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Make Your Own Vans Sneakers


Hi Sveta!

Happy New Year!!

This year I really plan to work hard with my shoemaking although I wish I could go to you personally or you taught a class in the US!!

My question: I attached a picture of an old pair of Vans sneakers and I would like to try to make my own pair (I think the Vans style would be like a one cut oxford, right?).

I have last I would like to use, but I think it was made for a heel (maybe 1″). I’m sure the Vans were made on an universal no heel needed last.

How do I adapt my last? Should I build up bottom with bondo or leather like your earlier videos or should I find another pair because my rubber sole will be flat?

I still have no ideal how I’m going to make the “cup sole” used on sneakers. I know machinery is used but I need to plan an alternative. I would like to use a rubber strip also.

Hope this isn’t confusing.

Thank you always for help. You are wonderful!


Hi Tracy!

Yes, the Vans sneakers have the same pattern constructions as a one-cut Oxford shoes.

Because you want to make your own Vans sneakers from fabric use instructions from the first pattern construction of One cut Oxford shoes in the lesson “One cut Oxford shoes: How to make different Oxford shoes using one pattern 001”.

If you didn’t make a classic Oxford pattern before and will make your Vans from scratch, see how to do it in the lesson  “One cut Oxford shoes: Another way to make one cut Oxford shoes 05”  .

One cut Oxford have the same pattern construction so it will guide you to make your own vans.
When you will make a pattern of the upper with beading (as in your old Vans) use the pattern construction of upper from lesson “One cut Oxford shoes: Top line beading 09”

Regarding the shoe last that you have and want to make your vans with:

To change the height of  last heel is not an easy task and it requires experience.

There are two ways to do it:

You need to saw your shoe last to change the angle and make your last lower or to build up the bottom with epoxy (bondo), as you said.
Both ways require precise calculations to make correct changes after you will change the height of your last to keep in the same proportions.

If you  have few lasts and can allow yourself to ruin few of them, I mean until you will get the  right result, make the  changes with bondo. If you have only one example of this last I advise you to find the shoe last with the right height of the heel .
Creative Solution

I have also another solution for you, how you can use the last that you have and make your own Vans sneakers . It is a creative solution that I always recommend to my students. Use what you already have and get out of the possible boundaries.

You can create invisible wedge heel. You will hide it under the upper of your Vans and then you’ll  make the rubber shoe sole as you wanted.

As your shoe last has only 1″ height, so you need to create very small wedge heel, covered with the upper and nobody will notice it’s there.  

See how it will look

make your own vans sneaker


To do this style of Vans sneakers you need:

* First make the insole ( midsole)

* Build the wedge heel like I teach in the lessons “Oxford shoes: Shoe making approach to create wedge heel 009 “ and ” Oxford shoes: Making leather wedge heel 010″

Note: make this wedge heel like in those lessons, but attach the layers of this wedge heel apart from the last, like I teach in the lesson ” Heels in any shape – Part 2″  

* Because you need to cover your heel with upper, first place the insole on the last, then place your wedge heel and make a pattern of your Vans.

* Make a prototype from fabric to check how the upper lays on the wedge heel before you will make a pair of your actual Vans sneakers. You can last it without the glue only with nails ( so you won’t need to make another wedge heel).

To make a cup sole check different materials like latex, silicon, polymer  est , from which you can create different shapes.

You can also make a “fake cup sole” from rubber strip in the same way as one of our members did ( Pete).  Although he made the strip from leather, you can use his idea and make it from rubber. You can see here how he did it.

Let me know how you will decide to make your Vans sneakers!