Friends, I can make shoes! Well, sandals...kinda.

When Amanda, the founder of I CAN make shoes, invited me to try out their Leather Sandal Making course, I jumped for joy and put my best foot forward! After all, it's not every day you get to make bespoke footwear that you can replicate at home. The ethos of the school is to teach techniques which don't require heavy machinery, so by investing in a few key tools you can continue to create in your own time.

I arrived at their beautiful studio, which is a stone's throw away from Bethnal Green tube/train station, with high hopes and no real clue about shoe-making. To avoid disappointment, make sure you treat the class as the beginner's guide that it is. I was armed with pinned pictures of extravagant sandals, which in hindsight, are more the kind of thing you might tackle in their Fabulous Flats class.

The key to the sandals class is to keep things simple so you can master the basics. It's only four hours long, which isn't long when you're a perfectionist. To give you a head start, the soles and straps are pre-cut for you. This does mean you're a little restricted in terms of style, but with it being such a short class, it's actually really helpful.

We started by tracing around our feet and trimming the pre-cut insoles and soles to size. Then it was onto picking out straps and settling on a design - this step took up a large chunk of my time. Placing and adjusting the straps using masking tape was probably the trickiest part of the whole process, but  with just five of us in the class, we all got plenty of help from the teacher and each other. Once we were happy, everything was glued together, sanded and sealed.

Although this particular class required no stitching by hand or machine, there were quite a few parallels with sewing. Transferring strap markings and trimming down the bulk of the excess straps before sandwiching between the inner and outer soles were both familiar processes.  

Believe it or not, I actually set out to make a tasteful pair of sandals. A combination of magpie tendencies and lack of choice resulted in this funky pair instead, but they are truly one-of-a-kind! In fact, my only criticism of the class would be the restricted colours and shapes. There seemed to be a good selection at first glance, but if you were last to go up and chose your pieces, there weren't many options left. I know that leather is expensive and precious though, so having an abundance would be wasteful I guess.

Still, I'm pretty thrilled with my first ever go at making shoes and would absolutely love try to their Derby Masterclass, so I know what gift vouchers I'll be asking for this Christmas!

If shoe-making sounds like something you'd like to try, I'd seriously recommend checking out I CAN make shoes. You can also get an idea of what you could create in a more advanced class in this nice film by Kate and Rachel from The Fold Line.

I made my first Nina Lee Kew Dress and it's love...the fiercest, most passionate kind. 

After getting an invite to Amy of Almond Rock's wedding last month, the self-inflicted pressure was well and truly on. Not only was Amy making her own dress (which was utterly breathtaking by the way), I've also been in a bad place about my weight and in a total sewing funk. In fact, I can't remember the last time I made a fitted woven dress that I felt comfortable in. 

I don't know what possessed me to try Kew, other than madly hoping it would miraculously look as good on me as it does on everyone else I've stalked online. Well guess what? It bloody well does!

Before going into pattern details, can we take a minute to swoon over my fabric? It's this gorgeous poly crepe from Sew Me Sunshine, which is actually much more teal in real life. The peach buttons from my stash are the perfect pairing.

This was my first time working with a Nina Lee pattern and I'm seriously impressed. It's very well drafted, the instructions are easy to follow and the design mixes vintage and contemporary details beautifully.

I made a straight size 14 and it was very nearly a perfect fit. I just shortened the shoulder straps by 3cm and sewed the facing along the neckline with a 1cm seam allowance (instead of 1.5cm) as I was worried about it being a bit revealing. I'm always so self-conscious about my large bust and try to avoid unwanted attention, but the finished neckline is very pretty. Also, I'm not the biggest fan of dipped hems, so I evened mine out to the shortest part of the skirt.

The only thing I would do differently next time is to lower the bust dart by a smidge...but that's it!

This pattern did what no other has managed to do in made me feel sassy and elegant and happy in my own skin. Oh, and it only took me a day to sew a win-win on all fronts!

Thank you Nina for designing such a gorgeous pattern and thank you Amy for giving me the motivation to sew something special.

I'll leave you with a few of my favourite photos of the stunning bride and I! If you want to know how Amy made her wedding dress of Dior dreams, then check out the series of posts on her blog throughout August.