think the result is absolutely beautiful. If you agree with me then definitely let me know by hitting that like button. Please also consider subscribing to this channel for more content like this in the future. That’s it for now. I would like to thank you for watching! Bye, bye!

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