paprika suede desert boots

paprika boots

I’ve made some boots!  or kind of like, shoe-boots, really.  Desert boots.

Ok, I have to be honest; I’m so proud of these I think I might just explode with happiness!!!  Finally, a pair of winter shoes in which I have complete satisfaction and pride and joy.  I’m so so so so SO immensely pleased with how these turned out!


Ok, calming down a little.  The lowdown.

paprika bootsMaterials; my friend Megan had given me a few small bits and bobs of sturdy fabrics, including some thick and stiff, paprika coloured suedette upholstery fabric.  I immediately envisioned boots of course, hehehe; my mind nowadays almost totally taken up with thoughts of shoes and how I can bend whatever materials I catch sight of into making them.  I used the paprika suedette for the outer, and the boots are lined completely with faux chocolate suedette, a far more flowy and lightweight fabric, the leftovers from this little cropped top.  The outer and lining lightly glued together; plus I covered a pair of insoles with the chocolate suedette too.  This fabric originally from the Fabric Store in Melbourne.  Laces and insoles from Coles, all glues and the black rubber from which I cut the soles and heels from Bunnings.  I cut an interior layer and one layer of the stacked heels from some thin cork placemats.  Do you like the one layer of brown in the heels, from the cork? I did this on a whim, and while my husband and family thought it looked a bit weird, like a mistake; I absolutely LOVE this little feature.  Kinda gives my own little touch  :)Topstitching; I used upholstery thread, in a shade of burnt caramel.  I like the contrast and that it doesn’t match the paprika.

paprika boots5Eyelets; rather than add metal eyelets, I left the holes raw. Most of the desert boots I’ve seen are like this and I prefer that look.

Pattern, I drafted my own, using my new (old) vintage lasts.  It looks like this:

desert boots pattern

For my own future benefit, since this procedure actually worked very well with these particular materials: a rough run-through of the construction…

Glue uppers and lining pieces together leaving the front of the vamp free so as to create the toe puff later, and back part separate so as to sew the back seam together later and then create the heel counters… topstitch edges, punch eyelets, sew pieces together.


Sew quarters to vamps with some sturdy reinforcing at the point where the eyelet closure joins on.  By the way; this style of shoe in which the eyelet closure sits OVER the vamp is known as the Derby style, as opposed to the Oxford style in which the eyelet closure sits underneath the vamp.  My previous lace-up shoes have all been in the Oxford style, except for the yellow ones which were also Derbys.  Learn something new every day, no?  🙂


Sew the back seam of lining and upper separately, sew the lining to a fabric underfoot piece, glue the upper and lining together behind the heel and topstitch the upper edge, back of the heel.


Create the toe puffs and heel counters.  I used stretch cotton denim and several layers of PVA glue.  My heel counters (not seen) stretch around to “just” join onto the toe puffs here.


Glue uppers to the lining, stretch and shape the fabric over the toe puffs and heel counters as much as possible.  I spent an evening in front of the TV just stretching by hand.  Then stitch the uppers to an underfoot layer of self-fabric (if sturdy) or leather.  When stitching leathers and leather-like fabrics in any project, be it shoes or bags or anything; a double up-and-down stitch with two threads is employed.  So, stitch a running stitch one way all around, then return and stitch back over the same stitching, in the same holes, completely the double row of stitching.  This can also be done with the stitching going in one direction and employing two needles, doing each stitch twice, one at a time.

first row of stitching, sorry for the blurry picture, I swear it didn’t look blurry when I took it!


aaand, the second row of stitching, complete.


Then I trimmed away the excess, cut a cork inner sole and glued it to the under-foot layers with contact adhesive, then made a bias binding strip of black quilting cotton and glued this all round the edge (PVA glue).  You can leave the stitching and edge visible and raw and unbound, which is a more authentic desert boot look; but I wished for a neater finish plus visually to have a stronger black line here to tie the touches of black in the shoelaces and (future) soles and heels together more visibly.

boots6 boots7

Up until now, most my glueing has been using PVA glue, but for the stacked heels and to glue the soles to the underneath of the shoe I used contact adhesive.



Last step was to cut foam inner soles to fit, cover with the lining fabric and insert into the shoes…

paprika boots4The height of the heel was determined by the fact that I will wish to wear them with my favourite flared jeans…  my lasts are not reeeeally designed for a high heel so I went as high as I dared while not destroying the line of the shoe.  I’m very happy with this height as it looks with my jeans!  🙂

paprika boots with jeans

They are a little loose-ish on my bare and stockinged/tight-ed feet but fit nice and snugly with my hand-knitted socks.  I will want to wear it with both tights and with socks, so this is perfect for me  🙂

Yes, I knit all my own socks too.  Well, been making my own clothes for years so I’ve built up a supply of literally everything.

paprika boots3

I’ve kept a few old shoeboxes from old rtw pairs for my self-made shoes, so they stay nice and unsquished by other pairs of shoes in the bottom of my wardrobe.  Here they are, all snuggled up and ready and waiting for winter.  I can hardly wait to wear them!

paprika boots in box

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80 Thoughts on “paprika suede desert boots

  1. Crazy, crazy good Carolyn! I can’t believe how fast you keep getting shoes out. Did you end up doing the same course as Jodie (Scared Stitchless) or figure it out via lots of Googling? Either way, kudos to you.

