Upon discovering that Eleven Thirty Shop, the adorable leather goods store and studio on the western reaches of Toronto’s College Street, was sharing their ingenious leatherworking skills through monthly moccasin workshops, we immediately signed up. The idea of making our own shoes was more than a little mind-blowing.
Owners and designers Mariel Gonzalez and Alexa Schoori are experts when it comes to manipulating and stitching leather. We chose our leather (brown for Tiyana, red for me) and Mariel kindly cut it for us with an X-acto knife—the moccasins require just three separate pieces for each shoe. The most labour-intensive step came next: punching holes, through which we could then stitch the thread. There were two ways of doing this. One involved an old-school hammer and nail, the other, a tool that looked something like a heavy-duty hole punch. We used the latter, which was speedier, but still an exercise in accuracy and hand strength.
Hands sufficiently callused—leather-working is not delicate, let us tell you!—we then stitched the pieces together. Three and a half hours after we started, the finished product was as cute as promised. With a pair of cuffed jeans or cropped trousers come springtime, these will make the perfect everyday shoe. For now, they’re our favourite house slippers. All the more so because we made them ourselves.
To make your own pair, visit eleventhirtyshop.com for a workshop schedule