Making Leather Shoes With SneakerKit (Easy Shoe Making)

For a couple of years the art of making shoes has been on my mind. Making shoes with the Goodyear construction of Blake stitch method is too difficult for a beginner. On Kickstarter I found a kit to make sneakers: SneakerKit. After thinking about buying this for 1 minute, I ordered one of these shoe making kits online. In this video I will be reviewing the sneaker making process and make a pair of shoes using this wonderful kit. I even got myself a nice new brown dyed veg tan leather hide. Have fun watching this shoe making video!

You can find SneakerKit on

Video transcript

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Tony Needs Hobbies. My name is Tony and the package that I just received contains almost all the materials needed to make a pair of good looking sneakers. So that’s what I’ll be doing in this vide. Have fun watching! Let’s go ahead and take a look inside the box.

The box contains a leaflet with some brief instructions and a brown paper bag with the necessary materials:

  • A hole punch tool
  • Waxed nylon thread and a needle
  • Brass eyelets
  • The soles and insoles
  • And leather, large enough to make the full upper of the shoes

Sneakerkit offers a variety of leathers. I opted for a beautiful piece of black nubuck. The kit I chose is the most comprehensive one, but doesn’t contain the following necessary tools:

  • Templates
  • An awl
  • Sharp knives and blades
  • Tape
  • And a pair of scissors

But most people will have these tools anyway.

Now let’s begin with the first step in making these sneakers: cutting out the templates. The PDF contains a few models in one template. You can decide for yourself if you want to follow these instructions or design something totally different. Take a look on Instagram by using #sneakerkit and you will find some wild designs. I will go for the default model because I don’t have any experience with designing shoes… yet.

The templates for the appropriate shoe size can be downloaded from Sneakerkit’s website, where you can also buy these kits. They ship them worldwide. This video is not sponsored, so I will do my best to give an honest review of this kit, that actually started on Kickstarter a few years ago.

The template that is in the file is for the right shoe. For the left one you will have to flip it when transferring the template to the leather. But before that, I will transfer the paper templates onto some cardboard to give it more rigidity. When the cardboard templates are cut out, I will go ahead and transfer the patterns to the leather.

The tongue and toe box as well as a loop on the back of these shoes will be made out of the black nubuck that came with the kit. The leather has a great feel to it and is very flexible and about 2mm thick which corresponds to a 5 ounce weight. After transferring the template to the leather I tried to cut it out. It was a bit of a struggle since I have only experience with veg tan leather. This nubuck is much more flexible. But, I managed it with a rotary cutter, a Stanley knife and a freshly sharpened pair of scissors.

Then on to the rest of the upper. This project was used as an excuse to buy a new hide. This is an awesome 2mm or 5 ounces thick piece of dyed veg tan leather. It smells amazing and looks perfect in combination with the black nubuck for this pair of shoes. The main part of the upper will be made out of this leather. Same process again: transferring the template on the leather and then cutting it out using a variety of sharp knives and cutters. When all the pieces are cut out, I will transfer the location of the stitching and lace holes with an awl. To make stitching the upper to the sole easier, I will also punch open the very convenient pre-marked holes in both soles with the awl.

These kits come in three varieties:

  • The basic kit with just a pair of soles, needle and thread
  • The full kit – that’s the one that I ordered
  • And the Lil’ kit, for kids up to 1.5 years old

The reason I ordered the full kit is that it came with this German made hole punch. I didn’t have one yet, but have wanted one for a while and like for the leather, I needed an excuse to get one. I am going to use these pliers to punch open all the stitching holes with the 1.5mm punch. Since I will be adding lacing eyelets I need to cut some 3.5mm holes as well. For precise placement of the holes I prefer separate punches, but these pliers work much faster, and since most of the holes will be invisibly placed behind the sole, there is no need to be overly precise. An additional benefit of these pliers is that they have an eyelet punch as well, so this addition to my toolbox will be very helpful for future projects. If you don’t want to miss any of those, please don’t forget to hit that subscribe button.

This kit is really intuitive. Actually I haven’t felt the need to take a look at the instructions yet. But since all the parts are ready to be assembled into a shoe, I guess it is time to read the instructions now.

Right now, I am at instruction number 7, getting the thread out and measuring 3.5 times the outline of the outsole. Then I can start with stitching both parts of the upper to the outsole. Since more than enough thread is provided, I will use a bit more just to be on the safe side. The location of the first stitch is marked with an arrow. This arrow should be lined up with the cut out in the upper so that all the holes line up. The stitches need to be tight, but not so tight that the leather will wrinkle. With the long needle, the black nubuck will be stitched to the sole quite easily, at least for the first row of stitches. When you are all the way around, this thing already looks a lot like a shoe. It is now time to change direction and stitch the other way around. At some point an additional row of stitches is needed, as indicated by the pre-marked holes. When those are done, it’s time for the most difficult part, the second row of stitches in the nose area. The needle is long, but from the inside it is barely visible where the holes are, so stitching this neatly, may take a little while. But once that is done, the first shoe is almost finished. Finish the stitch line with one additional stitch and a knot on the inside. With a lighter I melt the thread together and rub it down.

The tongue and the upper will be stitched together securely with three loops of thread. Then it is melted and flattened with the back of a lighter. When that’s all done I will add a nice detail to these shoes: the back loop. Stitching holes will be marked with an awl, then cut out with the pliers and with some nice decorative stitching, the loop is stitched to the back. Add some waxed laces and this bad boy is ready to be used!

Alright, the first one is done and it looks awesome. I Will speed up the video while I’m making the second shoe and when both shoes are done, I will let you know my thoughts on this Sneakerkit as well as some things that I would have done differently knowing the things that I know now. Let’s get to work.

Both shoes are finished, so let’s talk about some things that can be improved.

First thing: the needle. It works great and is nice and long so the toe box can be stitched without problems especially when you go around for the second time. The only issue I had is that it is a little bit too long for the heel area, resulting in scuff marks on the inside of the shoe because of wiggling it around to get the needle through the holes at an angle.

Second, the leather that I chose. The black nubuck that came with the kit is strong and supple, but the brown leather that I bought myself is maybe a bit too stiff. Because of this it might take a while to break it in, but I do really like the bicolor look of these shoes. Also, next time I would buy one size larger. If I compare the sole to my other shoes it is a bit shorter and it feels a bit tighter.

Third and last remark is that in the future I would try to glue the upper to the sole. It makes for a more durable bond than just the stitches. That being said, it is quite strong and the stitches are not visible when bending the shoe, so this might just work but some glue might make it even more durable. It will be difficult to apply though…

But, those few minor things set aside, I had a great deal of fun making my first pair of leather sneakers and they turned out just great. I hope you had some fun watching this video and if you did, please let me know by hitting the like button. And don’t forget to subscribe to this channel if you want to see more leatherworking videos in the future. That’s it for now.

I would like to thank you for watching. Bye, bye!

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