    • Carolyn on 29/03/2016 at 4:28 pm said:

      thanks Jillian! my learning process is laid out in my previous shoemaking blog posts if you’re interested 🙂 I recommend viewing the youtube videos of Andrew Wrigley and Marcell Mrsan, and most importantly; learning by doing

  2. fantastic – that is a great finish in the ‘toe box’.

  3. These are so cool!! I’m in awe of your handmade year project. I manage with clothes, but shoes are a whole new level, so many possibilities, such fun. Look forward to seeing your next creations. One question, are they comfortable?

  4. Wow, they are beautiful. You are right to be so proud of them!

  5. Yvette on 29/03/2016 at 4:49 pm said:

    Gorgeous and your skills are amazing. Those are going to be a wonderful addition to your winter wardrobe. You always awe me with your skill and determination.

  6. Wow Carolyn. If this is what you’re capable of from teaching yourself, imagine what you could do if you took a shoe making course! These are phenomenal. You just keep getting better with every pair. Wear these with pride.

  7. I am almost speechless with admiration! I am currently trying to make my first trainers in denim and now really appreciate how difficult it can be. I learn by a mixture of following your progresses, Youtube and trial and error! I also realise that it takes ages to get a good fit and a shoe that pleases…..and then you have to do it all again because feet come in pairs! Well done, you’ve surpassed yourself so far, but I know this isn’t the end of the journey yet. Can’t wait to see what is coming next

  8. Awesome desert boots. Just like bought ones…only better. You make shoe making look easy, but I’m sure it isn’t.

  9. Carolyn, you are so freaking clever! Those boots look amazing. I never imagined making my own shoes but your making me want to sign up to a class and do it! Thanks for the construction notes too. It looks like magic!

    • Carolyn on 01/04/2016 at 11:44 am said:

      aw, thanks so much Stevie! Yes, if you have access to a class then do it! It’s fun and you’ll be so pleased you tried it 🙂

  10. These shoes are so chic! I love especially the cork layer in the heel, but the colour, too!

  11. Shelagh on 29/03/2016 at 7:04 pm said:

    Hi Carolyn,

    I look forward to each of your shoemaking posts and hope to follow you down this road soon.

    These boots are awesome. I think it’s time to break out the leather!

    • Carolyn on 01/04/2016 at 11:45 am said:

      thanks so much Shelagh! I hope you enjoy shoemaking too, and I think you’re right re the leather!

  12. Oh my gosh, I think I might be nearly as excited about these as you are! They are so good. Bravo!!

  13. Those are amazing! Really admire you for even attempting shoe making. I try a lot of things, the latest being weaving and spinning, but I don’t think even I would attempt shoes. Hurray for you!

  14. Andrea Simpson on 29/03/2016 at 7:38 pm said:

    Delurking to say these are fantastic! I’m really inspired by your shoe making. They are getting better each time you make a new pair, and these look really professional. Well done!

  15. Wow! You are seriously upping your game with this pair. So impressed!!

  16. Carolyn, these are fabulous! Who would have thought you could teach yourself cobbling. This is really cool. I would buy these in a store – I love the color.

  17. Gaby on 29/03/2016 at 8:17 pm said:

    Fantastic. Just fantastic.
    I’m lost for words.
    Well done.

  18. Wow! Those don’t look anything close to being home-made. I can’t even believe it!

  19. Your shoe making skills are advancing at an admirable pace! And you make it seem like it’s not rocket science or black magic using materials available only to professionals or factories. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad – I really don’t need to be tempted by another hobby!

    And I like that little sliver of contrast on the heel.

  20. Dawn on 29/03/2016 at 11:04 pm said:

    Yeah! Awesome! I love the color and the little bit of cork in the heel. *Very* nicely done.

  21. Lisa Currie on 29/03/2016 at 11:08 pm said:

    Those are really cool. Very nice job. They look good with your jeans!

  22. Wonderful! No wonder you are feeling giddy with happiness!

  23. Fantastic! Really love the colour and you did a great job 🙂

  24. those are fantastic, just what I was envisioning you would make for winter. And perfect color for your wardrobe. How about some similar shaped booties with zipper and elastic goring? living my shoemaking dreams through you now 🙂 and I love the touch of cork in the heel. Just the type of thing you would see in a high end brand to create distinction.

  25. sankati on 30/03/2016 at 12:44 am said:

    Game on! Next up, dress shoes?

    If embroidery and crochet aren’t your cup of tea, guipure lace and tapestry/jacquards would suit. Mirrored rhinestone studs on gray suede.

    Can’t wait to see what you cobble up next.

