The idea behind shoe upcycling is really very simple: you take a pair of shoes that you’re not happy with (there are many reasons why you might be unhappy with them; we can go into these later) and, one blast of creativity later, you have something new and fun and beautiful and unique to wear. Ta Dah!

The cowboy boots, before and after!

Amanda Luisa set up I CAN Make Shoes in 2010, basing herself in a super trendy block of work/live studio/workshop spaces in Dalston (but where else?). Half English, though raised down under, Amanda tired of the lack of opportunity in Australia for those creative in her field and hot footed it to London. A trained shoe designer, Amanda not only runs shoe design workshops form her studio space but also upcycles and makes her own shoes, selling them on ASOS Marketplace and Etsy and offers a bespoke shoe making service.

‘Upcycle your shoedrobe’ is one of the workshops with the most widespread appeal – I took along a pair of long-forgotten boots to see what we could conjure up… My brown square-toe cowboy boots with floral perforation detail (hum) had last been seen at my end of school party, when I teamed them with a red shredded dress and red fishnets. I dusted them off, and went to visit Amanda one Saturday afternoon…

When upcycling your shoes, there are few things to remember – make sure that they’re in good condition (if they’re falling to bits then there’s not much point making them look pretty), make sure that they fit you (!) and try to control yourself around the ultra-strong ACME shoe adhesive. Following these guidelines, I cut, studded, glued, studded, folded, studded, looped and studded some more to produce a kind of Russell and Bromley/All Saints/vintage-inspired completely fabulously unique pair of boots!

If you’re more of a serious shoe designer, or at least looking to be, I CAN Make Shoes offer a range of workshops suited to all you budding Georgina Goodmans out there. The three-day intensive workshop takes you through all the stages of shoe-making, from measuring to lasting to producing an actual shoe at the end of it (Start your future in footwear – £500). There’s also a kind of taster workshop that shows you’re the basics of foot measuring and shoe design but all in one day (Become a shoe design icon – £75).

It may be cold outside but I’m certainly thinking about summer – I CAN Make Shoes run a one day sandal-making workshop during the summer months that means you can walk in barefoot and leave wearing your very own pair of leather sandals! I can’t think of any cooler way to get your 2011 sandal dilemma sorted. Starting from scratch, you can make a pair of leather flat sandals any way you want! Great if you’ve got bigger/wider/different shaped feet than your average gal.

It’s so very now to wear vintage and customise your clothes, but your shoes often get forgotten about. I CAN Make Shoes’ workshops offer you the tools and expertise to unique-ify your shoes and boots and bring something dead (in style terms anyhow) back to life. I felt like I’d done a good deed for the day by resuscitating my old boots – why don’t you try it too…?

For more information, see the I CAN Make Shoes website. You can also follow on Twitter @ICANMakeShoes. To book, contact or telephone +44 (0) 207 241 0036.