MATERIALS USED IN SHOEMAKING
Outer Material The easiest materials to use are cotton or wool. If you use silk, brocade, or velvet, you should waterproof the fabric. Spray it several times. (I do this outdoors!) Waterproofing may darken the fabric a little, so waterproof the material you will use for covering the heels too.
Buckram You can buy this at a fabric store. Sometimes you may find a young clerk who does not know what it is. It comes in a big roll and is usually under the counter at the store. Buckram is a loose-weave cotton fabric that is "sized" with a stiffener. When it is wet it becomes very pliable, and it enables you to form the top of the shoe. When it dries, it becomes stiff again in the new shape. Buckram comes in different weights. If you can only find thin-weight buckram, you can use two pieces instead of one.
Felt I use felt for the lining. It forms easily and is comfortable. I buy the "squares" of felt in various colors at the fabric store. You may find that the squares are not long enough at the toe. This is OK because the toe area is trimmed, and it is not necessary to have the felt all the way to the end of your pattern. I buy three "squares" — one for each shoe, and a third one for the insoles.
Fabric Stiffener I have always used Aleene's Fabric Stiffener (at the fabric store), but you could use a different brand. This is used to make "counters" (pattern included in the book), and also to stiffen the toe of the shoe.
Heels You can purchase heels from a shoe findings company, but if you can't find one, do what I do — recycle heels from old shoes. With the covering removed, they are just like new underneath. When I see heels that I like (from yard sales or thrift shops), I buy the shoes and take them to my shoe repairman and have him remove the heels for me for a small charge. In many cases, you can salvage the shank from an old shoe as well (see next page for more on shanks).