    • Carolyn on 01/04/2016 at 3:42 pm said:

      thank you Sankati! Those are absolutely gorgeous and very much my cup of tea!!. I really NEED to get some lasts for high heeled shoes 🙂

  26. Judy on 30/03/2016 at 12:59 am said:

    So, when are you opening your own bespoke shoe making shop? Your progression has been fun to see. You certainly have produced a beautiful, professionally made pair of suede boots! Love them!

  27. They’re beautiful and now I’m speechless.

  28. Nancy K on 30/03/2016 at 3:06 am said:

    Wow! They are really fabulous! Great color

  29. These are so good. Well done. How do you stop yourself glueing your hands together? I know I’d be stuck to a half made shoe!

    • Carolyn on 01/04/2016 at 3:46 pm said:

      thank you! seriously, not getting glue on the uppers as you’re going along is quite the challenge in itself!

  30. I’m in perpetual awe. Beautiful color. And you are simply inspiring.

  31. Christina on 30/03/2016 at 5:44 am said:

    Wow!!! These turned out great

  32. Claudia on 30/03/2016 at 5:50 am said:

    Very nice! Congrats for the good craftsmanship, you’ re getting better and better!

  33. Rosa on 30/03/2016 at 6:22 am said:

    Fabulous shoes! So clever & inspiring.

  34. I love those and the color is fabulous! This is something I would love to do one day. It would be amazing to have a good fitting shoe whenever you want to make it!

  35. Wow. These are so pretty! You could make shoes to sell. Such beautiful fabric, it will look wonderful with your wardrobe. Now I have to make shoes!!!

  36. These look fab! Your shoes keep getting better and better! Can’t wait to see what you cook up next 🙂

  37. These are super cool looking boots. Well done!!

  38. Belinda Stafford on 30/03/2016 at 1:01 pm said:

    Wahoooo! You rock. Your boots rock, fantastic!!!!!!!

  39. Gorgeous colour, and like everyone else I am in awe of your ability. An absolutely, totally Carolyn made wardrobe.

  40. Amazing! You’re getting so good at this. Lovely shape and colour.

  41. You’re shoes are totally awesome! I like everything about them and I think they look so professional! I totally get why you wish for winter 🙂

  42. I am so impressed. (And a little jealous, since my most-worn boots busted a zipper and I’m scouring the internet for that elusive pair that fit both my extra wide feet and my average sized calves.) The color looks perfect for your wardrobe!

    • Carolyn on 01/04/2016 at 3:59 pm said:

      thank you Becky! I was fortunate that my lasts are a pretty good fit for my feet; that was quite a worry while I was waiting for them to arrive. I’m also fortunate in that my feet are a pretty standard size. I believe you can get lasts custom made though? though I’m sorry I don;t have any information as to where

  43. Shoes and now boots? Hahaha!! Spectacular!! You’ve really found your footwear groove here.
    Okay, I need to see some of those high ’70s lace up boots, go-go boots. You are absolutely ace at all this. Unbelievable. I love seeing your process. All homemade – you make my head spin with admiration.

  44. Fabulous! I’ve been following your shoemaking since your first boot 😉 and I’m absolutely impressed – equally by the outcome which are some very wearable and also very beautiful pairs of shoes and by what you have achieved in the field of shoemaking in this relatively short time. Wow.
    I love the colour and also the cork part! This is most awsome, congrats!!!

  45. Wow! They are fabulous! Well done to you!

  46. Philippa on 31/03/2016 at 2:23 pm said:

    They look fantastic.

  47. Congratulations! Boots made from your your very own hands and experience of learning – I love learning new things too, that is why I make so much stuff. Jo x
    I have a fab refashion on my blog right now.

  48. So many wonderful words have been said about your gorgeous boots, they are amazing and love everything about them. Wear then with pride.

  49. Your shoes are getting better and better with each pair you make! I am amazed by your determination and commitment in tackling what, at least to me looks like a process with a very steep learning curve; and last but not least by your talent!

  50. These are seriously good, and also appear to be such a qualitative jump from previous shoes — all that work is paying off.

  51. these are so great – the color is really yummy, the shape is classic and stylish, and the make is beautiful… all your practice is really showing! i am still in awe of making your own shoes… totally cool! 🙂

  52. These are amazing shoes! In a post-apocalyptic world you would get a lot of friends 😀

    One thing that worries me about these is the lack of arch support, and it is the reason why I don’t think I’ll ever venture into shoe making….

    • Carolyn on 03/05/2016 at 2:46 pm said:

      Elena, you can always slip in some orthotics if you’re concerned about arch support! just like you would with any store-bought shoe. 🙂

  53. Just terrific! I like the little cork layer too, it’s all in the details! Hope leather is on the agenda soon!

  54. PS Google the Barlow shoe by Django and Juliette – I reckon you could totally make something cool like this! Love the pleat across the top of the shoe!

  55. You are too fabulously creative for words!! If you are serious about shoe making, you should go to Seoul in Korea. In the laneways around the Dongdaemon fabric market (six floors of bliss) are outlets that sell all the components and tools for shoe making.

  56. Wow, I would never have guessed that you made them, they look so nice! Love the little heel with the contrast cork layer!

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